This is a text version of a lecture delivered by Ambassador (Retd.) Dinesh Kumar Jain at IIT, Mandi.
I am honoured and delighted to be here, today, among you all. My compliments to you for developing your IIT so rapidly, and in such a beautiful campus. Yesterday, to witness your Foundation Day, to be a part of it, was truly a privilege for me.
Until a few weeks ago, I was unaware that the newest IIT had since been established, here at Mandi. Then I discovered that it started its life at the IIT Roorkee campus which mentored it. This invoked in me a feeling of kinship with you, for I am an alumnus of the University of Roorkee, precursor to what lately became IIT Roorkee.
Ministry of External Affairs, Public Diplomacy Division, invited me initially, to visit here under its Distinguished Lecture Series, to speak on India’s Foreign Policy. This suggests to me that I may well have the distinction of being the first to visit here in that role. I thank the Ministry for the opportunity, and thank you all for your warm hospitality and all kind courtesies.
I will try to present before you the origins, evolution, contours, and current broad orientations of India’s foreign policy, and how we envision India in the world in the coming years, all necessarily encapsulated and tailored to meet the time available. You are most welcome to later address questions on any subjects and issues of India’s foreign policy, whether touched upon or not in my presentation. I would also be interested to hear your views and comments.
The beginning of foreign relations in human affairs, and the need for foreign policy to deal with them, is as old as the organisation of human life in groups. Yet, foreign policy, to the uninitiated, might appear somewhat esoteric. In simple terms, it is a country’s policy, conceived, designed, and formulated, to safeguard and promote her national interests, in her external milieu, in the conduct of relations with other countries, bilaterally and multilaterally. It is a direct reflection of a country’s traditional values and overall national policies, her aspirations and self perception.
Its salience stems from the fact that what happens outside, the external environment, has implications for the realisation of our national goals and objectives. We therefore need to make the ever-changing external environment conducive to our goals. But it is largely not in our control, and is subject to competition from other states. Cooperation is therefore an important factor, for it is not possible to secure one’s absolute goals; that would be at the expense of all others, and therefore not tenable or sustainable. This cooperation can be anywhere on a full spectrum, from evolving certain minimal understanding, to working together, and up to building alliances. It also follows that foreign policy, too, cannot be static, but must necessarily be dynamic, evolving pragmatically, though always within certain guiding parameters of paramount salience.
The two principal foreign policy goals of national interest are security and prosperity. While all would agree with this much, what the precise contours of these goals are, and how to go about it, within the limited resources available, is subject of a perennial national debate, often characterized by much dissension as well, but eventually founded on a broad national consensus.
In a democratic polity, public policy-making results from the political and other interactions of governmental and non-governmental individuals and groups. For foreign policy, three sources of input are of particular importance: the executive including the bureaucracy, the legislature, and the independent public opinion including the media. The civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the US was a ready vivid example of very active and extensive involvement of all three.
The essence of foreign policy is diplomatic negotiations and considerations, rather than legislation, and therefore foreign policy falls outside the area of direct linkage of responsibility with the electorate, and is formulated in the first place by the bureaucracy, implying in our context the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, especially the Minister of External Affairs, and the administrative apparatus – that is Ministry of External Affairs, along with its outreach offices comprising embassies, consulates and others. The current Minister is Shri Salman Khurshid, assisted by two Ministers of State, Smt. Preneet Kaur and Shri E. Ahamed. The Foreign Secretary, currently Smt. Sujatha Singh, is the head of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and as such first among the four Secretaries in the Ministry, who share at the helm all substantive responsibilities for the diplomatic conduct of India’s foreign policy.
Foreign policy transcends all various areas of interaction: political, strategic, economic and commercial, scientific and technological, cultural, consular, international law, and in today’s world ever newer subjects such as human rights, larger social issues, women, youth, the disabled, media and information, intellectual property, cyberspace, climate change, food, energy, health, transport, labour, migration, as well as disarmament, and fight against menaces like terrorism and drugs. As the globe continues to shrink, impelled by unrelenting technological advances and information implosion, the canvas inevitably grows ever bigger and wider.
