The Indian Way
Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar believes that there have been many flaws in the South Asian country’s Foreign Policy since it gained Independence (in 1947). He has claimed that the Narendra Modi Government in New Delhi has started correcting those. According to Dr Jaishankar, the Government of India also neglected the production and technology sectors in the past, as there should have been more realism on how to increase the bargaining power of India while dealing with different countries. The External Affairs Minister has strongly criticised the past Governments for not strengthening the national security system. In the last week of April 2022, he informed the West that India would no longer formulate its Foreign Policy on the basis of others’ advice.
According to diplomats, the Narendra Modi Government is following the Foreign Policy of first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, despite criticising his policies. With the change of Government, India’s internal policy, too, has changed. However, the Foreign Policy has remained unchanged as per the tradition. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has repeatedly stressed on its Neutral or Non-Aligned position. The Government of India has argued that New Delhi is maintaining a balance of power between Russia and the West. In other words, India is still following Nehru’s Non-Aligned policy.
India has also admitted that it’s not possible to oppose Russia’s move because of the diplomatic pressure created by Europe and the US, keeping in mind the trade ties between New Delhi and Moscow. Earlier, India had abstained from voting against Russia at the UN, and is maintaining that position even today. A section of political experts believes that the Modi Administration, in spite of criticising Nehru’s Foreign Policy for political reasons, still adheres to that policy. Also, India is heavily dependent on Russia for defence equipment.
It may be noted Nehru’s India remained silent when the erstwhile Soviet Union had invaded Hungary way back in 1956. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not condemn the Soviet action at that period of time. During the Prime Ministership of Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi, the Soviet Union had attacked the erstwhile Czechoslovakia. Although PM Gandhi expressed serious concern at the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, New Delhi did not take any anti-Moscow stance at the UN.
In addition to pointing out the mistakes of past Governments of India, Dr Jaishankar has sent a strong message to Europe and the US that India is now confident enough, as far as its Foreign Policy is concerned. He has made it clear that no State-actor could influence India’s Foreign Policy, saying: “We have to be confident about who we are. I think it is better to engage the world on the basis of who we are, rather than try and please the world as a pale imitation of what they are.” He stressed: “This idea that others define us, somehow we need to get the approval of other quarters – I think that is an era we need to put behind us.” Commenting on India’s journey since Independence and the way ahead, the External Affairs Minister stressed: “Over the next 25 years, I envisaged an India that would be ‘more international’ in terms of its commitments and responsibilities.”
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