India’s Internal Policy Ramifications With Overall Diplomatic ties.

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Context: The Indian parliament has passed the Citizenship Amendment Act amid protests all across India. As per this Act, Indian citizenship will be accorded to religious minorities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who have fled their countries and landed in India without valid documents. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has evoked extreme reactions from the international community.

Relevance:
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS II and GS I-

  • History of the world will include events from the 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism, etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
  • India and its neighborhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.

Background:

  • The Indian parliament has passed the Citizenship Amendment Act amid protests all across India. As per this Act, Indian citizenship will be accorded to religious minorities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, who have fled their countries and landed in India without valid documents.
  • The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has evoked extreme reactions from the international community.

Impact on India’s secular image and foreign policy:

  • Relation with Neighbour:
    • Bangladesh:
      • The immediate difficulties are likely to be in India’s relations with Bangladesh and Afghanistan, both of which are named in the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
      • The move to provide citizenship to an only certain religious sect has weakened India's image as a secular nation.
      • The real damage has been done to ties with Bangladesh.
      • Bangladesh's Ministers for Home and Foreign affairs canceled visits to India last week as protests of the legislation began in the Northeast.
      • In the last decade, Dhaka and New Delhi had worked hard on building connectivity, opening energy routes, trade and developing travel links.
      • Bangladesh is upset about being clubbed together with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the issue of treatment of minorities.
      • At the same time, Bangladesh’s repeated requests for help on the Rohingya refugee issue were unheeded.
      • The OIC plans for a special meeting on Kashmir and the CAA in April 2020.
      • If Bangladesh which defends India at the OIC feels that India’s actions are discriminatory, Arab countries could also become more vocal.
  •  
    • Pakistan And Afghanistan: 
      • In the neighborhood, Pakistan is predictably angry.
      • While Afghanistan is more muted.
  • Stance on Kashmir:
    • It has lowered the voices of support for Kashmir to India. CAA tainted India as a country moving towards Hindutva against the principle of secularism.
    • Saudi Arabia softened its stance towards Pakistan and called a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in April to discuss Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • Effects on the relation with the U.S. and Europe:
    • The dwindling of Democrat support was evident early on during the “Howdy Modi” event in September 2019.
    • In the U.S. bipartisan support for India had been the norm for at least two decades.
    • In that event, only three out of the two dozen lawmakers at the event were from the Democratic Party.
    • In the weeks that followed the event, the State Department and several bipartisan committees have issued statements of concern over continued detentions in Kashmir and the CAA.
    • They also held hearings in the U.S. Congress, and even referred to Kashmir in the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020.
    • The same issue found a voice in the U.K. parliament.
    • In the European Parliament, there was also a discussion on Kashmir.
    • Kashmir became a campaign talking point between Labour and Conservative candidates in the U.K. elections.
  • Muslim countries ties:
    • Middle East countries are important for Indian energy needs. The Act has drawn criticism from various Muslim countries as an anti-Muslim measure.
    • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), meanwhile, declared that it was increasingly concerned by the CAA due to its apparent discrimination of Indian Muslims.
  • Impact on various opportunities:
    • The afore-mentioned instances of global acknowledgment of India’s domestic policy decisions would adversely affect key foreign policy issues and indeed foreign investment opportunities through programmes such as the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
    • Recently, Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s visit to India, too, was delayed citing increasingly violent protests in Assam.
  • Possible fallouts:
    • In the U.S. Congress lawmakers can effectively block defence sales to India, or pursue sanctions on the S-400 missile system purchase from Russia.
    • The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has already recommended sanctions be considered against Home Minister.
    • On the international stage, the United Nations and its affiliated bodies could provide a platform for India to be targeted.
    • At FATF, India hopes to blacklist Pakistan for terror financing.
    • Break-in ties with Turkey and Malaysia for their comment at the UN on Kashmir could also lead them to veto India’s position at the FATF.
    • Unrest in the country could lead to a lower number of foreign visitors and visit cancellation/postponement by leaders.
    • All this also takes a toll on its diplomatic resources that have been diverted for much of the year in firefighting negative international opinion.
India West Asia Relations:

