2013 has been India's most disastrous foreign policy year in a very lo

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Dec 26, 2013.



    Sep 22, 2012
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    Detroit MI
    2013 has been India's most disastrous foreign policy year in a very long time

    Thank heavens this year is done. In 2013, we stiffed our friends, failed to deliver as a global power, and frankly, our neighbourhood is worse off. For Indian foreign policy, this has been the most painful year in a very long time, because it exposed the lack of political leadership at a time when it was sorely needed.

    Sri Lanka, arguably India's best friend in this region and a really important pillar of India's national project of expanding its strategic space was let down spectacularly by India. PM Manmohan Singh cravenly gave oxy-gen to narrow interests when he refused to attend CHOGM. By persistently voting against Sri Lanka at forums we would slam in a heartbeat if they targeted New Delhi, India has shown quite comprehensively it cannot be relied upon as a partner.

    New Delhi hasn't been honest enough to admit that the fishermen problem is because Indian fishermen are crossing the boundary, Indian fishermen engage in environmentally degrading fishing practices. Sri Lanka is ripe for picking by China, and we helped it. Our policy on Sri Lanka is being dictated by Tamil diaspora pressure groups, though we would scream bloody murder if others chose to leverage Sikh or Mirpuri diaspora against India.

    Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh is fighting one of the biggest battles of her life. She has staked much on the India relationship and done much to take out terror cells that threaten both Bangladesh and India. India had made Bangladesh a big project and our officials spread out Indian goodies for Dhaka. But New Delhi failed at the heavy lifting — PM could not convince the Assamese or Bengalis that a land boundary pact with Dhaka was in India's interest. This will hurt the only constituency in Bangladesh we want to save.

    And yes, just before elections must be the best time to stiff Bhutan. Weeks before its July elections, India, for a reason no one yet understands, stopped subsidising kerosene and cooking gas. It may have been just incompetence, but everyone believes India was punishing Jigme Thinley for an "independent" foreign policy, particularly his outreach to China. What were we smoking?

    Hamid Karzai has depended on India in ways the world cannot imagine. As he stumbles into the great unknown of 2014, where he will be battling Pak-sponsored terrorists without Nato, he now knows he cannot actually depend on India to give him the weapons he needs. The government is reportedly worried about what Pakistan would think!

    In his decade as PM, Manmohan Singh has never been able to convince India that his Pakistan policy was more than about a personal visit to the land of his birth. So we cut off talks periodically, because the government believes the only other option is war. This is lazy policymaking. Thankfully, Pakistan, mostly its own worst enemy, regularly lets India off the hook.

    The fact that we apparently get caught off-guard by events in our immediate neighbourhood cannot be good. Maldives is a case in point, where we scrambled to get them to hold a credible election, losing a massive Indian investment by GMR on the way. We even promoted a suboptimal envoy from Male to consul-general in New York, where as boss to Devyani Khobragade, his lack of leadership has been stunning to say the least.

    L'affaire Khobragade was only the latest blow to the US-India relationship which has been on the skids for some time now. Barack Obama's stunted vision and India's political paralysis have proved to be an unbeatable combination in killing much of what was achieved between Singh and Bush.

    In 2005, a visibly elated Manmohan Singh told us on his way back from Washington, "The nuclear deal will be as important for India as the economic reforms were." As his government collapses in a heap, it's the same nuclear deal that has caused much of India's troubles with the world. The nuclear liability law succeeded in strangling nuclear investment from not only the US. Russia, India's oldest pal, hit Singh with supplier liability clause and the French are making similar noises. Meanwhile, India's own nuclear industry is choking to death because they find it impossible to meet the liability provisions. The US can take heart — it isn't just them we're after.

    There are rays of light, and they were all in Asia. Despite the Depsang incursion, which may be described as a low point, the incident showed that India could hold its own against Chinese grand strategy. It also exposed internal differences within China's monolithic set-up, always a good thing for neighbours. A third consequence of China's strange actions, in Ladakh and East China Sea, is the beneficial effect it has on the India-Japan relationship.

    This was the year when the India-Japan relationship took flight. The emperor's visit to India has a significance way beyond the commonplace. Japan will continue to regard India through a US prism, but that's fine. In his more loquacious moments, PM described the Japan relationship as "transformational". India needs Japan by its side as it transforms itself both as a nation, an economy and as a global power. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be India's chief guest on Republic Day, a wonderful opportunity for India to show that it can walk the talk on a vital investment.

    2013 has been India's most disastrous foreign policy year in a very long time by Globespotting : Indrani Bagchi's blog-The Times Of India
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