A Two Month Online National Summer School and Immersive Legal Awareness & Action Research Certificate Training Course and Internship Program, Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship (LPPYF) was conducted by IMPRI, Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi from 12 June to 11 August. An informative panel discussion on the topic “Foreign Policy”, was held on day 13 by Prof Swaran Singh, Professor and Chairperson, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He commenced the session with a formal greeting and then began his session with the importance of understanding Foreign Policy to the current generation and policy enthusiasts.
Current Stature of Foreign Policy
Prof Singh stated that in time and space shrinkage has been in the talks with the world being so deeply interconnected and interlinked, owing to technological progress leading to the futility of old-fashioned division of Nation States, higher empowerment of people around the world and greater transparency regarding worldly affairs. Therefore, fundamentally the intertwining of international society is so rapid and so influential that States must be aware of what is going on. Hence, he states that, unlike previous times when Foreign Policy was restricted to only one Ministry, Foreign Policy has spread across all Ministries and Commerce Ministry, Sports Ministry, etc. even Universities have their own foreign policy.
So, the function of the Foreign Ministry has essentially become to direct and provide bandwidth for India’s engagement with the Rest of the World and to facilitate individuals practicing foreign policy such that foreign policy and diplomacy are conducted in an inclusive manner giving every individual, who is engaging with his/her foreign counterparts, a productive environment.
Determinants of Foreign Policy
The most important determinant of foreign policy is leverage, which is the fundamental power of any nation to use in diplomacy to achieve the goals of foreign policy. Each nation has certain leverages or special advantages through which it can influence the international society and voice out its opinions in order to make its voice attractive for engagement, easy to understand and effective in the world sphere. When any nation has leverage where it is capable of helping other nations, it makes the other nations obliged to this nation.
The next important determinant is leadership which means that the nation’s progress in foreign policy is majorly dependent upon its leader as in the era of the Summit Diplomacy if the leader of a nation is not effective, articulate and smart, then the nation cannot prosper, however smart its citizens might be.
The population is another important determinant in the making of foreign policy. He drew a timeline as to how people evolved to be the key to making policies in the 21st Century whereas the 20th century saw the influence of Super Powers and the 19th Century depended on Great Powers. Presently people’s welfare determines a nation’s strength. Equally important is the size of the country in determining the effectiveness of foreign policy. These two factors play a major role in determining the engagement a nation can have with its peer nations.
Foreign policy effectiveness is also determined by location, nearness to the sea, history of a nation and such factors influence trading powers.
Foreign Policy in the Indian Context
He highlighted how India’s strategic location, population size and country size in relation to its neighbour foster trade for India. He states India, being an ancient continuing civilization and being comfortable with diversity has been able to do well in the trade front.
Moving on, he specified the liberation movement and how India was established into the present state. Here, he began with British imperialism and colonisation of India where through Divide and Rule and Piecemeal Empowerment of People, they set up their colonies successfully. The national movement was also global in India due to the fact that the leaders connected with other countries to derive help. So, when India became independent, it had already contributed to fighting world wars, and the National Liberation Movement of other countries and was a member of the UNO even before independence.
Jumping to contemporary times, he said that the attractiveness of other countries to partner and engage with India lies majorly in the fact that India is a large population country and most importantly, a young country. This is also a major reason why India has so many startups and unicorns and digitalization has gained a whopping success owing to India being the largest country with a young population, in turn leading India to become the world’s fastest-growing economy.
He explicitly mentioned India’s motto of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) is a step towards ensuring world peace because that can only ensure progress and security. In this era where India is growing to be the fastest economy, India is able to pursue a very unique policy called shifting from non-alignment to multi-alignment, that is, India is trying to build partnerships in as many sectors and as many countries as possible. India, taking up a diplomatic front and being on good terms with almost all-important countries is the greatest achievement and one that is difficult to achieve thereby ensuring a successful future for us.
He ended the session by stating the importance that India now has on the world stage owing to its young population, growing economy, tech-brained young people, neutrality and others, has fostered and nurtured India’s foreign policy and almost every country is willing to engage with India as India is trying to emerge as a global player if not global leader.
Then, he ended the talk with an insightful and engaging question and answer where he cleared the students’ doubts and queries.
Samprikta is a research intern at IMPRI.
Youtube Video of Inaugural session for Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Programme: https://youtu.be/fT0XLKGJ6LY
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