India’s neighbours often think that the Indian government tries to dominate and interfere in the domestic affairs of the smaller countries of the region. Is this a correct impression?

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India has often been accused of adopting a big-brotherly attitude, by interfering in the internal affairs of smaller countries and, at times, even trying to bully smaller nation states, a position often misunderstood and misrepresented.
a. Being the only country that borders other countries, India cannot afford to overlook issues affecting these countries as any untoward incident in smaller nations will have its impact on India. For example, take the case of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, which brought about the problem of Tamil refugees in India.Looking at the size and economic and political power of India, the country is just playing the role of maintaining balance of power by not allowing countries like the US and China to take undue advantage.
b. India has never forced its terms and conditions on the South Asian region; rather, it has always worked towards generating a consensus on key issues in the economy and politics of the region.
c. Further, we may argue that India has been more of a victim of terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Bangladesh, which have rendered support to Islamic fundamentalists. Similarly, Maoists’ insurgency in Nepal sought to threaten peace and stability in the country. Therefore, India could not afford to turn a blind eye to such developments, which demands active involvement of the country to quell such threats.
d. India can certainly claim to be the largest democracy in the world and politically the most stable country in the South Asian region, which has always worked to its advantage.
With the increasing claims of India (being predicted the next largest global player and a potential economic power with nuclear capabilities) seeking a permanent membership in the UN Security Council, it can surely be a face for South Asia in the international organisation representing its interests.

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