India's Foreign Policy: 2014-19: Landmarks, achievements and challenges ahead
By: Amb (Retd) Achal Malhotra
Central University of Rajasthan
Date: July 22, 2019
Honourable Vice Chancellor
Distinguished Members of the Faculty , Dear Students
Ladies and Gentlemen
At the outset I would like to thank the Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Rajasthan for his initiative to organize a Talk on India’s Foreign Policy ; this should go a long way in generating interest in the less-debated subject in our country. I would also like to thank Ministry of External Affairs for deputing me to deliver the Talk under its prestigious Distinguished Lecture Series Programme. The topic assigned to me is:
India’s Foreign Policy: 2014-19: Landmarks: Priorities and Challenges Ahead
I have divided my Talk into three segments: To begin with I will briefly touch upon the definitions of Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, and also upon the objectives and Fundamental Principles of India’s Foreign Policy. I then propose to dwell at some length on thrust areas and landmarks of India’s foreign policy in the last five years. And finally I will touch upon the foreign policy Priorities and Challenges ahead of us.
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy: Definition: I do not wish to burden you with the complicated definitions of Foreign Policy as offered by eminent scholars and prominent political scientists. As a practitioner, I look at Foreign Policy as a framework within which the Government of a given country conducts its relations with the outside world in different formats i.e. bilateral, regional and multilateral or global.
Diplomacy on its part is a profession, skill and art of managing country’s relations with the rest of the world with a view to achieving the objectives of country’s foreign policy. Broadly, Diplomacy can be political, economic or cultural, and ideally should work in tandem. As a rule the diplomacy is pursued through established diplomatic channels and mechanisms. It may or may not always be transparent and in public knowledge. At times It can be pursued through back-door channels or through informal Track 1.5 /Track2 mechanisms.
India’s Foreign Policy: Main Objectives : Secure National Interests and Ensure Inclusive Development
The main and first and foremost objective of India’s Foreign Policy –like that of any other country-is to secure its national interests. The scope of "national interests” is fairly wide. In our case it includes for instance: securing our borders to protect territorial integrity, countering cross-border terrorism, energy security, food security, cyber security, creation of world class infrastructure, non-discriminatory global trade practices, equitable global responsibility for the protection of environment, reform of institutions of global governance to reflect the contemporary realities, disarmament, regional stability, international peace and so on.
In order to sustain its growth trajectory, India needs substantial external inputs. To succeed, our on-going programmes such as Make in India, Skills India, Smart Cities, infrastructure development, Digital India, Clean India etc. need foreign partners , Foreign Direct Investments, financial assistance and transfer of technology.India’s foreign policy’s added focus on this aspect in recent years has resulted in Diplomacy For Development by integrating economic diplomacy with political diplomacy.
India has 20mn strong Diaspora comprised of Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin, spread all over the world. One of the major objectives is to engage them and derive maximum benefits from their presence abroad, while at the same time protecting their interests to the extent possible.
In short, our Foreign policy has at least four important goals : 1. to protect India from traditional and non-traditional threats; 2. to create an external environment which is conducive for an inclusive development of India so that the benefits of growth can reach the poorest of the poor in the country; 3. to ensure that India’s voice is heard on global forums and that India is able to influence world opinion on issues of global dimensions such as terrorism, climate change, disarmament, reforms of institutions of global governance, and 4: to engage and protect Indian Diaspora.
Dynamic World: Proactive and Pragmatic Approach
We are living in a dynamic world. India’s foreign policy is therefore geared up to be proactive, flexible as well as pragmatic so as to make quick adjustments to respond to evolving situations. In the implementation of its foreign policy India, however, invariably adheres to a set of basic principles on which no compromise is made .
Foreign Policy : Fundamental Principles and Features
These fundamental principles include:
PANCHSHEEL , or Five Virtues which were first formally enunciated in the Agreement on Trade between the Tibet region of China and India signed on April 29, 1954 and later evolved to act as the basis of conduct of international relations globally. These Five Principles are: Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, ii. Mutual non-aggression, iii. Mutual non-interference, iv. Equality and mutual benefit, and v. Peaceful co-existence.
VasudhaivaKutumbakam (The World is One Family) Related to this is the concept of SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas. In other words the entire world community is a part of one single large global family and the Members of the family must live together in peace and harmony , work and grow together and have trust in each other for mutual benefits.
