Remapping India’s Foreign Policy | UPSC

IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 28th July 2020

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” –Robert Frost

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT #107 :“Remapping India’s Foreign Policy | UPSC

Remapping India's Foreign Policy | UPSC

Stanly Johny

Remapping India’s Foreign Policy

      HEADLINES:

Needed, a map for India’s foreign policy

      CENTRAL THEME:

In the backdrop of setbacks, especially in the neighbourhood, the country has to reconsider its diplomacy’s trajectory.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR

      MAINS QUESTION:

Misplaced confidence does not do good for rising powers . India needs foreign policy revamp . Elucidate  -(GS 2)

      LEARNING: 

This is a beautiful article .

  • It describes Present , Past and Future of Indian Foreign Policy.
  • You will learn strategic alignments , derailments and the Politics around Foreign Policy.

      INTRODUCTION: 

India was seen as a natural rising power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.

THE LAST WEEK!

  • LEADER OF SAARC : India was the de facto leader of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • SOCIETAL BONDS : It has historical and cultural ties with Nepal.
  • GOODWILL GESTURES : It enjoyed traditional goodwill and influence in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  • VIBRANT TIES : It had made investments worth billions of dollars in Afghanistan .
  • COMMITTED MULTILATERALISM : It had committed itself to multilateralism and the Central Asian connectivity project, with Iran being its gateway.
  • COMPETITION AND CO-OPERATION : It was competing and cooperating with China at the same time, the two countries remained largely peaceful.

      BODY: 

THE PRESENT

India is perhaps facing its gravest national security crisis in 20 years.

  • CHANGING STATUS QUO : China has changed the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in its favour.
  • VIOLENT CLASHES : The border saw violent clashes last month, leading to fatalities for the first time in 45 years. SAARC is out of joint.
  • DEMARCATING MAPS : Nepal has turned hostile having adopted a new map and revived border disputes with India.
  • UNCONVENTIONAL TILT : Sri Lanka has tilted towards China, which is undertaking massive infrastructure projects in the Indian Ocean island.
  • RESENTMENTS : Bangladesh is clearly miffed at the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • LESS DEBATES : When Afghanistan is undergoing a major transition, India is out of the multi-party talks.
  • MISSED OPPORTUNITIES : Iran has inaugurated a railway link project connecting the Chabahar port, on the Gulf of Oman, to Zahedan (which India was to have constructed) without India.

The current downturn is serious because there is a relative decline in India’s smart power, especially in the neighbourhood and the extended neighbourhood.

  • Foreign policy need not be static.

THE U.S. LINE

India’s official policy is that it is committed to multilateralism.

  • STRATEGIC AUTONOMY : Even after India started moving away from non-alignment, New Delhi maintained that strategic autonomy would remain the bedrock of its policy thinking.
  • There has been a steady erosion in India’s strategic autonomy.

IRAN EXAMPLE

  • AGREEMENT SIGNED : The agreement to develop the Chabahar port was signed in 2003.
  • IMPORTANCE : But India, under pressure from the U.S., was moving slowly, despite the fact that the project offered India an alternative route to Central Asia bypassing Pakistan.

India voted against Iran at the United Nations.

  • This scuttled an ambitious gas pipeline project and cut down trade ties drastically.
  • After the Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015.
  • India immediately stepped up oil purchases and expanded works at Chabahar.

In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Tehran and signed a trilateral connectivity project with Afghanistan and Iran.   

  • In 2018 -U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal in 2018 .
  • India toed the U.S. line, bringing down its oil imports to zero.
  • DILLY-DALLYING : This dilly-dallying (waste of time) to the tunes of policy changes in Washington co-existed with India’s deepening defence and military ties too.
  • WASHINGTONS DARE : Washington wants India to play a bigger role in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region to contain China’s rise.
  • CAUTIOUS ALLY : While India has been cautious of becoming an ally, it has steadily deepened military-to-military cooperation ,(LEMOA) is one example.
  • BEIJING’S ASSESSMENT : These developments probably altered Beijing’s assessment of India.

The border aggression is part of a larger strategic move, initiated by the top brass of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
 

DOMESTIC POLITICS

CAA

The official narrative has been that India is offering citizenship to the persecuted minorities of select countries in its neighbourhood.

  • There were two problems.
  • REGIONALISATION : The regionalisation of the domestic problems of the countries in India’s neighbourhood, some of which are its long-time friends.
  • EXCLUSIONS : Muslims, including those sub-sects persecuted in neighbouring countries, were by design excluded from the citizenship programme.

This drove new wedges between India and the countries that had a Muslim majority (Bangladesh).

SPECIAL STATUS OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR

Bifurcation and reduction of the erstwhile State into Union Territories, could be another factor that prompted the Chinese to move aggressively towards the border in Ladakh.

  • REPUTATION : This led to the suspension of fundamental rights in the Kashmir Valley for a prolonged period that damaged India’s reputation as a responsible democratic power .
  • CURBING VIOLENCES : The move did not help India quell militancy either as the Valley continues to see violence nearly a year after the decision.

      IASbhai Windup: 

THE PERILS OF HUBRIS

  • The Soviet Union started acting like a superpower after it won (with allies), the Second World War.
  • To address the current crises, India has to reconsider its foreign policy trajectory.
  • It is a big power with one of the world’s biggest militaries.
  • It is a natural naval force in the Indian Ocean.

It does not lack resources to claim what is its due in global politics. What it lacks is strategic depth.

“Great powers wait to establish their standing before declaring that they have arrived.”

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL | Remapping India’s Foreign Policy | UPSC

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