In meeting the external challenges, diplomacy is the first line of defense, and force – by way of the military – the last resort. As such, diplomacy, and its concomitant, tact, are the major instrument for conducting foreign policy and promoting its goals, peacefully.
Canada’s former Prime Minister Lester Pearson put it, tongue in cheek, “diplomacy is letting someone else have your way”. Tact is also described as the art of making a point without making an enemy. Or as a wit said, “a diplomat is a man who always remembers a womans birthday but never her age”. More seriously, dictionaries define diplomacy as the ability to deal with others in touchy situations without offending them. Foreign policy is a serious business, with little room for sentimentality; President John F Kennedy said, “The purpose of foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments of hope or indignation; it is to shape real events in a real world.”
In the Indian context, historically, Hanuman was possibly the first envoy when he was sent to Ravan’s Lanka. And Lord Krishna the first veritable diplomat, for his extraordinary role in Mahabharata. Much later, in more authentic historical times, Chanakya gave India, and the world perhaps, the first treatise on statecraft, foreign policy and diplomacy, by way of his Arthashastra. The ancient Indian and Chinese writings are widely acknowledged as giving much thought for the management of relations between peoples and states.
We do not have much accounts of foreign policy trends and practices in India in later years. Even the Great Moghuls were largely content ruling over Hindustan, with only limited initiatives from their side to reach out beyond their reigns.
On the other hand, in medieval Europe, political philosophers like Machiavelli, Rousseau, and later Kant, Hegel, and Mill, underlined the need for rules to regulate the interaction among emerging sovereign nation states. In those times foreign relations were not supposed to be for public consumption.
Foreign policy, as it is now understood, is a function of the Westphalian system of modern state, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, originating from the Peace of Westphalia signed in 1648 in Europe, in which legitimate states were assumed to correspond to nations, that is, groups of people united by language and culture, and these nation-states became the primary institutional agents in an inter-state system of relations. International relations became a public concern as well as an important field of study and research only consequent upon the two devastating World Wars. The Wars revealed to everyone the importance of international relations, but foreign policy continued to remain under cover of secrecy.
Meanwhile, as the Westphalian system was gaining wider currency globally, India was losing the attributes of sovereignty and her capacity for an independent foreign policy. During the colonial period, imperial British interests prevailed over Indian interests when the Empire monopolised India’s external and defence relations. So, while the Government of British India had a semi-autonomous Foreign and Political Department from 1834 onwards, its primary functions were to deal with the princely states, and to handle commercial and mercantile interests in the immediate neighborhood of India and the Gulf. It was, however, later, a founder member of both the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Unwittingly, the absence of an indigenous foreign policy tradition allowed the Indian freedom movement to evolve its external perspectives without external baggage. Jawaharlal Nehru, later India’s first Prime Minister, and rightly acknowledged as the architect of India’s foreign policy – whose essential parameters and guiding values have remained largely unaltered, already refused to choose between fascism and imperialism, and started saying what India’s foreign policy would be. From the late 1920s on, he formulated the Congress stance on international issues, and the Congress party established a small foreign department in 1925. As interim Prime Minister, Nehru, in 1946, articulated India’s approach to the world, when he expostulated: “Our general policy is to avoid entanglement in power politics and not to join any group of powers as against any other group. We must be friends to both (blocs) and yet not join either.” This is when in the prevailing Cold War between two heavily armed and hostile camps, each rival superpower stared saying that if you were not with them you were against them. It took courage and vision to retain the choice to judge each issue on its merits and on how it affected our enlightened self-interest, rather than that of an alliance. Having fought so hard for our freedom, we were not about to abdicate our independence of judgment to others. Incidentally, the term Non-Alignment was coined by V Krishna Menon in his speech at the UN in 1953; Nehru later used it during his speech in 1954 in Colombo.
