India’s neighbourhood policy has seen a drastic shift from time to time. The most recent shift is that India has adopted a neighbourhood first policy. As per this policy, India will give immediate focus to its neighbouring countries. A strong follow up action was when PM Narendra Modi invited all the South Asian leaders to his oath-taking ceremony.
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New Features of India’s Foreign Policy
Indian Foreign Policy saw a remarkable change ever since the new world order emerged after Cold War era. It has seen further transformation in the last 6 years. The new features of Indian Foreign Policy are:
- Neighbourhood First Policy
- It is now more proactive with clear sense of national priorities.
- Instead of dealing bilaterally, India has developed integrated view of a region, e.g Act East Policy, engaging with West Asia.
- We are pursuing multiple relations simultaneously as we want to leverage friendship with all nations. Hence, we deeply engage with Arab nations as well as Israel, USA as well as Iran and so on.
It means that the closeness with one country does not mean distancing from that country’s rival country. For example, India’s growing closeness with USA does not mean that we are distancing ourselves from Russia.
- Making Global Impact
India has pursued to recognise International Yoga Day and has given the leadership to International Solar Alliance.
Why is Neighbourhood Important?
India has reoriented its foreign policy in recent times. It has adopted the ‘neighbourhood first policy’. Following are the reasons why neighbourhood is important:
- One cannot change its neighbours. Therefore the best policy is to engage with them and focus on them.
- Disarmament in the neighbourhood is important for security and lasting peace in the reason.
- Some of the countries let their territory be used by non-state actors against other countries. To end this, one has to focus on the neighbours.
- It will enable us to gather regional support on the Kashmir issue.
- In recent times we have seen how India’s neighbourhood first policy has helped in isolating Pakistan in the region.
- To gather support on global issues like terrorism and UNSC reforms
- India wants to make the region an integral part of its new economic policies. This will help the entire South Asian region to grow together.
Status of India’s Relations with its Neighbours
The neighbouring countries of India are geographically and economically much smaller than India. Hence they always fear that India shows Big Brother attitude. Also, all the South Asian countries share the same Indian civilizational culture. Therefore, the neighbouring countries face identity crisis.
There are boundary disputes and water sharing issues with almost all the countries with whom we share land boundary. Terrorism is used as a strategic policy by Pakistan against India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. A related problem is the radicalisation of youth happening in Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.
It refers to the lack of true democracy in many of the neighbouring countries. Such democratic deficit brings political instability and chaos.
In Bangladesh, there was no opposition in General Elections. In Pakistan, the military is practically choosing the Prime Minister. In Maldives and Sri Lanka there have been recent upheavals.Nepal only recently implemented a new Constitution. And in Afghanistan, not only there are two power centres in the government, but also the Taliban is raising its head.
From the next lesson we will study about India’s relations with each of its neighbours, starting with Indo-Bangladesh relations.
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