From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Alternative foreign policy
A document has emerged from the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in the nature of an alternative to the present foreign and defence policies named ‘India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a world adrift’. It is authored by eight well-known strategists and thinkers.
Background of the document
- In 2012, many of the same authors had produced another document, ‘Non-alignment 2.0’, in the light of the global changes at that time, as a contribution to policymaking, without criticising the policies of the government.
- The present document, however, is in the nature of an alternative to the foreign and defence policies of the government, as some of its tenets are not considered conducive to finding a path to power for India in the post-pandemic world.
Change in foreign policy
- The first term of the Modi government was remarkable for its innovative, bold and assertive foreign policy, which received general approbation.
- After his unconventional peace initiatives with Pakistan failed, he took a firm stand and gained popularity at home.
- His wish to have close relations with the other neighbours did not materialise, but his helpful attitude to them even in difficult situations averted any crisis.
- He brought a new symphony into India-U.S. relations and engaged China continuously to find a new equation with it. India’s relations with Israel and the Arab countries became productive.
- In its second term, the government dealt with some of the sensitive matters, which were essentially of a domestic nature such as Article 370, citizenship issues and farming regulation.
- The external dimensions of these matters led to a challenge to the government’s foreign policy.
Suggestions in the Centre for Policy Research report
- Impact of domestic issues on foreign policy: The finding of the report is that domestic issues have impacted foreign policy and, therefore, India should set its house in order to stem the tide of international reaction.
- This assertion at the beginning of the report is the heart of the report and it is repeated in different forms.
- Importance of globalisation: The report rightly points out that “it would be incorrect and counterproductive for India to turn its back on globalisation…”
- Revival of SAARC: The report also suggests that SAARC should be revived and that India should rejoin the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and continue its long-standing quest for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
- Strategic autonomy: The report also stresses the importance of strategic autonomy in today’s world where change is the only certainty.
- Relations with the US and China: As for the India-U.S.- China triangle, the report makes the unusual suggestion that India should have better relations individually with both the U.S. and China than they have with each other.
- The report concludes that since China will influence India’s external environment politically, economically and infrastructurally, there is no feasible alternative to a combination of engagement and competition with China.
- Pakistan policy: The report asserts, “as long as our objectives of policy towards Pakistan are modest, resumption of dialogue and a gradual revival of trade, transport and other links are worth pursuing.”
The significance of the report is that it reveals the end of the era of consensus foreign policy and presents a shadow foreign policy for the first time in India. It remains to be seen whether any of the opposition parties will adopt it and fight the next election on the platform provided by the report.