The primary purpose of independent India’s foreign policy was to help enable the domestic transformation of India from a poor and backward society into one which could offer her people their basic needs and an opportunity to achieve their potential. Nehru delineated the role that foreign policy could play in achieving this, by striving to create an external environment which would accelerate capital flows from abroad, increase the use of science and technology, help modernization of India’s infrastructure, ensure energy security, facilitate development and import of hydrocarbon resources, and import of natural resources in which India was deficient. Today, too, India’s principal foreign policy objectives remain a peaceful environment and strategic space and autonomy, so as to concentrate on our tasks of integration and nation building. This necessitates good relations with major powers and economies, and the neighbours.
Several factors – historical, civilisational, cultural – that are innate to our people’s genius, as well as current relevant ones like economic, technological, and demographic, lie behind our foreign policy consensus in shaping it. The quintessential strands of our foreign policy: peaceful co-existence, non-interference, peaceful resolution of disputes, non-alignment, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, multilateralism, pluralism, general and complete disarmament, opposition to all forms of terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism, pro-development, wider global cooperation in general, and South-South cooperation in particular, and so on, are moored in India’s civilisational beliefs in peace, tolerance, and One World. These have admirably stood the test of time. India, as an open, inclusive, and responsible member of the global community, believes that durable peace is only possible in a world in which all are equal stakeholders in prosperity, progress and happiness. We also propounded Panchasheela, the five principles of peaceful co-existence for international relations.
Yet, it was the end of the bipolar world in 1989, heralding dramatic changes in the international landscape, that opened up new significant opportunities for us, just as for others. Nothing endures but change. Change is the process by which the future invades our lives. The last twenty odd years have witnessed a historic and fundamental change in the nature of the world situation. Globalisation, growing interdependence, and the emergence of transnational challenges have been shaping the international relations like never before, with the repercussions and consequences accentuated by the unprecedented connectivity. Most changes are evolutionary and essentially positive, but some of the positive forces of globalization, like evolution of technology and mobility of capital, have also, paradoxically, catalyzed and aggravated some of our major global threats, like terrorism, extremism, and drugs crimes, environmental degradation, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including from non-state actors. Among other persisting dangers and pitfalls are poverty, trafficking, and cyber crimes.
The challenges have grown more complex and multi-dimensional. Being global in nature, they defy isolated efforts, and require global solutions. Recent years bear witness that these cannot be handled effectively or properly by a single country, however mighty or resourceful or influential it might be. Besides the global economic crisis of the recent years, the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria, the Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges, the natural calamities as in Japan, the phenomenon of terrorism epitomised by organisations like Al Qaida, Talibans, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the radicalisation of societies in the name of religion, and the long-drawn turmoils in the Middle East, all demonstrate this fact most emphatically.
Security in today’s world is now indivisible, warranting a win-win approach rather than seeking a zero-sum game. The process has fomented global power redistribution, giving rise to major new players, and considerable diminution of the risks of direct conflicts among major powers.
Equally, the pursuit of development and prosperity requires collective international effort. Today, and in the foreseeable future, the issues that will be crucial for example to India’s transformation are global, requiring global solutions. These issues of the future, such as concerning food, water, energy, raw materials, climate change, global trade, and international migration, and demands for fair globalisation equitably benefitting all, are interlinked, cross-boundary issues. India is actively, urgently, and constructively engaged in addressing these, in close consultation and cooperation with the international community.
Thus the true realisation of our foreign policy potential had to wait for the end of the Cold War in 1989, when in the wake of our economic problems we also launched our reform policies, opening up our economy to the world. The demise of the bipolar world political system required India to reassess her foreign policy and adjust her foreign relations. The end of the Cold War had gutted the core meaning of nonalignment, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union removed much of India’s international leverage. But the new circumstances were propitious for India to improve her relations with the United States, West Europe, and Japan, among others. The strength of capital and trade flows was directly beneficial to emerging economies like India. This opened for us new opportunities, by increasing our strategic space, and our decision-making autonomy on issues of importance to us, and thereby to advance our imperative foreign policy objectives.
