From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : India's internal politics - external relations
India will need some decisive domestic course-corrections to prevent the crystallization of serious external challenges. The combination of internal strife and a faltering economy could turn out to be a dangerous recipe for India’s polity.
India – International Relations
- In the 21st century, two important factors have boosted India’s international relations.
- One is India’s rapid economic growth stemming from the reforms of the 1990s. It put India on the course to join the league of major powers.
- The expanding size of the economy and the attractiveness of its market was reinforced by another important factor.
- India’s growing economic weight made believe that it would translate into military power and shape the regional balance of power in Asia and the Indian Ocean.
- The rise of India’s hard power capabilities was complemented by its soft power — defined by India’s democratic values, the spread of Indian culture and the positive influence of its diaspora.
- It is easy to underestimate the weight of India’s soft power that is both intangible and difficult to measure.
- The idea of shared political values with the West played a critical role in ending the decades-old high technology blockade against India and improving the country’s standing in the West.
- India’s democratic values helped cement India’s strategic partnerships with the US, Europe, Japan and other Asian democracies in the new century.
- India’s ability to live with religious, linguistic and ethnic differences highlighted its political exceptionalism amidst the proliferation of intra-national conflicts and civil wars around the world.
- The economic slowdown and the antipathy to trade might be limiting India’s attractiveness as a commercial partner.
- The sense of creeping Hindu majoritarianism has begun to generate concern among a range of groups from the liberal international media, the US Congress, to the Islamic world.
- The diaspora is now becoming part of Delhi’s foreign policy problem. India’s internal divisions are transmitted to the diaspora that feeds into the emerging negative sentiment towards Delhi.
- The sharpening religious divide within the country coupled with the renewed confrontation with Pakistan is generating major headaches for the conduct of India’s external relations.
International Relations – Impact of domestic politics
- Through the ages, statesmen have sought ways to manage the complex interdependence between the internal and the external.
- Those who pretended that there is no relationship between the two had to pay a high price.
- For most nations today, domestic economic policy and technology policy are shaped by a dynamic interaction between the internal and external.
- Absolute economic sovereignty is unsustainable in a globalized world. While one can control the degree of exposure to the world, there is no room for absolute separation.
- Political sovereignty has never been absolute and is always constrained by size, economy, geography, demography, and history.
- There is no country that does not have internal fault lines. Maximizing political sovereignty involves limiting domestic conflict and strengthening internal political coherence.
Taking benefit of others’ weakness
- Statecraft has recognized the value of taking advantage of others’ internal problems.
- When a country chooses to inflame the divisions at home, it disappoints its friends and well-wishers and also provides huge opportunities for exploitation by its adversaries.
- Russia is now being accused of interference in the domestic politics of more powerful Western democracies.
- Qatar in the Gulf is charged by many in the Middle East of destabilizing other, larger societies, in the region.
- Beyond governments, old and new media, trans-national groups and non-governmental organizations are highlighting internal conflicts in societies and then shape the international narratives on them.
- Nothing draws international attention to a country more than religious conflict.
- This goes back to the dawn of the modern state system. As the European Christendom organized itself into nation-states, the religion of the sovereign and the citizenry were no longer the same.
- As governments persecuted religious groups within their territories, the demand for their protection from other states who shared the faith of the oppressed began to grow louder.
- This eventually led to agreed principles among the sovereigns about protecting freedom of religion.
India – religious challenge
- Few countries have had to bear the kind of religious burden that independent India has.
- The partition of India along religious lines has left Delhi with extraordinary challenges about sustaining religious harmony at home and maintaining reasonable relations with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- All governments in Delhi have struggled to cope with the bitter legacies of Partition.
- The very nature of these challenges inevitably produced much ambiguity, self-doubt, and vacillation in India’s engagement with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- It will be a tragedy if the government’s attempts to answer some of these challenges ends up exacerbating them.