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Diplomacy And Foreign Policy Cohort 2.0 – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Diplomacy and Foreign Policy Cohort 2.0

Event report
Aashnaa Mehta

The IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies, along with the IMPRI
Impact and Policy Research Institute
in New Delhi, organized Diplomacy and Foreign Policy Cohort 2.0, an immersive online certificate training course from April 3rd to April 25th, 2024.

Led by seasoned experts and practitioners in the field, this course offered a unique combination of theoretical insights and real-world case studies. Professor Swaran Singh, the Chairperson of the Centre for International Politics, Organization, and Disarmament (CIPOD) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, chaired the program.

The convenors for the program were Dr. Arjun Kumar, the Director of IMPRI, and Dr. Simi Mehta, the CEO & Editorial Director of IMPRI.

Day 1| Introduction to Diplomacy & India’s Foreign Policy

Providing an in-depth analysis of diplomacy and foreign policy dynamics, Professor Swaran Singh highlighted the intricate role of diplomacy as a pivotal tool for nations to advance their external agendas in alignment with their foreign policy objectives. Various forms of diplomacy were explored, including the rising significance of summit diplomacy, particularly originating from the Prime Minister’s office.

The transformation of diplomacy into a sophisticated professional domain was analyzed,
emphasizing the importance of specialized expertise, particularly in complex fields like
international law and healthcare. India’s youthful demographic dividend and technological
advancements reshaped contemporary diplomatic engagements, notably through social media utilization. It was observed that the nation transitioned from a traditional balancing power to a leading force adept at navigating multi-alignment complexities to uphold strategic autonomy.

The evolving landscape of diplomacy and foreign policy was summarized, stressing the necessity for strategic agility, professionalism, and comprehension of global dynamics. Through insightful analysis, India has emerged as a prominent global force positioned to shape the 21st-century geopolitical scenario.

Day 2| Negotiation & Problem-Solving Skills, Soft Power

In her session, Ambassador Riva Ganguli Das shared invaluable insights into the intricacies of diplomacy. She highlighted the importance of people-centric skills, effective communication, and cultural sensitivity in successful diplomatic endeavors. Ambassador Das emphasized that diplomacy revolves around representing people’s values and bridging the gap between governments and citizens.

Additionally, she addressed the evolving challenges posed by digital communication platforms, stressing the importance of networking and discernment in navigating the abundance of online information. Highlighting the significance of building alliances, Ambassador Das exemplified the Group of 77 and emphasized the importance of cultural sensitivity in diplomatic negotiations, citing the principle of reciprocity in India’s relations with neighboring countries like Bangladesh.

The session provided comprehensive insights into effective diplomacy, emphasizing the
importance of people-centered approaches and India’s pivotal role in shaping global affairs
through strategic diplomatic initiatives and cultural engagements.

Ambassador Partha Ray, thoroughly examined soft skills and diplomatic strategies, particularly emphasizing the current state and potential of soft power in diplomacy. He expressed concerns about its decline in 2024 due to escalating military and economic conflicts and increasing online fragmentation. However, he also noted the opportunity for positive change through fostering rational discourse, mutual respect, and compromise.

Furthermore, Ambassador Partha Ray explored the concepts of soft and hard power in
international relations, highlighting the role of digital diplomacy, including social media, as a soft power tool. He discussed various diplomatic approaches, such as cultural, sports, and
economic diplomacy, citing examples like the FIFA World Cup and India’s film industry. He also mentioned India’s transition from an aid-receiving to an aid-giving country, exemplified by initiatives like the ITEC Programme for capacity building in partner nations.

Day 3| UN & Multilateral Diplomacy, Digital & Tech Diplomacy

In the session led by Prof. Sanjukta Bhattacharya, the complexities of multilateralism in the
21st century were thoroughly explored. Emerging post-World War II with the inception of the United Nations, multilateralism initially aimed to prevent global conflicts. However, today, it faces the challenge of addressing ongoing wars and conflicts worldwide. Multilateralism, as conceptualized by scholars like Kahler and Keohane, emphasizes governance by the many and opposes discriminatory arrangements favoring the powerful.

Despite the UN’s expanded scope to include economic, social, and humanitarian challenges, significant hurdles remain. India’s foreign policy evolution from non-alignment to multi-alignment mirrors the changing geopolitical landscape. While the UN remains pivotal, smaller multilateral organizations also play significant roles in tackling specific issues.

Looking forward, revitalizing global cooperation demands reforms that render the UN more flexible, inclusive, and adaptive. Embracing lessons from the past and adapting to future realities is essential for upholding the principles of inclusivity, collaboration, and collective action in navigating the complexities of the contemporary world.

Dr. Parama Sinhapalit led a session delving into the evolving dynamics of India’s diplomatic engagements, particularly with its diaspora communities worldwide. As India’s role in global affairs continues to evolve, understanding its strategies and priorities in diaspora relations becomes increasingly pertinent.

