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Diplomacy And Foreign Policy – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

Event Report
Tanu Paliwal

An Immersive Online Certificate Training Course on ‘Diplomacy and Foreign Policy’ was organized by the Centre for International Relations and Strategic Studies, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi from 1st November, 2023 to 23rd November, 2023. This discussion was part of the #WebPolicyLearning Series.

The chair for the program was Professor Swaran Singh, Professor and Chairperson, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

Convenors of the program were Dr Arjun Kumar Director, IMPRI and Dr Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI

Day 1 : Introduction to Diplomacy & Foreign Policy

First day of the program commenced with Professor Swaran Singh delivering an informative and insightful speech that covered various aspects of diplomacy and foreign policy, emphasizing their relevance in today’s interconnected world.

His session on ‘Diplomacy and Foreign Policy’ served as a clarifying beacon in the often-confused realms of international relations. Beginning with a clear distinction between diplomacy and foreign policy, Professor Singh navigated the complexities of these terms, setting the tone for an insightful exploration.

The session delved into the interconnected world we inhabit, emphasizing the role of diplomacy in maintaining global peace and security. He underscored the pivotal nature of understanding the relationships between nations, especially in the context of the accelerated pace of global governance shaped by modern technologies.

An integral part of the session was the discussion on diplomatic relations and recognition, shedding light on the Vienna Convention’s impact on diplomatic operations. Real-world examples, such as India’s withdrawal of diplomatic immunity and China’s declaration of persona non grata, vividly illustrate the consequences of diplomatic decisions.

The significance of cultural relations and public diplomacy emerges as key components for national leaders to communicate effectively with their citizens. The session adeptly addressed the evolution of diplomacy into summit diplomacy, where leaders meet to make decisions, and the subsequent rise of public diplomacy to engage local populations.

The final segment explored stakeholders in diplomacy and their role in advancing India’s goals. Soft power, cultural initiatives, and the influence of central and state governments in shaping India’s national diplomacy are all intricately woven into the discourse.

In conclusion, Professor Swaran Singh’s session was a comprehensive journey through the nuanced world of diplomacy and foreign policy. It equipped participants with a profound understanding of global affairs, offering valuable insights into the mechanisms that drive international relations.

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Day 2 : Negotiation & Problem Solving Skills, Soft Power

Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, drawing on her extensive 35-year diplomatic career, provided valuable insights into the skills essential for success in diplomacy during the session “Nuts and Bolts of Diplomacy: Insights from Practitioners.” Emphasizing language proficiency and nuanced communication as foundational, she emphasized the need for diplomats to master multiple languages for effective global negotiation. Cultural sensitivity emerged as a key aspect, stressing the importance of understanding diverse cultures to foster international relationships.

The session also highlighted the significance of grounding diplomatic actions in the realities and perspectives of diverse populations. This awareness, aligned with ground realities, allows for authentic and impactful engagement on the global stage. Transitioning to negotiation, the speaker elucidated the importance of profound knowledge about individuals and communities, emphasizing the give-and-take nature inherent in diplomatic interactions.

Exploring the concept of soft power, the discussion showcased India’s cultural, educational, and economic strengths influencing its global image. The session concluded with an interactive doubt-clearing segment, addressing participants’ queries on negotiation tactics and applying diplomatic skills in real-world scenarios.

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The subsequent session by Ambassador Partha Ray on soft skills in diplomacy provided an  intellectually stimulating discourse on the crucial role of these skills in effective international relations. Beginning with the emphasis on communication and writing proficiency, Ambassador Ray explained their pivotal role in conveying precise messages during diplomatic interactions. The session further highlighted the importance of empathy, active listening, cultural sensitivity, and adaptability as indispensable soft skills for diplomats operating in a diverse global landscape.

Ambassador Ray also addressed the multifaceted role of diplomacy, emphasizing its significance in conflict resolution, negotiation, economic cooperation, crisis management, and addressing global challenges. He provided concrete examples, such as India’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic through diplomatic initiatives like Vande Bharat and COVID diplomacy, showcasing the practical application of soft power.

The seamless transition into the relationship between soft power and diplomacy illuminated how these concepts are intrinsically interrelated. Ambassador Ray illustrated India’s historically robust soft power through cultural institutions and democratic values. The session concluded with an interactive doubt-clearing segment, enhancing the learning experience for participants.

In summary, Ambassador Partha Ray’s session not only highlighted the importance of soft skills in diplomacy but also provided practical insights into their application in real-world diplomatic scenarios. The discourse served as a valuable resource for understanding the nuanced dynamics of international relations.

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

Day 3 of the course began with Professor Sanjukta Bhattacharya, presenting a comprehensive overview of Multilateralism and the United Nations (UN). 

