Editorial Articles

Volume-14, 7-13 July, 2018

Global Success of India’s Diplomacy

Saurabh Shukla

One of the biggest successes of the  government in the past 48 months has been in the diplomatic arena, from the neighbourhood to beyond, the diplomacy has worked well. Though there have been some disappointments as well given the evolving global situation, but India's global profile and its respect amongst the comity of nations has gone up many notches.
To understand it better, the following are the key areas in which the Government's policy has had its successes:
The surgical strike against Pakistan is a case in point, which was a game changer approach. India ensured it sent a strong message to Pakistan, that it will no longer act with restraint if Pakistan continues to provoke it with terrorist incidents. It was also a message to the military establishment in Pakistan that India will respond at a time of its choosing and will not hesitate to hit back. While Pakistan was shocked, the global community supported India. The fact that even Pakistan’s close backers  are questioning it on the issue of terrorism is a major shift. This has been brought about by its increased isolation in the global arena following India's sustained efforts during bilateral and multilateral parleys in the world.
A majority of SAARC countries decided to boycott the summit in Pakistan which led to the postponement of the summit.  Not only this, the Trump administration also gave a strong warning to Pakistan on the issue of terrorism.
Besides this, from receiving the highest civilian award from Saudi Arabia to a closer strategic relationship with the Gulf countries like UAE, Oman and Qatar to engaging Israel, the diplomacy under Narendra Modi has seen an accelerated push.  From cooperation on security issues and repatriation of Indian fugitives to investment by their sovereign wealth funds, India's diplomatic engagement has brought in tangible strategic outcomes.
The Road Ahead
Diplomacy has been one of the high points of Narendra Modi government's tenure from the gains at the UN, winning ICJ and a strong support from the US President Donald Trump on the issue of terrorism. India's global clout has expanded exponentially.
Work on India US Confluence
The Indo US relations have intensified with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump forging a good chemistry. That has translated into US putting Pakistan on notice. The Defence partnership is booming. The two countries need to resolve the trade and immigration issues and get this relationship into a delivery mode. On the boundary issue post the Doklam Standoff with China, there have been disappoint-ments but India has dealt with them firmly, only elevating India's status in the global power arena. In the changed global order, the power profile of the country also comes from a combination of its economic profile, besides the ability of the leader of the country to have many friends across the globe. One of the key successes of the government has been to have a string of close friends across the globe which have helped India assume a higher diplomatic profile globally.
Robust Act East Policy
Another key achievement of the Modi government has been to successfully transform India's look East policy to a robust Act East policy which has helped build India's global profile. The Prime Minister's recent trip to Indonesia, his participation in the Shangrila Dialogue, a dialogue with the Singapore leadership and a stopover in Malaysia were all aimed at reinforcing India's continued commitment to relationship with these countries. Earlier, the fact that all ASEAN leaders were invited as a Chief Guests at the Republic Day parade was a manifestation of that special partnership. This partnership is based on three essential pillars, first is economic cooperation, where India and these countries reap the benefits of a dynamic trade relationship, second is strategic where they cooperate on defence, ensuring sea lanes of communication, cooperate against sea piracy and on counter terrorism. The third pillar is cultural links where India and these countries cooperate on their cultural and traditional links while forging a fresh connect through Indian diaspora. It also serves another larger strategic objective in ensuring that India's dominant role in Asia as a preserver of peace and stability is reinforced.
A strong alliance in Asia, has also helped a new global coinage of Indo-Pacific reaffirming India as a dominant player in the region. It has also proved an effective counter weight to any hegemonic designs in the Asian region.
Expanding India's humani-tarian Diplomacy
In the age of social media and increasing awareness about global issues India must ensure that Indians abroad and those who engage with India, travelers and visa seekers are welcomed with a humanitarian angle. Indian missions and the Indian foreign office must create awareness around it, and Indian missions and Envoys must become the first outpost of a welcome that tourists will await in India when they come to the country.
The other part of the humanitarian diplomacy is India's outreach to countries in need, so far we have done it in India's strategic neighbourhood but we must extend beyond this. For our global aspirations we must be seen as a country which stand with the have nots of the world. We must engage and spread our global goodwill diplomacy.
Climb the Chinese Wall
After the resolution of the Doklam standoff and the Wuhan summit the understanding between the two countries has increased. Both countries have economic stakes in a better relationship with each other. They have the potential of cooperating on global environment and sustainability issues and on multilateral forums.
A softer touch for the neighbourhood
From Nepal, Sri Lanka to Afghanistan and Bangladesh India needs to work on a policy of soft engagement working on cultural similarities and creating goodwill amongst these countries. A region specific public diplomacy initiative needs to be carried out directed at the young people in these countries to create a goodwill for India.
Engaging Russia and Europe
Russia is an old friend of India and we should not forget old friends, it is crucial for India in Afghanistan and is an important energy and defence partner. It will require a sustained effort with multiple options including military and diplomatic to ensure that costs are inflicted on Pakistan for its support to terrorism.
Human-centric Diplomacy
For any country a successful diplomatic outreach is also measured if its citizens feel reassured that their government will save them if they are in harm's way especially if they are abroad. Global powers like the US were considered as a role model for the pressure they would bring about to get their citizens safely back home. This has been a major shift for India, as the Government has been more receptive and the Indian Missions have ensured that thousands of Indians were brought back home through the Government's extended outreach through diplomatic intervention. What has changed now is that the social media has become an important medium in ensuring that the citizens reach out to the Government when in distress and the Indian missions have been directed to ensure that help reaches them swiftly. While India has had successful evacuation missions in the past as well, but what has been a big change is the swiftness and the other is to ensure that an individual citizen also has a voice by which they can reach out to their government when they are in crisis.
Successful Power Diplomacy
Developing personal chemistry has been a key measure of success for the Narendra Modi government, and the Prime Minister deserves credit for his attempts to create a good rapport with World leaders. From the US President Donald Trump, to Vladimir Putin of Russia , Xi Jinping of China, Shinzo Abe of Japan and Emanual Macaron of France the personal touch diplomacy of the Indian PM has yielded successful results. In some cases the success has been mixed, especially when it comes to the recent Trade and Immigration related differences with Russia for deeper economic and defence cooperation. While EU and India will have their divergence of views, we should continue to work and get innovation, skill development and aerospace into the gamut of our relationship with our leading partnerships in Europe and UK.
Diplomacy for a new India
As India's global canvas grows it has to adapt its diplomacy to newer tools of modern day statecraft by factoring to a social media and internet age. Indian diplomacy now needs to get in more domain experts, create a strategy using digital and social media to engage with young people as diplomacy and foreign policy are also about creating public diplomacy perceptions.
(The author is a strategic expert and Founder and Editor in Chief of www.news mobile.in) Views expressed are personal.