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PSIR 2B-8 Recent Developments in Indian Foreign Policy – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] What steps has India taken to regain its foothold in Afghanistan since the Taliban has taken over the country since August 2021. [2023/15m/200w/7b]

India has been closely monitoring the evolving situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. India’s approach to regaining its foothold in Afghanistan has been shaped by a combination of security concerns, diplomatic efforts, and engagement with regional and international stakeholders.

India has maintained diplomatic contact with various stakeholders in Afghanistan, including both the Taliban and the Afghan government. This is part of India’s strategy to keep channels of communication open and assess the evolving situation.

It has also actively participated in international forums and meetings to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. It has engaged with regional organizations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, to coordinate efforts on Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, India has continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, including the supply of food, medicines, and other essential items. This is in line with India’s commitment to supporting the Afghan population.

India has indicated its willingness to continue ongoing infrastructure and development projects in Afghanistan, many of which were initiated prior to the Taliban’s takeover. These projects include the construction of the Salma Dam, the Parliament building, and the Zaranj-Delaram highway.

India has also maintained communication and cooperation with regional players, including Iran, Russia, and Central Asian countries, to coordinate efforts and discuss regional security implications.

India’s approach to Afghanistan has been flexible and adaptable, reflecting the rapidly changing dynamics in the country. The Indian government has indicated that it will assess the situation and recalibrate its strategy as necessary. [251 words]

2] What are the challenges and limitations in India-Iran relations? [2023/15m/200w/7c]

India-Iran relations have historically been characterized by cordiality, but there are several challenges and limitations that have affected the depth and scope of these bilateral ties.

India’s relations with Iran are influenced by its strategic partnerships with the United States and other countries in the region. The complex geopolitics of the Middle East, including Iran’s relations with the U.S. and Israel, often creates challenge for India in balancing its interests.

Iran has faced international sanctions and economic pressures due to its nuclear program and other issues. These sanctions have constrained economic cooperation between India and Iran, including trade and energy partnerships.

The Chabahar Port project in Iran is of strategic importance for India’s connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia. However, the progress of this project has faced delays and financial constraints, limiting India’s ability to use it to its full potential.

India’s relations with Iran are also affected by its relations with Iran’s regional rivals, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Balancing these relationships while pursuing strategic interests in the Gulf region can be challenging.

Expanding trade and economic cooperation has been constrained by banking restrictions related to sanctions, making it difficult for businesses to engage in bilateral trade and investments.

Moreover, Iran’s alliances and relationships with countries like Russia and China can affect India’s strategic options and influence in the region.

Despite these challenges and limitations, India and Iran have a history of cooperation in various areas, including energy, trade, culture, and regional politics. Both countries continue to engage in diplomatic efforts to overcome these challenges and expand their bilateral relations, recognizing the mutual benefits of a stronger partnership. [272 words]

3] Discuss the significance of “West Asia Quad” in the light of India’s “Look West” policy? [2023/15m/200w/8b]

West Asia Quad denotes coming together of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and India. The establishment of a “West Asia Quad” could facilitate closer regional cooperation by focusing on addressing common challenges, including security concerns, economic development, energy resources, and counterterrorism efforts. Such regional collaboration aligns with India’s interest in promoting peace and stability in its extended neighborhood.

Moreover, West Asia is a critical region for India’s energy security, as it is a major source of oil and gas imports. The quad could enhance energy cooperation, ensuring stable and reliable energy supplies for India and fostering energy security, which is a central component of India’s foreign policy.

The quad could promote trade and investment opportunities, as well as enhance economic cooperation in sectors like infrastructure development, technology transfer, and agriculture.

Further, it would provide a platform for coordinating efforts to combat terrorism, promote stability, and resolve regional disputes. India has a vested interest in countering terrorism in this region.

India has longstanding cultural and people-to-people ties with West Asia, owing to historical connections and a large Indian diaspora in the region. Strengthening these bonds through cultural exchanges, education, and labor migration could be a key goal of a “West Asia Quad.”

Active participation in a “West Asia Quad” would align with India’s pursuit of multipolarity in international relations. India values strategic autonomy and seeks to maintain its independence in decision-making and foreign policy choices.

While the concept of a “West Asia Quad” is still in its early stages, its potential significance for India’s “Look West” policy lies in the opportunity for deeper regional engagement, fostering stability, and securing economic and energy interests. Such an initiative, if properly structured and managed, could contribute to India’s broader foreign policy objectives in the Middle East and West Asia. [296 words]

4] Discuss India’s vision of a New World order in the 21st century. [2022/15m/200w/8c]

India’s vision of a New World Order in the 21st century is guided by its commitment to multilateralism, inclusivity, sustainable development, and global peace.

