Why India Needs to relook at its Foreign Policy

Aastha Mehta

India, shares its boundaries with 7 countries, and yet does not have the best of foreign policy, a country situated so strategically should have. However, when it comes to have good foreign policy, one must always remember how our home turf has certain glaring administrative lacunas not to forget the absence of any formalized guidelines or legislation in place. The current article focuses primarily on how the country has suffered, and lost out on lucrative tie-ups or partnerships in global arena, due to the fact that India has “soft” and maybe to certain extent slow process of functioning.

Firstly analyzing how the situation has gone the wrong way would be of help, since that would mean, the causes of lose foreign planning are at place. Literature on this is scarce, since Indian government remains too tight-lipped on pertinent foreign policy issues. However, one does come across one common link between all the writers who have ventured in this area, which is the lack of any directives or guidelines, which ambassadors, diplomats, foreign officials or even the Indian foreign ministry has to follow. The recent example is letting go of Universities interested in establishing institutions in India, but have left the idea on paper due to some high benchmarks, which India right now cannot afford to expect from other host countries. Major reason being that these Universities has to enter the Indian education market after being declared as non-profit making under Section 25 of the Companies Act for at least 20 year and that too after having a balance of minimum 25 crores. India fails to negotiate educational prospects for its youths, but does enter into never-ending bilateral ties for trade and commercial purposes, is showing blatant vested interests of the pressure-groups which largely shape the foreign policies under the sign and seal of the ministry. Education being an equally commercial market now, India has not been able to explore the full potential of the Indian minds since foreign universities always remain uncertain about what to expect in Indian markets.

Indian policy has been really unsettling when it comes to taking tough stands. More so India has ratified large number of treaties focusing on myriad issues, however little has been implemented in the municipal law since India being a dualist country wherein the treaty ratified has to be incorporated by way of Act of Parliament, it would be evident that the ideology of the Government behind ratifying treaties and agreements and bringing them closer home is somehow on different levels, and never have been the two able to match up each other. Article 51 of the Constitution is the base from which Indian government is directed to “to Endeavour to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another.” However being in Directive Principles of State Policy, they have to face the hurdles of being non-justiciable.

Globalization has made everyone’s lives so open and so connected, that new threats have emerged such as cyber attacks on important governmental institutions, drug-trafficking, and other naval issues of illegal fishing into territorial waters of the other neighboring countries, piracy etc. However there is dearth of some solid consolidating or comprehensive strategy on such issues. But one should concede to the fact that in times when spying between countries has increased and has come into public light, discussions on such issues by the Government can be counter-productive and even pose serious security issues too. It is choosing between the lesser of the two evils: Open up your stance to the world, and to your own countrymen or Go unannounced about what you do, and be subjected to domestic criticism. International relations only work on quid-pro-quo basis wherein the country is always faced with what other countries are deciding as their policy. It’s always a game of Nash Equilibrium. India will choose its counter-terrorism strategy on how US will behave in Afghanistan, and whether Chinese government is ready for co-operation approach on the boundary intrusions.

The problem also lies much deeper and has its roots in who is at the helm of the affairs in making key decisions which will be shaping the way the policy turns up to be. It is seen generally that India has been cautious when it comes to taking big policy stances, and therefore hinders India’s image as tough task master for those who pose as threat to them.

Concluding it will be better, if India is more proactive in making good fruitful partnerships with major world powers not only for business purposes, but also is strongly vocal about the political concern it faces.

To read:

  1. Foreign Affairs
  2. Business Standard
  3. AIE.Org

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