What's the article about?
- It talks about the dynamics of India’s current foreign policy approach.
- GS2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests;
- At present, India is at its peak of geopolitical activities.
- India hosted the G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting, the G-20 Finance Ministers meeting and the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting.
- At the same time New Delhi has been teeming with global leaders and thinkers attending the Ministry of External Affairs-supported Raisina dialogue.
- A few weeks ago, India also organised the ‘Voice of Global South Summit’.
- The writer of this article discusses India's objectives and the positives of these geopolitical activities.
Significance of these geopolitical activities:
- For a very long time India has been on the sidelines of world politics. She has been often seen as an irritant by great powers for even having an opinion.
- But now India’s pivotal position at the G-20, the Quad (the United States, India, Australia and Japan), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Global South today has given it a sudden surge in stature and reputation.
- But one year is too short in geopolitics, and geopolitics is not always a function of happy coincidences.
- For New Delhi, thus, this is its moment under the sun, the near realisation of a long-awaited pivotal power moment.
The nature of current India’s current foreign policy approach – Treading the fault-lines
- Contemporary Indian foreign policy is a textbook example of treading the fault-lines of world politics – “advancing national interests by identifying and exploiting opportunities created by global contradictions”.
- New Delhi has become adept at playing both sides (though not without its costs).
- India is the chair of both the United States/West-led G-20, and the China-centered SCO at the same time. It is seeking to be at the global high table while staking a serious claim to be the leader of the Global South.
- Contemporary India speaks the language of revisionism and status quoism in the same breath, and with ease.
What is the Global North and Global South Divide?
What does India want?
- India has long wanted a seat at the global high table.
- But it has realised that it has little chance of getting one currently, particularly with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) out of reach.
- It has, therefore, been hinting at the dysfunctionality of the UNSC, and the utility of more inclusive and flexible forums such as the G-20.
- So, in New Delhi’s pursuit of actively seeking a seat at a restructured global high table, the G-20 has its utility as does the Global South.
- In its pursuit for a seat at the high table, New Delhi also knows only too well that falling in line with the U.S./the West (on the Ukraine war for instance) reduces India’s instrumentality (even for them).
- ‘Fall in line, and you will be forgotten’ appears to be the lesson that it has learnt about realpolitik over the past several decades.
Challenges in current foreign policy approach:
- Limited time:
- New Delhi’s moment in the sun is not without its inherent challenges.
- For one, the sun will set, and the moment shall pass. Indian chairpersonship of the G-20 and the SCO ends this year.
- Nature of diplomatic language:
- Some of the language that emanates from New Delhi in response to western or the U.S.’s statements/criticisms could be construed as needlessly offensive.
- Indian diplomacy needs to adopt the language of finesse and authority rather than that of aggression. Confident nations need not talk like reactionaries.
- The balancing opposites have their limits:
- If you play all sides, you might not end up making strong strategic partnerships that should come to your aid if and when something major goes wrong such as a future conflict with China.
- While bridging the divide in world politics is a noble task, indecisiveness might not yield lasting partnerships.
- So far, this foreign policy has done a great joba true world leader.