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Sunday, December 21, 2014

INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY by Ambassador Dinesh K Jain

@ IIT, Mandi 

Professor Timothy A Gonsalves,Director,

Dr. Aniruddha Chakraborty,

Distinguished Faculty Members,

Invited Guests,

Future engineering professionals andother students,

 

I amhonoured and delighted to be here, today, among you all. My compliments to youfor 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 forme.

 

Until afew 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 Roorkeecampus which mentored it. This invoked in me a feeling of kinship with you, forI am an alumnus of the University of Roorkee, precursor towhat lately became IIT Roorkee.

Ministryof External Affairs, Public Diplomacy Division, invited me initially, to visithere under its Distinguished Lecture Series, to speak on India’s ForeignPolicy. This suggests to me that I may well have the distinction of being thefirst to visit here in that role. I thank the Ministry for the opportunity, andthank you all for your warm hospitality and all kind courtesies.

 

I will tryto 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 comingyears, allnecessarily encapsulated and tailored to meet the time available. You are mostwelcome to later address questions on any subjects and issues of India’s foreignpolicy, 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 humanaffairs, and the need for foreign policy to deal with them, is as old as theorganisation 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 nationalinterests, in her external milieu, in the conduct of relations with othercountries, bilaterally and multilaterally. It is a direct reflection of a country’s traditional valuesand overall national policies, her aspirations and self perception.

Its salience stems from thefact that what happens outside, the externalenvironment, has implications for the realisation of our national goals andobjectives. We therefore need to make the ever-changing external environment conduciveto our goals. But it is largely not in our control, and issubject to competition from other states. Cooperation is therefore an importantfactor, for it is not possible to secure one’s absolute goals; that would be atthe expense of all others, and therefore not tenable or sustainable. Thiscooperation can be anywhere on a full spectrum, from evolving certain minimalunderstanding, to working together, and up to building alliances. It alsofollows that foreign policy, too, cannot be static, but must necessarily bedynamic, evolving pragmatically, though always within certain guidingparameters of paramount salience.

 

The two principal foreign policy goals of national interest aresecurity and prosperity. While all would agree with this much, what the precisecontours of these goals are, and how to go about it, within the limitedresources available, is subject of a perennial national debate, oftencharacterized by much dissension as well, but eventually founded on a broadnational consensus.

 

Ina democratic polity, public policy-making results from the political and otherinteractions of governmental and non-governmental individuals and groups. Forforeign policy, three sources of input are of particular importance: the executiveincluding the bureaucracy, the legislature, and the independent public opinion includingthe media. The civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the US was a readyvivid example of very active and extensive involvement of all three.

 

Theessence of foreign policy is diplomatic negotiations and considerations, ratherthan legislation, and therefore foreign policy falls outside the area of directlinkage of responsibility with the electorate, and is formulated in the firstplace by the bureaucracy, implying in our context the Prime Minister and theCouncil of Ministers, especially the Minister of External Affairs, and theadministrative apparatus – that is Ministry of External Affairs,along with its outreach offices comprising embassies, consulates and others. The current Minister is ShriSalmanKhurshid, assisted by two Ministers ofState, Smt. Preneet Kaur and ShriE. Ahamed.The Foreign Secretary, currently Smt. Sujatha Singh, is the head of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and as such first among thefour Secretaries in the Ministry, who share at the helm all substantiveresponsibilities 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 ashuman rights, larger social issues, women, youth, the disabled, media andinformation, intellectual property, cyberspace, climate change, food, energy,health, transport, labour, migration, as well as disarmament, and fight againstmenaces like terrorism and drugs. As the globe continues to shrink, impelled byunrelenting technological advances and information implosion, the canvasinevitably grows ever bigger and wider.

Inmeeting 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 itsgoals, peacefully.

 

Canada’s former Prime Minister Lester Pearson put it, tongue in cheek, “diplomacyis letting someone else have your way”. Tact is also described as the artof making a point without making an enemy. Or as awit said, “a diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday butnever her age”. More seriously, dictionaries define diplomacy as the ability to deal with others in touchy situations without offendingthem. Foreign policy is a serious business, withlittle room for sentimentality; President John F Kennedy said, “Thepurpose of foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments ofhope 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 LordKrishna the first veritable diplomat, for his extraordinary role in Mahabharata.Much later, in more authentic historical times, Chanakya gave India, and theworld perhaps, the first treatise on statecraft, foreign policy and diplomacy,by way of his Arthashastra. The ancient Indian and Chinesewritings are widely acknowledged as giving much thought for the management ofrelations between peoples and states.

 

We do not have much accounts of foreign policy trendsand practices in Indiain later years. Even the Great Moghuls were largely content ruling over Hindustan, with only limited initiatives from their sideto reach out beyond their reigns.

