(GIST OF YOJANA) Indian Foreign Policy in the Times of the Pandemic
(GIST OF YOJANA) Indian Foreign Policy in the Times of the Pandemic
Indian Foreign Policy in the Times of the Pandemic
India will complete the 75th year of independence by 2022. The challenges we have faced as a nation, both external and internal, have been and will continue to remain formidable. We do, however, have a list of achievements that is both considerable and impressive.
India is a nation on the move.
It is evolving and progressing along multiple axes at a very rapid rate.
The fundamental challenge facing Indian foreign policy is to ensure that India engages with the international community in a manner that is both consistent and responsive to contemporary realities.
In other words, our foreign policy has to be one of continuity and change. The current international environment is particularly challenging.
We are living through the greatest shock to the international system since the Second World War. What began as a health emergency has expanded into an economic disruption, a geopolitical shock and a social challenge of unprecedented magnitude.
How we deal with these immense difficulties and whether we are able to transform some of them into opportunities will influence our future trajectory as a nation.
Having global interest:
We are a country with global interests. We have one of the largest and most able Diasporas. Our economy, and therefore our material well-being, is plugged on to global supply chains. We are a powerhouse in the services sectors. We look at the world as a borderless economy with an interlinked marketplace.
India is therefore committed to globalisation. We believe, however that the pandemic has demons the deficiencies and the limitations of its existing form.
It is driven by a purely economic agenda. The Prime Minister in his address to the G-20 has said that globalisation should advance the collective interests of all humankind and should be based on fairness, equality and humanity. It should be a human-centric process.
To develop human-centric process:
India has been a constructive actor in developing an international system that is human-centric.
We have worked together with partner countries in sharing our developmental experience. We have undertaken humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations over
a geographical area spanning from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
We have assisted a number of our friends and partners during the current pandemic.
We have been a net security provider. We have catalysed the emergence of international organisations with constructive, forward-facing agendas such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
We do not live in a moral vacuum. India’s aspirations are not just material in nature. We believe not just in “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam”- the world is one but also in the principle of Nishkama Karma”, that good needs to be done for its own sake.
Introduce digital diplomacy:
India has been at the forefront of digital diplomacy during the current crisis.
In addition to the summits listed earlier, India has had virtual summits with Australia and the European Union.
We have participated at the Ministerial level in BRICS, SCO and RIC meetings. The Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister have conducted over 150 digital and virtual meetings during this period. We have been agile in our efforts in continuing our foreign policy operations.
Neighbourhood First Policy:
Our most important foreign policy objective is captured in our concept of 'Neighbourhood First'.
It underlines the renewed primacy we attach to neighbouring countries to comprehensively upgrade and strengthen our relationships.
Ties with our neighbours receive the greatest attention as reflected in
frequent high-level exchanges;
significant improvements in connectivity,
economic integration and people to-people contact; and
special focus on neighbouring countries in India’s development partnership program.
We have demonstrated our commitment to working in South Asia, including during the pandemic, and in the sub-regional BIMSTEC frameworks interalia through continuous high-level engagement and through economic and connectivity initiatives.
Act East Policy:
Look East has been upgraded to Act East under which ties with ASEAN countries are being strengthened through improvements in road, maritime and air connectivity with a special focus on connecting our northeastern states to these countries.
We have a growing dialogue with ASEAN through multiple channels and rapidly growing multi-sectoral linkages with ASEAN members. We remain actively engaged in other formats such as the East Asia Summit and ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting (ADMM) Plus.
In the last five years, Think West - our outreach to the Gulf and West Asian countries - has become an increasingly important pillar of our foreign policy. Our engagement with Africa, both in political and economic terms, has also intensified.
There have been 34 outgoing visits to African countries at the level of the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister. Over two-thirds of India’s Lines of Credit in the past decade have been offered to African countries.
India-US relationship has been elevated to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership in recent years.
Our engagement is deep rooted, marked by regular high-level dialogue; cooperation in multilateral, plurilateral and global platforms; and a diverse and substantial bilateral agenda.
Defence, security and counter-terrorism are important pillars of our partnership.
Growing trade and investment in both directions, collaboration in R&D, innovation, healthcare, and space are also crucial components of our agenda.
Our Strategic Energy Partnership with the US has emerged as an important contributor towards our energy security.
Relationships with European Union:
The European Union is an important friend with whom we have a many layered and vibrant relationship.
The 15th India-EU Summit held in July 2020 showcased the firm resolve and vision of the two sides towards realizing a multi-faceted partnership.
The commitment is ingrained in the “India-EU Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025” issued after Summit.
Relationship with Russia:
Our relationship with Russia has not only deepened in traditional areas of cooperation like defence, space, nuclear, science and technology etc., but has expanded to include non-traditional and new areas of cooperation like energy, investments and cooperation between states.
This year marks the 20th year of India Russia Strategic Partnership and 10th year of ‘Special and Strategic Partnership’.
We have a challenging and busy multilateral and plurilateral agenda in the coming years.
We will join the UN Security Council for a two year non-permanent term on January 1st, 2021. We are also due to hold the Presidencies of G20, BRICS and SCO. These are recognition of our enhanced global standing and also opportunities for us to convey our perceptions, our expectations and our priorities.
Countering terrorism is one of our most important challenges. India has suffered and continues to suffer from cross-border terrorism. We have been consistent and energetic in our efforts to seek action against those who control, support, fund and shelter terrorists. Our efforts to isolate terrorists and their sponsors have led to increased global support. Our task is, however, far from complete and we need to ensure that the world follows an undifferentiated and unambiguous approach to terrorism. We also need to ensure that politicisation of global mechanisms such as UN listings is avoided, and that the international community finalises a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Indian foreign policy must also contend with non-traditional security challenges in newer domains such as Space, the Cyberworld and in the biological domain.
To providing timely, effective and efficient public services to our citizens and to our Diaspora is a major priority.
More than a million Indians have returned to India through the Vande Bharat Mission by land, sea and air.
This is the largest such logistical exercise undertaken in the recent past and highlights the ever-present requirement of preparing for and responding to contingencies.
The pandemic is leaving a lasting imprint on all domains, including on the way we engage with the world.
In this fast-evolving environment, Indian diplomacy has shown the necessary agility and adaptability to effectively respond to the emerging challenges, while also cementing India’s credentials as a responsible and constructive member of the global community.