[oped of the day] Domestic political climate affects external relations. India must recognise this urgently


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.

Soft power

  • 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.
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2 years ago

How can I convert these great articles into pdf Sir…?

Mounica Sairaj
Mounica Sairaj
2 years ago
Reply to  Gaurav

copy and paste the content in a word document and save it, you can convert that into pdf by using any online pdf converter website.