She highlighted the challenges faced by the UN, emphasizing the failure in preventing destructive wars and addressing conflicts. The discussion covered the concept of multilateralism, its challenges, and the evolving nature of multilateral institutions. Professor Bhattacharya pointed out the rise of populist and nationalist narratives, contributing to the crisis of legitimacy. While acknowledging the failures of the UN’s collective security system, she underscored the growing need for multilateralism in addressing global challenges. The presentation concluded with a call for urgent reforms in the UN structure to enhance its effectiveness in contemporary international relations. The session provided valuable insights into the role of the UN in shaping the evolving landscape of multilateralism.

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Our second speaker of the day 3 Dr. Parama Sinhapalit, delved into the realm of Digital and Tech Diplomacy during her presentation. Exploring India’s initiatives in Digital Public Diplomacy and Brand Building, she emphasized the transformative role of social media in reshaping public communication and highlighted the shift from traditional Public Diplomacy to a more inclusive approach targeting domestic constituencies through social media.

The presentation explained India’s strategic use of social media during the G20 Presidency to project a contemporary and powerful image globally. Dr. Sinhapalit discussed the influence of social media in political communication, particularly during elections, noting its global relevance in countries like the UK, Brazil, and Indonesia.

The concept of the nation as a brand was explored, emphasizing the importance of consistent narratives to shape national images over time. Dr. Sinhapalit identified key benefits of country branding, including attracting trade, tourism, and investment.

In conclusion, Dr. Parama Sinhapalit’s presentation provided a deep understanding of Digital and Tech Diplomacy, and its role in shaping a nation’s global perception. The session offered valuable insights into India’s efforts to communicate its brand using digital tools and the multifaceted impact of such endeavors on international relations.

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Day 4 : Geopolitics & the New World Order

Professor Prabir De initiated the session that explored the symbiotic relationship between a nation’s economy and foreign policy, with a focus on strategic diplomacy. The discussion began with understanding the integral role of economic strength in fostering cultural cooperation and shaping political relations. Drawing on seminal works by scholars like Douglas H. Brooks and Professor Kimura, the session highlighted connectivity infrastructure as a linchpin for regional integration.Insights into India’s foreign policy dynamics, spanning historical initiatives and evolving phases, showcased its quest for global leadership. 

The discourse navigated India’s economic engagements, regional cooperation through FTAs, and proactive roles in global institutions. An in-depth exploration of economic relationships within regional groups, including SAARC, BBIN, BIMSTEC, and ASEAN, provided a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between economic dynamics and geopolitical relations. Professor Prabir De’s session revealed the imperative for nations to forge strategic economic alliances to fortify their global standing in an interconnected world.

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Ambassador Shashank’s session on the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific provided invaluable advice for future foreign policy makers. Emphasizing judicious information consumption in an era of data overload, he highlighted the importance of discerning valuable insights. The significance of historical context and futuristic perspectives in crafting prudent foreign policies was highlighted. Ambassador Shashank urged policymakers to holistically consider the interests of partner countries in the Indo-Pacific, cautioning against projecting dominance and emphasizing India’s role in the ASEAN region.

Addressing current geopolitical scenarios, the session marked conflicts like Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, while contrasting the stability in Asia with volatility in Europe and the Middle East. Amb. Shashank positioned India as a crucial player in maintaining regional equilibrium and advised fortifying resilience against external conflicts. The session concluded by shedding light on the evolving nature of global alliances, emphasizing the historical relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement and pragmatic approaches in dealing with China through cooperative alliances like the QUAD. Amb. Shashank’s insights offered guideposts for navigating the intricate web of global affairs.

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Day 5 : Military Diplomacy, Conflict Resolution & Cooperation

In Major Gen. (Dr) P K Chakravorty’s presentation on India’s Military Diplomacy and the Way Forward, he highlighted the historical context and contemporary relevance of military diplomacy. Drawing on examples like India’s participation in the Korean War and UN peacekeeping missions, he explained the multifaceted nature of military involvement in foreign affairs. The presentation emphasized India’s role in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and building trust between nations. 

The speaker shed light on the global context, comparing military diplomacy approaches of countries like the United States and China. The aims of military diplomacy, including building trust, strengthening ties, and influencing weapon strategies, were elucidated. Challenges, such as those related to border issues with neighboring countries, were also addressed. Overall, the session provided a comprehensive overview of India’s military diplomacy, its global significance, and the imperative for self-reliance in defense technology.

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The subsequent session by Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli on “China and the New World Order” explored China’s multifaceted role in shaping the evolving global landscape. Emphasizing China’s economic strength as a key influencer, he detailed the country’s GDP, foreign exchange reserves, and extensive investments in global initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The presentation scrutinized China’s participation in global governance structures, highlighting concerns about its adherence to principles such as non-intervention and the rule of law.

China’s involvement in multilateral organizations and strategic considerations, including military posture and technological advancements, were examined. Prof. Kondapalli discussed challenges, including economic uncertainties, geopolitical tensions, and scrutiny of human rights practices, suggesting potential constraints on China’s ambitions for a new world order. As global complexities unfold, China’s role requires a nuanced approach to balance major power status with a commitment to international norms.