India’s proactive diplomacy is evident in its engagement with the Global South, advocating for the inclusion of developing nations in international forums like the G20. With approximately 32 million individuals worldwide, the diaspora’s economic prosperity and influential roles in host nations are invaluable. India’s recent emphasis on cultural and ancestral ties with the diaspora, under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, underscores its commitment to strengthening connections with overseas Indians. Social media platforms serve as vital tools for crisis management and maintaining robust ties with the diaspora, ensuring their welfare and fostering integration into Indian society.

Proactive diplomacy, emphasizing engagement with key stakeholders and fostering partnerships based on mutual respect and shared interests, will empower India to tackle emerging challenges and shape the global agenda in alignment with its priorities and values. By harnessing the strengths of its diaspora and adopting a forward-thinking diplomatic approach, India can confidently contribute to building a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous world.

Day 4| Economic & Trade Diplomacy & Foreign Policy

In today’s complex global landscape, the nexus between economy and foreign policy is
paramount. Professor Prabir De emphasized this significant connection, highlighting how economic factors profoundly influence diplomatic decisions and vice versa.

India’s foreign policy since 1947 has centered on bolstering regional ties to enhance its economic influence in the global south. Transitioning from the “neighborhood first” strategy to the contemporary “Act East” policy, India prioritizes nurturing relations, notably with Southeast Asian nations, recognizing regional stability’s pivotal role in fostering prosperity.

India’s focus on the East and its emergence as a global power signal promising economic
prospects, with a projected GDP of 30 trillion dollars by 2047. Strengthening regional
cooperation, connectivity, economic integration, and partnerships are vital components of India’s foreign policy and economic growth strategy. Exploring new areas of cooperation, addressing trade negotiation challenges, and prioritizing capacity building will be critical for achieving mutual benefits and sustainable growth.

Within the complex fabric of global affairs, the realms of economy, diplomacy, and foreign
policy are intricately interwoven. Professor Meenal Shrivastava provided a thought-provoking exploration of this interconnectedness. She critically examined the liberal international order, shedding light on its Eurocentric perspective and historical biases.

Professor Shrivastava emphasized the need to address colonialism and enslavement’s role in shaping state formation, highlighting the diversity of agents and institutions worldwide often overlooked in traditional narratives. These oversights perpetuate institutional disenfranchisement and hinder the international order’s ability to tackle transnational challenges effectively. Professor Shrivastava’s analysis urges a paradigm shift in addressing global challenges. Embracing newer economic models and perspectives is essential for rectifying disparities within the international arena.

By adopting holistic frameworks like the Doughnut Model and drawing from diverse cultural traditions, we can strive for a fairer, more sustainable, and interconnected world, guided by the principle of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: The World is One Family.”

Day 5| Military Diplomacy & National Security

In his presentation on “India’s Military Diplomacy and the Way Forward,” Major Gen. (Dr) P K Chakravorty underscored the pivotal role of military diplomacy in advancing India’s foreign policy interests in security and defense, serving as a crucial link between diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security.

Within India’s strategic framework, military diplomacy aligns with national security objectives, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the country’s security and territorial integrity. Strengthening defense ties with neighboring countries is crucial for addressing common security challenges and fostering regional stability. Effective coordination between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the military is vital for successful foreign policy implementation and military diplomacy, ensuring seamless cooperation in addressing global challenges and advancing India’s strategic interests.

Looking ahead, India aims to maintain a balanced stance towards various nations while
leveraging the strengths of its armed forces and diplomatic corps to achieve its foreign policy objectives and assert its position as a responsible global player.

In his session, Capt Alok Bansal explored the complexity of national security, emphasizing its multifaceted nature. National security encompasses protecting a nation’s infrastructure, territory, citizens, and interests while upholding core values and resisting external pressures. Over time, it has expanded to include economic, energy, and food security, reflecting contemporary challenges’ interconnectedness.

For India, national security involves addressing internal and external challenges. Internally, the focus is on stability, public safety, and social harmony, while externally, navigating geopolitical complexities, safeguarding borders, and protecting strategic interests is crucial. Balancing these dimensions is vital for India’s security posture and resilience. India must navigate global events and regional dynamics that directly impact its national security. Despite these hurdles, India is committed to modernizing defense forces, investing in infrastructure, and pursuing diplomatic resolutions for peace and security in the region.

Day 6| Geopolitics, China and the Indo-Pacific

Ambassador Shashank’s discussion on “Fundamentals of Geopolitics & the Indo-Pacific” offered valuable insights into India’s strategic positioning and the complexities of its geopolitical landscape. The challenges and opportunities facing India in its relations with neighboring nations and the broader global environment were thoroughly explored.
India’s neighborhood presents diverse challenges, with smaller neighbors seeking coalitions to balance their influence, while larger countries like China engage in the region to advance their strategic interests and global ambitions. Engagement with neighboring countries like Myanmar,

Iran, and Afghanistan is complex, and influenced by internal turmoil and geopolitical dynamics. Articulating India’s vision on the global stage remains a challenge, necessitating a balance between Western-centric frameworks and historical ties with East Asian countries. Developing strong relationships and fostering dialogue with foreign counterparts is critical for shaping India’s global engagement and promoting cooperation.