India is Opposed to Export of Ideologies and Change of Regimes
India believes in and supports Democracy; however, India does not believe in the export of ideologies. India has therefore endeavoured to deal with the government-of-the-day, be it a democracy, monarchy or military dictatorship. India believes that it is best left to the people of the country to choose or remove their leaders and retain or change the form of governance. By extension of the above principle, India does not endorse the idea of regime change or violation of territorial integrity in a particular country by use of force or other means by another country or a group of countries.( Ex. US interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria or Russia’s intervention in Georgia, Ukraine etc.)
At the same time, India does not hesitate in promoting democracy wherever potential exists; this is done by proactively providing assistance in capacity building and strengthening the institutions of democracy, albeit with the explicit consent of the concerned Government. (Ex. Afghanistan)
India DOES NOT ENDORSEUNILATERAL SANCTIONS /Military Actions
India does not endorse the idea of imposing sanctions/military action against any individual country by another country or a group of countries unless these sanctions/ military actions have been approved by the United Nations as a result of international consensus. India therefore contributes only to such Peace-Keeping military operations which are part of the UN Peace-keeping Forces.
(India has contributed nearly 195,000 troops, the largest number from any country, participated in more than 49 missions and 168 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions. India has also provided and continues to provide eminent Force Commanders for UN Missions.)
Interference : NO ; Intervention : YES
India does not believe in interference in the internal affairs of other countries. However, if an act - innocent or deliberate - by any country has the potential of impinging upon India’s national interests, India does not hesitate in quick and timely intervention. Mind it: intervention is qualitatively different from interference, particularly when the intervention is made at the request of the country concerned. (Examples: Bangladesh 1971, IPKF in Sri Lanka (1987-90), Maldives (1988).
CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT OVER AGGRESSION
India advocates the policy of constructive engagement over aggression. It believes that violent retaliation and confrontation can only complicate the matters. War is no solution; after every war the conflicting Parties ultimately come to negotiating table by which time much damage has already been done. This applies in particular to Pakistan- the origin of State-sponsored terrorism targeted at India.
The policy of engagement is not allowed, however, to be misunderstood as India’s weakness. Strong and loud messages emanate from India each and every time our patience is tested. The Surgical strike to target terrorist –launch pads in Pakistan occupied Indian territory in September 2016 is one such example. Air Strike at terrorist camps in Balakote in February 2019 in retaliation to Pulwama terrorist attack is yet another example.
STRATEGIC AUTONOMY : PARTNERSHIPS-YES, ALLIANCES:NO
Independence of decision making and strategic autonomy are yet another significantfeatures of India’s foreign policy. India thus believes in Partnerships and shuns Alliances, particularly military alliances.
GLOBAL CONSENSUS ON ISSUES OF GLOBAL DIMENSIONS
India advocates a global debate and global consensus on issues of global dimensions such as world trade regime, climate change, terrorism, intellectual property rights, global governance.
Foreign Policy : In Action :2014-19
Unprecedented Diplomatic Outreach
One of the unique features of India’s foreign policy pursuits during the past five years was the unprecedented diplomatic outreach across the continents and hemispheres,covering small , medium and big nations. There were a record number of high-level incoming and outgoing visits at the level of President, Prime Minister, Vice-President, External Affairs Minister and Ministers. In some cases, including our neighbourhood, visits at the level of Prime Minister took place after a hiatus of ten to sixty years.The country’s top leadership engaged nearly all countries in the world cutting across time zones; this across-the-spectrum diplomatic outreach underlined the government’s commitment to building relationships with countries, big and small, in the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam i.e. "the world is one family.”
On the whole, India’s unmatched accelerated diplomatic engagement in the last five years had several positive impacts. It helped a qualitative upgrade in existing bilateral relationships and enhanced coordination on a range of regional and global issues. It revitalised and reinvigorated relations and at the same time opened new doors for mutually nourishing partnerships in a wide array of areas.
Let me now touch upon some specific thrust areas of India’s Foreign Policy:
India’s Neighbourhood First Policy
India is the largest country in South Asia both in terms of area and population; India’s economy is sound and its growth rates are higher than those of others in the region. India’s stature as an important player in international affairs is growing. India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear State and its proven capabilities in Space Technology are acknowledged world-wide. These asymmetries have caused historically a sense of trust deficit in the region vis-a-vis India. Vested interests in neighbouring countries have floated erroneous narratives such as India acts like a "big bully” or a "big brother” In some countries there are segments of society which consider " being anti-Indian” as being equal to "patriotism”
The first act of the new Government which took over in May 2014 with an impressive mandate was to unveil its "Neighbourhood First Policy”. The core objective was to address the trust deficit, reset relations and build bridges of friendship and understanding thorough mutually beneficial cooperation.
