Indian Foreign Policy – Towards Change

In the last few years, India’s foreign policy is going through a period of change. In the Raisina Dialogue held in Delhi this year, the Foreign Secretary of India said that “India has gone out of the past of nonalignment and is today looking at its interests and building relationships with other countries of the world.” India is making its presence felt in almost all the forums in the world and its position is strengthening in most multilateral institutions. Experts believe that India’s future foreign policy will depend on what role it plays in the G20 and the Indo-Pacific region.

How is foreign policy defined?

  • Foreign policy is a framework within which the government of a country conducts its relations with the outside world in different forms i.e. bilateral, regional and multilateral.
  • At the same time, diplomacy is a skill to manage relations with other countries of the world with a view to achieving the foreign policy of a country.
  • The development of foreign policy of any country is influenced by domestic politics, policies or behavior of other countries and specific geopolitical scenarios.
  • In the early days, it was believed that foreign policy is entirely influenced by foreign factors and geopolitical scenarios, but later experts recognized that domestic factors also play an important role in determining foreign policy.

India’s Foreign Policy: Main Objectives

  • Just like any other country, the main and primary objective of India’s foreign policy is to secure its ‘national interests’.
  • It is noteworthy that the scope of ‘national interest’ is different for all countries. In the Indian perspective, in the sense of national interest, securing our borders to protect regional integrity, cross-border terrorism, energy security, food security, cyber security and so on.
  • India will need substantial foreign aid to increase its growth momentum. To make various projects like Make in India, Skill India, Smart Cities, Infrastructure Development, Digital India, Clean India etc., India needs foreign partners, foreign direct investment, financial support and technology.
  • It is noteworthy that in recent years, this aspect of India’s foreign policy has paid a lot of attention to the policy makers.
  • The diaspora of India is also strong around the world and is spread in almost all the countries of the world. Another objective of India’s foreign policy is to engage Indians living abroad to make the most of their presence there, along with that it is also necessary to protect their interests.
  • In a nutshell it can be said that India has mainly 4 important objectives of foreign countries:
  • To protect India from traditional and non-traditional threats.
  • Creating an environment that is conducive to the inclusive development of India, so that the benefit of development can reach the poorest of the poor in the country.
  • To ensure that India’s voice is heard in global forums and that India can influence issues of various global dimensions such as terrorism, climate change, disarmament and global governance.
  • Connecting Indian migrants abroad and protecting their interests.

The basic principles of Indian foreign policy are:

  • Panchsheel theory: It is worth mentioning that Panchsheel theory was first formulated in the year 1954 to make treaty between Tibet region of China and India and later it was also used to conduct international relations on a global scale. Following are the five principles:
  • Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  • Do not make mutual attacks.
  • Do not interfere.
  • Equality and mutual benefit.
  • peaceful coexistence.

Salient features of Indian foreign policy

  • India does not support the imposition of sanctions by any other country or group of countries against a particular country unless these restrictions are imposed with international consensus. It is important to note that India takes part in peacekeeping operations involving UN peacekeeping forces.
  • India does not believe in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, but if a country inadvertently or intentionally affects India’s national interests, India will not hesitate to intervene without wasting time.
  • India emphasizes constructivism rather than aggression. India believes that war is not the solution to the problem, but the beginning of a new problem. But the policy of patience cannot be considered a weakness of India.

Changing Indian Foreign Policy

  • The most special feature of India’s current foreign policy is that it has the highest risk-taking tendency than all the previous policies.
  • India is moving towards a somewhat aggressive policy, changing its decades-old protective policy.
  • India’s actions in Doklam and the surgical strikes against Pakistan following the Uri terror attacks in 2016 are prime examples of Indian policy.
  • Many experts believe that the current foreign policy of India shows clarity of thought and action.
  • In the changing global political environment, India is limiting its dependence on any formal group to fulfill its economic and political interests.
  • India has done an important job of balancing its foreign policy and India’s relations with America and Russia are prime examples of this fact.

Road ahead

  • Although clarity of action is a welcome step, a complex and long-term approach to complex issues and policies will be required.
  • India’s strategic autonomy may decline due to excessive dependence on the US, so it is necessary to maintain a balance in the relationship.
  • Domestic politicization of foreign policy is a concern. Due to which the leadership has to take into account domestic factors and foreign policy is affected while deciding foreign policy.

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