Changing Nature of India’s Foreign Policy

India has risen as a major player in the geo-politics at an international level. Part of this rise can be attributed to its dynamic and adaptive Foreign Policy. From Nehru to Modi our policy to dealing with China, USA and Pakistan to mention a few has been adapting to changes. This has helped India stay relevant in the International Forum. Read along to know more about IR and India via Foreign Policies.

“Even as individuals become families and families become communities, and communities become nations, so eventually must the nations draw together in peace.”

― Marjorie Watts

Since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Foreign Policy has undergone a sea of changes. India remains vary of Pakistan and China, despite the years of “peace talks”. The US seems to have a vary association with India, uncertain about the latter’s closeness with Russia. Countries of the subcontinent continue to blame India for its dominant position, or, rather, its “Big Brother” attitude. In the same context, India accuses its neighbors of taking advantage of India and its territory, economy, policy, etc. Basically there’s nothing new. Or is there?

With changes in regimes and the resulting power struggle, India’s emphasis on its Foreign Policy has wavered over the years. Some things, as seen above, have remained constant; some things, however, have brought changes in the position of the country in the global world. The BJP-led government has shifted focus from the developed world, to the India’s immediate neighbours under its “Act East Policy”, which is poised to replace the “Look East Policy”, allowing India to play a more proactive role in South-east Asia,[1] and the Neighbourhood First Policy. This has been complemented by the “Link West Policy”, focusing on the West, especially on West Asia. This Policy aims to foster relations with the GCC Countries, which is linked with the country’s goal of achievingenergy security, trade, employment for Indians and remittances, especially as the reduced remittances is a cause of serious concern for India.[2] The “Link West Policy” also attempts to reinforce ties with Europe, starting with France.[3] The relations with France, however, suffered a major setback due to the infamous“Rafale Scam”.India’s nuclear deal with Cameco, a Canadian company, highlights India’s move towards strengthening ties with non-conventional power nations.

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One of the most emphasised Foreign Policy measure of the Modi-led Government is the “Make in India” policy. Focused on boosting the manufacturing sector while increasing employment opportunities, this policy measure encourages foreign companies to establish manufacturing and production units in India. Top companies of countries like France, Germany, Japan and Canada, set standards around the world.[4] This has resulted in PM Narendra Modi’s incessant meetings with CEOs, participation in Industrial Fairs, visits to skilled industrial institutions, etc.[5] At the end of the day, however, conventional concerns remain the focus of India’s Foreign Policy; namely USA, Pakistan and China.

Strong emphasis has been laid on the relations with the US, with frequent visits, 2+2 Dialogues to elevate the co-operation on security and strategy priorities, summits and discussions. With President Donald Trump calling India a “true friend”, [6] to India considering the two nations to truly be “strategic global partners”,[7] India-US relations have come a long way from the post-Independence era where Indian leaders were unsure as to whether to join the American bandwagon or remain aloof. In the present political climate, both countries depend on each other for refuge at varying times, creating the need for strong bilateral relations.US policy measure also dictate terms of India’s other relations, the most recent example being that of Iranian crude oil. Following sanctions being levied against Iran by USA, India was compelled to purchase crude oil from the country sing a rupee-based payment mechanism, with 50 percent of such payments being used for exporting items to Tehran.[8]

With regard to Pakistan, India remains vary even in light of the refreshed attempts by the former to extend the olive branch.[9] Pakistan’s decision to open up the Kartarpur Corridor between the two nations is a smart play on religious politics. However, Indian leaders are treading carefully, stating that the agreement on this particular issue does not imply that the country is ready to resume peace talks with its neighbour. Despite beating the worn out drum that “terror” and “talks” cannot go hand-in-hand, India has very valid grounds for not spreading its arms in welcoming the regime change in Pakistan. A similar scepticism clouds India-China relations. A glimmer of hope is visible, however, in the form of “Hand-in-Hand Military Drills” taking place in the Chinese city of Chengdu as part of the focussed efforts by the two militaries to improve ties after last year’s standoff at Doklam.[10]Besides resuming the defence dialogue after the standoff, the two countries also held the 21st round of border talks to resolve the boundary issue.[11] Further, as a confidence building measure between the neighbours, the first meeting of the newly constituted India-China High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges will be held on December 21 in Delhi.[12]

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India has risen as a major player in the geo-politics at an international level. Part of this rise can be attributed to its dynamic and adaptive Foreign Policy. Times may change, Governments may change, but the fact that nations too need friends, never will.

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[1]PrashanthParameswaran, “Modi Unveils India’s ‘Act East Policy’ to ASEAN In Myanmar”, The Diplomat, Available At- https://thediplomat.com/2014/11/modi-unveils-indias-act-east-policy-to-asean-in-myanmar/

[2]Rebecca Bundhun, “India Suffers Steep Decline In Remittances From GCC Nations”, The National, Available At- https://www.thenational.ae/business/india-suffers-steep-decline-in-remittances-from-gcc-nations-1.203351

[3]“PM Narendra Modi to Visit France in April, Invites French Companies”, NDTV, Available At- https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-narendra-modi-to-visit-france-in-april-invites-french-companies-737310

[4]Manoj Joshi, “Scripting A West Side Story: Modi’s Visits To France, Germany And Canada Adapt Lessons Learnt From China’s Economic Miracle”, The Times of India, Available At- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/scripting-a-west-side-story-modis-visits-to-france-germany-and-canada-adapt-lessons-learnt-from-chinas-economic-miracle/

[5]Ibid

[6]“Donald Trump calls India a true friend: US official”, The Economic Times, Available At- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/donald-trump-calls-india-a-true-friend-us-official/articleshow/67088476.cms

[7]Ibid

[8] “India To Import Iranian Oil Using Rupee Payment Mechanism”,  The Economic Times, Available At- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/oil-gas/india-to-import-iranian-oil-using-rupee-payment-mechanism/articleshow/66969833.cms

[9]Abhinav Pandya, “View: India’s Guarded Optimism To Pakistan’s Dubious Generosity”, The Economic Times, Available At- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/view-india-responds-with-guarded-optimism-to-pakistans-dubious-generosity/articleshow/67076415.cms

[10] “Sino-Indian Militaries Begin ‘Hand-In-Hand’ Drills In China”, The Economic Times, Available At- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/sino-indian-militaries-begin-hand-in-hand-drills-in-china/articleshow/67071442.cms

[11]Ibid

[12]Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, “Maiden India, China High-Level Meet On Soft Power To Be Held On Dec 21”, The Economic Times, Available At- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/maiden-india-china-high-level-meet-on-soft-power-to-be-held-on-dec-21/articleshow/67104708.cms?utm_source=ETMyNews&utm_medium=ASMN&utm_campaign=AL1&utm_content=10