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Day 6 : Economic & Trade Diplomacy & Foreign Policy

Professor Amita Batra’s session on the economic dimension of foreign policy highlighted a transformative shift in global relations over the past decades. Emphasizing the increasing role of economic instruments, she explored the evolving nature of national interest in a globalized world. The session delved into the significance of national output, the impact of technology on global mobility, and the changing metrics of power. 

Professor Batra skillfully introduced key players like the Bretton Wood System, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, illustrating their influence on the global economic landscape. The intertwining of economic instruments with political objectives is a focal point, showcasing how nations strategically deploy economic diplomacy to advance political and strategic goals. The session provided a deep understanding of interconnected realms of economics and politics, shaping contemporary foreign policy.

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Professor Swaran Singh presented on multifaceted realms of foreign policy, emphasizing the evolving nature of conflict resolution in the ever-expanding horizons of international relations. Celebrating a century of International Relations, he explored the transformation of warfare from conventional to contemporary forms, highlighting the impact of the Cold War. The session marked the nuanced role of conflict, illustrating its potential escalation into war or transformation into peace. 

Professor Singh integrated real-world examples and case studies to emphasize the pivotal role of diplomatic negotiations and international cooperation in navigating global conflicts. The discourse explored existing international laws governing conflict resolution, with a focus on post-Soviet dynamics. Professor Singh’s insightful analysis illuminated the intricate dance between conflict and resolution, urging a comprehensive perspective on the dynamic nature of international relations. The lecture concluded with actionable recommendations, emphasizing dialogue platforms, increased conflict prevention investment, and comprehensive strategies for emerging challenges.

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Day 7 : National Security, Climate Change & Feminist Foreign Policy

Captain Alok Bansal initiated the discussion on the evolving nature of challenges to India’s national security, emphasizing the expansion of security considerations beyond military aspects. He categorized challenges into internal and external dimensions, addressing issues such as sub-national forces, socio-economic factors, and religious extremism domestically. Externally, historical, cultural, and geopolitical factors contribute to challenges with neighbors, with sagacious diplomacy resolving many issues but persistent disputes with Pakistan and China. 

Opportunities arise from India’s emergence as a major economy, fostering closer ties with Western powers. Global events like the Russia-Ukraine war and Israel-Hamas conflict pose new challenges, impacting India’s food, energy security, and diplomatic relations. Captain Bansal stressed the importance of strategic decision-making and leveraging India’s demographic dividend to navigate these complexities and secure national interests.

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Professor Vibhuti Patel’s presentation explored the intersection of feminist foreign policy and climate change, emphasizing the disproportionate impact on women. Acknowledging women’s roles in disaster preparedness and rehabilitation, the talk called for gender-sensitive responses to climate crises, ensuring access to tailored resources and safe spaces.

It stressed the vulnerabilities of women, children, and older individuals in post-disaster scenarios, advocating for community-based rehabilitation programs and social safety nets. Delving into the scientific roots of climate change, the presentation underscored the historical context and the pivotal role women played in environmental movements. Recognizing the link between feminist foreign policy and climate justice, it applauds international organizations and women-led groups for reshaping global perspectives. Ultimately, the presentation advocated for a holistic feminist foreign policy framework to address climate change, fostering gender equity and environmental sustainability.

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Day 8 : Emerging Dimensions of Diplomacy & Foreign Policy & Careers & Interactive sessions

Professor Sumit Ganguly’s session highlighted the complex challenges faced by Indian Foreign Policy, emphasizing the persistent threat from China and the need for strategic navigation irrespective of political shifts. Focusing on the Indo-China dynamic, he highlighted options for addressing this challenge, acknowledging the difficulty of altering policies given China’s entrenched perception of India as a principal rival.

The session stressed the enduring significance of the United States in the global order, urging strong ties with allies like Japan and Australia within the Quad framework. Reinforcing the neighborhood-first policy was emphasized for mutual prosperity and to prevent neighboring countries from aligning with China. The delicate balance required in managing regional dynamics, particularly with Pakistan, was candidly addressed. Professor Ganguly’s insightful analysis provided a profound understanding of India’s intricate position in the evolving global hierarchy.

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Professor Swaran Singh’s opening remarks illuminated the intricacies of Foreign Policy, Conflict Resolution, and Cooperation, portraying India as a formidable global entity. Emphasizing India’s demographic advantage, particularly its burgeoning youth population, he positioned the country as an emerging global force. The discourse highlighted the inevitability of heightened global expectations accompanying India’s rapid growth. Connectivity played a pivotal role, revealing the profound impact of interconnectedness on citizen awareness. 

Prof. Singh celebrated the diverse career paths within International Relations, dispelling the misconception that it is limited to diplomacy. He championed academia, policy research, and roles in NGOs, showcasing the rewarding possibilities for individuals across various sectors. Overall, Professor Singh’s session provided profound insights, dispelling myths and inspiring diverse career pursuits within the dynamic realm of International Relations.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Acknowledgment: This event report is written by Tanu Paliwal

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    IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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