On the other hand, in medieval Europe, political philosophers like Machiavelli,Rousseau,and later KantHegel, and Mill, underlined the need for rules to regulate the interaction among emergingsovereign nation states. In those times foreign relations were not supposed tobe for public consumption.

 

Foreign policy, as it is now understood, isa function of the Westphalian system of modern state, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, originatingfrom 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-statesbecame the primary institutional agents in an inter-state system of relations. Internationalrelations became a public concern as well as an important field of study andresearch only consequent upon the two devastating World Wars. The Wars revealedto everyone the importance of international relations, but foreign policycontinued to remain under cover of secrecy.

 

Meanwhile, as the Westphalian system wasgaining wider currency globally, India was losing the attributes of sovereignty and her capacity for anindependent foreign policy. During the colonial period, imperial Britishinterests prevailed over Indian interestswhenthe Empire monopolised India’s external and defencerelations. So, while the Government of British India had a semi-autonomous Foreign and Political Departmentfrom 1834 onwards, its primary functions were to deal with the princely states,and to handle commercial and mercantile interests in the immediate neighborhoodof Indiaand the Gulf. It was, however, later, a founder member ofboth the League ofNations and the UnitedNations. 

 

Unwittingly,the absence of an indigenous foreign policy tradition allowed the Indian freedommovement to evolve its external perspectives without external baggage. JawaharlalNehru, later India’s first Prime Minister, and rightly acknowledged asthe architect of India’s foreign policy - whose essential parameters and guidingvalues have remained largely unaltered, already refused to choose between fascism and imperialism,and started saying what India’s foreign policy would be. From thelate 1920s on, he formulated theCongress stance on international issues, and the Congress party established a smallforeign department in 1925. As interim Prime Minister, Nehru, in 1946,articulated India'sapproach to the world, when heexpostulated: “Our general policy is to avoid entanglement in powerpolitics and not to join any group of powers as against any other group. We must befriends to both (blocs) and yet not join either.” This is when in the prevailing Cold War between two heavilyarmed and hostile camps, each rival superpower stared saying that if you werenot with them you were against them. It took courage and vision to retain thechoice to judge each issue on its merits and on how it affected ourenlightened self-interest, rather thanthat of an alliance. Having fought so hard for our freedom, we were not aboutto 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; Nehrulater used it during his speech in 1954 in Colombo.

 

The primary purpose of independent India’s foreign policy was to help enable thedomestic transformation of Indiafrom a poor and backward society into one which could offer her people theirbasic needs and an opportunity to achieve their potential. Nehru delineated the role that foreign policycould play in achieving this, by striving to create an external environmentwhich would accelerate capital flows from abroad, increase the use of scienceand technology, help modernization of India’s infrastructure, ensure energysecurity, facilitate development and import of hydrocarbon resources, andimport of natural resources in which India was deficient.Today, too, India’s principal foreign policyobjectives remain a peaceful environment and strategic space and autonomy, so asto concentrate on our tasks of integration and nation building. This necessitates good relations withmajor 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 quintessentialstrands of our foreign policy: peacefulco-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, andSouth-South cooperation in particular, and so on, are moored inIndia’s civilisational beliefs in peace, tolerance, and One World. These have admirably stood the test of time. India, as an open, inclusive, and responsiblemember of the global community, believes that durable peace is only possible ina world in which all are equal stakeholders in prosperity, progress andhappiness. We also propoundedPanchasheela,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 internationallandscape, that opened up new significant opportunities for us, just as forothers. Nothing endures but change. Change is the process by which the future invadesour lives. The last twenty odd years have witnessed ahistoric and fundamental change in the nature of the world situation. Globalisation, growinginterdependence, and the emergence of transnational challenges have beenshaping the international relations like never before, with the repercussionsand consequences accentuated by the unprecedented connectivity. Most changesare evolutionary and essentially positive, but some of the positive forces ofglobalization, like evolution of technology and mobility of capital, have also,paradoxically, catalyzed and aggravated some of our major global threats, liketerrorism, extremism, and drugs crimes, environmental degradation, andproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including from non-state actors.Among other persisting dangers and pitfalls are poverty, trafficking, and cybercrimes.

Thechallenges have grown more complex and multi-dimensional. Being global innature, they defy isolated efforts, and require global solutions. Recent years bear witnessthat these cannot be handled effectively or properly by a single country,however mighty or resourceful or influential it might be. Besides the global economiccrisis of the recent years, the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, andSyria, the Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges, the natural calamities asin Japan, the phenomenon of terrorism epitomised by organisations like AlQaida, Talibans, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the radicalisation of societies in thename of religion, and the long-drawn turmoils in the Middle East, all demonstratethis fact most emphatically.

 

Securityin today’s world is now indivisible, warranting a win-win approach rather thanseeking a zero-sum game. Theprocess has fomented global power redistribution, giving rise to major newplayers, and considerable diminution of the risks of direct conflicts amongmajor powers.

