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Key Challenges Facing India’s Foreign Policy – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Key Challenges Facing India's Foreign Policy

Session Report

A month Online Immersive Intermediate Certificate Training Course on Contours of Public Policy in India in Amrit Kaal was organized by IMPRI. The topics for the Day 7 of the online program were A New Idea for India, Key trends issues in India’s State Finances and Key Challenges Facing India’s Foreign Policy.

Amb Shashank, Former Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA); India’s Former Ambassador to Denmark, South Korea and Libya conducted a session about ‘Key Challenges Facing India’s Foreign Policy.’

History of Foreign Policy

He began by explaining the past of foreign policy in india. Around the time of India’s independence in 1947, the country’s foreign policy was marked by a commitment to principles that reflected its aspirations as a newly sovereign nation. Led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s foreign policy focused on several key elements.

Firstly, non-alignment was a central tenet, aiming to keep India free from alignment with any Cold War power bloc, emphasizing independence and neutrality. Secondly, India staunchly advocated for anti-colonialism and played a significant role in supporting decolonization efforts in various international forums.

Thirdly, it actively pursued peace and disarmament, championing nuclear disarmament and proposing the five principles of Panchsheel for peaceful coexistence. India’s foreign policy also included fostering solidarity among Asian nations, leading to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961. India maintained diplomatic relations with numerous countries, including recognition of Israel in 1950, and navigated its relationships with neighboring nations like Pakistan, China, and Nepal. India’s foreign policy in this era was deeply influenced by its own struggle for independence and a commitment to principles of sovereignty, peace, and cooperation on the global stage, leaving a lasting legacy on its diplomatic approach in the post-independence period.

Relationship of India and other countries post independence

He continued that in the years around India’s independence in 1947, the country’s foreign policy was characterized by a delicate balancing act as it forged relationships with various nations. India sought to maintain friendly relations with the United States but was careful not to align itself with either the U.S. or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. India’s non-alignment policy meant it engaged with both superpowers without forming military alliances.Despite the legacy of colonial rule, India maintained diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom. Relations evolved from colonial ties to a more equal footing, with the UK recognizing India’s sovereignty.

Historical tensions stemming from partition, India established diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Its relationship with China started on friendly terms but soured over border disputes, leading to the Sino-Indian War in 1962. India’s foreign policy also included recognizing Israel shortly after its establishment, maintaining close ties with Nepal and Bhutan, and supporting the development of neighboring countries like Afghanistan. This period laid the foundation for India’s approach to international relations, emphasizing non-alignment, sovereignty, and a commitment to global peace and anti-colonialism.

G20 Summit Success

He added about the success of the G20 Summit for India. One of the key achievements is its role in promoting inclusive and sustainable development. India has consistently advocated for issues related to poverty eradication, food security, and rural development on the G20 platform, aligning with its national priorities. Additionally, India has been instrumental in shaping discussions on climate change within the G20, emphasizing the importance of renewable energy and sustainable development practices.

However, it’s important to note that the G20’s success is collective, and India’s contributions are part of a broader effort by member nations. While India’s participation has been influential, the G20’s overall success depends on the collaboration and commitment of all member states to address global challenges and promote economic stability and sustainable development.

Key challenges Facing India’s Foreign Policy

India’s foreign policy faces several key challenges as it navigates a rapidly changing global landscape. Some of these challenges include:

1. Border Disputes: India has long standing border disputes with neighboring countries like China and Pakistan. These disputes have led to occasional tensions and conflicts, demanding diplomatic efforts to find peaceful resolutions.

2. China’s Rise: China’s growing economic and military power presents a complex challenge. India needs to manage its relationship with China, balancing economic interests with strategic concerns, while also addressing territorial disputes.

3. Regional Rivalries: India’s relationships with neighboring countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, can be complex. Maintaining stable and cooperative relations in the region is a challenge, given historical and political factors.

4. Economic Inequality: Addressing economic disparities within India is essential for its foreign policy. Economic inequality can lead to social unrest and impact India’s image on the international stage.

5. Multilateral Diplomacy: India’s role in international organizations, including the United Nations and G20, requires it to balance its interests with global priorities and navigate complex multilateral negotiations.

He concluded that India’s foreign policy endeavors to address these challenges while advancing its strategic interests, promoting economic growth, and upholding its commitment to a multipolar world order and global peace. Adaptability, diplomacy, and a clear sense of national interest are crucial in meeting these challenges effectively.

Acknowledgement: Riya is a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organisation.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

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Posted by Chaitanya Deshpande, Research Intern at IMPRI.

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