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December 15, 2010 / subramanyam

Foreign Policy —-Need of the hour.


The post 1991 era has seen India positioning itself in the world as an economic big wig . Everyone including critics today accept that India has the potential to change the course & direction of the world economy. India and China are probably the only nations which as developing countries are dictating terms in most, if not all the aspects of the world economy.2 Decades later in the year 2010 we have assurances from almost all the big powers in the world that they would back our bid for a permanent seat at the UNSC .However the stuff wikileaks exposed creates doubts in our heads. In spite of being an economy that’s signing multibillion dollar deals with the super powers of the world , we have a feeling that we are not getting our due at the bargain table. 

                To the question “Is this economic development enough to make us a super power? “ the answer is a rhetoric No . For any country to be a super power it should know how to use its economic and military power to serve its interests better in order to move towards the dream goal of being a super power. It needs to have a strong sphere of influence both locally (with its neighbors) and even globally (across continents) For this we need to have a strong policy on how we are going to respond to various incidents happening in the world. This policy should help us capitalize on every opportunity and expand the  scope our influence in the issues of International Significance.  

                Lets see how the development in the economical front was possible in our country. The major coalitions in the country, the NDA & the UPA have implemented similar economic policies when they were at power, while the  Congress  started off with the reformist agenda in 1991 and sticked  on to it till 1996 , the United front government also followed the same policies during its 96-98 regime. The NDA which came in to power in 1998 tic-toed the same path of its predecessors and stuck to the LPG(Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization) mantra. In fact  they (NDA) went on to constitute a disinvestment ministry as well . 

                While most of the parties ,barring CPI and CPI(M) follow the same policies with little or no deviation on the implementation format .Unfortunately the same is not true when it comes to foreign policy. Each party has its own thoughts and agenda when it comes to International affairs.  The classic example of this was in 2003-2004. In 2003 while NDA was at helm we used to see Mr.Yashwant Sinha  (minister external affairs -NDA) with Israeli ministers and Prime minister and we used hear news like  good amount of co-operation with Israel. In 2004 once congress came to power we had our minister for external affairs E.Ahmed touring Palestine.  

                Probably due to lack of clear outlook or lack of consensus we are not able to capitalize on the situational advantages which could have given us a significant and unavoidable position on the global front, we  are neither identifying the challenges nor focusing on the long-term strategic partnerships with the other countries . 

                We as a developing countries are having a lot of challenges when it comes to external affairs , while cross border terrorism always tops the charts we also need to fight for various other issues which affect us and our economy. A few of them are as follows

1.       Protecting the interests of our intellectuals, most of our patents are not with us.

2.       A permanent seat in the security council, which would ensure us a lot of stability, give us an international footage and a say to veto any bill which might drastically upset our fortunes. As of now most of the super powers say they accept this , but we ned to work in a way so that this promise becomes a reality.

3.       Protecting our peasants from the globalization  quandary  , our  agricultural products are heavily taxed in few countries while their products are not that heavily taxed here. The nature of products is different in some cases, but our peasants are still at the receiving end most of the times.

4.       Illegal migration into our country, most of the insurgents in our country are illegal migrants, this needs to be taken care of at least with the neighbors.

5.       Few clauses in agreements like GATT are not in the favor of developing countries ,our commerce ministers are doing a good job at WTA talks but this not enough always , we need the entire third world with us while countering such bills.

6.       Territorial issues, we need to get back a lot of occupied land from our neighbors, this needs to be done diplomatically . And to exert diplomatic pressure we need to have a lot of international community on our side.

7.       China is a real threat to us and does not wish our influence to grow in this region. Yes, they say we are friends ,we too say that but we should know the real intentions of the dragon.

8.       Most of our neighbors are better friends to China than to us.  

              These are just a few and we have a lot more challenges which our country needs to overcome.  

                                India as a  country (a developing country in particular) needs to identify these and challenges and need’s to look out for ways and means to overcome these challenges. But in the last two decades there was no clear and consistent effort in this direction, we had a lot of opportunities but we did not utilize them , the worst we did not have a proper concrete policy or at least  a framework to handle these issues. Each changing government came with its own ideology (if it had one) did whatever they felt appropriate and ended up in making things more complex.  

                The Result as it can be deciphered is that for the last two decades we did not have a long-term foreign policy and we got into the quagmire of implanting a policy which is best for that day. The  root cause for this being no national consensus across the major political players in the country , on the way they are going to perceive the relationships with the neighbors and other international bigwigs.  

                A classic and contemporary example in this case is the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal . Wasn’t this a rare opportunity for us ? The deal was proposed due to a score of International circumstances,  Pakistan which is a  nuclear power was under military rule and was fighting internal insurgency , China was(in fact is ) posing the biggest challenge what so ever to the global manufacturing industry . A weakening US position in the south-east Asia, all these prompted George Walker Bush ‘s govt propose a civilian nuclear deal to us , but what did we do we fought internally and lost internationally. O.K. we have that deal signed and sealed now but we all know the turmoil and hungama that happened in this country before getting this done.  

                Blinded by their Ideologies communists opposed it, BJP and it’s friends in NDA  as usual felt that the duty of the opposition is to negate what ever the Govt does, but did not really care for the historic opportunity, the worst are the gossips that some ppl in the country opposed the bill just because their companies might lose contracts from Iran and some other Muslim nations , Idiotic this sounds but this is true.  

                All almost all the nuclear reactors in this country  are non-functional today some due to lack of fuel and some because they are outdated, but our commies do not realize this, what they are more worried about is some fictitious problems to our sovereignty, we need to learn, our parties need to learn  and learn by all means from the countries like US , UK, China   and Russia where the countries interests come first and the petty politics next.  

                Chinese are leaving no stone unturned stop our influence in this region. Every neighbor of ours look at us with envy and will be more than happy to celebrate our disasters. If at all we will have crisis the probability that it will start from our neighbors is the highest. 

                As we cannot change our neighbors the best thing we can do is to try to change our outlook towards these and thereby change their outlook towards us, there are innumerable number of opportunities where we can extend our influence on these countries ,pursuing a policy of help, we need to realize the most of these countries have very unstable democracies and governments as well . It’s only when these countries are stable both in terms of governance and living quality we can grow big. We can pursue a policy of help where we can aid them in some developmental programs and some aid programs and there by create a positive image in the ppl of these nations, once you  have a positive image in the ppls hearts the leaders of these nations will do the required course corrections.We can also send a message that strong democracies proper faster.   

                But for all this to happen we need to have a stable foreign policy  at the national level , there should be a national consensus on this .All the big heads of from all the party’s should sit together and from a common arena come out with the policy .We should identify our friends , our threats and should stick to them , irrespective of who at the helm of affairs. It’s only then that we too utilize all the opportunities and  realize our dream of being a super power.                

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