In fact the initiative by the new Government to reach out our neighbours was taken even before Mr Modi formally took over as Prime Minister. An invitation was sent out to all Heads of State and Government of SAARC Members to attend the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Modi on 26th May 2014. The invitation sent a loud and clear message that the new political dispensation in India attached great importance to its relations with its neighbours in South Asia and in the integration of the region. The presence at the ceremony of all Heads of State and Government from the region confirmed the desire on their part to reciprocate India’s gesture. The occasion provided an excellent opportunity to establish initial contacts; these were followed up through exchange of visits or meetings on the side lines of regional and international conferences. In his first term, PM visited all SAARC countries (except Maldives due largely to political instability in that country when PM undertook a tour of other Indian Ocean/ blue economy countries in March 2015).
The President of Maldives has, however, visited India thrice since he assumed office in November, 2018 and met once during latter’s swearing-in ceremony and later during his visit to India in April this year. SAARC and BIMSTEC
India remains committed to integration of South Asia through SAARC processes. However, SAARC as an Organisation has not lived up to expectations when measured in terms of delivery. It has been in existence for several decades and yet South Asia remains the least integrated region in the world. To make it worse the poor state of India- Pakistan relations and Pakistan's policy of obstruction has had an adverse impact on the progress in SAARC.
One of the yet another first act of the Government in 2014 was to begin the process of going beyond SAARC. PM Modi’s message at his first SAARC Summit in 2014 was loud and clear that India would prefer to work together with all other SAARC members but would not at the same time be averse to the idea of working with those members who are agreeable to implement agreed programmes. As a result India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh went ahead and signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement for seamless movement of road traffic among Four SAARC Countries in June 2015, leaving aside Pakistan and others. Later in May 2017, India launched the South Asia Satellite - a communication satellite built by ISRO to provide a variety of communication services over the South Asian region; the satellite was launched despite reservations by Pakistan. The project will touch the lives of the people even in remote areas of our region, through its wide ranging applications in health, education, disaster response, weather forecasting and communications.
Meanwhile, in the backdrop of continued State patronage and sponsorship of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan, India decided to boycott the 2016 SAARC Summit which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad ; India was supported in its decision by Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
While remaining committed to SAARC, India has clearly focussed on BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative For Multi-sectorial Technical and Economic Cooperation) as a platform for inter-regional cooperation between five SAAARC countries (India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka ) and two South East countries (Myanmar and Thailand). India deliberately chose BIMSTEC over SAARC for outreach meetings with BRICS at the BRICS Goa Summit in November 2016.
India’s policy is not to replace SAARC by BIMSTEC; both are relevant and can complement and supplement each other.
PAKISTAN and CHINA
Within our immediate neighbourhood, I now propose to discuss our troubled relations with Pakistan and China.
In 2014 India’s relations with Pakistan were at low ebb. In sync with it Neighbourhood First Policy, India made considerable efforts to normalize its strained relations with Pakistan; By the beginning of 2016, it was abundantly clear that the Pakistani Deep State ( Army and ISI) was not interested in the resumption of dialogue and continued to promote and support cross-border terrorism to harm India. Limits were crossed when the Pathankot Airbase was attacked within a week of PM Modi’s gesture of making an unscheduled halt at Lahore (en-route New Delhi from Kabul) end December, 2015. There was a further setback to relations when 18 soldiers of Indian Army were killed in a terrorist attack in September, 2016 in URI, the Baramulla District of J&K. India had reasons to lose patience and change the rules of engagement along the line of Control; it carried out a successful "Surgical Strike” on terrorist camps in the Pak-occupied Kashmir across the Line of Control within a week of Uri attack. Similarly, the Pulwama attack killing 40 CRPF Jawans in February, 2019 was promptly retaliated by an air-strike by the Indian Air Force on the Terrorist training centre in Balakot, inside the Pakistani territory.
