I believe that a country’s foreign policy affects every citizen, be it a rich industrialist or a poor debt-ridden farmer with crippling finances. All the wrong that’s been happening in our country is, in a way or the other, related to the foreign policy choices we have been making. As a citizen, I feel let down by the government’s foreign policy.
I would say that the year 2018 has witnessed a lacklustre performance by the Modi government. Let me be specific. As a rising power, five of the most important priority areas for India’s foreign policy are: first, forging a stronger partnership with the US and making this partnership serve India’s vital interests and priorities; second, managing with tact and finesse the delicate relationship with China with a view to cooperate with Beijing on areas where our interests converge even while remaining firm on areas where Chinese perception of interests diverges from that of ours; third, ensuring a friendly neighbourhood conducive for our national security and economic growth; fourth, building on the global recognition of India as a responsible nation with advanced nuclear technology to secure India’s due place in the international nuclear regime; and five, securing a permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Now if we look at the performance of Modi government’s diplomacy from the prism of these five priority areas, there has been no significant progress during the year 2018. Indeed, there has been no significant progress in these five areas in the last four years.
I believe that the government that comes to power in 2019 must come with a big idea to further transform the Indo-US relations. It should also resume the diplomatic campaign for a permanent membership of the UNSC and bring this campaign into successful conclusion. It should also be firmer with China should there be a repeat of a Doklam-like incident. It should also be more proactive to ensure a friendlier neighbourhood.
(The author has also served as a secretary at AICC Vichar Vibhag).