IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 2nd Nov 2020
“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
EDITORIAL HUNT #220 :“New India’s Foreign Policy 2020 | UPSC”
New India’s Foreign Policy 2020 | UPSC
M.K. Narayanan is a former National Security Adviser and a former Governor of West Bengal
The shifting trajectory of India’s foreign policy
New Delhi’s diplomatic skills will be tested now that the country is effectively a part of the U.S.’s security architecture
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR
New Delhi’s should focus on a policy stabilising Middle east and Indo-Pacific region as soon as possible . Critically comment on possible arrangements -(GS 2)
- Recent dialogues
- The strategic focus
- Advantages at a price
- Afghanistan and NAM
- India-Russia Relations
- The Third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between the Foreign and Defence Ministers of India and the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defence took place in Delhi on October 26-27.
THE STRATEGIC FOCUS
- PREDICTABLE OUTCOMES : The U.S. Secretary of State making an all-out attack on China and the threat it posed to democratic nations.
- The centrepiece of the dialogue was the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-Spatial Cooperation.
- SIGNIFICANCE : BECA marked India’s entry as a full member into the select category of nations entitled to receive highly classified U.S. defence and intelligence information.
- BILATERAL COOPERATION : The meeting deliberated- Military to military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing, defence trade and industrial issues, to a new level.
- PREVIOUS AGREEMENTS : India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), in 2016, and the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), in 2018.
- GEO SPATIAL DATA : By appending its signature to BECA, India is in a position to specifically receive sensitive geo-spatial intelligence.
- WELDING STRATEGIC ARCHITECTURE : The foundational military pacts effectively tie India to the wider U.S. strategic architecture in the region.
- CONCERNS : Previous Rulers had resisted attempts to get India to sign these agreements on the ground that it would compromise India’s security and independence in military matters.
- INDIA SPECIFIC MODIFICATIONS : The present dispensation argues that there are enough India-specific safeguards built into the pacts, and there is no reason for concern.
AN ADVANTAGE, BUT AT A PRICE
- GEO-SPATIAL DATA : Indisputably, access to this kind of highly classified information is an advantage.
- STRATEGIC AUTONOMY : It would be evident with the signing of these agreements, that India’s claims of maintaining strategic autonomy will increasingly sound hollow.
- THE U.S MANDATE : The U.S. makes little secret of the fact that the primary push for getting India to sign the foundational agreements was the threat posed by China.
- MAINTAINING EQUILIBRIUM : It is a point worth considering whether by signing on to BECA at this juncture, India has effectively jettisoned its previous policy of neutrality, and of maintaining its equi-distance from power blocs.
- NEED FOR A POLICY : It may be argued that the new policy is essentially a pragmatic one, in keeping with the current state of global disorder.
- OPPORTUNISTIC REGIME : India must address this challenge by forging more contemporary ties on every major account.
IMPACT ON CHINA, REGIONAL TIES
- EXPANDING QUAD : The invitation to Australia to participate in the Malabar Naval Exercises this year, to which the other two Quad members had already been invited, further confirms this impression.
- AVOIDANCE OF CONFLICTS : Since 1988, India has pursued, despite occasional problems, a policy which put a premium on an avoidance of conflicts with China.
- THE LAST DISCOURSE : Even after Doklam in 2017, India saw virtue in the Wuhan and Mamallapuram discourses, to maintain better relations.
- WORSENING RELATIONS : India’s willingness to sign foundational military agreements to obtain high grade intelligence and other sensitive information, would only exacerbate already deteriorating China-India relations.
- BETTER DIVIDENDS : If India’s policy planners were to pay greater attention at this time to its immediate neighbourhood (in South Asia), and in its extended neighbourhood (in West Asia) the result would be different.
- ENLARGING INFLUENCE : At the same time, both China and the U.S. separately, seem to be making inroads and enlarging their influence here.
- EXPANSIONIST POLICY : The Maldives, for instance, has chosen to enter into a military pact with the U.S. to counter Chinese expansionism in the Indian Ocean region.
- FOCUS ON MIDDLE EAST : India needs to devote greater attention to try and restore India-Iran ties which have definitely frayed in recent years.
AFGHANISTAN AND ALSO NAM
- SIGNIFICANT ROLE : Meantime, India must decide on how best to try and play a role in Afghanistan without getting sucked into the Afghan quagmire.
- DESIGN A NEW POLICY : India had subscribed to an anti-Taliban policy and was supportive of the Northern Alliance (prior to 2001).
- HALF BAKED U.S. NEGOTIATIONS : The new policy that dictates India’s imperatives today, finds India not unwilling to meet the Taliban more than half way .
- SHIFTING GEARS : India must decide how a shift in policy at this time would serve India’s objectives in Afghanistan, considering the tremendous investment it has made in recent decades.EX: Salma Dam, Atal Block etc,
- SQUARE OFF SCO : India, again, will need to try and square the circle when it comes to its membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
- MANOEUVRING DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS : SCO , which has China and Russia as its main protagonists — and was conceived as an anti-NATO entity — will test India’s diplomatic skills.
- NEW ALLIANCE PATTERNS : Though India currently has a detached outlook, wrt. the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and has increasingly distanced itself from the African and Latin American group .
THE RUSSIAN LINK
- STAPLE OF INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY : Finally, the impact of India signing on to U.S.-related foundational military agreements, cannot but impact India-Russia relations.
- ON A LONGER RUN : Almost certainly in the circumstances, India can hardly hope to count on Russia as a strategic ally.
- STRATEGIC CONGRUENCE : This, at a time, when Russia-China relations have vastly expanded and a strategic congruence exists between the two countries.
This is one relationship which India will need to handle with skill and dexterity, as it would be a tragedy if India-Russia relations were to deteriorate at a time when the world is in a state of disorder.