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PSIR 2B-1.2 Institutions of Policy Making – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] How do the constituent states influence the foreign policy making process in India? [2021/15m/200w/7b]

Over a period of time, a multiplicity of factors like the degree of democratization and federalization, the extent of socio-economic development and the opening of markets,  have come to determine the extent of the ability of sub-national entities to contest the central government’s pre-eminence in foreign policy making.

Scholars, Jacob and Mattoo attribute the rise of the state’s influence over foreign policy to the following four factors;

Some states, such as Jammu and Kashmir of North East, enjoyed a special status that enhanced their political leaders’ influence on foreign policy. Certain state leaders have the political clout to informally shape foreign policy making.

Central coalition governments have empowered state governments and leaders to have a greater say on foreign policy because such coalitions are composed of regional parties, many of them located in a single state. And finally, although the constitution has not changed, the forces of globalization have created new practices and possibilities that have already given the states a greater role and will continue to do so in the future.

Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and other states have regularly organized investor summits to gain foreign investment. Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is a very good example when reached out to the World Bank for a state-level development loan in 1997, and in April 2015, the Union government asked him to lead a high-level Indian delegation to China on its behalf.

Post-liberalisation, states are also competing among themselves to attract foreign investment. For instance, during his tenure as a Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi travelled to China four times and Japan twice, to attract investment for his state.

Further, the binary distinction between national and international spaces also becomes misleading in the context of many border states in India.

While increasing state influence in shaping the foreign policy of a nation is a welcome change, it also creates a space for conflict when the interests of states do not align with those of others. [330 words]

2] Describe the structure and function of the National Security Council of India. What role does it play in the formulation of Indian foreign policy? [2020/10m/150w/5a]

The National Security Council (NSC) of India is the institution responsible for advising the government on matters related to national security and strategic policy.

The council constitutes of a chairman who is the Prime Minister of India, and several members appointed by him which include the National Security Advisor; Ex-officio members who are the Ministers of Defense, External Affairs, Finance, and Home Affairs; and certain Permanent Invitees.

The NSC is responsible for formulating and reviewing strategic policies, including defence, foreign affairs, and internal security. It provides guidance and recommendations to the government on these matters and plays a crucial role in crisis management, providing advice and coordination during national security emergencies, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or border conflicts.

The NSC ensures coordination among various ministries and departments involved in national security matters, facilitating a comprehensive and coherent approach. It plays a significant role in the formulation of Indian foreign policy by considering national security implications, geopolitical dynamics, and regional strategic interests. The Council helps align foreign policy objectives with broader national security goals, ensuring coherence and synergy in India’s approach to international relations.

The constitution of the NSC was visionary in enhancing the effectiveness and relevance of Indian foreign policy in an increasingly complex and dynamic global environment. [210 words]

3] Examine the role of ‘parliamentary diplomacy’ in India’s foreign policy. [2019/10m/150w/5a]

In the recent past, the parliaments have dramatically extended their circle of interest in the foreign field. Issues of foreign policy have frequently been the subject of discussion, either in committees or during a parliamentary plenary session.

The duties and actions of Parliaments in the foreign area are condensed into what we call parliamentary diplomacy and there is no precise definition of this concept. Parliamentary diplomacy can be defined as “the activities carried out by Parliaments in international relations, both within the limits of institutional competence and as a central factor of the internal political scene.”

Government is accountable to parliament, which can seek information and clarification on policies and issues. During parliamentary debates, the opposition and the other members of the parliament point out the mistakes and give suggestions for better policies. The Parliament poses unparalleled power to withhold, pass or reject any bill or resolution that is directly or indirectly related to India’s external policy.

Similarly, by opening new offices and branches and neutralizing the performance through resource control of agencies that deal with foreign policy activities, the parliament can indirectly control the external policy of the country.

Among its important oversight functions, parliament has a Standing Committee on External Affairs and a Standing Committee on Defense, which grills the officials on issues pertaining to foreign relations and external security. Parliament may also constitute ad-hoc committees to look into specific issues. Thus, the Consultative committees of the Parliament, especially the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs have been playing a significant role in shaping India’s foreign policy.

However, despite all the authority it has, the role and influence of the Indian parliament in foreign policy decision-making are weak in comparison to other major democracies. In practice, the parliament has never been considered one of the core actors of foreign policy decision-making. Though the parliament is empowered to legislate on any matter of foreign affairs, not many issues on foreign and defence policies have been referred to the Parliament for legislation. [331 words]

4] Discuss the role of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in promoting India’s soft power abroad. [2018/20m/250w/7a]

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) plays a significant role in promoting India’s soft power abroad by facilitating cultural exchange, showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage, and fostering people-to-people connections.

The ICCR serves as a platform for cultural diplomacy, representing India’s cultural diversity and heritage on the global stage. It organizes cultural events, festivals, exhibitions, and performances in collaboration with foreign governments, institutions, and organizations. Through these activities, the ICCR aims to strengthen cultural understanding, promote dialogue, and foster goodwill among nations.

It provides scholarships and facilitates academic exchange programs for foreign students, researchers, and artists to study, research, and train in India. These initiatives help in building long-term relationships, creating cultural ambassadors, and deepening cross-cultural understanding. By supporting international students in experiencing India’s educational institutions, arts, languages, and traditions, the ICCR enhances India’s soft power influence.

The ICCR establishes and operates cultural centres known as “Indian Cultural Centers” (ICCs) in various countries. These centres serve as hubs for promoting Indian culture, language, yoga, music, dance, and other art forms. They organize workshops, lectures, performances, and language courses, providing a space for locals and the Indian diaspora to engage with and appreciate Indian culture. The ICCs act as cultural bridges, fostering cultural dialogue and strengthening people-to-people connections.

ICCR also facilitates the visit of Indian artistic and academic delegations to foreign countries. Such visits promote India’s soft power by presenting its cultural wealth, stimulating interest in Indian art and philosophy, and nurturing collaborations with foreign artists and institutions.

It organizes language courses, provides language teaching materials, and offers opportunities for foreigners to learn Indian languages. By encouraging language learning, the ICCR strengthens cultural ties, facilitates communication, and promotes a deeper understanding of India’s linguistic diversity.

The ICCR’s endeavours contribute to India’s soft power influence, creating positive perceptions, and strengthening India’s cultural and diplomatic ties with other nations. [306 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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