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The Wings of Change in India’s Foreign Policy

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]world this weekIndia is one of the few nations in the world which have managed to keep diplomatic relations with most of the nations in the globe, witnessing conflicts, surviving international incidents, pressures and other form of “disturbances” that foreign policy brings along with it. A nation with embassies and missions in over 115 nations, India is a perfect example of “growth and development”. With already proven cooperation, India has the means to be the next super power. This newly industrialised country has a very long history of cooperation with other nations and is considered as the new “emerging power” besides other nations China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa (formally the BRICS nations). India is at times viewed as the new face of the “developing world”, which was also chosen to speak for over 30 developing nations at the Doha Development Round. India is also one of the founding members of many international organisations, some renowned organizations includes the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, G20 nations and the founder of Non Aligned Movement. India has also a very crucial and influential role in other international organisations such as the​East Asia Summit,​World Trade Organisation, ​ and International Monetary Fund​(IMF), G8 + 5 Nations and the IBSA Dialogue Forum. Speaking of India, she is also a part of SAARC and BIMSTEC. India and the US: From Foes to Allies Despite being the founder of Non Aligned Movement of 1961, India developed very close relationship with the then USSR during the Cold War. During that period, India’s strategical approach (including military relations) with Moscow’s strong socialist approach had brought quite adverse affect on the United States. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, India began reconstructing its Foreign Policies, and took steps for deeper ties with the European Union and the United States. These essential developments resulted in rapid growth of India's economy followed by strong bilateral relations, close tie-ups between the Indian and American IT industries (including some mergers), a geopolitical cooperation in order to balance China’s aggression in Asia, weakened US – Pakistan tie ups, especially when Osama Bin Laden was killed and the long standing American “opposition” to India’s actively growing Nuclear program. Today, India and the US share an extensive culture, quite collective celebration of festivals (Obama lit a lamp on Diwali) followed by strong strategic, military, and economic relationship. Former US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen had also encouraged “stronger military cooperation between India and the US”. Former US Undersecretary of State Joseph Burns also quoted, “Never as there been a moment when India and America mattered more to each other.” ​The then Deputy Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, addressing the Asia Society in New York on August 1, 2012, said that “India–US relationship has a global scope, in terms of the reach and influence of both countries.” He also admired the cooperation between the two nations especially in their defence and research organisations. ​United States is one of the largest trading partners of India. In 2011 alone the US exported $21.50 billion worth of goods to India while importing $36.15 billion worth of Indian goods. Most of the items imported from India were information technology services, textiles, mechanical goods, machinery, gems along with diamonds, chemicals, coffee, tea and other food products. Some American products imported by India include aircraft, fertilisers, computer hardware, and other medical equipments. Besides, United States is also India’s largest partner in investment, with a budget of over $9 billion investment (a total of 9% of investment from the foreign investment). American companies have made a lot of investments in wide sectors, ranging from power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration and processing, to mining industries. India and China: From War to Peace then….Border Wars Going back in history, India and China have had relations from the past 2,000 years, but modern relations began in the 1950’s when India became one of the few countries to officially remove ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) as it recognized the PRC as the legitimate government of Mainland China. Today, China and India are two most populous countries and the two fastest growing economies in the world. With significant growth between India and China’s relationships and economic partnerships, the significance of their bilateral relationship has also increased. A relationship between China and India revolves mainly around the border disputes, which in the past has resulted three conflicts — the Sino Indian War of 1962, the Chola incident of 1967, and the 1987 Sino Indian skirmishes. However, since more interactions have taken place between the two neighbours, both the nations have worked quite well in re-establishing diplomatic and economic ties. In 2008, China emerged as India’s largest trading partner, outranking America and the two nations have extended their military and strategic ties since then. With efforts to establish more strategic and economic ties, there are still several hurdles India and China have to overcome in order to have smoother relations. Admitting to the fact that bilateral trade has favourably grown, India faces huge trade imbalance especially in the favour of China. The longstanding border dispute remains to unsolved today and Indian media, on numerous occasions, have reported border intrusions on the Chinese part. Both nations have developed military infrastructure on the border areas. Today, India’s major concern is China’s increasing bilateral relations with Pakistan while China has expressed concerns over the former’s military and economic movements in the disputed South China Sea. India and Pakistan: From Dominions to Rivalry With a “brutal and bloody” history, India and Pakistan relationship is “complex” because of a large number of political and historical events. Since the partition from British Raj in 1947, the relation between the two dominions has been on the route cause of Kashmir dispute followed by numerous wars between the two nations. As a matter of fact the two South Asian nations share quite similar linguistic, culture, geography, and economic ties; however their relationship has been more hostile. Soon after their independence, India and Pakistan established diplomatic ties but the violent partition and territorial disputes shadowed their relationship. Since the independence the two nations have fought three major wars, one undeclared war and numerous armed skirmishes and military standoffs. The Kashmir dispute is the epicentre of two wars with the exception of Indo – Pakistan War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War, which resulted in the liberation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Many attempts were taken by two sides to resolve the conflict —especially, the Shimla summit, the Agra summit and the Lahore summit. The relations between the two nations soured during the 1980’s, events such as the Siachen conflict, the