Foreign Policy Challenges for India
India apart from being the biggest democracy of the world is also one of the fastest growing economy and surely competing along with China to become a world superpower. The country has made definite marks in its excellence in Information Technologies, Pharmaceuticals and other areas of Global importance.
In order to promote the interests of the citizen, the country in this globalized world has essentially to be integrated with Global economy and polity along with Trade, Investment and culture etc. It is our deep understanding of Global scenarios and contemporary developments across the world with the active participation in every sphere is all that is desired. This can only be achieved with suitable and far-sighted foreign policies with the clear objectives of achieving a securer, peaceful and tranquil environment which can help transform our society and economy to achieve our ultimate agenda of inclusive growth and sustainable development.
The foreign policies have been playing a bigger role in a world where the emerging trends in Global politics are facilitating countries to gather at a platform and forming regional and intra-regional groups to put forward their agenda. India also can’t remain idle and being aloof in contributing towards the global challenges of Terrorism, Climate Change and Trade & Investment etc.
However, the foreign policies of the country are facing plethora of challenges and many times the overall national objectives are being subsided by the regional interests. The policies sometime have also failed to appreciate the development in the global polity and to align itself with it. Hence, there is a call to outline suitable foreign policies towards different regions of the world and more importantly towards those countries with whom India shares key interests in different facets. India, in its pursuit on the path of developments has also to ponder upon its energy policies through better economic diplomacy along with securing its defence requirements through better relationships with its friends.
China remains one of the most formidable challenges despite a rising trade pattern with the country. The long withstanding boundary dispute has further fuelled by the recent development of issuing staple visa to the residents of J&K along with Arunachal Pradesh. The outcome of Sino-Indian bilateral ties is heavily dependent upon the possible solution to the boundary dispute and it requires political will resolve the issue. Meanwhile the restrictions on Chinese companies to investment in infrastructure in India may be eased to get the reciprocal effect of China opening its market for more Indian Exports. It is highly desirable to curb the trade deficit with China.
Another focus area where the challenges lie in foreign policies is South Asian neighbourhood i.e. the SAARC countries. The land boundary agreement with Bangladesh is a core issue the solution for which will greatly help in securing the border in order to cut down the smuggling along with human trafficking. The problem of illegal migrants from Bangladesh is another contentious issue and thoughts must be given to legalise their work through work permit. The Teesta water share Agreement which, due to the compulsions of coalition politics has so far not been able to materialize needed to be signed.
Another SAARC country which is eminent from India’s point of view is Sri-Lanka with whom tensions have been resurfaced due to India’s position about resolution for International Investigation of human rights violation during its war with LTTE. It is important to have clear view on this matter with larger interests. Also, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which is in negotiation stage with the country is supposed to bring much needed bilateral exchange of investment and services.
Pakistan and Af-Pak
Pakistan which is historically a problematic area due to Kashmir conflict and cross-border terrorism has added new dimensions to the problem when recently a soldier was beheaded along the Line of Control (LoC). The repeated violation of ceasefire is another area of concern.
The Indian diplomacy must be able to tackle the situation arising out of the US forces exit from Afghanistan and the elections in the country. The border between both the countries needs to be more secure to prevent the Pakistani terrorist infiltrating in the country. It is also important to encourage better trading and commercial links with the country.
The US forms an important part of the foreign policy and the recent relations with the singing of the civil nuclear agreement; it has achieved the status of strategic partnership. The association has seen certain hiccups in recent times after Snowdon revelation, UN reforms, on Pakistan and misbehaviour with Indian Diplomat in US etc which are needed to be solved out. The time is to be shift the attention to the focus areas of trade, investment and developing a India-US technology agenda involving private sectors of both countries. The ongoing discussion on forging a bilateral investment treaty should be completed.
South East Asia
The cordial relationship with South-East Asian neighbours is extremely important in order to boost the trade and investment along with keeping the region securer and prosperous. The ‘Look East Policy’ of India essentially envisages integration with ASEAN economies despite certain economic and border challenges.
The energy security is another domain which requires apt attention and fine diplomacy. As India imports more than 80% of its total energy consumption, and the statistics are only going to be raised as demand for energy is intensified in current decade owing to faster development. India though is exploring nuclear power as the alternative energy source along with solar and wind power, it would take its own time in finally being able to replace oil and gas. Hence, to ensure uninterrupted supply, the countries of middle-East (especially Saudi-Arab and Iran) are important to negotiate with. The search of energy from other avenues such as Africa and Latin America should also be continued.