Indian politics shifted dramatically in 2014 to the centre right. Its reverberations were felt across sectors and foreign policy cannot be immune to it.
To begin with, since 2014, the debate around Indian Foreign Policy has increased. The volume of literature around Indian foreign policy, which this govt. has inspired has been unprecedented. The fact that everyone is engaged, may be in support or against, indicates that something is happening at the core of Indian foreign policy.
At an ideational level, there is shift from narrative of Indian foreign policy. The story has moved from a balancing power to a leading power. And there is also a shift in the way India and Indians are perceived.
There has also been contestation around Indian foreign policy (democratisation of Indian foreign policy), which is new. Prime Minister has been successful in taking international issues to large audience. Large number of people are now engaged in discussion than before. And this is a positive development for a nation which is rising in global hierarchy.
From non-alignment and staying away from great powers, India has shifted to issue based alliances. India has been successful in maintaining ties with USA, China, Russia, Israel, Middle East etc. using this methodology.
“India has moved on from its non-alignedEx Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale
past. India is today an aligned state—but based on issues.”
With respect to Pakistan, India has shown its willingness to exercise military power if situation demands. Unpredictability is used against Pakistan to leverage India’s position.
Business and investments have become central to the policy. There is stronger drive and greater purpose for implementation. There was active effort to meet global standards in business sector to attract foreign investment. India’s ranking in Ease of Doing Business has improved significantly, particularly to attract foreign investment.
India’s soft power has been leveraged to enhance India’s global position. Be it Yoga, spirituality or Ayurveda. There is greater confidence among Indians now, then in the past. Diaspora – an important element of of India’s soft power, has been utilised more extensively than before. There has been a continuous engagement Indian diaspora.
However, the challenges are not far from over. It is much easy to create something than to maintain it. Articulation is much easier than implementation. Intangible gains are useless if they cannot produce concrete outcomes in our favour. India is facing challenges from all sides. China has outgrown India. It it is increasing its reach in the region, and managing our neighbours is tougher than ever. Our large borders are still not settled. More needs to be done than that has been done.