India advocates for a multipolar world order where power is distributed among multiple major nations. It seeks to promote a global system that respects the diversity of nations, cultures, and ideologies. India believes that a multipolar world fosters a more balanced and inclusive global governance structure, allowing for the representation and participation of all nations.

It emphasizes the importance of adhering to international law, including the United Nations Charter and other global conventions. It calls for upholding the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. India believes that a rules-based international order helps prevent conflicts, promotes peaceful resolution of disputes, and fosters mutual respect among nations.

Holding the leadership of the Global South, India advocates for an inclusive and sustainable economic order that addresses global poverty, inequality, and environmental challenges. It emphasizes the need for fair trade, technology transfer, and investment flows that promote development, particularly in developing countries. India supports initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve equitable and sustainable global growth. India promotes South-South cooperation, recognizing the importance of developing countries collaborating and sharing experiences and resources. It advocates for strengthening ties among developing nations to address common challenges and promote collective development.

India’s vision of a New World Order is rooted in its historical legacy, democratic values, and commitment to global peace and development. It seeks to build partnerships, foster dialogue, and work towards a more equitable and inclusive global system. [268 words]

5] How does India-Israel bilateral ties reflect the autonomy of India’s foreign policy choices? [2022/20m/250w/8a]

India’s engagement with Israel is notable because it transcends its historical alignment with the Arab world, particularly the Palestinian cause.

India’s engagement with Israel is driven by its pursuit of strategic diversification. India recognizes Israel’s technological advancements, particularly in areas such as defence, agriculture, water management, and cybersecurity. By establishing cooperation with Israel, India aims to access Israeli expertise and technologies to address its own developmental and security challenges. This demonstrates India’s willingness to forge partnerships based on its own strategic interests, regardless of regional dynamics or external pressures.

Moreover, India and Israel share concerns and challenges related to terrorism. Both countries have been victims of terrorism and face similar security threats. The bilateral ties between India and Israel have seen increased cooperation in areas such as intelligence-sharing, counterterrorism strategies, and capacity-building. This collaboration reflects India’s autonomy in selecting partners based on shared security concerns rather than being influenced by external factors.

Both countries have complementary strengths in sectors such as agriculture, technology, and innovation. The economic cooperation between India and Israel is driven by mutual benefit and the recognition of each other’s capabilities. This economic partnership underscores India’s autonomy in pursuing beneficial ties with countries based on economic potential and shared interests.

Despite India’s longstanding support for the Palestinian cause and its solidarity with the Arab nations, it has maintained a separate track of engagement with Israel. All of this demonstrates India’s ability to pursue its own foreign policy interests and make independent decisions based on its national priorities. [250 words]

6] How does the recent takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban impact India’s strategic interests? [2021/10m/150w/5e]

The Economist wrote that the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban was like a collapse of the house of cards for India and indeed India has a lot at stake.

India has invested more than $3 billion in Afghanistan through Infrastructure projects such as schools, highways, dams etc. As there is uncertainty about the future of Indo-Afghanistan relations, there are fears about the future of these projects.

India’s major concern is the close links between the Taliban and the Pakistan deep state and the consequent major influence of China in Afghanistan would mean the deterioration of India’s influence.

There are worries that Afghanistan may become a safe haven for terrorists. If that happens, India and also the other world countries are at threat. Groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad that have been keeping bases and training grounds along the southern provinces that border Pakistan could now have more ungoverned spaces to carry out attacks against India.

In addition, trade through Afghanistan under a Taliban regime would be routed through Karachi and Gwadar, and the Indian investment in the Chabahar port, meant to circumvent Pakistan, may become unviable. It is for this reason that both the US and China have already centred their connectivity projects from Central Asia through Pakistan, with the newly announced U.S.-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Quadrilateral, and Chinese plans to link the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC) with the Trans-Afghanistan railroad and Belt and Road Projects.

While the new great game in Afghanistan is likely to keep all stakeholders on their toes, India will have to take risks, assess costs, and expect failures, but it will also mean doing everything possible to address very real challenges in a country that readily signed a Treaty of Friendship with India as far back as 1950. [292 words]

7] “The war in Afghanistan is crucial from the point of view of India’s national security. If the Americans withdraw and Jihadis emerge with a sense of triumphalism, India will face increasing onslaught of terrorism.” Comment. [2020/20m/250w/8a]

The withdrawal of the US, as well as NATO troops from Afghanistan, has become a matter of great concern for South Asian countries, especially India, which is wary of the resurgence of the Taliban and the country again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

The first set of risks has to do with the possibility of international and regional terrorism. The joint declaration between the United States and the Afghan government includes “guarantees to prevent the use of Afghan soil by any international terrorist groups or individuals against the security of the United States and its allies.” However, there is little clarity on how these guarantees will be upheld. The Haqqani group, which continues to be the best armed and trained Taliban faction, has engineered and carried out attacks against Indian assets, including the Indian embassy in Kabul.

