Foreign Policy

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  • Dinesh asked: Given the present situation what should be India's foreign policy towards Iraq?

    Sonia Roy replies: India and Iraq have always emphasised on their traditionally close political ties, especially since the 1970s. India and Iraq never had any hostility towards each other. The US-led invasion in 2003 and subsequent violence forced India to recall its ambassador in 2004. In March 2011, with improving internal situation following the 2010 elections, India has decided to resend its envoy to Baghdad. But at the same time, India opposed the US-led invasion.

    Since 2003, India has contributed US$10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), apart from providing training to Iraqi officials under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. In addition it has committed US$20 million under the United Nations framework for assistance to the Iraqi people. The goodwill aid to Iraqi reconstruction, while refraining from interfering in its internal affairs, would be a good gesture of India’s friendly approach towards Iraq.

    Since 2003, bilateral visits between the two countries have been rather limited. Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hussein Al Sharistani visited India in 2007 while the Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Fauzi Franso Hariri came in 2010. There have been no reciprocal political visits to Iraq. India should look into improving political relations with Iraq and resume bilateral visits towards this end. Iraq is the third largest supplier of crude to India after Saudi Arabia and Iran and is slated to be world's biggest oil supplier by 2015. The re-construction opportunities are immensely beneficial for Indian companies. Also, the Indian government should tune its foreign policy, with emphasis on its historical ties to counter balance, or at least make a dent in China’s fast growing economic relations and the resultant influence in Iraq. With the stagnation of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, it is in India’s interest to ensure unhindered energy supply from Iraq, and making it a strategic friend in the region.

    Sonia Roy is pursuing research at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

    Raviteja asked: After collapse of USSR in general and after 2000 in particular India moved towards US. Is India moved away from its NAM ideology?

    Smita Purushottam replies: Once the old ideological divisions had evaporated after the collapse of the Soviet Union, non-alignment itself lost its earlier meaning. Since non-alignment meant that India refused to participate in the ideologically driven global contest for power blocks and influence between the Soviet and Western blocks, India did not have much of a choice once the contest ended!

    India: An Uneasy Onlooker!

    India’s decision to abstain on the Libya vote shows its distaste for taking a clear position on international issues.

    March 21, 2011

    Public Diplomacy in India's Foreign Policy

    The last few years have witnessed an incredible change in global communications as well as politics. The proliferation of 24/7 news channels, the spread of the Internet and the ready availability of mobile phones with digital cameras are having a profound impact on the international media and on the manner in which governments formulate their media strategies. At the same time, global issues like terrorism, climate change or even multilateral trade negotiations have come to be closely intertwined with the domestic political agenda.

    March 2011

    Venkat asked: As we are moving close with USA, how are we going to balance our friendship with Russia too. What is India's future foreign policy on this?

    Smita Purushottam replies: India’s relations with the United States and with Russia do not represent a Kierkegaardian choice, i.e., India is not being forced to choose between one or the other. The United States and Russia are rapidly improving bilateral relations, as can be seen from recent developments - for example the NATO-Russia Council meeting in which both sides agreed that they no longer constituted a threat to each other, and when the U.S. ratified the new START Treaty while leaving Russia’s superiority in tactical nuclear weapons intact. A leaked Russian foreign ministry policy document which people believe is genuine - clearly delineated that improving ties with the West is a priority for Russia, which seeks to modernize and upgrade its technology and economy in partnership with the West.

    Therefore there is no contradiction for India, which has excellent relations with both countries, and accordingly, no need for “balancing”.

    The only area where closer Indo-US relations could affect Russia is in the field of defence purchases. India needs to modernize its armed forces and equip them with the latest and best defence technologies available in the world so that it can meet modern day challenges. Recent encouraging statements from the United States which have indicated lifting of restrictions on high technology exports to India and also that India could participate in the joint strike fighter programme are huge departures from the traditional American stand and could make America a very attractive partner. Meanwhile, India also has to weigh the record in terms of its tried and tested cooperation with Russia. Russia has always been a steady and assured supplier in times of war and crisis and any decision that the government takes will obviously take all these elements into consideration. Moreover, India and Russia are taking steps to rejuvenate technological cooperation in their defence partnership. Elements of cooperation and competition will have to be handled maturely by all sides while India will have to take decisions based on its long term national interest.

    Indonesia in India’s Look East Policy

    Political, economic and strategic factors in the post-Cold War period call for expanded co-operation between India and Indonesia.

    January 20, 2011

    Mosaics of Cultures: Investigating the Role of Cultural Linkages in India-Indonesia Relations

    The cultural linkages between India and Indonesia have to be leveraged, as a foreign policy tool, to take India-Indonesia relations to the next level.

    January 19, 2011

    India's Neighbourhood Policy: Perceptions from Bangladesh

    Security has been a major driving force of India's neighbourhood policy. India's sympathies with democratic forces and its aversion to extra-regional presence are all geared to optimise its security interest, which is ensconced in its principal belief of a stable neighbourhood while engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship. Within this broad framework, this paper attempts to study Bangladesh's reaction to these parameters of India's neighbourhood policy.

    January 2011

    Thinking about an Indian Grand Strategy

    This article is primarily a conceptual overview on the theme of a grand strategy for a rising power such as India. The objective is to promote a systematic and structural way of thinking on grand strategy—the dynamic art of relating ends and means. The author identifies and expounds on the major domestic and international variables that will shape India's grand strategy.

    January 2011

    Tasks before Indian Foreign Policy

    India is contesting elections for the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term, 2011–12. If elected, it will return to the Security Council after a gap of 18 years. During this long hiatus, the geopolitical environment in the world has changed dramatically. As a member of the UNSC, India will be called upon to deliberate over a host of new issues and threats to international security.

    January 2011