India’s Neighbourhood First Policy 2021 | UPSC

India’s Neighbourhood First Policy 2021 | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

India and its neighbours

      WHY IN NEWS:

What were the major challenges to India’s Neighbourhood First Policy this year?
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR

      LEARNING: 

For PRELIMS note down recent mission like – Vande Bharat and SAGAR etc.

For MAINS concentrate on the timeline of events and challenges India is tackling in the sea as well as on land.

      ISSUE: 

India faced a trifecta of challenges in its neighbourhood from China: the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing influence in South Asia, and aggressive actions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

INDIA’S NEIGHBOURHOOD FIRST POLICY 2021 

INDIA TACKLING THE COVID-19 CHALLENGE

  • The COVID-19 pandemic that originated in China has led to one of the biggest health challenges, causing heavy economic damage in South Asia.
  • India ranks second after the United States in terms of number of cases, and the worst-hit economy among G20 nations.
  • India is also one of the best poised nations to aid recovery efforts in the region.

India has showcased its status as one of the world’s leading producers of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines 
 

  • In March, Prime Minister held a special virtual summit of eight SAARC nations and proposed a COVID-19 package.
  • India provided about half of the $20 million funding for relief.
  • India’s military ran a series of missions to SAARC countries and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with supplies of food and medicines.
  • India’s ‘Vande Bharat’ mission flew home nationals from neighbouring countries, along with lakhs of Indians who had been stranded during the lockdown.
  • India was not the only country in the region providing help.

CHINESE INTERESTS IN SOUTH ASIAN REGION

  • China, too, stepped up efforts to extend its influence in the South Asian region through COVID-19 relief.
  • China also promised to provide the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine to them when it is available.
  • China also shipped relief to South Asia, sending out PPE suits and other medical equipment.

Given that all SAARC countries except India and Bhutan are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 
 

  • India owe’s different amounts of debts to Chinese banks, Beijing stepped in to provide partial debt waivers to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
  • It also extended a massive $1.4-billion Line of Credit to Pakistan.

DID THE MILITARY STANDOFF IMPACT REGIONAL TIES?

  • China doubled down on territorial claims and its transgressions along its borders with South Asia: from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
  • PLA soldiers amassed along various sectors of the LAC, leading to violent clashes.
  • The deaths of 20 Indian soldiers at the Galwan valley was the first such casualty in 45 years.
  • China also laid claim to Bhutan’s Sakteng natural reserves and pushed along the boundary lines with Nepal.

India and Nepal saw their worst tensions in decades over the construction All of the above moves have changed India’s strategic calculations along its Himalayan frontiersof a road to Lipulekh.

  • Another mishap happened when Nepal amended its constitution and map to claim Indian territory.
  • Meanwhile, a new defence pact this year between China and Pakistan vis-à-vis a sharp rise in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.
  • These ceasefire violations are at the highest levels since 2003, has made it clear that India must factor in among its military challenges at the LAC the possibility of a two-front war.

[wc_highlight color=”yellow” class=””]ALSO READ : CHINESE AGGRESSION AT GALWAN  [/wc_highlight]

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

INDIA AND THREE-PRONGED CHALLENGE

  • The state’s response to the challenges has been to assert its Neighbourhood First and SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) strategies as foreign policy priorities.

Mr. Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a virtual summit on December 17 

  • India has also upped its game on infrastructure delivery, particularly for regional connectivity in the past year.

This includes :

  • Completing railway lines to Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • Riverine projects, ferry service to the Maldives.
  • Identifying other services to Sri Lanka and IOR islands.
  • Also considering debt waiver requests from its neighbours.

MULTILATERAL APPROACH

  • India has also become more flexible about the entry of other powers to help counter China’s influence in the region — it recently welcomed the U.S.’s new military dialogue with the Maldives.
  • America’s Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) projects in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh are also finding more space.

As part of its Indo-Pacific policy, New Delhi is also encouraging its Quad partners — the U.S., Japan and Australia 

  • QUAD will collaborate on security and infrastructure initiatives in the neighbourhood, along with promoting forays by other partners like the U.K., France and Germany in the region.
  • New Delhi has made it clear that despite the provocations, it intends to resolve the nearly ten-month-long military standoff diplomatically and bilaterally.
SUGGESTED READING : LESSONS FROM SINO INDIA WAR 1962 
     SOURCES:  THE HINDU | India’s Neighbourhood First Policy 2021 | UPSC 

 

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