Content

  1. India at UN high table
  2. Reframing India’s foreign policy priorities

Editorial: India at UN high table

Context:

  • India will sit in the 15-nation UNSC for the 2021-22 term as a non-permanent member — the eighth time that the country has had a seat on the powerful horseshoe table.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate); Bilateral, Regional, Global groupings & Agreements (involving and/or affecting India)

Mains Questions:

  1. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UN Security Council. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • India at UNSC:
  • India’s priority in UNSC:
  • Issues before India
  • Conclusion:

India at UNSC:

India has served in the UN Security Council seven times previously.

  • In 1950-51, India, as President of UNSC, presided over the adoption of resolutions calling for cessation of hostilities during the Korean War and for assistance to Republic of Korea.

In 1967-68, India co-sponsored Resolution 238 extending mandate of UN mission in Cyprus.

  • In 1972-73, India pushed strongly for admission of Bangladesh into UN. The resolution was not adopted because of a veto by a permanent member.
  • In 1977-78, India was a strong voice for Africa in the UNSC and spoke against apartheid. Then External Affairs Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke in UNSC for Namibia’s independence in 1978.
  • In 1984-85, India was a leading voice in UNSC for resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, especially Palestine and Lebanon.
  • In 1991-92, PM P V Narasimha Rao participated in the first ever summit-level meeting of the UNSC and spoke on its role in maintenance of peace and security.
  • In 2011-2012, India was a strong vice for developing world, peacekeeping, counter-terrorism and Africa. First statement on Syria was during India’s Presidency at the UNSC.

India’s priority in UNSC:

  • New Opportunities for progress: India will work constructively with partners
    • to bring innovative and inclusive solutions to foster development o for greater involvement of women and youth to shape a new paradigm.
  • An Effective response to international terrorism: India will pursue concrete and result-oriented action by the Council aimed at:
    • addressing the abuse of ICT by terrorists
    • disrupting their nexus with sponsors and transnational organised criminal entities o stemming the flow of terror finance
    • strengthening normative and operative frameworks for greater coordination with other multilateral forums
  • Reforming the multilateral system: Widespread concern at the inadequacy of the existing multilateral institutions to deliver results or meet new challenges. o Reformed multilateralism: a must for the post-COVID19 era.
    • A first and vital step is the reform of the Security Council. It must reflect contemporary realities to be more effective.
  • A comprehensive approach to international peace and security:
    • Guided by: Dialogue and cooperation, Mutual respect, and Commitment to international law.
    • Call for greater clarity, direction, and professionalism in UN Peacekeeping Operations.
  • Promoting technology with a human touch as a driver of solutions: India will encourage partnerships to harness the benefits of technological innovation to: o reduce human suffering o enhance ease of living o build resilient communities.

Issues before India

  • UN REFORMS: New Delhi has said it is essential that the Security Council is expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. It says India is eminently suited for permanent UNSC membership by any objective criteria, such as population, territorial size, GDP, economic potential, civilisational legacy, cultural diversity, political system and past and ongoing contributions to UN activities — especially to UN peacekeeping operations.
  • TERRORISM: The international effort against terrorism is a key priority for India in the UN. With the objective of providing a comprehensive legal framework to combat terrorism, India took the initiative to pilot a draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in 1996. A text of the Convention is being negotiated in the 6th Committee of the UN General Assembly.
  • The China challenge: India is entering the UNSC at a time when Beijing is asserting itself at the global stage much more vigorously than ever. It heads at least six UN organisations — and has challenged the global rules. China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific as well as the India-China border has been visible in all of 2020, and New Delhi will have to think on its feet to counter Beijing.

Conclusion:

India will pursue its priorities through a Five-S approach: Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation), Shanti (Peace) and Samriddhi (Prosperity).