India has adopted a firm policy of "Terror and Talks cannot go together”, and despite repeated calls from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for the resumption of dialogue, India has made it abundantly clear that, no departure will be made unless there are tangible and verifiable concrete evidence of Pakistan reining in the State –sponsored and supported terrorism targeted against India, and stopping interference in Kashmir.
During the visit of the Chinese President Xi Ping to India in September, 2014, India extended its hand of friendship and conveyed a clear message that the two countries must work together so that the 21st century could belong to Asia. The trajectory of India-China relations, however, did not develop the way India would have liked. India does not endorse China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through the Pak-Occupied Kashmir and thus raises the issue of sovereignty. China is also blocking India’s Membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and protects Pakistan on the issue of terrorism by projecting it as a victim of terrorism and advocating that no country should be singled out while addressing the issues related to Terrorism. China on its part is apprehensive about India joining hands with USA, Japan and Australia to forge an anti-China alliance to counter it in Indo- Pacific region. There are issues arising out of huge balance of trade in China’s favour, and also unresolved border disputes. The prolonged Doklam face-off between the Indian and Chinese troops in September, 2017 posed a serious threat to bilateral relations but was fortunately resolved thanks to skilful use of diplomacy. The understanding which emerged from the informal summit between PM Modi and President XI Ping in China in April 2018 has come to be known as Wuhan Spirit, the essence of which is that the two sides must enhance efforts to build upon the convergences and handle the differences through peaceful discussions, and that peaceful, stable and balanced relations between India and China will be a positive factor for stability amidst current global uncertainties, and further that proper management of the bilateral relationship will be conducive for the development and prosperity of the region, and will create the conditions for the Asian Century.
South East Asia: ASEAN and East Asia
In the context of India’s extended neighbourhood, the 10 ASEAN countries in the South East Asia are of utmost importance. India’s first outreach towards the Asian Tigers was made in early 1990s in the backdrop of the demise of the USSR, end of cold war and our own decision to liberalise economy and integrate it with word economy. As a result, India Look East policy was announced; The LEP has gone through three Phases. The first phase of India’s ‘Look East’ policy (1992-2002) was ASEAN-centred and focussed primarily on trade and investment linkages. During this period India entered into a Sectoral Dialogue Partnership with ASEAN in 1992 which was upgraded to Full Dialogue Partner status in 1996, when India also joined the ASEAN Regional Forum(ARF). From 2002 India began holding annual India-ASEAN Summit level meetings.
The Phase-2 began in 2003 when the then Foreign Minister Sh. Yashwant Sinha (at Harvard University; 29thSeptember, 2003) shared the Government’s expanded definition of ‘East’, covering Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea, with ASEAN at its core. He further added that the new phase also marked a shift from trade to wider economic and security issues, including joint efforts to protect the sea-lanes and coordinate counter-terrorism activities.In 2012, the 20 years of dialogue partnership culminated into Strategic Partnership.
In 2014, the new Government led by PM Modi renamed the "Look East Policy(LEP) ” as "Act East Policy (AEP)”; this was more than rebranding.
Since then the Government has sought a more "dynamic" and "action-oriented" approach in relations with ASEAN. Considerable attention is being made to promote India’s economic links with CMLV countries (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam)-a sub region within ASEAN whose relative proximity with India’s North-East has inherent advantage. As one of its most significant initiative the Indian government set up the Project Development Fund in 2016 within the Export and Import Bank of India with a corpus of Rs 500 crore (approx. US$ 71.5 million) to promote Indian investments in the region.
The most significant exposition of India’s Act East Policy was the presence of Heads of state and Heads of Government at the 2018 Republic Day celebrations. India is now expected not only to bolster its economic and strategic engagements with the region but also to emerge as a potential security balancer in the region as well. The India-USA-Japan-Australia Quad is a pointer in that direction.
Two big powers : USA and Russia
On the whole, the trajectory of relations with USA has been on the ascendency in the last few years except that some irritants have appeared in bilateral relations in the recent past. The US has accorded the status of Defence Partner which puts India at par with NATO allies. India has an increasing importance in the US priorities not only as a Market but the USA is also keen that India acts as a counter-weight to China in Asia. The USA would also like India to join hands with USA, Japan, Australia and others in the region to act as net security providers in Indo-Pacific Ocean in matters such as maritime security, freedom of navigation, piracy and disaster management. The unstated objective is to contain China’s expansionist designs, particularly in South China Sea where China is undertaking construction activities on disputed islands.
