Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Changing Face of India's Foreign Policy

The parameters that directed foreign policy making in the past stand fundamentally altered today. The contemporary world order is amorphous and unpredictable. It defies theories and models which try to conceptualize the transformations sweeping the world. The inescapable reality of globalisation—a generic term that disguises a complex and often contradictory set of process operating in different fields like technological, political, economic and socio-cultural spheres has induced transformation.
Where does India fit into a world being shaped by the realties of the 21st century? And what are the parameters on which India’s foreign policy should be based so that it can respond effectively to the challenges of the new millennium?
India’s foreign policy has shown elements of both constancy and change over the last five decades. While we have preserved the basic principles that were enunciated by the founding fathers of the Republic, we have also crafted creative responses to the challenges of the post-Cold War and in the era of globalization.
An attribute of a dynamic foreign policy is the ability to respond to changing developments. The emergence of the Central Asian Republics in the aftermath of the break up of the Soviet Union was one such recent development, and India, given the strategic and economic importance of this region, has been quick to strengthen its bilateral relations with each of these Republics. The shift in recent years by the countries of Central and East Europe to political pluralism and market-oriented structures has also seen India trying to build upon existing business and institutional linkages so as to further strengthen the traditional ties of friendship with the countries of this region
With China the aim of Indian foreign policy has been of developing a relationship of friendship, cooperation and good neighbourliness, exploiting the potential for favorable growth wherever it exists, even as we seek to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the outstanding border issue.
This has been made possible, in large part, because on foreign policy and national security matters, our country has had a broad national consensus, cutting across all political divides, ever since independence.
The change or a bit unpredicta-bility in the foreign policy further deepened after the 9/11 terrorist attack on WTC, and America’s war-against terrorism, attack on Iraq, America’s ambiguity in its policy towards Pakistan and terrorism and indeed growing proximity of India with the United States.
If we take foreign policy options, which are available today, thenwe could put these under the follo­wing heads.
A.P. Rana, a renowned scholar on nonalignment wrote in 1991 “with the demise of the Cold War, India has in effect lost her foreign policy strategy.” But noted scholar Amitabh Mattoo argues differently. To him NAM is needed not just to secure a niche for the developing world in the international system but more essentially to articulate an alternative view in international relations, to move beyond the abject realism of the Westphalian system and to move towards an international society in which ideas matter as much as power. He says, “Only the NAM has the broad based membership and legitimacy to raise these questions and create a ground well that could eventually be the first steps towards creating such an international society.”
Closer ties with USA and West
Proponents of this thinking argue that the end of Cold War, lacklustre approach of Russia towards India, Indian tilt towards US and the West are enough indications for a viable and strong Indo-US ties. In support of their arguments they put up these reasons: Pakistan’s value decreased and that of India's increased. There was a feeling among some American as well as Indians that, in the post-Cold War period, containment of Islamic fundamentalism would replace containment of communism as the chief objective of American foreign policy. The signing of Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is one of the many evidences suggesting a gradual shift in the Indian Foreign Policy.
Huntington in his book Clash of Civilization has illustrated this thinking. Pakistan, being a theocratic state could not be regarded as a dependable ally by the US. Obviously this will benefit Indo-US relations.
Further, in the new emerging economic, political, ideological order in the world, India may come closer to the West and US. Considering the fact that both are having great threats of terrorism particularly after the9/11 terrorists attack on America and ideologically both value democracy, human rights, free market, globaliza-tion, etc.
But these assumptions are only guesswork and far from reality. Because Indo-US relationship has to go a long way to prove its credibility and viability even after much talked signing of Indo–US nuclear deal, and more or less the same situation is applicable to Indo-European relationship. India’s foreign policy options are limited. Indo-US or Indo-European fronts are having lots of vicissitudes and are not time-tested. There is immense suspicion in both the sides. One is not fully convinced of other’s action and attitude and obviously there is lack of trust on both the sides.
Unlike this, Russia-India relationship is time-tested and is based on solid foundation. They have history behind them. They are natural allies. Their ideological, cultural and economic backgrounds provide immense scope for further cooperation. Speaking on India’s Foreign Policy Today at the Diplomatic Academy, Moscow, the then Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Yashwant Sinha elaborated on contemporary problems faced by India and the nature of foreign policies–the decade following the end of the Cold War has been a period of extraordinary challenges for India in the realm of international affairs. Like Russia, India too was confronted with the need to rapidly adapt to a sudden and total change in the world order. Besides the political adjustment, India’s economy had to gear itself to deal with the wave of globalization that has been sweeping across the world. Further, Jehadi elements turned their targets on the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, actively aided and abetted by our western neighbour who has sought to wage a proxy war against us. The last decade has also been a period when extraordinary pressure was mounted on India by the international community to abandon its nuclear option. India’s response has been to confront these challenges head on. For this purpose, it adopted, a number of strategies including the infusion of a heavy dose of pragmatism and realism into the making of foreign policy, proactive efforts to build national strength, intensive engagement with major powers and active economic diplomacy. India can note with pride that significant success has been achieved in overcoming these challenges. We have today built close political and economic relations with a wide spectrum of countries across the world and India is widely acknowledged as an emerging power and important player on the world stage. The old adage in foreign affairs stipulates that a nation does not have permanent friends or foes; only its national interests are permanent. India’s foreign policy is facing challenges and thus changes in this respect.
Pursuit of national interest is the primary foreign policy goal of all nations, including India. In the future also, India will continue to evolve and implement a foreign policy that maintains a healthy balance between her principles and tradition of idealism as well as the demands of realism.

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