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India will be a dominant player in South Asia, Middle East

delhi Updated: Mar 17, 2010 11:59 IST

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India's strategic location in the Indian Ocean and proud martial traditions will make it a dominant player in South Asia and the Middle East in the next 25 years, a Pentagon report has said.

US Joint Forces Command in its latest report of emerging geopolitical and technological trends, which estimates their
potential impact on future military operations, said it will likely have a role to play as America encourages the growth of
India as a regional and even global power.

"India has a special place in the future international environment. Few countries in the world may figure as
prominently in future US strategic calculations," a 'Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2010' report released yesterday

"India's military will receive substantial upgrades in the coming years. That fact, combined with its proud martial
traditions and strategic location in the Indian Ocean, will make India the dominant player in South Asia and the Middle
East," the report said.

In the next 25 years, the report said relative balance of power between states will shift, some growing faster than
the US and many states weakening relative to the US.

Noting that India could more than quadruple its wealth over the course of the next two decades, but large swaths of
its population would likely to remain in poverty through the 2030s, it said "like China, this will create tensions between
the rich and the poor."

Such tension, added to the divides among its religions and nationalities, could continue to have implications for
economic growth and national security, the report said.

India would grow by 320 million during the next quarter of a century. The tensions that arise from a growing divide
between rich and poor could seriously impact its potential for further economic growth, it added.

"While China's rise represents the most significant single event on the international horizon since the collapse
of the Soviet Union, it is not the only story.

Steady, if not rapid, economic growth appears to be the norm for much of the world over the coming decades, providing that sufficient energy remains available to fuel that growth and the financial crisis can be resolved," it said.

"Russia and India are both likely to become richer, although Russia's strength is fragile, resting as it does on
unfavourable demographic trends, a single-commodity economy based on hydrocarbon extraction, and a lack of serious
investment in repairing its crumbling infrastructure," the report said.

If there is reason for the Joint Force commander to consider the potential use of nuclear weapons by adversaries
against US forces, there is also the possibility that sometime in the future two other warring states might use nuclear
weapons against each other.

"In the recent past, India and Pakistan have come close to armed conflict beyond the perennial skirmishing that occurs along their Kashmir frontier," it said.

"Given India's immense conventional superiority, there is considerable reason to believe such a conflict could lead
to nuclear exchanges. As would be true of any use of nuclear weapons, the result could be massive carnage, uncontrolled refugee flows, and social collapse – all in all, a horrific human catastrophe.

"Given 24/7 news coverage, the introduction of US and other international forces to mitigate the suffering would be
almost inevitable," the report said.