Editorial: Reframing India’s foreign policy priorities

Context:

  • The year 2021 should see a cementing of the many trends that had their genesis in 2020. Leadership change in the United States is perhaps the most awaited change, but is unlikely to bring about a major power shift in the international arena.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2:  Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed and Developing countries on India

Mains Questions:

  1. Apart from an ideational restructuring, prudent plans, achievable objectives and a line of continuity are a must. Discuss the statement in context of India’s foreign policy. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Objectives of Foreign Policy:
  • Important goals of Indian Foreign Policy:
  • India’s rising stature in the world
  • Challenges related to Indian Foreign Policy:
  • Way Forward:

Objectives of Foreign Policy:

The main and first and foremost objective of India’s Foreign Policy –like that of any other country-is to secure its national interests. The scope of “national interests” is fairly wide. In our case it includes for instance:

  • securing our borders to protect territorial integrity,
  • countering cross-border terrorism,
  • energy security,
  • food security,
  • cyber security,
  • creation of world class infrastructure,
  • non-discriminatory global trade practices,
  • equitable global responsibility for the protection of environment,
  • reform of institutions of global governance to reflect the contemporary realities,
  • disarmament,
  • regional stability,
  • international peace.

Important goals of Indian Foreign Policy:

Foreign policy has at least four important goals:

  • to protect India from traditional and non-traditional threats;
  • to create an external environment which is conducive for an inclusive development of India so that the benefits of growth can reach the poorest of the poor in the country;
  • to ensure that India’s voice is heard on global forums and that India is able to influence world opinion on issues of global dimensions such as terrorism, climate change, disarmament, reforms of institutions of global governance, and
  • to engage and protect Indian Diaspora.

India’s rising stature in the world

  • India is being looked at, by the countries of global south for diplomatic and geopolitical help. For example
    • Indian navy has been deployed in Gulf region since the attacks on oil tankers.
    • India was re-elected to the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) with the highest margin beating China’s candidate.
  • International infrastructure projects are moving faster
    • In Afghanistan, India completed Salma dam, Parliamentary building etc. Not even western countries were ready to take up these projects.
  • Multilateralism:
    • India is a part of Alliance for Multilateralism and advocates for having rules, even if imperfect, rather than no rules.
  • Climate change:
    • India is engaging actively with world community to mitigate its effects.
    • International Solar Alliance is headquartered in India.

Challenges related to Indian Foreign Policy:

A stronger China

  • China is about the only major country which had a positive rate of growth at the end of 2020, and its economy is poised to grow even faster in 2021.
  • Militarily, China has further strengthened itself, and now seeks to dominate the Indo-Pacific Ocean with its announcement of the launch of its third aircraft carrier in 2021. Simultaneously, it is seeking to strengthen its military coordination with Russia.
  • Consequent on all this, and notwithstanding Chinese intransigence in several matters including its heavy-handed actions in Hong Kong and Uighur, China’s position across Asia is, if anything, stronger than in 2020.

Influence of authoritarian leaders:

  • The new year will be dominated by strong authoritarian leaders like Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Recep Tayyip in Turkey. International politics may not be very different from that in 2020, but any hope that the Compact of Democracy would emerge stronger will need to be eschewed.

Economy First for Europe:

  • The China-EU Investment Treaty which saw Europe capitulating to China’s brandishments is an indication that Europe values its economy more than its politics.
  • Europe, minus Britain following Brexit, and the retirement of Germany’s Angela Merkel, could become even less relevant in world affairs.

Convergence between China and Russia:

  • Russia is beginning to display greater interest in the affairs of countries on its periphery and, together with strengthening ties with China and reaching an entente with Turkey, this seems to signal reduced interest in countries such as India.

Issues in West Asia:

  • In West Asia, the Abraham Accords, leading to a realignment of forces in the Arab world, have sharpened the division between the Saudi Bloc and Iran-Turkey.
  • Despite the hype surrounding the Abraham Accords, the situation, however, remains fluid and has not reduced the risk of a confrontation between Iran and Israel. This does pose problems for India, since both have relations with it.
  • China demonstrates a willingness to play a much larger role in the region, including contemplating a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement with Iran.

Way Forward:

  • Greater realism: The purposeful pursuit of national interest in shifting global dynamics may not be easy but it must be done.
  • Economic drivers to guide diplomacy a lot more than earlier, instead of old dogmas like economic autarky, self-reliance, import substitution.
  • Multi-polar world has emerged and all the pillars (e.g. US, China, Russia Japan etc.) have to be managed without compromising with anyone.
  • Need of calculated risk-taking to take a quantum jump in global positioning. E.g. Uri and Dokhlam issue. •
  • Need to read the global discourse right: E.g. growing multipolarity, weaker multilateralism, need of larger economic and political rebalancing needs to be carefully analysed. •
  • Giving up the dogmas: India cannot be dogmatic in approaching a visibly changing global order.
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