- Feb 23, 2009
MEA stalling India's rise to great power?
NEW DELHI: Instead of a catalyst for India's transformation into a world power, the foreign ministry may be a drag, preventing the nation from
moving up the international power ladder.
This is the conclusion drawn by Daniel Markey, of the Council for Foreign Relations and a former US state department official. Markey says in his article titled ‘Developing India’s Foreign Policy Software’ that India’s diplomatic service, think-tanks and universities are not yet up to the task of managing an agenda befitting a great power.
Raising doubts over India’s “software’’, which he describes as the intellectual and institutional infrastructure, Markey says institutions charged with researching, formulating, debating and implementing foreign policy are often underdeveloped, in decay, or chronically short of resources.
On the high-profile IFS, Markey says it is “small, hobbled by its selection process and inadequate mid-career training’’ and tends not to make use of outside expertise.
Markey says India needs to expand its foreign service to keep pace with its global aspirations. “In contrast to organisations with an up-or-out promotion scheme where underperformers are weeded out, nearly everyone in the IFS rises to the upper echelons,’’ says Markey.
According to former diplomat and author Krishna S Rana, Markey’s study indicates how India’s major foreign policy partners like the US perceive India’s stunted capacity to engage in international negotiations on multiple subjects because of outdated institutional arrangements.
In fact, Markey’s study in a way is an authentication of an earlier report prepared by diplomat S K Lambah in which he had said that merit and performance —and not seniority alone — should be the main criteria for promotion. Lambah also said in his 2002 report that the weeding out process should begin at the level of director.
Markey also harps on the fact that the IFS is constrained by its selection process which, he says, is rooted in the old civil service tradition. “The fact that the highest scorers in the civil service exam tend to choose non-IFS careers also reflects poorly on the prestige and appeal of the foreign service,’’ says Markey’s report.
The MEA outsources analytical tasks to think-tanks, as senior policy-makers are bogged down by daily operational responsibilities. On India’s think-tanks, the report says these lack sufficient access to the information or resources required to conduct high-quality, policy-relevant scholarship.
It adds that India’s “poorly funded’’ universities fail to provide world-class education in the fields of foreign policy and that the media and private firms are not built to “undertake foreign policy research or training’’.
MEA stalling India's rise to great power? - India - NEWS - The Times of India