The resounding democratic mandate by India’s 900 plus million voters for continuing with the ambitious transformation of India undertaken by Prime Minister NarendraModisince 2014 provides several opportunities for India’s foreign policy initiatives during the next five years.
The Prime Minister has announced that inclusive governance under the motto SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas will be the leitmotif of his governance policies. The focus of India’s foreign policy will be to maximize her international engagements to provide the necessary catalysts for inclusive governance to transform India.
Calibrating her relations with the major powers, especially China, the United States and Russia, at a time of increasing international disruptions will be a major objective of India’s foreign policy.Each of these relationships plays a crucial role in the flow of investments, equipment and technologies that are required to secure, empower and transform India. They are also critical for India’s increased interaction with major world economies, including the United States, China, the European Union, Japan, the ASEAN and Russia.
A secure and predictable neighbourhood is essential for India to continue to be the fastest growing major emerging economy in the world. India’s growth has shown that without peace and security, there can be no sustainable development. Ensuring a supportive environment around India, along her land and maritime borders, will be a significant priority of India’s foreign policy. This will require an integrated approach with India’s neighbours, including in countering terrorism and implementing confidence-building measures for rapid and sustainable socio-economic development.
In Asia, the next five years provide India with the opportunity to orient the strategic framework of the Indo-Pacific from the shores of Africa to the Americas towards India’s core interests. These were outlined in Prime Minister Modi’s statement of March 2015 on Security and Growth for All in the Region(SAGAR) and of June 2018 at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. A special priority for India’s foreign policy would be on developing a roadmap for the substance and security of the ‘Blue Economy’ in the Indian Ocean, which will directly impact on the transformation of India.
In the western Indo-Pacific, India’s foreign policy can be expected to build on the historic initiatives taken during the past five years, including in the Gulf and West Asia, where 8 million Indians live and work. India’s economic and energy needs require robust diplomatic engagement to ensure that crucial sea lanes of communicationthrough the Gulf of Aden and Straits of Hormuz remain open for India’s trade and digital connectivity. New Delhi’s strategic needs require prioritizing completion of connectivity projects like Chabahar, which will provide land-locked Asian countries like Afghanistan and the Central Asian states access to global investments and markets. These initiatives will augment India’s role as a net security provider in the western Indo-Pacific.
Indian foreign policy initiatives mustfocus on implementing proposals made at the India-Africa Forum Summit, the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation, and in the India-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States meetings during the past five years. This will significantly enhance India’s global profile, including that of the vibrant Indian diaspora.
The rapid emergence of new technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution provide an opportunity for Indian foreign policy to shape the world of the 21st century. In her international engagements, India should participatepro-actively in setting the norms for the application of new technologies, including for global electronic commerce, which will directly impact on ‘Digital India’ and the empowerment of India’s huge demographic dividend.
In June 2020 India will be elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year period ending in 2022. In 2021, India will be due for re-election to the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term ending in 2024. In 2022, India will become the Chair of the G-20. These prominent multilateral leadership roles provide an opportunity for India to position herself as a “thought-leader” in international relations for upholding the principle of international cooperation, which is critical for the transformation of India.
Script: Amb.Asoke Kumar Mukerji, Former Permanent Representative Of India To
The United Nations