We had arrived at a most favorable juncture in our quest to develop India, with a remarkable change in the scale of our ambitions, and in our capacity to seek to achieve them. The ongoing UN reforms process, on the global agenda with Indian initiative, shows a clear greater willingness to give a place to India on the global high table. On trade and economic issues, Indian objections are no more overlooked easily. On climate change related issues, we have been able to build a broad support for our position. The developing countries follow our lead and the developed countries seek our counsel and cooperation. In other words, India has emerged as a major voice in global decision-making and management, and as a bridge and balancing power in the emerging global strategic architecture. In that sense, the spirit and purpose of the non-alignment, the solidarity of the developing countries of the South, and Nehru’s inspiring vision, are still alive and an integral continuing part of our agenda. Our foreign policy and diplomacy, to that extent, have yielded results in safeguarding and furthering our national interests. Our diplomats live up to the expectations and confidence reposed in them, and are widely recognized as among the most capable globally.
Our longstanding commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation, and international security is widely acknowledged. Time and again we reached out swiftly to our neighbours, and to others in distress, such as to Maldives in the Eighties, and after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. India champions the interests of the countries of the South in forums like G-8, G-20, G-24, UN, IMF and World Bank, WTO, and at international conclaves like the climate meets. India has demonstrated her ability to contribute to peace and security in the region and beyond, as also, conclusively, that substantive social and economic progress is possible through true democratic governance.
Today India has formal diplomatic relations with most nations, besides being the world’s second most populous country, most-populous democracy, and ninth largest economy by nominal rates and fourth largest by purchasing power parity and one of the fastest growing. Though India is not in any major military alliance, our relations with the major powers including with the European Union, have acquired strategic depth and self-sustaining mutuality of interest.
Our relations with the USA today, predicated as much on mutual benefit as on its global significance, are in a phase of unprecedented improvement; leaders on both sides have described them as natural partners, and a defining relationship of the century. Yet, the challenges remain for better management of relations, given the different geo-strategic and economic contexts, and occasional differences of the perspectives.
Simultaneously, India’s foreign policy has conserved its very close strategic relationship with Russia, further extending our historical cooperation in defence, trade, information technology, diamonds, energy including nuclear energy, and science & technology. Our common fight against terrorism is a particular element of strength in it.
Normally the neighbours ought to be regarded as natural cooperation partners, but the unrelenting logic of geography and the innate difficulties borne of immediate proximity, simultaneously, often pose testing diplomatic challenges. Neighbourhood is also where domestic and foreign policies become interwoven, oftentimes inextricably so, and warrant cautious sensitivity. The truism that one cannot choose one’s neighbours is all the more true for India, given the geographical distinctiveness of the Sub-continent, and the shared ethnicities, cultural evolution, and historical experiences.
In our neighbourhood policy approach, India is a factor for stability and peace in the region, and our effort has been to construct an overarching vision for South Asia, formulating policies directed at developing friendly and cooperative relations with all our neighbours, on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect, promoting inter-dependence with them, creating stakes in each other’s stability, and developing cross-border infrastructure and other links and connectivity at all levels. We are cognizant of India’s greater responsibility in this process as the largest country in the region and its strongest economy. Our high economic growth impacts the region, offering increased opportunities to our neighbors to benefit by partnering India. We continue to make unilateral gestures and extend economic and other concessions, as in the free markets that India has established with Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Similar arrangements are also feasible with our other neighbours, as well as for Indian investments in building and upgrading cross-border infrastructure with each one of them.
At the same time, we do expect that our neighbours would demonstrate sensitivity to our vital concerns, relating to use of their territories for cross-border terrorism and hostile activity against India for example by insurgent and secessionist groups. As countries engage in economic cooperation, we must create a positive and constructive environment by avoiding hostile propaganda and intemperate statements.
