Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

A good foreign policy must also make a difference at home


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Building blocks of India's foreign policy


This is the edited excerpts from the lecture delivered by India’s External Affairs Minister at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi on March 24.

Relevance of foreign policy at personal level

  • Through a good foreign policy, our everyday needs from the world must be better met.
  • And since we are a collective as a country, our national security must be assured.
  • Foreign policy being the link to the outside, it should enable us to draw what we seek.
  • This could be in terms of technology or capital, best practices, or even work opportunities.
  • And obviously, we would all like to be strong; we would like to look good and we would like to feel appreciated.

Recent instances in which India’s foreign policy directly influence the common man

  • Through Operation Ganga, Indian students stuck in Ukraine were brought home.
  • It was the result of intervention by India’s foreign policy apparatus at the highest levels in Russia and Ukraine to ensure the ceasing of fire for safe passage.
  •  When the first wave of Covid hit India in 2020, we scrambled across the world to secure PPEs, masks and ventilators.
  • And we did so in a seller’s market as the demand far exceeded supply.
  •  The second wave in 2021 saw a similar spike in demand for oxygen and specialised medicines from abroad.
  • Locating, negotiating and contracting supplies became the priority for Indian diplomacy. And it bent its back to deliver.

Influence of foreign policy at the collective level

  • When it comes to security, external or internal, diplomacy could be a preventive, a mitigator or a problem-solver.
  • It can help raise awareness of a shared threat, just as it can find partners against common dangers.
  •  And then there is the economy, with its search for investment, technology and best practices.
  • In each of these sectors, foreign relationships can accelerate India’s progress.
  • And cumulatively, they expand employment and improve your quality of life.
  • It also matters to all of us what other nations think of India, our culture and our way of life.

Role of foreign policy in delivering on development

  • The most effective foreign policy is one that delivers on development.
  • In Asia, all modernising economies have single-mindedly focused their external interactions on obtaining capital, technology and best practices from abroad.
  • It may be information technology or auto manufacturing, food production or food processing, metros or bullet trains, space capabilities or nuclear energy; the fruits of foreign collaboration are there today for all of us to see.
  • Newer challenges like green growth and climate action have started to open up still more possibilities.
  • All this happens because of our ability to identify, engage, negotiate and leverage opportunities of interest abroad across many many domains.

Building blocks of India’s foreign policy

  • The six broad objectives that were spelt out to the policy-makers and implementers were clear.
  • 1] Shaping global perception: We must bring about a change of thinking in the world about us.
  • 2] Partnership on equal terms: The partnerships we should create should be on more equal terms, and with smaller countries, more generous.
  • 3] Shaping the global agenda: The global agenda and the big issues of our times should be shaped by India as much as possible.
  • 4] Leveraging foreign policy for domestic progress: Foreign relationships should be actively explored and leveraged for domestic development and progress.
  • 5] People-centric foreign policy: The very conceptualisation of foreign policy should be more people-centric.
  • 6] Our culture, traditions and thoughts should percolate our own articulation as well as influence international debates and initiatives.
  • Yoga and Ayurveda were obvious examples in this regard.


As we mark 75 years of independence, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, there is good cause to be confident about our prospects. But to be so, it is equally important to be aware of the opportunities and challenges that the world currently presents. And surely, we can be so once we appreciate how much foreign policy really matters.

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