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At The Helm Of Foreign Policies…

Ahead of the recently-concluded Parliamentary Polls, former Foreign Secretary of India Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had said that the South Asian nation should be prepared to face a tough time, as far as Foreign Relations were concerned. Dr Jaishankar issued the statement in January. Those – who know the seasoned diplomat personally – are aware of the fact that the 64-year-old foreign policy expert has the power to correctly smell the changes in Global Geopolitics, in advance! After the General Elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed this person as the External Affairs Minister of India! Indeed, it was a wise, as well as calculative, move by PM Modi, with India needing an experienced diplomat at the top of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The PM’s decision is significant enough. He stressed on the Indian foreign policy during his previous term (2014-19) as the PM mainly because of two reasons: Firstly, Modi had made a serious attempt to create personal contacts throughout the Globe; and Secondly, he had tried his best to secure Foreign Investments for his Dream Projects. Whether he tasted success in doing so is a different issue altogether…

Dr S Jaishankar.jpg
Dr S Jaishankar

The PM focusses on his Foreign Policy from a different angle, this time! Modi has rightly realised that the Global Geopolitics has changed in the last five years… therefore, India needs to change its own policies in order to serve national interests. Speaking at an event organised by Observer Research Foundation in April (ahead of the elections), Dr Jaishankar mentioned that we (perhaps) have reached a time when the old genre of global geopolitics changed. The rise of China and the change in the US foreign policies have started influencing the Indian Foreign Policy. And, this is just the beginning, added the career diplomat! He further said that India was trying hard to adjust with the changing global geopolitical landscape. However, the Indians are yet to accept this change, mentally. So, they would have to change their mentality first in order to get diplomatic success! The roadmap of India’s future foreign policy is hidden in Dr Jaishankar’s statement! Interestingly, he issued the statement before becoming the minister…
Perhaps, Modi realised during his first tenure as the Prime Minister that he would require an External Affairs Minister who understands the contemporary global system and the administration well. A person – like Dr Jaishankar or Hardeep Singh Puri (a former career diplomat who currently serves as Indian Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) – will never depend on bureaucrats while making important decisions. Instead, they will monitor the activities of their ministries in a prefect manner!

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Dr Jaishankar & PM Modi

After becoming the PM in 2014, Modi had faced the challenge to bring the Indo-US relations back on the right track. Interestingly, Dr Jaishankar will have to do the same this time. Now, the Indo-US trade ties are going through a bit of a rough patch. US President Donald Trump’s decision to end the ‘preferential trade status’ granted to India has a negative impact on exports from the South Asian country. The Sino-US trade war, too, has started creating troubles for India (and other developing nations). In such a situation, New Delhi will have to take necessary steps, cautiously. A slight miscalculation, here, may prove to be disastrous.
Dr Jaishankar has admitted that he will have to consider the relations between major world powers minutely while preparing policy for a particular country. It may be necessary for India to make bold decisions while dealing with any particular country. At the same time, India may also make some compromises in order to serve its interests without hurting others. In other words, New Delhi will have to balance its foreign policy in a perfect manner…

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Foreign Policy experts are of the opinion that the ‘Era of Strategic Autonomy’ is over for India. The new mantra is (to form) ‘Multi-alignment’! There is a basic difference between the two concepts. After the Second World War or during the Cold War, India had maintained ‘equal distance’ from all the major powers. Right now, it is not possible. India will have to make clear decisions in some cases in the coming days. For example, the US-Iran crisis… India will have to remember that both the US and Iran are its ‘strategic partners’! It becomes crucial for New Delhi to make it clear to Washington that the latter’s decision to impose sanctions on Tehran will not serve India’s interests. India not only imports oil and gas from Iran at a cheap rate, but also exports food items to the West Asian nation. New Delhi recently invested a huge amount of money to develop the seaport in Chabahar located in south-eastern Iran, as the port helps India strengthen commercial and diplomatic ties with Central Asian countries.
Immediately after taking charge as the External Affairs Minister, Dr Jaishankar said that his ministry would co-operate and co-ordinate with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on a regular basis. Even, the MEA will also monitor India’s infrastructure and commercial projects abroad in the coming days. The diplomat-turned-minister stressed that he would boost India’s trade ties with other countries by utilising diplomatic ties with them. He knows that he will have to walk a tightrope to do that, and Prime Minister Modi is confident that Dr Jaishankar is an ideal person for this tightrope walk!

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All we can do is to Wish Dr Jaishankar, the Very Best, in his Endeavours!
(to be continued)

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