Recent decades have witnessed particularly significant advances in regard of these, and, our diplomatic efforts to meet the challenges confronting us have been largely successful. For example, we succeeded in exposing Pakistan’s nefarious designs, including sponsorship of terrorism, use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, trans-national crime and clandestine proliferation of nuclear weapons, technology, materials and missiles, and placed it all on the priority list of the global agenda. The Kargil War resulted in a major diplomatic victory for India, and several anti-India militant groups based in Pakistan were labeled as terrorist groups by the US and EU.
This, even as we want to solve all outstanding differences with Pakistan amicably and it is in that spirit that we hope to engage Pakistan. Given the complexities of the relationship, we have advocated a step-by-step graduated approach, even as we conveyed to Pakistan that credible and effective action by them on our terrorism related concerns, including the investigations and trial in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, would be of the greatest salience. Lately suggestions have emanated from across the border that there is a change in their thinking, but so long as important elements in Pakistan’s establishment and the Army regard India as their adversary, the relations between us can scarcely improve significantly. Yet, we have to engage with Pakistan because only then we can eventually enlarge the rationally thinking constituency there. We have to believe that sooner or later good sense will prevail in the ruling classes of Pakistan, that instead of being adversaries our cooperation can become win-win, and that there are opportunities in working together to realize our common destiny.
With China problems remain, but new convergences, such as on climate change and world trade negotiations, are blunting their propensity to cause us discomfiture. Our efforts to find a solution to the border problem have not yielded the expected result, but we must continue to engage them in areas of differences and outstanding issues. Continued rapid growth of the Indian economy is the best riposte to the rise of China. Our effort in recent years has been to develop a multi-faceted relationship with China, even as there will always be both competition and cooperation between us. There are discussions in many quarters about China’s rise and its enhanced assertiveness, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Against the backdrop of the continued high growth of China’s economy and capabilities in general, and military strength in particular, Chinese medium and long term intentions remain a matter of speculation. Given the ascendancy of China, our relations with other countries in South and East Asia, like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Australia, and greater cooperation and understanding with them, assume enhanced importance.
Bhutan is an important neighbour with whom we have a multi-dimensional and integrated relationship, arising from our vital strategic interests. Over the years, our economic cooperation has been highly successful, most in development of Bhutan’s vast hydropower potential, with surplus power exported to India. This is to our mutual benefit, and has translated into tremendous goodwill in Bhutan. The development of road and rail network, as also a network of cross border transmission lines, all with Indian cooperation, enhance the accessibility of Bhutan, benefiting the entire region.
India and Nepal, as close neighbours, share a unique relationship of friendship and cooperation, characterised by open borders and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts of kinship and culture. India has naturally extended support to the people of Nepal in their political transition to a democratic order, to a stable, peaceful and prosperous Nepal. Nepal’s political system remains fragile and under strain, and this has temporarily slowed down our traditionally strong bilateral relations, but India remains fully prepared to assist Nepal in whatever way possible and wishes the people of Nepal well.
India-Sri Lanka relations have undergone a qualitative transformation and are marked by increasing Indian cooperation across all sectors. Our connectivity is at an all time high, and, to further consolidate our economic linkages, we have finalised a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. India continues to support a negotiated political settlement to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka based on a credible devolution package within the framework of an undivided Sri Lanka, and thus encourages an expeditious necessary reconciliation and re-integration process of its Tamil minority into the country’s mainstream.
Our largest border is with Bangladesh. The proximity and the porous border pose problems of insurgency, illegal migration, and others, aggravated by mutual misunderstandings and misplaced expectations, which are being successfully dealt with by promoting conditions of acceptance of each others’ legitimate concerns, along with widening cooperation across the spectrum for mutual benefit.
With Afghanistan, in our commitment to assist her in every possible way, India has provided extensive humanitarian, financial and project assistance, to the tune of 1.5 billion dollar, responding to her own priority needs, for her reconstruction, and in building a pluralistic and prosperous society, even as the security situation there remains a concern to us. India regards this as crucial for regional peace and stability and views her relationship with Afghanistan as direct and bilateral.
With Myanmar, neighbouring our occasionally troubled eastern region infested with sporadically violent insurgency, a cooperative relationship is being steadily built around a commitment to stabilize the area, in economic projects, and creating multi-modal transport links extending to Thailand and beyond.