The US sanctions on Russia (CAATSA) (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) and also on Iran have implications for India' s defence procurements ( S 400 Missile Defence system from Russia ) and for its energy security due to inability to buy oil from Iran. In addition, the USA has withdrawn GSP under which India’s exports to USA worth $ 5.6bn were receiving preferential tariffs. India has retaliated by imposing higher duties on certain US exports to India. These concerns were addressed during the visit of the US Secretary of State to New Delhi and PM Modi’s meeting with President Trump on the side-lines of G20 Summit in June this years. India was candid and firm in conveying that ultimately India will do whatever it considers best in country’s national interests.
The Soviet Union and its successor State Russian Federation are rightly described as India’s reliable, tried and tested friends. For a fairly long period of time, Russia was the leading source of defence procurements for India; even now we heavily depend on Russia for new, modern defence equipment and spares of equipment bought earlier. On assumption of charge in 2014, the new Government had moved swiftly and aggressively to diversify India’s defence requirements. Our move came at a time when Russia’s economy was going through a difficult phase due to US and European sanctions and dip in oil prices. Our genuine desire to diversify sources of defence supplies was misunderstood by Russia as India’s drift away from Russia. India was quick in rectifying the situation and restoring mutual trust and confidence. Our relations with Russia are now on firm footing and the focus of special and privileged strategic partnership is on defence, energy, space and trade and investments.
Diplomacy for Development
Economic diplomacy has been employed in the past also to promote trade and economic relations with outside world. In the past five years, however, there has been unique dovetailing of diplomacy and national aspirations. Hence we now have a dynamic concept; Diplomacy For Development. Intensified engagements with foreign partners have brought visible benefitsthrough enhanced foreign investment and technology tie-ups, leading to the setting up of factories and creation of jobs. It has been possible to forge foreign collaborations for several flagship schemes such as Skill India, Smart Cities, Make in India, Digital India for creating a new India by 2022. Diplomatic outreach has resulted in commitments of substantial Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) from foreign Partners ( UAE: $75bn , Japan $33bn, China: $22bn ; South Korea 10bn ) Japan has agreed to receive ten Thousand Indians for Skill development whereas another 30000 will get trained in Japanese style of manufacturing. In the field of infrastructure, Japan has agreed to fund the construction of India’s first bullet train on Mumbai-Ahemdabad sector cutting short the travel time from seven to two hours. France, Germany, Japan, European Investment Bank have agreed to fund railways and Metro projects in India. Similarly there are commitments to develop Smart Cities in India
Non-Prescriptive Development assistance
India has devised a policy of non-prescriptive development assistance as its soft power since early 1950s. In return India seeks "good will” and "friends of India”. The assistance is a judicious mix of outright grants and soft loans linked to project/commodity exports. Also India is judiciously working to ensure that the "goodwill’’ thus earned must get translated into concrete political and economic dividends. India’s policy is thus different from the China’s "debt-trap- policy”. China readily extends heavy loans to small, poor and developing countries to develop infrastructure in those countries; these heavily indebted countries find it difficult to service these loans and ultimately end up handing over the ownership of the assets to China. (Example: Sri Lanka Hambantota Port) (In December 2017, unable to pay back a loan that had been used to upgrade a Sri Lankan Port, the Sri Lankan Government had no option but to hand over the seaport and 15,000 acres of land around it to China for 99 years, giving the nation the outright ownership of a territory a few hundred kilometres off the coast of its competitor, India This is the most cited example of how poor, but strategically important, countries like Sri Lanka are now deeply in debt –trap of China.)
In Asia, Bhutan is the largest recipient of India’s development assistance. In December 2018, India announced its financial assistance of Rs4500 crore for Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan. In June 2015, India pledged $ 1 billion aid for the reconstruction of earthquake-hit Nepal. In October, 2017, India signed an agreement with Bangladesh for $4.5 billion Line of Credit for implementation of development projects in Bangladesh.
In October2015 India pledged $600million Grant assistance including an India-Africa Development Fund ( $100milion) and India-Africa Health Fund( $10 million). In addition India also committed to grant $10 billion Line of Credit on concessional terms over a period of next five years.
Vietnam is another beneficiary of India’s development assistance in the form of $500 million Line of Credit. India has also set aside a Rs 500 croreCorpus Fund for manufacturinghubs in CMLV countries ( Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam)
In addition, India is committed to capacity building in several developing countries across the world through its diverse civil and military training programmes.