The security vacuum created by the US drawdown of forces has resulted in the rise of the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K). This group’s ability to attract radicalized individuals, including from India, and recruit well-trained defectors from Taliban and Pakistani militant groups is a very real threat to India’s future in Afghanistan and the region more broadly. An attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul, in March 2020 is the most telling example of the very real security risks to India’s footprint inside Afghanistan.

In addition to the security threat, India also has an economic interest in Afghanistan. The region is important for India for its connectivity to Central Asia and also for its ports in the Indian Ocean. The victory of the Taliban means that all these plans and investments won’t pay any dividends now, and India’s Afghanistan policy was a failure to some degree. [282 words]

8] Identify the key sectors of cooperation between India and Israel since 2014. Examine their significance in strengthening the bilateral ties between the two countries. [2020/15m/200w/8b]

India’s independence and Israel’s declaration of statehood came in successive years, but both nascent democracies chose divergent paths as sovereigns. However, gradually both countries have used every opportunity to come closer through various ways, with trade, technology, defence and education figuring prominently.

Israel’s open and free markets, venture capital availability and technological edge have much to offer to India’s economy. Both countries cooperate not only in defence and security but also in the fields of space, healthcare, water conservation, agriculture and nanotechnology.

The Indian and Israeli markets do not compete with one another but complete one another. India is a massive market for Israeli businesses and Israeli exports and the trade between countries stand at around $7.5 billion in 2023. Today, India is Israel’s largest client for arms, and in return, Israel gets vocal support from the world’s largest democracy, which significantly boosts its political and diplomatic leverage, especially considering over 30 countries of the UN still do not officially recognize it.

Israel has built 28 centres of excellence for agriculture in India. The country has also shared its expertise in ‘precision agriculture’, which, encourages efficient water management with the use of technology. Indian and Israeli universities have signed more than 20 MOUs and offered around 200 scholarships to Indian students to study in Israel.

Apart from the above, India and Israel have been engaging in expanding diplomatic ties through bilateral talks and coalition initiatives towards agricultural cooperation, water accessibility and oil and natural gas cooperation.

Moreover, the Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and a number of Arab states eased India’s weaning process from walking the usual tightrope in formulating its West Asia policy.

This synergetic, successful cooperation strengthens both nations, making them more self-reliant. In future, the collaboration can also foster joint development, R&D, joint design and joint export to third countries. The scope for partnership between the two countries is only bound to deepen and expand in the coming years. [323 words]

9] Critically examine the role of India in shaping the emerging world order. [2020/15m/200w/8c]

The Western globalised order is today facing a serious crisis with the rise of China, Russia and India and also with the domestic politics of the developed countries reconsidering the benefits of globalization.

India’s idea of a future world order has a polycentric construct, with multiple actors and the absence of hegemonic polarities. Thus, India has pursued a policy of building multiple alignments – the G20, BRICS, BIMSTEC, and the SCO, even as it seeks a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

While India has called for reforms of global institutions such as the UN, World Bank and IMF in order to make them more relevant and reflective of the 21st-century political and economic realities, it has also played a key role in raising non-Western institutional alternatives, such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Thus, India seeks partnerships with all the relevant actors in the world, while avoiding overly close ties with big powers or blocs. However, there is a need to strengthen and reform existing world institutions like WTO and World Bank to suit the new world and in order to effect the new balance of power.

It also believes in forging de-hyphenated relations among rival countries and strategic groupings, even in the most fraught and conflict-ridden regions of the world, such as West Asia.

But there are some bottlenecks before India achieves its vision. India’s own borders with two of its nuclear neighbours are vulnerable and the growing extremism in India is also hampering its soft power. The developmental levels of Indians remain low, and the country also needs to address it.

As the paradigm is shifting, middle powers like India need to step up to sustain the world order in which they are stakeholders. Without clear rules, middle powers are lost in a Thucydidean world in which the strong do as they can, and the middling do as they must. [320 words]

10] “The growing closeness between India and Israel will strengthen the cause of Palestine.” Comment. [2019/10m/150w/5e]

In March 2020, the UN asked India to mediate between the two sides of the Palestine issue to resolve the protracted conflict in the region. A recognition that India can play an instrumental role in the Palestine-Israel issue.

The US and Russia have tried for decades but failed to negotiate a peace deal for the region. The US is not trusted by the Arab nations since it openly supports Israel and frequently vetoes any resolution condemning the actions of Israeli forces at the UN. And any decision of Russia will not be acceptable to the USA-Israel group, irrespective of whether it’s right or wrong.

On the contrary, India will likely be viewed as independent and non-partisan, as it has a history of cooperation and friendship with Palestine and, at the same time, strong military ties with Israel. The country could be seen as a legitimate party to act as a mediator between the two arch-rivals.