Professor Sumit Ganguly, discussed the changing dynamics of global politics, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach to analyzing and addressing modern challenges to ensure global stability and security.

Conflict remains a constant feature of global affairs, often escalating into violence. The
resurgence of great power politics is exemplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting the US and NATO to mobilize in defense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. China’s alignment with Russia is notable, with Russia perceived as the junior partner due to China’s remarkable economic growth juxtaposed with Russia’s economic decline. Despite this decline, Russia asserts its influence through territorial expansion, advanced weaponry, and a formidable nuclear arsenal.

India’s rapid economic growth, coupled with its democratic framework, may not be perceived as a threat compared to China’s authoritarian system. Addressing domestic shortcomings is crucial for India’s sustainable development and global role. Understanding the interaction among material power, domestic contexts, and ideological goals is paramount in shaping a stable world order.

Day 7| Conflict Resolution

Professor Swaran Singh’s analysis provided valuable insights into conflict resolution and cooperation in today’s geopolitical landscape, highlighting the pivotal role of diplomacy and third-party mediation in effectively managing conflicts. Conflict, as Professor Swaran explained, could both drive change and foster social cohesion, yet its resolution was imperative for maintaining political stability and fostering economic growth. Diplomatic strategies were essential tools for mediating disputes and addressing underlying grievances.

Third-party facilitators were crucial in conflict resolution, aiding parties in understanding each other’s perspectives, exploring potential compromises, and sustaining dialogue. Examples like the Oslo Accords underscored the significance of external mediation in managing conflicts.

Despite challenges, conflict resolution remained a viable strategy, particularly when traditional institutions or nation-states struggled due to power dynamics. Increasingly, multinational corporations turned to conflict resolution experts to navigate complex cross-border challenges.

Professor Srikanth Kondapalli’s session delved into the intricate dynamics of the India-China relationship, highlighting both converging interests and persistent challenges that influenced their global interactions. Prof. Kondapalli identified several points of convergence between India and China. Despite tensions, instances of cooperation existed in cultural exchanges, military interactions, and joint ventures in science and technology.

However, the relationship was not without its hurdles. Historical territorial disputes, exemplified by the 1962 Sino-Indian War and ongoing tensions in Ladakh, continued to strain bilateral relations. China’s assertive diplomatic tactics, such as its “wolf warrior” approach, and initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative, especially projects in Pakistan, were sources of concern for India. India’s deepening alliances with Western powers and
its involvement in groups like the QUAD challenged China’s regional influence.

Diplomacy and dialogue, he argued, could help alleviate strains and promote stability. While acknowledging existing differences, he stressed the importance of leveraging shared interests and identifying areas for collaboration. Additionally, he noted India’s growing military capabilities and China’s vulnerabilities, emphasizing the necessity of a nuanced understanding of power dynamics for effective engagement.

Day 8| Feminist Foreign Policy

Ms Nandita Baruah’s discussion on feminist foreign policy (FFP) provides a detailed
exploration of the concept and its implications for global diplomacy. Feminist foreign policy is not merely about including women in diplomatic processes but aims to address the underlying structures and systems that perpetuate gender inequalities worldwide. It seeks to dismantle these structures and advocate for policies that prioritize human security and the empowerment of marginalized groups, with a particular focus on women.

These policies include integrating gender considerations into all aspects of foreign policy (gender mainstreaming), prioritizing the security and human rights of women and marginalized groups, and establishing institutions and legislation that support gender equity. She also emphasized the importance of adopting a Southern perspective that takes into account the specific needs and priorities of countries in the Global South.

She outlines the importance of considering the impact of policies on marginalized communities, highlighting the need for an intersectional approach that addresses the diverse experiences of individuals. Implementing feminist foreign policy is a long-term endeavor that requires sustained commitment from national stakeholders. By adopting feminist principles, governments can work towards creating a more just and equitable world for all individuals, regardless of gender or background.

Professor Swaran Singh’s discussion on the career prospects within the field of foreign policy underscored the vital importance of understanding global dynamics for individuals pursuing diverse career paths. One key aspect highlighted was the increasing interconnectedness of the world, particularly evident in the internationalization of higher education and the mobility of students across the globe. The ubiquity of real-time connectivity reshapes global interactions, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of foreign policy to navigate the complexities of this interconnected world effectively.

India’s youthful demographic presents another dimension, offering both opportunities and
challenges. Understanding the demographics becomes crucial for strategic planning, especially in leveraging the energy and potential of the youth and the middle class for innovation and production.

Professor Singh also stressed the importance of staying informed about global events for
personal and professional growth. He highlighted the growing influence of civil society in
shaping international relations and emphasized the need for active engagement with global
networks to contribute meaningfully to global challenges. Students aspiring for careers in
international relations and foreign policy must grasp the complexities of global dynamics to
make informed contributions across various fields.

Acknowledgement: This article was written by Aashnaa Mehta, Research Intern at IMPRI, who is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Political Science.

Read more at IMPRI:

Bridging Theory and Practice: Enhancing Policy Impact Through Research

Women-Led Development and Public Policy for Promotion of Gender Equality

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