(South Block houses the Ministry of External Affairs)
When I look back and see if India should really have been like what it is today after 62 years of our freedom, I feel that we could certainly have done much better. We have shown progress on several fronts, both domestic and international, but a lot more needs to be done and a question that needs to be addressed is ‘Are India’s foreign policy makers holding India back?’
We Indians would never want to remember Nehru’s goof up on Kashmir and his complete misunderstanding of China in 1962 which left several bad memories for us and left India bleeding. India not only accepted the UN mediation on Kashmir (which provided it an international status, and has remained a headache for us since then) but also remained in deep slumber accepting the ‘ hindi-chini bhai-bhai’ formula. Here I study the relations we have fostered with some of the countries that matter us most.
China: – Till date we have no fixed policy to counter China’s claims on Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh and are bullied by the rising military and economic giant. If China can issue stapled visas for Kashmiri people, why can’t we render the same for Tibetans? Home Minister P Chidambaram accepts arms being illegally smuggled from China into India via Nepal (for the Naxals) but not a word of his signals action he plans to take. China also aims at encircling India by befriending our neighbors and continues to pursue its foreign policy aggressively, largely aimed against us. It continues to supply arms, ammunition and military know-how to Pakistan.
Pakistan: – This is the saddest and perhaps the most unfortunate story of our foreign policy. We have no answer to the proxy war our neighbor has waged against us for the past 25 years. We have missed every single opportunity to make Pakistan dance to our tunes. Why did not India ask Pakistan to recede from Kashmir when we had 90,000 Pakistani soldiers in our captivation in 1971? Not only this, India was shamed at the recent talks in Sharm el sheikh, where we entered the summit to deface Pakistan in front of the rest of the world but came out as guilty of sponsoring terrorism in Baluchistan! Pakistan has successfully deprived India of resource rich Central Asia and smuggles fake Indian currency to destabilize our economy.
US: – We have taken our relations with US on a new level with various agreements in military and mutual trade. We saw the nuclear deal go through. But still, we need to clearly lay down our strategy on issues like Iran if we want US to pursue pressure on Pakistan. Also, US continues to support Pakistan both financially and militarily which should be a cause of worry for India, specially with reports coming in from the West that Pakistan has modified US provided Harpoon missiles and aimed them against us.
Bangladesh: – I was really surprised when India kept mum few years back. The Bangladesh Border security force had massacred Indian soldiers and returned their mutilated bodies to us. When a small nation like Bangladesh who owes its freedom to us can commit such a heinous crime, we can gauge to what extent our foreign policy lacks teeth. Also, North-east insurgents operate their terror-training camps from Bangladesh soil.
Russia: – India has made a mockery of our time-tested relationship with the nation. The mutual trade stagnates at 4 billion $. Russia feels isolated as our relations get cozier with US. But can we stand to lose a friend that has supported us blind-folded at so many important international issues? I don’t think so.
Afghanistan: – India is helping the nation torn out from war in a big way! Certainly we don’t want it to become the fifth province of Pakistan. Stable Afghanistan is a big asset to India against Pakistan. What stops New Delhi to name Pakistan’s hand in bombings at Indian embassy, when Kabul can boldly blame Pakistan, its immediate neighbor? Why to beat around the bush and not clearly name Pakistan? Certainly, there are lessons for us to be learnt from the Afghan nation.
Nepal: – India has failed to keep Maoists at bay in the Himalayan state. While India sleeps, China has dug deep into the nation and aims at building up relations that certainly harm our interests. China is laying down highways, building hospitals, schools and assisting in big power projects. Certainly, India stands to lose.
Sri Lanka: – If there is any silver lining for us, it is Sri-Lanka. We continue to build strong relations and were successful in forcing the island country to cancel several arms deal with China and Pakistan. But China continues to play a spoil-sport here too. It has constructed several shipyards for refueling its naval fleet patrolling the Indian Ocean.
These are issues to be immediately addressed.
Why aren’t we still a permanent member of the Security Council? Why don’t we get a strong say at the WTO? Why have we not able to solve the Kashmir issue even after 60 years? Why do we give so much importance to Pakistan? Why do we lie dormant on issues that should concern us so much? Why do we just sit on things that require immediate attention? When will we learn from our mistakes? Certainly these issues govern our present and future. We need to do away with our old-aged and good for nothing policy of ‘Non-Alignment’ if we aspire to get support for our cause.
We need to sharpen our bureaucratic brass and train them to meet challenges of today’s world. You will agree with me that men who speak for the interests of a billion people have to properly polished. If we want the 20th century to be ours, it is high time that we get talking tough and dictate terms.
(The views expressed above are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect views of strat.in )
This post is written by Puneet Yadav. He is a student at IIT Delhi, pursuing graduation in Chemical Engineering. Involved in varied extracurricular activities, Puneet has great interest in history, political affairs, management and engineering. Recently,he has developed keen interest in Fuel Cell Technology.
Strat. In thanks Puneet for his article, wishes him all the best and hopes he writes another post with us soon. You can also write for strat. in . Check the Write a Post section to know more.