intense Kashmir insurgency in 1989, Nuclear Tests by both the nations in 1998 and the Kargil War of 1999. Some Confidence Building Mechanisms— such as the 2003 ceasefire agreements and the notable Delhi – Lahore Bus Service, were quite successful in deescalating the tension between the two. However their relationship was rocked by terrorists strike years later. The attack on India Parliament in 2001 nearly brought both the nations to war. The Samjhauta Express bombings in 2007 which killed 68 civilians (mostly Pakistani’s), intensified the relations between the two. However, the 2008 Mumbai attacks which were carried out by Pakistani militants resulted in a severe blow to the active Indo – Pakistani’s peace talks. According to some reports published by the noted forum, “Council of Foreign Relations (CFR)”, Pakistani military and the intelligence division ISI has provided covert support to militant organizations operating in Kashmir, including the al-Qaida affiliated Jaish­e­Mohammed. Pakistan, however has denied any involvement in terror activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only supports morally and politically to all the masses that want to escape Indian dictatorships. Many Kashmiri operated militant organizations have their base of operations in Pakistan Administrated Kashmir (PAK), which is cited by Indian government in their documents from time to time. Renowned author Gordon Thomas states that “still sponsored terrorist groups in the disputed state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India.” Eminent Journalist Stephen Suleyman Schwartz also notes that militant groups “backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed bodies of the state.” The bilateral trade between the years April 2013 to March 2014 were recorded to $410 million while Pakistan’s exports to India grew by 28% whereas Indian exports to Pakistan increased by 19%. Also the bilateral trade increased between the two nations to $2.4 Billion, which may get raise up to $6 Billion if the nations respect each other equally. Today, most of the trade between the two nations happen via Dubai with an estimated volume of over $4 billion. Indian Foreign Policy under the UPA Regime The UPA’s tenure lasted for almost 10 years, which included numerous free trade agreements, notably with South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and ASEAN, as negotiations took place with others. India concluded many agreements and pursued, it didn’t manage to close trade deficits with major partners but it failed to close trade deficits with major partners. During the 10 years of UPA government, India and Pakistan managed to avoid another war, but couldn’t make any progress in the issue of Kashmir and border disputes. The progress made by Atal Behari Vajpayee during the wake of Kargil war in 1999, with his trip to Lahore, failed to inspire the Congress government. In his first term, Dr Singh focussed India’s foreign policy on three main actors— the US, Pakistan and China. The negotiation of nuclear deal with the US grabbed a lot of political attention at home.   But the initiatives taken by the UPA 1 with respect to counter terrorism and Pakistan were quite bolder than the nuclear deal. In Asia front, Dr Singh focussed India foreign policy on two major facts — the dispute with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir, and the boundary settlement with China. With negotiations and discussion with Chinese at bay, India explored terrains elsewhere. The results of unfinished negotiations kept problems at bay and these then turn into a rightful opportunity for ever lasting peace with Pakistan and China. UPA 2 failed to present anything concrete on the external front. After breaking of the nuclear embargo, Delhi made quite a controversy by building a nuclear power along with an entire robust atomic industry at home. During UPA 2 we saw delegates from the five permanent members of UN competing each other to win contracts, and participate in Delhi’s economic boom. But Delhi failed to remove any obstacle that prevented growth which is now reflected in the economic slowdown declining Delhi’s future prospective of becoming a partner, which stained the UPA 2, in its entire term. Inspite of many available opportunities at hand, Dr. Singh’s government failed capitalise any of them, which then resulted in scams, policy failures and massive ineffective government machinery, which resulted in loss of interest by the investor, hence investment. Indian Foreign Policy under Present BJP government Since the fall of Berlin Wall almost 25 years ago, the world witnessed the most technological, economic and geopolitical change in the history of Indian politics. However despite its impressive economic growth, the last 25 years have been political weak and “feeble”. Between 1989 and 1998, India had a period of weak governments. It is not wrong to call Dr. Singh’s two terms as “the lost decade” for India, strategically. Modi’s foreign policy is all about reinventing India with a more “confident, competitive and secure” image. This statement is itself proof through his all the visits and the resultant outcome of his visits. However it is very important to understand, judging his foreign policy, 1 year has been completed since his oath. His focus on strengthening country’s economy and military, along with cultural and social means (such as Yoga) stands out. Modi’s foreign policy is powered by ideas, not by ideology. Indeed he has demonstrated his expertise as a skilful administrator along with his vision, but he ensures public opinion. The real test will be Mr. Modi’s ability to transform all his ideas into constructive and workable outcomes. His actions have now began speaking for themselves — from engineering partnerships with Japan and Israel (countries very critical for India’s interests as US is plays a major role here) to his “mortars to bullet” response to Pakistan. His firm stand on the food stockpiling issue in World Trade Organization (WTO), essential for India’s food security, stood out. The head of the U.N.’s International Fund for Agricultural Development backed the veto by saying that the real choice for India in Geneva laid between “feeding” its citizens and “creating jobs” for wealthy nations. A politician who came to office with no “foreign affairs” background, Mr. Modi has demonstrated some impressive diplomatic skills, creating new directions, exploring alternate ways, regaining India’s lost strategic value, discussing with the world leaders extensively, and responding to provocative comments by neighbours. With his proactive approach, Mr Modi has shaken India’s foreign policy establishments and created a path for new innovative “diplomacy”. Modi’s foreign policies is all about reinventing India’s image in the world as a more competitive, confident and secure country claiming the long lost honour. However a robust foreign policy can only sustain on the foundation of a strong internal policy, on which he must fulfil the hopes for better governance, the hopes of transforming India.
About the Author Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to United Nations. He has served in numerous committees including United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).He is an Associate Member of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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