Priorities and Challenges
Stable relations with leading powers such as Russia, USA, China ,developed countries such as Japan, France, UK and Germany and resource-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Israel are in India’s interests particularly in the context of sourcing raw materials, modern technology, investments, sophisticated weapons, joint ventures to meet the requirements of inclusive domestic development and success of programmes such as Make in India, Smart Cities, Skill India, and for the modernization of infrastructure. The challenge is to steer clear of the on-going conflicts, for instance between the USA and Russia and Iran and USA, the China-US trade war resulting in particular in a sanctions regime (like CAATSA) which, as mentioned earlier, is to the disadvantage of India.
India places a great emphasis on physical and digital connectivity to integrate South Asia and to connect South Asia with other regions particularly South East Asia and Central Asia. Within South Asia, the Bangladesh- Bhutan -India- Nepal ( BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement provides seamless connectivity for movement of passenger and cargo vehicles within the four countries.
Some of the projects which are of utmost importance include the development of strategically important Chabahar Port which connects India on the one hand with Iran and Afghanistan and on the other with Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan : the common adversary of Afghanistan and India . Even though India had started talking to Iran in this context in 2003,the real push from India was given in mid- 2014 resulting in the signing of agreements and actual development and inauguration of the first Phase of the Port in December 2017. India has since taken over the physical possession and this is the first Port India is operating outside India. Afghanistan sent its first cargo to India using Zaranj- Chabahar route in February 2019. India had earlier sent wheat to Afghanistan end 2017 using this Sea route.India has established two direct Air Freight Corridors as reliable alternative supply routes for landlocked Afghanistan. The Delhi-Kabul corridor has been operational since June 2017 and Delhi- Herat Corridor was inaugurated in March 2019.
The 1360km trilateral India, Myanmar Thailand Highway under construction and likely to become operational by next year will connect India' s North East with ASEAN . India is funding the construction of the segments in Myanmar. India has also proposed to link of with Cambodia , Laos and Vietnam.
Kaladan Multimodal transport project is yet another project which was moving at a slow pace and was expedited in 2015 by allocation of substantial funds. The project seeks to connect India's landlocked North East with mainland India through Myanmar using maritime, inland-water and toad systems. KMMT project when completed will cut short the time for transportation of good from Kolkata to Mizoram by up to four days and cut short the distance by appx. 950 km.
Terrorism : Corruption, Black Money, Money Laundering Fugitive Economic Offenders
Global campaign against International terrorism remains high on the agenda of the Indian government. Realizing that the negotiations on the Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) are moving at snail’s pace, India has plans to build a "Comity of Nations Against International Terrorism” as a voluntary multilateral forum based on the principles of CCIT to combat international terrorism. In an implied reference to Pakistan the BJP Manifesto 2019 declared India’s commitment to take all possible steps at international forums to isolate such countries and organizations which support terrorism. India is likely to continue to lobby so that Pakistan was moved from the "grey” to "black list of Financial Action Task Force (FATA).
China’s defence of Pakistan on terrorism related issues and some countries’ selective approach towards terrorism is a challenge India will have to reckon with.
India also remains focussed on raising at global forums such issues as Corruption, Black Money, Money Laundering Fugitive Economic Offenders. Expeditious extradition of economic offenders such as Vijay Malaya, Neerav Modi, etc. would be another priority.
India’s Global Aspirations
India is a politically stable country and its economy is steady. India is building up its military muscles slowly but steadily. As a large market India is an attractive destination for foreign investments, joint ventures, commodity exports. India’s stature in international affairs has arguably grown considerably in recent years. Arguably India’s time has come. A certain degree of assertiveness in foreign affairs was visible even during the past five years, when India appeared to punch according to its weight.
I would like to conclude on the following Note: India is now bound to ensure that it plays an increasingly important role in shaping the global agenda, that it is part of the "rule making” rather than "rule following” and that it emerges as a strong pole in the multi-polar world. To this is linked the aspiration to be a Permanent Member of the expanded UN Security Council for which a large number of countries have already pledged support.
I thank you all for your attention and patience. I would also like to thank Professor Shukla for his efforts in organising this event and making my stay here comfortable.
I will be glad to take questions from the audience.
Disclaimer :-The opinions/views expressed in the Lectures are author's own and do not represent the views of the Ministy of External Affairs.