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Indian Foreign Policy And Action – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Session Report

The 5th day of the one-month immersive online certificate course on the Fundamentals of Public Policy aimed to unravel the intricate realm of public policy formulation and implementation in today’s dynamic global landscape. Chaired by the esteemed Professor Mukul Asher, the session commenced by underscoring the profound impact of globalisation on blurring the once distinct boundaries between domestic and foreign policy domains.

In the era of globalisation, the traditional pillars of strategic and foreign diplomacy have been supplemented by economic considerations, which now wield substantial influence in shaping policy agendas. This paradigm shift is exemplified by India’s pursuit of the “Viksit Bharat” vision for 2047, drawing inspiration from its newfound centrality in global affairs. The Indian Foreign Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar’s seminal work, “Bharat Matters,” encapsulates this transition, chronicling India’s metamorphosis from a peripheral player to a pivotal force on the world stage.

The Indian Foreign Policy

Ambassador Shashank, the session’s first speaker, chronicled India’s transformative journey from an outward-looking foreign policy to an India-centric approach, transcending its erstwhile role as a mere participant in the United Nations and other international systems. He attributed this fundamental reorientation to the visionary leadership of Narasimha Rao, who articulated the aspirations of India’s burgeoning middle class and catalysed the nation’s integration into the global economic order. Rao’s tenure marked a watershed moment, as India prioritised attracting global investments and leveraging the expertise of its developed counterparts in managerial and technological spheres. 

Reflecting on his tenure in the Republic of Korea, Ambassador Shashank lauded the emergence of a cadre of young, risk-taking Indian bureaucrats who embraced globalisation, weaving a global narrative for India. This newfound confidence was buttressed by India’s proactive role in combating the scourge of terrorism, which had plagued the nation’s relations with Pakistan. By advocating for terrorism to be recognised as a global security challenge, India garnered international support and paved the way for concerted efforts to counter this menace, particularly in the aftermath of the devastating Mumbai attacks.

Discussion on India’s External Affairs Contemporary Speeches

Notably, India’s diplomatic endeavors are definitely being presented in a better way by The Indian Foreign Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar’s knowledge of civilisation and the simple exuberance in his explanation that is inevitably evident in his self confidence which again resides from his knowledge and a clear vision of foreign policy for India which can been deduced from his interpretation of India’s stance where, during the session, a critique was raised about India’s perceived shift from its Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) stance to a “multiple choice” or “multiple alignment” approach in its foreign relations, particularly concerning its ties with Russia and the United States. However, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar refuted the notion of reducing India’s complex foreign policy to caricatures or sweeping judgments. He emphasised that countries face inherent pulls and pressures, making unidimensional relationships impractical. India’s approach, he asserted, is not unsentimental or purely transactional; rather, it acknowledges that good partnerships provide choices, and smart diplomacy entails selectively embracing some while passing up others. Jaishankar contextuised India’s participation in BRICS as a response to the era of strong Western domination, countering the outdated “you’re either with us or against us mentality”. Professor Asher commended Jaishankar’s confidence, flexibility, and real-world pragmatism, underscoring that India aims not to divide the world but to find collaborative solutions. This presentation by Ambassador Shashank highlighted the need to develop a nuanced understanding of foreign policy complexities and cultivate the self-assurance to navigate them effectively.

Reflections on Public Policy Planning & Action in India

However, India’s resurgence on the global stage was not without its challenges. The session delved into the intricate dynamics of India’s relationship with China, a nation whose burgeoning military prowess and assertive regional posture have raised concerns regarding its potential encroachment upon India’s spheres of influence in Southeast Asia. To counterbalance China’s growing clout, India has sought to cultivate strategic partnerships and nurture economic ties with a diverse array of nations, both developed and developing.

Domestically, India’s agricultural and trade policies have been shaped by the complexities of its internal political landscape and the imperative to safeguard the welfare of its vast populace. At the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings, India has advocated for a balanced approach that promotes environmental sustainability while ensuring food security and affordable prices for its citizens. Navigating this delicate equilibrium has been further complicated by the ongoing farmers’ protests and the pressing need for crop diversification to address water scarcity challenges, particularly in agrarian states like Punjab.

The session also delved into the broader implications of India’s public policy approach for its global reputation and the experiences of Indian students and communities abroad. Ambassador Shashank underscored the pivotal role played by the Indian diaspora in articulating trust in the nation’s capabilities, advocating for greater participation in international affairs, and facilitating the evacuation of citizens from conflict zones. Fostering a sense of inclusive representation and ensuring the well-being of Indian communities worldwide emerged as a strategic imperative for enhancing India’s soft power and global standing.

Addressing the contentious issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its implications for the disputed territory of Kashmir, the session highlighted India’s firm stance on safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity. While acknowledging the complexities of managing economic relations with China, the speakers emphasised the need for a nuanced approach that balances trade interests with India’s core security concerns. China’s pursuit of regional hegemony and its potential infringement upon India’s sphere of influence were identified as critical areas of concern that warranted continuous diplomatic engagement and dialogue.

The session also explored India’s nuanced position on the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict, advocating for a two-state solution that respects the legitimate aspirations of both parties while ensuring the protection of minority rights. This stance underscored India’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region while upholding the principles of sovereignty and self-determination.


As the session concluded, Professor Asher encouraged the audience to reflect on the depth and breadth of India’s foreign policy vision, encapsulated in the ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – the world as one family. India’s pursuit of a multipolar world order, rooted in the principles of equal participation and mutual respect, was posited as a counterpoint to the prevailing “you’re either with us or against us” mentality that has often characterized global power dynamics.

India’s deft handling of its G20 Presidency and the confidence exuded by its leadership on the global stage were cited as examples of the nation’s growing clout and its ability to navigate complex geopolitical challenges with poise and pragmatism. The session underscored the need for India’s future policymakers and diplomats to cultivate a similar level of self-assurance, grounded in a deep understanding of the nation’s rich cultural heritage and its contemporary aspirations for a more equitable and sustainable world order.

Acknowledgement: Asra Malik, research intern at IMPRI.

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