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Is Indian foreign policy under Modi Government effective?

Indian Foreign Policy
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In this era of globalisation, every country is connected to one another. Not only in terms of trade and economy but also the diplomatic relations between the countries hold much importance in this global world. India’s foreign policy and its relations with other nations, as it is one of the most rapidly developing country also holds a very important status in the world. Its foreign policy and relations with the rest of the world defines its role in economic matters of the world and its contribution to maintaining peace. India is an active member of the United Nations and has a stand on several issues addressed in its assembly. India is also a part of other important international organisations such as SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and BRICS (Organisation of large economies namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). These International organisations help India to maintain friendly relations with neighbouring and strong economies for maintenance of peace and improving the economy of the country. Let’s see if Indian foreign policy under Modi government effective?

Therefore, it is the responsibility of Indian Government to maintain the foreign relations accordingly for the benefit of the country as a whole. In 2014 elections, the BJP manifesto included the importance of foreign relations of India to be improved which was lacking behind before 2014 under UPA (United Progressive Alliance). However, it is important to notice the actual changes brought under the BJP government after 2014 with Narendra Modi as the Prime minister of the country and what was the condition before 2014.

POLICY OF FOREIGN RELATIONS BEFORE 2014 (UPA GOVERNMENT)

Under UPA government, the policy of foreign relations did not see much of a change, however certain steps were still taken for improving country’s foreign relations. In terms of trade, the UPA’s tenure saw India conclude numerous free trade agreements, including with South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and ASEAN, with negotiations continuing on many others. However, it did not manage to close trade deficits with major partners.

On the matters of friendly relations with neighbours, India and Pakistan managed to avoid another war in the 10 years that UPA was in power, but stagnated in making any progress on the matter of Kashmir or a broader peace. India’s relations with China is also a major factor to notice. Despite their major border disputes over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, they cooperated on a global level successfully. However, on the other hand,d India’s “Look East” policy had been put to the test as India bumps shoulders with China in forging relationships with ASEAN countries. This was somewhere seen as ‘double standards’ of India.

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The relationship between the United States and India under the UPA government can be traced with the increasing bilateral trade agreement between the two. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister of India was successful in the deal of civil nuclear cooperation with the US. However, not many steps were taken to improve the diplomatic relations between the two. There were still many areas and conflicts upon which India’s stand was not clear. The decade of UPA did not give much attention to foreign policy and was mostly not clear on its relations with others.

In 2014 elections, BJP government strongly believed that it is time that India pays attention on the foreign policy. It gave prime importance to it in its manifesto clearly and wanted to improve the economy and diplomatic relations with other countries by improving its status on the world’s stage. However, it is important to analyse the difference between what has been stated in the manifesto as compared to what actually has been achieved.

ELECTION MANIFESTO OF NDA IN 2014 – 

BJP as a party was keen to improve the foreign policy of India by giving it prime importance. It had various strategies for the same. It included the following points for its Foreign Relations policy in the manifesto:

“Foreign Relations – Nation First, Universal Brotherhood BJP believes a resurgent India must get its rightful place in the comity of nations and international institutions. The vision is to fundamentally reboot and reorient the foreign policy goals, content and process, in a manner that locates India’s global strategic engagement in a new paradigm and on a wider canvass, that is not just limited to political diplomacy, but also includes our economic, scientific, cultural, political and security interests, both regional and global, on the principles of equality and mutuality, so that it leads to an economically stronger India, and its voice is heard in the international fora.

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BJP believes that political stability, progress and peace in the region are essential for south Asia’s growth and development. The Congress-led UPA has failed to establish enduring friendly and cooperative 40 relations with India’s neighbours. India’s relations with traditional allies have turned cold. India and its neighbours have drifted apart. Instead of clarity, we have seen the confusion. The absence of statecraft has never been felt so acutely as today. India is seen to be floundering, whereas it should have been engaging with the world with confidence. The collapse of the Indian economy has contributed to the sorry state of foreign affairs in no small measure.

We will build a strong, self-reliant and self-confident India, regaining its rightful place in the comity of nations. In this, we will be firstly guided by our centuries old tradition. At the same time, our foreign policy will be based on best National interests. We will create a web of allies to mutually further our interests. We will leverage all our resources and people to play a greater role on the international high table.

India has long failed to duly appreciate the full extent and gamut of its soft power potential. There is a need to integrate our soft power avenues into our external interchange, particularly, harnessing and focusing on the spiritual, cultural and philosophical dimensions of it. India has always played a major role in world affairs, offering a lot to the World. This has been its tradition since time immemorial. The magnetic power of India has always been in its ancient wisdom and heritage, elucidating principles like harmony and equity. This continues to be equally relevant to the world today in today’s times of Soft power. We will adopt Proactive Diplomacy to spread the same. India was reckoned not only as Vishwaguru but also a vibrant trading society. Our ancestors used to trade with foreign nations through the routes of sea, centuries ago. This was based on the strength of our business acumen and integrity, our products and crafts. The symbols of our ancient civilizations stand as a testimony to our architectural and urban planning excellence. We will revive Brand India with the help of our strengths of 5 T’s: Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology.

