IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 2nd Nov 2020

“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt : India’s Foreign Policy 2020 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 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #220 :“New India’s Foreign Policy 2020 | UPSC

New India's Foreign Policy 2020 | UPSC

M.K. Narayanan
New India’s Foreign Policy 2020 | UPSC

M.K. Narayanan is a former National Security Adviser and a former Governor of West Bengal

      HEADLINES:

The shifting trajectory of India’s foreign policy

      CENTRAL THEME:

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

      MAINS QUESTION:

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)

      LEARNING: 

  • Recent dialogues
  • The strategic focus
  • Advantages at a price
  • Afghanistan and NAM
  • India-Russia Relations

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • 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 build-up to the talks was extraordinary to say the least, with the U.S. Defence Secretary, Mark Esper, stating that “India will be the most consequential partner for the US in the Indo-Pacific this Century”.

      BODY: 

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.

With the signing of BECA, India is now a signatory to all U.S.-related foundational military agreements.

  • 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.

At the same time, it must be recognised that the information comes with a ‘price tag’ which would not be inconsiderable.

  • 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.

By appending its signature India has signed on to becoming part of the wider anti-China ‘coalition of the willing’.

  • 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.

This will now become increasingly problematic as India gravitates towards the U.S. sphere of influence

  • 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 .

In terms of policy prescriptions, matters could only get aggravated
 

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • 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.

It is difficult to see how this can be sustained, if India is seen increasingly going into the U.S. embrace.

  • 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.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | New India’s Foreign Policy 2020 | UPSC

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