Additionally, India follows a path of de-hyphenation policy with Israel – meaning it has an independent relationship with the Jewish state, unaffected by its relationship with other countries. India has good relations with Iran too, which has been an ardent supporter of Hamas, which has again been an independent relationship.

India could gain a lot if a successful resolution to the greatest issue facing the world is pushed through. The country’s standing in global politics will see a historic rise and its stature at the global forums will be positively influenced. [245 words]

11] Write a brief note on India’s interests in West Asia. [2019/15m/200w/7b]

In recent years, India’s interest in West Asia has gone beyond the traditional engagements of energy security. PM Modi’s 2015 visit to the U.A.E. was a turning point in this process and West Asia came to be seen as not only important but even crucial to the success of his economic agenda.

New Delhi’s traditional priority in West Asia has been the stability of oil and gas prices and supplies from that region. The remainder of its economic relations revolved around exporting goods and ensuring remittances from its diaspora in the Gulf regions. Uncertainty over the U.S.’s continuing commitment to West Asia and Pakistan’s loss of standing as a credible security provider has helped to increase India’s leverage. Though the slump in West Asia’s oil- and gas-fed economic growth has led to less demand in the region for Indian migrant labour.

Space is a new arena in which India and the UAE have collaborated through the work of the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Together, the two space agencies have developed the Nano-satellite, Nayif-1, which was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in India.

India’s primary security focus remains the continuing conflict in Afghanistan, hence its interest in developing a trade route through Iran to Afghanistan and diluting Pakistan’s ties to the Gulf monarchies.

The Islamic State (ISIS) remains a secondary concern for India because of its geographic distance. additionally, the focus Is on establishing integrated Gulf-Indian Ocean security to tackle problems of unilateralism (of China) and piracy.

New Delhi is also increasingly of the belief it must be more active in shaping developments in the region. In March 2015, the Indian foreign secretary said, “We are no longer content to be passive recipients of outcomes … Our growing capabilities and stronger national branding, in fact, makes us a credible partner.” [309 words]

12] Evaluate India’s vision of a new world order. [2019/20m/250w/8a]

With the turmoil in the Western powers, the balance of global economic power has once again tipped in favour of Asia. Within this shifting global landscape, India has the opportunity to put in place a new framework for its own security, growth and development.

India has replaced self-depriving isolation with partnerships. The expanded Malabar exercises, the BRICS initiatives and BIMSTEC are steps in the right direction. While the US is focused on preventing Chinese hegemony over the South China Sea. India has projected its naval strength and has become a stability provider in the “near” Indian Ocean.

In addition to helping regional maritime and trade security, India must give “face” to its immediate neighbours and make them partners – a contrast to China’s dollar-denominated, neo-colonial terms of trade approach.

While the states in the developing world yearn for replicable templates of growth, they find themselves with a binary choice between Western democracy, which is ill-suited for deeply plural and socially stratified societies, and autocratic systems that have little room for individual freedom. India, on the other hand, has “emerged as a bridge between the many extremes of the world”, as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once remarked.

India sits at the intersection of the world’s two most dynamic regions, Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific. The largest bulk of development finance will emerge from, and be invested in, these regions. It is incumbent on India to ensure that this is not a new means to maximize political interference, but a moment to offer unfettered opportunities.

India must claim leadership over the global development agenda and, create and protect the space for equitable and inclusive global governance. [273 words]

13] Do you think that India’s capacity building role in Afghanistan has shrunk the strategic space for Pakistan there? Discuss. [2018/20m/250w/8a]

According to Kautilya’s mandala siddhanta, Afghanistan, the neighbour’s neighbour is a natural friend to India. The strategic importance of the country is huge for India, and how it manages Afghanistan will also have a strong effect on its ability to control Pakistan.

While almost all the major powers of the world have maintained a military presence in Afghanistan, India has chosen a slightly different path. It has focused on providing developmental and capacity building assistance to the country.

India believes that internal prosperity and development will naturally contribute to peace. It has extended a line of credit to the country and built the highway through Iran to Afghanistan to increase trade with the region. India has also constructed the new parliament building of Afghanistan.

Though the ITEC program, it provides civilian administration training to many Afghani officials every year. It also provides the scholarship under the aegis of ICCR. All these gestures of India have earned itself a huge goodwill among the public.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has done exactly the opposite. While India is going for bottom to top approach, Pakistan believes that by controlling the state of Afghanistan it can manipulate it. It has provided military assistance to non-state actors.

With India’s approach gaining more recognition, the space for Pakistan has been reduced. It is trying strongly to keep India at bay and bring the Chinese into the picture. For now, at least, it appears that India has the upper hand. [241 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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