Importance of West Asia for India :

  • India has huge stakes involved in the region such as energy, trade, and safety of Indian community in the region
  • 70 % of India’s imported energy needs come from West Asia & will increase as the Indian economy grow
  • 11 million Indians working in West Asia. India is the largest recipient of foreign remittances from West Asia. Therefore, stability in the region is high on India’s core agenda.
  • Close cooperation is essential to counter radicalization in India
  • To reduce the influence of China in West Asia and in the Arabian Sea

Challenges in West Asia :

  • The security situation in West Asia has been continuously deteriorating ever since the onset of the Arab Spring in 2010.
  • The internal security situation in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen has gone from bad to worse. The regional powers continue to fight proxy wars on sectarian lines, pumping a huge amount of money and weapons to bolster their favored groups.
  • The involvement of extra-regional players such as the USA and Russia in the internal conflicts in West Asia has further aggravated the situation.

Saudi-Iran rivalry:

  • Destabilizing West Asia and influencing West Asian geopolitics
  • Terrorism has emerged as the biggest security threat to the region. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the most disturbing trend.
  • Pakistan is a very close ally of many west Asian countries especially with GCC
  • India’s close relationship with Israel is another sore point with west Asia.
  • India’s close relation with Iran may antagonize Saudi Arabia. India has to balance its ties with all three regional power in west Asia-Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

India’s “Look West” Policy :

  • A tri-directional foreign policy to accommodate the three key pillars of West Asia — Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel
  • A Secular and Non- Aligned Policy – Muslims and Jews / Shia-Sunni
  • Driven more by economic calculation than political rhetoric.
  • Major emphasis on Maritime Diplomacy + Energy and economic security

Impact of recent Internal Policy on West Asia:

  • Middle East countries are important for Indian energy needs. The Act has drawn criticism from various Muslim countries as an anti-Muslim measure.
  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), meanwhile, declared that it was increasingly concerned by the CAA due to its apparent discrimination of Indian Muslims.
  • This act along with the abrogation of Article 370 has put the relation to a dim future and may affect the core relation on various issues.

Conclusion:

  • West Asia is looking to India and other Asian powers to step in and offer security guarantees to the region. Many GCC states have welcomed defence cooperation agreements with India.
  • In the wake of the Arab Spring and the mess in Egypt and Iraq, the Gulf states find India and China to be more reliable interlocutors than many western states.
  • The structural change in the global energy market with West Asian oil and gas increasingly heading to South and East Asian markets rather than to the Trans-Atlantic markets.
  • We need to focus on that.

What should be done?

  • Reach out:
    • India should reach out to all the nations and allay any fears regarding the citizenship amendment act.
    • The government should take its friends into confidence and should remove doubts regarding CAA.
  • Diplomatic efforts:
    • Diplomatic efforts are needed at various international platforms to make sure that no country should perceive anything wrong about Indian intentions.
  • Clarity about CAA:
    • The government should clarify all the provisions regarding CAA and NRC so as to prevent misinformation and fake propaganda to be used against the country.
  • Assurance:
    • The government should assure its neighbours about the effective implementation and no discrimination against Muslims regarding CAA provisions.

Conclusion:

  • India had been the beacon of liberal values in the subcontinent. But the continued lockdown in Kashmir and the CAA has cast a shadow on this image.
  • It might not affect India’s global position, but diplomats across the world will have to find a way to battle the unease that many countries are feeling. India will have to do a lot of firefighting.
  • The government must consider the impact of its domestic actions on India’s diplomatic capital.
  • This capital is a complex combination of the goodwill the country has banked on over decades as a democratic, secular, stable power, bilateral transactions it can conduct in the present, and the potential it holds for future ties, particularly in terms of its economic and geopolitical strengths.



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