Riding on factors like economic growth, tax reforms, the introduction of new technologies in defense and communication, I feel India’s international status has radically grown over the last decade. Increasingly, its efforts to steadily integrate with the international market economy and induction of nuclear technology in the energy sector and a focus on non-conventional sources of energy, like solar power, has made India a global player and a potential leader. I strongly feel that India’s image is slowly evolving from a supposedly low-income country with poor infrastructure and mass poverty into a country with a global presence.
In this regard, foreign policy is a crucial factor in its ambition of becoming a superpower. Here, it is extremely critical to forming a balance and harmony in foreign policy to capitalise on its economic growth. Some core concerns of India’s foreign policy such as the Kashmir issue, nuclearisation, terrorism and India’s position in South Asia with regard to counter China’s seemingly aggressive stand requires a strong diplomatic stand.
I feel that in the past, India’s foreign policy lacked coherence and certainty, although it being high on morality and a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement is definitely a matter of appreciation. Despite achieving a ‘nuclear state’ tag, it seemed to me that India was seemingly unambitious and indifferent to achieve a dominating place in the world. I came across criticism over India’s decision to conduct nuclear tests on May 11 and 13 in 1998 without an explicit desire to use nuclear weapons.
For me, it definitely proves the ambiguities of India’s foreign policy with reference to India’s military capacity, arms procurement, and missile deployment. India’s doctrines underpin India’s military capacities. I feel Nehruvian and Gandhian legacy are clashing with a contemporary requirement of the Indian state to protect itself from various state and non-state actors, for instance, militancy in Kashmir, Naxals in central and east India, and infiltrators through boundaries we share with other countries.
India’s foreign policy is, I think, suffering from a ‘security dilemma’. As a result, foreign policy analysis does not fall under either school: neither as addressing international relations nor domestic politics. I strongly feel India has failed to act in accordance with it’s emerging power and status. Its policies appear to vacillate between appeasement and aggression. The need of the hour is to emerge as a nation with an assertion of national self-interest. The policy rhetoric has changed with specific prime ministers but in sum, the doctrine remains abstract and ambiguous.
These criticisms don’t demonstrate only negative aspects. Sushma Swaraj as the foreign minister had proven India’s stand and given clear signals that foreign policy will both cater to interests and demands of domestic front as well as deal with International counterparts across the negotiating table: NDA as a ruling alliance with partners like hard-line Hindu ‘nationalist’ party, Shiv Sena and powerful South Indian regional party, the DMK.
The result of trying to placate all of these diverse interests put separate constraints on Indian diplomacy. The emergence of a stable foreign policy will bring noticeable and congruence developments.