When President BarackObama visited India, he made a long speech in the parliament. Of course, it is absolutely rhetorical that leaders make long and promising speeches in order to impress everyone. In his speech, Mr. Obama claimed that India was not acting up enough. Though Obama threw in a lot of trash stating that India like the US is a strong and stable democracy and must take the initiative in things.
Though Obama tried to convey a specific idea with a specific goal in mind, he actually outlined the original picture of Indian foreign policy. And he was absolutely right. The Indian foreign policy is in complete shambles.
You might wonder, that how a country like India, one of the fastest growing countries in the world with enormous amounts of potential and one of the major powers in the area, has a weak foreign policy.
For starters, Indian Foreign Policy hasn’t been reviewed in a really long time. There are many people within India who make constant reviews of Indian Foreign policy and give suggestions and ideas to the government, but they are turned down. Why that happens is actually a long story.
The country after all is a democracy with a democratically elected government. A political party dictates the policy of the government and that also includes the foreign policy. So however good a suggestion maybe, if it comes in conflict with party ideas, it will never even be given a thought about. After all, even diplomats at the end of the day report to the Minister for External Affairs, and he is a politician more than a statesman, a person who respects the party’s ideals more than the welfare of the country. Do not get me wrong. I am in no way referring to anyone in particular.
Indian Foreign policy has not only been criticized internally but also internationally.
First of all, Indian foreign policy lacks a clear stand. Indians are confused about which side they want to be on. They want to appease anyone and everyone. Of course, peace is one thing. But appeasement and keeping everyone happy is not the way to conduct relations. You win some, you lose some. That is natural and that is the way that it is done. You cannot be on everybody’s side.
There is always the political factor that comes into play. For example, India would find it extremely advantageous to have stronger ties with Israel, but the party in power in India, wants to win the next election and is counting on the Muslim vote bank in India to vote them back to power in the next election. So what does the party do? In order to please the Muslim community, it goes closer to Arab countries and denounces Israel even if deep inside they respect the Israelis. The Arab countries may not exactly be as advantageous to India as Israel is, but because of politics, the foreign policy is distorted.
Indian foreign policy lacks strength. They are never rigid on anything. Even when it was the question of condemning Iran for its nuclear program, the Indians had to think and question themselves till they finally decided to condemn the program. Their soft foreign policy shows them to be soft and therefore more weak in the international fora. Even when India conducts relations with everyone, it isn’t strong enough. They just meet their obligations and don’t go beyond that. India never asserts anything on anyone. It waits for initiative and that is pathetic.
India is not vocal about issues. You don’t find India taking a big initiative in issues that concern the world. In spite of being a big power, we chose to follow other nations as they take initiatives to tackle the issues what the world faces today. When you go through resolutions in the United Nations, you won’t find many resolutions that are sponsored by India and this holds true for most committees in the UN.
Though India’s foreign policy is based on the principle of non-interference in a country’s internal affairs, it is a fact that India turns a blind eye to various atrocities that happen in countries. Let us take Myanmar for instance. The various atrocities that happen there is no secret. But India does not do much about it. They haven’t pressurized the government to act up. They just stood by and kept silent. India has turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by many countries for political reasons. India has to be pressurized by its allies to actually condemn actions like these which take place in these countries. India must unilaterally act without pressure.
India refused to take a stand during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. India felt that the invasion was not justified, but it did not voice its concerns and India’s opinion wasn’t considered. Even the official statement is so diplomatic, you would wonder which side the Indians are on.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in criticizing the violations of human rights that goes on in other countries. Pulling the world’s attention to them is not violating the sovereignty of a nation, it is not interfering in the internal affairs of a nation.
This is exactly why India has allies, but no friends. Countries are fed up of pressurizing India into doing things. When you take a side, countries can be assured that you are going to stick around and you are reliable. With India’s confusion about its stands, who will support her when it needs their support?
If it were to take stands on issues and be firm on its ideals, then India wouldn’t have a problem garnering support for their problems. Not only that, the world would respect India and trust India more.
India is a very responsible power. But it needs to decide where it wishes to use its power and how. This weak foreign policy of India has lowered the opinion of India within the diplomatic community. It is time that the Indian government stopped worrying about its politics and engage meaningfully with countries so that we can build strong partnerships and create more friends than just mere allies.
Copyright © 2010 AshwathKomath