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India maps its equation with the world

INDIA HAS prepared a list, rating countries according to their importance to it in the coming decades. India plans to make it the guiding force in the country?s relationship with the world.
None | By Nilova Roy Chaudhury, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON OCT 22, 2006 08:34 PM IST

INDIA HAS prepared a list, rating countries according to their importance to it in the coming decades. India plans to make it the guiding force in the country’s relationship with the world.

Called the ‘Relevance for India’ (RX) Index, the list contains 114 countries where India has diplomatic representation. Each of the countries has been ranked according to its aggregate score from three categories — its political and strategic importance (code ‘P’), the presence of the Indian community/People of Indian Origin in that country and its cultural linkages to India (code ‘C’) and its economic and commercial value (code ‘E’) to India.

Based on the criteria in the index, there are also massive expansion plans for the Ministry of External Affairs. The Hindustan Times has obtained a document, which speaks of the RX. “The RX analysis is strictly an internal exercise carried out by the ministry and no committee has been constituted for this purpose. Given the sensitivities associated with it, particularly from the point of view of India’s relations with other countries, no debate is encouraged in the public domain,” says the document.

The document, prepared over the past few months, is intended to help the government better orient its policies towards particular countries. It will also help the government improve its manpower requirements in its diplomatic missions abroad, and in India.

Countries have been given marks on a base of 100 points, with each country receiving a percentile rating or score. “The RX index serves as an indicator of the importance of a particular country to India from the political, economic, commercial and cultural perspective on a 1-100 scale,” the document says.

The ratings are bound to rattle the government’s allies, particularly the Left Front, as the country that comes at number 1, with a score of 92, is the United States. The United Kingdom is second with 86 points, followed by France, Japan and Russia, each scoring 79.

Officials are at a loss to understand why Japan should be more important than China, which stands at number 6 despite its proximity and strategic importance. China scores 77 and is ranked higher than Pakistan, probably because of its economic linkages and volume of trade with India.

Neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all score the same points, but surprisingly — as the officials said – are ranked 7, 8, 9 and 10 respectively. Papua New Guinea with 15 points is at the bottom of list.

Officials said there were discrepancies in the way the countries had been ranked. For instance, Bhutan and Belgium scored 67 points — the same as Australia, Afghanistan and Thailand. Officials said Bhutan was probably India’s closest ally sharing a common border. India has major security interests and economic stakes in Bhutan, they said.

According to the RX, most important politically (P-1) are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Japan, with a weightage of 25 points. The economic and commercial importance of a country rates 30 points if annual exports from India to that country are valued at over $1 billion.

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