Relations between India and Maldives remain close and friendly. We supported their historical democratic transition, and assist Maldives in developing her infrastructure facilities in key areas like human resource development, public health care, and tourism.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for us represents India’s commitment to the region’s progress and socio-economic development which can best be furthered through cooperation in which India plays a pivotal role. In addition, we see the SAARC process of cooperation as contributing to our goal of building a peaceful and prosperous periphery. At the 14th SAARC Summit that we hosted in 2007, India made every effort to strengthen SAARC, moving it from a declaratory to an implementation phase.
Our Look-East policy has created new opportunities and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific. We have also strengthened our political and economic ties with important countries across the globe, such as South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as with ASEAN, the African Union, the Arab League, and the Organisation of American States. In addition, new important bonds are being evolved and nourished, such as BRICS – with Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa, IBSA – with Brazil and South Africa, RIC – the trilateral initiative with Russia and China, the India-Africa Summit, and BIMSTEC – cooperation among Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal). We have launched special drives to strengthen trade, economic and technical cooperation, with Africa and Latin America in particular. The strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, lifeline for our trade, has been increasing. We now chair the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). This cooperation, both in the economic context, and to contain growing threats such as piracy, is growing well.
Over the years, India’s development cooperation and partnership have evolved, from sporadic and ad hoc aid and technical cooperation, to now as an important component of our foreign policy. These programmes, providing Indian resources, expertise, and cooperation to other developing countries in a bid to help them develop faster, also win friends and generate goodwill for the country. Our partner countries appreciate that India’s contribution emanates not from a state of affluence or surplus, is not driven by any ulterior motives, and is not tied with conditionalities. Ministry of External Affairs now has a full-fledged Development Partnership system and mechanism to coordinate and administer all such Indian cooperation, such as lines of credit, and technical cooperation under India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) by way of training, experts, study tours, projects, consultancy, and disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, to some 160 countries around the world, all in a spirit of partnership, interdependence, and mutual benefit. Total Indian development cooperation currently measures up annually to well exceeding one billion dollar.
A most notable Indian foreign policy success was the landmark agreement first with the US and subsequently with several other major countries enabling us to access nuclear power technology, materials and research, in waiver from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), thus effectively ending the sanctions regime we were operating under, and opening doors for also receiving sensitive and dual-use technologes and materials for peaceful applications. This is particularly instructive, for when in 1974 we tested a peaceful nuclear explosive device, the world, led by the nuclear weapon states, reacted by forming a nuclear cartel, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and by cutting off nuclear cooperation with India unless we agreed to forego our nuclear programme and put all our nuclear facilities under international safeguards to guarantee that commitment. As the nuclear weapon states were not willing to do so themselves, and we could not afford to brook consequent strategic insecurity, we refused to comply, suffering the consequences for our growth and development. In contrast, in the wake of our 1998 Pokharan-II nuclear tests, the world opinion, after its initial knee-jerk reaction, eventually, within a short period of ten years, came about to the NSG and IAEA deciding in September 2008 to permit international civil nuclear cooperation with India, thus ending India’s nuclear isolation.
Yet, India’s commitment to general and complete nuclear disarmament has remained as firm as ever. We have only refused to be subjected to arbitrary discrimination starting with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and continuing with the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Arms limitation and disarmament through proper multilateral negotiation has been central to India’s world view, as also freely permitting peaceful uses of nuclear technologies. India continues to stress for a cooperative thrust to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons. India is the only country to commit to no-first-use.
