India as a foreign policy leader and balancer

  • IASbaba
  • August 27, 2022
  • 0
International Relations
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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


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