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Vipin asked: What is the concept of Comprehensive National Power (CPN), and where does India stand in terms of CPN ranking?

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  • Rumel Dahiya replies: There are many definitions of Comprehensive National Power (CNP). As per one of the more acceptable definitions, CNP is "comprehensive capability of a country to pursue its strategic objectives by taking the necessary actions internationally". It can also be defined as "degree of ability to mobilize and utilize strategic resources of a country to realize national objectives." It provides an intrinsic analytical tool for identifying gaps and boundaries of national power and extrinsically balances interests in the international relations loop. Although there are different factors considered by different people to measure CNP, the most commonly accepted factors are: economy; military strength; internal cohesion; governance; human capital; science & technology; knowledge and information; geography and natural resources; foreign policy and diplomacy; and, national will and leadership. All these factors are consequential in denoting the power of a nation state in the present environment.

    One of the first studies for measuring Comprehensive Index of Power was attempted by an American named Ray Cline in 1977. Subsequently it was modified by the Chinese think tanks, like China Academy of Social Sciences and Academy of Military Sciences. In India, the NSCS has also been publishing National Security Index from time to time.

    The respective positions of various countries in all these studies vary. Therefore, it is not possible to state exactly the position of India in CNP index. However, it is commonly agreed that India is presently behind USA, China, Russia, Japan and Germany but has the potential to improve its position by overtaking the last three in about a decade or so. It will of course depend on taking adequate measures to fill the gaps and make course correction in policy implementation.