Guiding Principles of Indian Foreign Policy will be:

  1. Equations will be mended through pragmatism and a doctrine of mutually beneficial and interlocking relationships, based on enlightened national interest.
  2. We will champion uniform international opinion on issues like Terrorism and Global Warming.
  3. Instead of being led by big power interests, we will engage proactively on our own with countries in the neighbourhood and beyond.
  4. In our neighbourhood, we will pursue friendly relations. However, where required we will not hesitate from taking strong stand and steps.
  5. We will work towards strengthening Regional forums like SAARC and ASEAN.
  6. We will continue our dialogue, engagement and cooperation, with global forums like BRICS, G20. IBSA, SCO and ASEM. States will be encouraged to play a greater role in diplomacy; actively building relations with foreign countries to harness their mutual cultural and commercial strengths.
  7. Also,  We will expand and empower our pool of diplomats, ensuring our message is taken to the world and our great nation represented on the whole in a befitting manner.
  8. The NRIs, PIOs and professionals settled abroad are a vast reservoir to articulate the national interests and affairs globally. This resource will be harnessed for strengthening Brand India.
  9. India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here. “

However, it is important to analyse the fact that how many of these promises included in the manifesto, have actually been fulfilled. How has the Foreign Policy of India changed after 2014, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

FOREING POLICY OF INDIA SINCE 2014 (NDA GOVERNMENT) – 

Even before becoming the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had been keen for improving the foreign relations of the country. He had placed prime importance for the same and promised to fulfil the promises of improving India’s status in the world. The foreign policy of Modi government (also referred to as the Modi Doctrine) concerns the policy initiative made towards other states since 26 May 2014.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi as of June 2018, has made 37 foreign trips on six continents, visiting 55 countries including the visits to the USA  to attend UN general assembly, to Asian countries, following his ‘neighbourhood first’ and ‘act east’ policies. He made visits to all these countries with a belief to improve the ties between India and the states so that India becomes economically better off and also a country with good relations with others. In this era of the global threat of a nuclear war, this strategy of maintaining good relations with neighbours and strong countries seem to be a good strategy for a vast growing economy like India. It is only after Jawaharlal Nehru, that any prime minister has shown so much effort for improving the foreign relations of India.

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In April 2018, Modi made a visit to China and was warmly welcomed. The summit between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping focuses mainly on candid discussions on solutions to some of the vexed problems like the boundary question and other issues. This has been a step forward to improve the ties between India and China. As both are rapidly developing economies, the conflict between the two is inevitable. However, steps like these improve the international ties by improving economies and maintain world peace.

India’s relationship with the United States is an important factor in analysing the foreign relations. The United States is considered as a superpower in the World and therefore makes its allies also stronger. Before 2014, not much attention was given for improving the relations. However, Narendra Modi has been keen to improve the ties and has thus made visits to the US several times. When Obama was the president of US, Modi tried to settle the disputes that had prior been created under UPA government and signed several agreements for trade and defense. Trump’s election brought uncertainties for India. However, Modi has been successful in signing bilateral agreements under Trump as well. India is a natural ally of the United States because of the shared commitment to democracy and to counterterrorism, and because the region is so vital to the US security. India is therefore said to have a strong relationship with the US under Modi and his frequent summits and visits have proved to be effective. Visits to other countries as well such as Singapore, Australia, South Korea, etc are also an indication for his efforts to improve international ties of the country.

The relationship between India and Pakistan has also noticed a considerable importance under Modi government. For the first time since 2012, India and Pakistan resumed foreign secretary level talks in 2015, which were followed by Prime Ministerial diplomatic talks in Ufa. But the bilateral relations did not go into a consequential tailspin until the September 2016 terror attack on the Army camp in Uri sponsored by Pakistan in Kashmir. India resorted to ‘Surgical Strike’ against terror camps and their launch pads across the line of control. This draws our attention towards the ability of India to fight against terrorism. Unlike its criticism on the grounds of travelling, Modi has proved to be successful in this sphere of politics and has been able to improve international ties of the country.

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Foreign Relations are very important in this world wherein each country is connected to one another. For maintaining peace and fighting global problems, India as a country has to maintain friendly relations with countries that benefit its status and its economy in the long run. Therefore, it is the responsibility of Indian government to have a proper foreign policy in action.

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