Does India Have A Foreign Policy? – OpEd


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hard-line approach to project India as a superpower and as an upcoming power on global platform has received mixed reactions. The primary goal of any Indian establishment has been to maintain friendly relations with all the nations, cooperation on all grounds and even remaining non aligned with extreme ideology backed states.

Prime Minister Modi has been visiting nations across the globe to strengthen ties on all fronts including military partnerships. His “Make in India” programs to boost defence manufacturing in India and job creation was more than just a slogan or so believe many analysts. Indias first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his policies were directed towards projecting India as strong state post independence and till date the Congress Party holds on to ancient policies paying little heed to the changing dynamics of Indian Foreign Policy.

The concept of power plays a major role in the theoretical understanding of International Relations. It essentially means self reliance and freedom in deciding local and international matters or sovereignty so to speak. But India as a country is obsessed with hero worship. The Prime minister is not just an elected representative but the face of India hence sometimes policies dividing the nation go unnoticed as it happened in the recent demonetisation case.

India does not seem to have a blueprint of its foreign policy it seems. It focuses too much on the currents and undercurrents of politics and all stands maintained by the elites are directed towards immediate gains. The vision is lacking. The new buzz word is nuclear. In 1998 when India conducted nuclear tests it wanted to tell the world it’s no longer a weak state. Despite all efforts of Prime Minister Modi’s Indias ambition to become a superpower remains largely unrealised.

India’s focus on South Asia has shifted the fulcrum of superpower status inexorably towards its traditional adversary Pakistan. The fact that India has still not been able to get a permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council suggests the blueprint has to be made and made soon.

Pakistan our traditional adversary can be handled only through diplomatic pressures. Indian institutional mechanisms need to be restructured, remodelled, and reequipped in this era of asymmetric threats and changing battlefields. The digital platform is flooded with memes telling India what it should and should not so. British Prime Minister Thatcher had once said by giving publicity to troublemakers through the media we are making them more powerful. The war game in realpolitick is really dirty.

Indian diplomacy went haywire back in 1947, when Jawaharlal Nehru who had no idea about military strategy, war games and diplomatic policies was made the first prime minister of a newly independent and partitioned India. Diplomacy essentially is a process by which a state negotiates with another, putting national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity on top of the agenda. Let’s take a look at the cultural isolation and “Aman ki Asha” (Desire for peace) moves which India has crafted time and again to improve its ties with Pakistan. Budge not says the Pakistani devil, budge says the Indian Angel. The situation our current leaders are in is no less than that of Launcelot gobo, Shakespeare comic character who could not decide on what he wanted to do with life. Does India lack curiosity that questions or may question Pakistani motives? Can we declare war on a nation just on the basis of intuition and instinct?

The Indian establishment needs to articulate its diplomatic policies in such a manner that the impacts of these are felt globally. Pathankot and Uri have acted as catalysts yet again and yet again the matter will fade away given the short shelf life of news stories today. On 2nd October India celebrated the birth anniversary of the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, who all his life advocated non violence and here we are issuing alerts in several parts of India fearing more Pathankot’s and Uri’s. Is it intelligence failure? Was the timing of the Uri attack in favour of the attackers? Again conjectures. The larger question is can non violent principles be used as tools to settle territorial disputes with Pakistan? Will the K issue always remain the bone of contention or will there be an end of history a Fukuyama like complacency.

India and Pakistan’s strategic and military footprints are getting larger and larger every day. With the dragon raising its head now, and the United States using India in South Asia as a strategic partner, as a counterweight to the dragon, geopolitics is getting murkier than it already is. Will no first use policy by India stop Pakistan from going nuclear? All the above conjectural statements remain open to subjective interpretation, but in my view strong measures do not mean or refer to violent measures. International pressure through organisations such as the United Nations which was put in place to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war are already in place. India’s plan of action must be crystal. We cannot have the “Aman ki Asha” (Desire for Peace) if the grenade and bomb “tamasha” (drama) carries on endlessly.

Time is ripe but India’s on and off bumbling diplomatic, political and strategic policy towards Pakistan needs to be checked by men in uniform. They need to be included in the strategic decision making process. We cannot simply move our forces and pull them back at the whims and fancies of our ministers. This has a direct bearing on our national exchequer too. India cannot trust any other nation too because the rule of the game in geopolitics is that the “Might is always Right”

Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote

Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote is a Communication Professional, Research Scholar and a Defence Enthusiast. With an MA, MPHIL in International Relations, Political Science and Development Communications, Ms Hoskote regularly writes for Eurasia Review on subjects of geopolitical importance.

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