Insights into Editorial: India’s foreign policy needs rework in the next five years
Foreign policy is not a fixed concept as it keeps on changing according to changing domestic and international conditions.
National interest is the core objective of foreign policy of a nation. The secondary national interest may change with time but the primary national interest endures.
In international community every country has to interact with other countries. This interaction is not haphazard but takes place with definite orientations and objectives. These orientations and objectives form the core of foreign policy.
National security is an example of primary interest. No country can compromise with her national security for the sake of most beloved principles of foreign policy.
Thus, the foreign policy is the instrument to realize the national interest of a country. A foreign policy bereft of national interest is a purposeless exercise.
PM Modi’s pace with round of issues with world leaders:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained a frenetic pace, renewing contacts with world leaders ever since the results of general election 2019. He was the cynosure of all eyes at the G-20 meeting in June, in Osaka.
At the BRICS informal meeting, also in Osaka, he called for the strengthening of the World Trade Organisation and for a global conference on terrorism.
PM discussed counter-terrorism and climate change issues at separate meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
He participated in the Japan-India-U.S. trilateral grouping, arguing for a “rules based order” in the Indo-Pacific region. He met with U.S. President Donald Trump, to discuss the future of India-U.S. relations.
South Asian concerns and realities to India:
In this backdrop, India needs to rework many of its policies in the coming five years.
- South Asia, in particular, and the region of our highest priority, needs close attention.
- The region is one of the most disturbed in the world and India has little or no say in any of the outcomes taking place.
- India-Pakistan relations are perhaps at their lowest point. Tarring Pakistan with the terror brush is hardly policy, and stable relations continue to be elusive.
- India has no role in Afghan affairs and is also excluded from current talks involving the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, the U.S. and even Russia and China.
- India might have recouped its position more recently in the Maldives, but its position in Nepal and Sri Lanka remains tenuous. In West Asia again, India is no longer a player to reckon with.
China, US, Eurasia Challenges:
- China is the major challenge that India has to contend with. Smaller countries in the region are being inveigled to participate in China’s programmes such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- India and Bhutan are the only two countries in this region that have opted out of the BRI, and they seem like the odd men out.
- Deepening India-U.S. relations today again carry the danger of India becoming involved in a new kind of Cold War.
- India must ensure that it does not become a party to the conflicts and rivalries between the U.S. and a rising China, the heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and also avoid becoming a pawn in the U.S.-Iran conflict.
- Closer relations with the U.S. also carries the risk of aggravating tensions between India and China, even as China and the U.S.
- The U.S.-China-Russia conflict has another dimension which could affect India
- The strategic axis forged between the Mr. Putin’s Russia and Mr. Xi’s China will impact not only the U.S. but also India’s position in both Asia and Eurasia, with India being seen as increasingly aligned to the U.S.
- Hence, India needs to devise a policy that does not leave it isolated in the region.
- The challenge in the coming years for India is to check the slide, especially in Asia, and try and restore India to the position it held previously. India cannot afford to wait too long to rectify the situation.
Now Changing geopolitics requires an altered foreign policy:
The geopolitical scenario of the world is changing, and this has brought up new global issues for India deal with.
Therefore, various aspects of India’s foreign policy also is required to be changed to fit the changing geopolitics of the world.
Need to focus on newer threats as well:
As India intensifies its search for state-of-the-art military equipment from different sources, it may be worthwhile for India to step back and reconsider some of its options.
Military power is but one aspect of the conflicts that rage today. Experts point out that outright war, insurgencies and terror attacks are fast becoming passé.
Nations confront many other and newer threats at present. Today, disruptive technologies have tremendous danger potential and nations that possess these technologies have the ability to become the dominant powers in the 21st and 22nd Centuries.
A major challenge for India will hence be how to overcome our current inadequacies in the realm of disruptive technologies rather than remaining confined to the purely military domain.
The U.S., China, Russia, Israel and few other countries dominate these spheres as also cyberspace and cyber methodologies.
Despite a plethora of official statements, the state of the economy remains a matter of increasing concern. India needs to pays greater heed to its economy.
Notwithstanding India’s ambition to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, the reality today is that the economy appears to be in a state of decline.
New policy parameters will need to be drawn up by India, and our capabilities enhanced in areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber methodology, all of which constitute critical elements of the disruptive technology matrix.
Neither the Economic Survey nor the Budget contain useful pointers to a more robust economy, one that is capable of providing a higher rate of growth, more opportunities for skilled labour, and greater potential for investments.
The looming challenge for India in the coming five years, therefore, would be how to build a strong economic foundation, one that is capable of providing the kind of power structure needed for an emerging power, and also one possessing the best liberal credentials.