Partly thanks to our initiatives and efforts, terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) have been high on the global agenda. International terrorism remains a major threat to peace and stability. The results, in the form of terrorism, clandestine nuclear proliferation, extremism and radicalism are felt not just by India but by the world. The nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction can be frightening. Some of these countries not only have links with terrorism, but also avowed policies to change the status quo through force or resort to nuclear blackmail. These issues are of particular concern to India because the beehive, the epicentre of all these activities is right in our neighbourhood. In the global war against terrorism, there can be no room for double standards, of distinction between terrorism that cannot be tolerated and terrorism requiring resolution of its root causes. Some progress has been made in strengthening global cooperation in the field of counter terrorism.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned before, the global governance has remained inadequate, ineffective, and not far-sighted and visionary enough, not keeping pace with the evolving contemporary realities. Although we love the idea of choice, we seek refuge in the familiar and the comfortable. Though we have a global economy of sorts, the global polity does not represent the hopes, fears and aspirations of the majority of the world’s people. In an increasingly connected and inter-dependent world, the management of the global diversity requires the application of principles of democracy, pluralism, inclusiveness, cooperation, and tolerance.
India, a founding member of the UN even before our Independence, has a steadfast commitment to the UN and its lofty objectives all along playing a most active and constructive role in the UN system. India has been a regular and among the largest contributors to the UN peacekeeping operations in hot-spots around the world. We firmly believe in the urgent need for the UN to be strengthened, by greater transparency, equity, democratic representation in its decision-making; and for its most fundamental objectives to safeguard peace and security, the UN Security Council must be expanded in both permanent and non-permanent categories. India has offered herself for a new added permanent member, on the basis of her indisputable credentials. This has already been publicly supported by a very large number of member-countries of the UN, including USA, UK, France, and Russia, all permanent members, as well as Germany, Japan, and Brazil.
In our new emerging world, there are several new significant processes propelling the world towards greater multilateralism and a pluralistic world order. Since the expansion of the UNSC is so difficult procedurally, the effect has been creation of a number of other processes or structures more in tune with the day’s reality, accommodating new players who can contribute to solutions to tomorrow’s problems. Just as the replacement of G-8 by G-20 is a historic event in recognition of the tectonic shifts in global economic power balance, its success should pave the way for a similar remodelling of the global political architecture, akin to a political P-20.
While the major responsibility for the global warming and climate change phenomena, caused by accumulation of green house gasses in the atmosphere, lies with the advanced countries, its adverse affects are felt most severely by developing countries like India. Any concept of ‘shared responsibility’ in this context must include ensuring their right to development. What we seek is equitable burden-sharing, including access to clean technologies as global public goods by developing countries, and collaborative R&D and sharing of their results.
As many as 30 million people of Indian origin, the Indian Diaspora, live and work abroad. They constitute an important link with the mother country. They make creditable contributions to the countries that they live in, and also to India with their resources and remittances – the largest in the world, entrepreneurship and technological skills, and goodwill. An important role of India’s foreign policy has been to ensure their welfare and well being within the framework of the laws of their host countries. They are an important aspect of the responsibility of our diplomatic missions. In times to come, India will be the largest contributor to the world’s workforce, around 136 million people over the next ten years. We already issue over 5 million passports annually. Indian investments and business are today creating or protecting a significant number of jobs in Europe and America.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Let me bring my presentation to a prolonged pause. Mind it, I am not saying it is the conclusion, for as the wit observed, a conclusion is simply the place where someone got tired of thinking. One faces one’s future with one’s past. Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises. There is unquestionable need to build a new consensus in wider international relations to deal with a variety of complex challenges. Multilateralism, democracy, and inclusive participation is the way to go about it. Tolerance, understanding and acceptance rather than conflict have to be its hallmarks. India will always work to build an enabling order, in our neighbourhood, regionally and globally, based on equity, and in accord with emerging realities.
One of the hardest things to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. We have been reasonably successful in this. The rapid expansion and qualitative change in India’s foreign policy perspectives that I have concisely mentioned are also a positive development for international peace and stability. As new trans-national challenges emerge, India, with her unique blend of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power, would be an indispensable player in strengthening peace, stability and prosperity in the region and indeed in the world.
I do hope you would find some useful food for your own thinking in what I had to say. I extend to you all my best wishes for a happy and fruitful time here at IIT Mandi, and great accomplishments in life.
25 February 2014
(Source: Ministry of External Affairs)