India’s Foreign Policy
A critical assessment of India’s foreign policy during 1947–2022 should begin with the changing perceptions of this nation, internally and internationally.
A major stakeholder in the association of nations
- India’s ties with countries across regions — in the South Pacific, through Southeast and South Asia, in other parts of Asia, Europe, the Indian Ocean region, Africa, North America and Latin America — show it to be an aspiring, as well as a major player on the world stage.
- A leading member of the UN, an oft-invitee to the G7, a founding member of the BRICS, and a pivotal part in G20, India has become a major stakeholder in the comity of nations.
National interest drives foreign policy, but more is at stake here:
- The policy is anchored in a nuanced balancing of interests and values.
- National security remains the key driver.
- External relationships accelerate the country’s economic progress.
- Other motivations include the desire to enhance the nation’s standing externally and the impulse to do good for the world — India did not hesitate to share Covid medicines and vaccines with over 90 countries within a month of their launch.
A balancer and leader
- In the post-Cold War period, India has moved more time and resources to careful nurturing of relations with the major powers — the US, EU, especially France and Germany, the UK, Japan, Russia and China.
- India’s enhanced GDP and its IT prowess have positioned it in parallel with the apex group of leaders.
- At the height of the Non-Aligned Movement and G77, India was the leader of the “have-nots”.
- By enjoying proximity with the West and demonstrating the capability to cooperate and communicate with the “other” side — Russia, the time-tested partner, and China, the principal adversary but also a consequential neighbour — India now acts as a balancer and leader.
Neighbourhood First Policy
- The neighbours have not been ignored.
- Equations with Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives are excellent.
- The tide that ran against India in its ties with Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka in recent years seems to have turned since the Covid-19 pandemic.
- More needs to be achieved in regional cooperation and integration.
- The Indo-Pacific has emerged as a principal theatre for Indian diplomacy.
- The increased emphasis on cooperation with Quad members
- The combined impact of formations such as AUKUS, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, Partners in the Blue Pacific and India’s continuing focus on ASEAN, despite the setback of its exit from RCEP, is a determined pushback to China.
- Across the Western shores, prospects have improved with the establishment of I2U2 (India, Israel, U.S. UAE) — this became possible due to the progress in India-UAE, India-Israel and UAE-Israel relations.
- Positioning Africa’s eastern and southern flanks as a part of the Indo-Pacific could enable India to craft a series of initiatives to strengthen cooperation in maritime activity, economic development, and the blue economy.
- Thus Indian Foreign policy making is aided by academia, think tanks, civil society and media more than ever before.
The increasing engagement of the wider public — especially the youth and business community — with foreign policy issues reflects the maturity and sophistication of Indian democracy. These trends must deepen and India’s G20 Presidency provides a perfect opportunity and beginning for the next anniversary era.
Source: Indian Express