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Focus: GS-II International Relations


  • India was the de facto leader of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and was seen as a natural rising power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.  
  • When it comes to neighbouring countries: India has historical and cultural ties with Nepal, enjoys traditional goodwill and influence in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, invested in Afghanistan and cultivated vibrant ties with the post-Taliban stakeholders in Kabul and committed itself to multilateralism and the Central Asian connectivity project, with Iran being its gateway.

Adversities in relationships now

  • Due to China having changed the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in its favour, India is said to be facing a national security crisis.
  • Nepal has turned hostile having adopted a new map and revived border disputes with India.
  • Sri Lanka has tilted towards China, which is undertaking massive infrastructure projects in the Indian Ocean island.
  • Bangladesh is clearly miffed at the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • When Afghanistan is undergoing a major transition, India is out of the multi-party talks.
  • Iran has inaugurated a railway link project connecting the Chabahar port, on the Gulf of Oman, to Zahedan (which India was to have constructed) without India.

The U.S. line

  • When India started deepening its partnership with the United States (which was a historical necessity), New Delhi began steadily aligning its policies with U.S. interests as it can be seen in case of Iran.
  • The agreement to develop the Chabahar port was signed in 2003, however, under pressure from the U.S. India was moving slowly despite the fact that the project offered India an alternative route to Central Asia bypassing Pakistan. India also voted against Iran at the United Nations.
  • When U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal and reimposed sanctions on the country, India toed the U.S. line, bringing down its oil imports to zero.
  • While India has been cautious of becoming an ally, it has steadily deepened military-to-military cooperation in the recent past — the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) is one example.

Such Developments probably altered Beijing’s assessment of India that India has already become a de facto ally of the U.S.

Domestic politics that had foreign policy consequences

The passing of the (CAA) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

  • Although officially India is offering citizenship to the persecuted minorities of select countries in its neighbourhood – There were 2 concerns that affected foreign policies: Regionalisation of the domestic problems of the countries in India’s neighbourhood and Muslims, including those sub-sects persecuted in neighbouring countries, were by design excluded from the citizenship programme.
  • This drove new wedges between India and the countries that had a Muslim majority and were friendly to India in the neighbourhood.

The abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Leading to the suspension of fundamental rights in the Kashmir Valley for a prolonged period – this damaged India’s reputation as a responsible democratic power.

The conversion of J&K state to present day Union Territories, could be another factor that prompted the Chinese to move aggressively towards the border in Ladakh.

-Source: The Hindu

April 2024