IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 4th Dec 2020
“Dream big and dare to fail.” – Norman Vaughan
EDITORIAL HUNT #276 :“Revisiting India’s Neighbourhood Policy | UPSC”
Revisiting India’s Neighbourhood Policy | UPSC
Does India’s neighbourhood policy need reworking?
India should have a plan for continuous engagement at various levels
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR
Recent visits by Foreign Secretary to countries in the region appear to show new energy in India’s neighbourhood policy. Substantiate -(GS 2)
- Need if reworking
- Redesigning the framework
- SAARC and Way Ahead
- TUSSLE AND STRAINS : Over the past few years, there have been many strains in ties with neighbours.
- NEED OF REWORKING : This new energy is welcome.
- PROCESS ORIENTED APPROACH : It should not be event-oriented; it should be process-oriented.
- CONTINUOUS ENGAGEMENT : We should have a plan for continuous engagement at various levels.
REDESIGNING THE FRAMEWORK
- RESETTING THE TARGETS : The present political dispensation’s domestic drivers have relegated foreign policy objectives to the background.
- MATURE DIPLOMACY : India should fashion its diplomacy in a manner which does not give rise to feelings of being slighted or marginalised.
- FLOATING POLICIES : India’s neighbourhood policy has been a constant work in progress.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF INDIAN OCEAN REGION : It is almost impossible for India to get all its ducks in a row in the neighbourhood at one time as it’s a very complex region.
SOURCES : OXFORD ANALYTICA
- SOUTH EAST ASIA AND ARENA : It is one of the largest regions in the world by population.
- LEAST INTEGRATION : It is one of the least integrated regions with tremendous deficits in terms of infrastructure, connectivity, and interdependence.
- GEOPOLITICAL COMPETITION : It is a region that is now being exposed to various geopolitical competition dynamics.
- OPENING THE DOORS : If the main objective of India’s neighbourhood policy is to connect and have closer links with immediate neighbours.
- REGIONAL POLICIES AND MAKEOVERS : India is doing more than ever today on connectivity and regional policies.
- COMPETING WITH CHINA : The capacity of China to deliver on its commitments exposed India’s deficit.
- INDIA’S FOCUS : The bottom line is key interests , then it is better to make it known what the red lines are.
- NEO MODERNISATION : India uses the security threat from China as an excuse to limit the capacity [of neighbours] to deepen relations with China or to accept Chinese investment for their own infrastructure modernisation.
- CREATING EQUILIBRIUM : Naturally all these countries in India’s neighbourhood will try to balance.
- INDIA IS THE GIANT IN IOR : Other countries are always anxious about India, which is the de facto giant in this geography.
- STRATEGIC GOAL POST : The only way to really solve all this is to focus on creating interdependence in this region that will give India strategic leverage.
- FAST MOVING MARKETS : That means that all these countries in India’s neighbourhood that used to depend and rely much more on India in the past are adopting a first come, first served policy.
- CONNECTIVITY : In terms of energy, interdependence, infrastructural connectivity, grants and loans, the numbers have been going up.
- CATCHING UP WITH CHINA : If we try to match China dollar for dollar, road for road, or project for project, I think we will constantly be trying to catch up. Connectivity is certainly a very important area.
- BUILDING CONNECTIONS : With all our neighbours, we should go forward with highways, railways, the revival of riverine transportation or sub-regional energy grids, are things that we can do.
- CLOSE PROXIMITY : What is one of the greatest assets which we have with respect to all our neighbours, and that is proximity.
- EASE OF DOING BUSINESS : There is no point in having a glass-topped highway connect if trucks have to stop at the border for hours and hours.
- ECONOMIC REACH : We should aim to be the best possible alternative in terms of the economic development of our neighbours.
- CHINESE STRATEGY : And often these countries were working in parallel without coordinating, which only benefited China because it plays a divide and rule approach and has been able to make the most of it.
- LIKE MINDED DEMOCRACIES : The bottom line is of working closer together with like-minded partners that are fellow democracies.
SAARC AND WAY AHEAD
- A PRAGMATIC POLICY : The format of SAARC is outdated and does not serve the complex, fluid regional cooperation agenda any longer.
- CPEC AND PAKISTAN : Pakistan has taken a very different approach to regional connectivity, where it sees itself mostly as a hub between China and the Gulf or Central Asian regions, so towards the west and the north.
- STAGNATION OF SAARC : The last four years is another chapter in the split of the subcontinent between India and Pakistan that has manifested in the stagnation of SAARC.
- REVIVED PROJECTS : India has revived BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and worked in the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) quadrilateral for a framework on motor vehicle and water governance.
- A LONG PURSUIT : BBIN and BIMSTEC should be pursued faster for their own merits, but It should not replace the SAARC.
- WELCOMING CHALLENGES : Now, if India is going to turn its back on SAARC, if India walks out, for example, there could even be a possibility of China being welcomed into SAARC.
- A LIVE VISION : There are various other reasons, particularly with respect to how the political dynamics in this region are working out, to keep that vision alive.
“Generosity And Firmness Must Go Hand In Hand”.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Revisiting India’s Neighbourhood Policy | UPSC