 

Equally, the pursuit of developmentand prosperity requires collective international effort. Today, and in theforeseeable future, the issues that will be crucial for example to India’s transformationare global, requiring global solutions. These issues of the future, such as concerning food, water, energy, rawmaterials, climate change, global trade, and international migration, and demands for fairglobalisation equitably benefitting all, are interlinked, cross-boundary issues. India isactively, urgently, and constructively engaged in addressing these, in closeconsultation and cooperation with the international community.

 

Thus the true realisation of ourforeign policy potential had to wait for the end of the Cold War in 1989, when inthe wake of our economic problems we also launched our reformpolicies, opening up our economy to the world. The demise of thebipolar world political system required India to reassess her foreignpolicy and adjust her foreign relations. The end of the Cold War had gutted thecore meaning of nonalignment, and the disintegration of the Soviet Unionremoved much of India'sinternational leverage. But the new circumstances were propitious for India to improve her relations with the United States, West Europe, and Japan, amongothers. The strength of capital and trade flows was directlybeneficial to emerging economies like India. This opened for us new opportunities, by increasingour strategic space, and our decision-making autonomy on issues of importanceto us, and thereby to advance our imperative foreign policy objectives.

 

We had arrived at a most favorablejuncture 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 reformsprocess, on the global agenda with Indian initiative, shows a clear greaterwillingness to give a place to Indiaon the global high table. On trade and economic issues, Indian objections areno more overlooked easily. On climate change related issues, we have been ableto build a broad support for our position. The developing countries follow ourlead and the developed countries seek our counsel and cooperation. In otherwords, Indiahas emerged as a major voice in global decision-making and management, and as abridge and balancing power in the emerging global strategic architecture. Inthat sense, the spirit and purpose of the non-alignment, the solidarity of thedeveloping countries of the South, and Nehru’s inspiring vision, are stillalive and an integral continuing part of our agenda. Our foreign policy anddiplomacy, to that extent, have yielded results in safeguarding and furtheringour national interests. Our diplomats live up to the expectations andconfidence reposed in them, and are widely recognized as among the most capableglobally.

 

Ourlongstanding commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation, and internationalsecurity is widely acknowledged. Time and again we reached out swiftly to ourneighbours, and to others in distress, such as to Maldivesin the Eighties, and after the Indian Oceantsunami of 2004. Indiachampions 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 theclimate meets. Indiahas demonstrated her ability to contribute to peace and security in the regionand beyond, as also, conclusively, that substantive social and economicprogress is possible through true democratic governance.

TodayIndiahas formal diplomatic relations with most nations, besides being the world'ssecond most populous country, most-populous democracy, and ninth largesteconomy by nominal rates and fourth largest by purchasing power parity and oneof the fastest growing.Though Indiais not in any major military alliance, our relations with the major powers including withthe European Union, have acquired strategic depth and self-sustaining mutualityof interest.

 

Ourrelations with the USAtoday, predicated as much on mutual benefit as on its global significance, arein a phase of unprecedented improvement; leaders on both sides have describedthem as natural partners, and a defining relationship of the century. Yet,the challenges remain for better management of relations, given the differentgeo-strategic and economic contexts, and occasional differences of the perspectives.

Simultaneously,India’s foreign policy hasconserved its very close strategic relationship with Russia, further extending ourhistorical cooperation in defence, trade, information technology, diamonds,energy including nuclear energy, and science & technology. Our common fightagainst terrorism is a particular element of strength in it.

Normally theneighbours ought to be regarded as natural cooperation partners, but theunrelenting logic of geography and the innate difficulties borne of immediateproximity, 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 thatone cannot choose one’s neighbours is all the more true for India, given thegeographical distinctiveness of the Sub-continent, and the shared ethnicities,cultural evolution, and historical experiences.

 

In our neighbourhood policy approach, India is a factor for stabilityand peace in the region, and our effort has been to construct an overarching visionfor South Asia, formulating policies directed at developing friendly andcooperative relations with all our neighbours, on the basis of sovereignequality and mutual respect, promoting inter-dependencewith them, creating stakes in each other’s stability, and developingcross-border infrastructure and other links and connectivity at all levels. We are cognizant of India’s greaterresponsibility in this process as the largest country in the region and itsstrongest economy. Our high economic growth impacts the region, offeringincreased opportunities to our neighbors to benefit by partnering India. Wecontinue to make unilateral gestures and extend economic and other concessions,as in the free markets that Indiahas established with Sri Lanka,Nepal and Bhutan. Similararrangements are also feasible with our other neighbours, as well as for Indianinvestments in building and upgrading cross-border infrastructure with each oneof them.

 

At the sametime, we do expect that our neighbours would demonstrate sensitivity to ourvital concerns, relating to use of their territories for cross-border terrorismand hostile activity against Indiafor example by insurgent and secessionist groups. As countries engage ineconomic cooperation, we must create a positive and constructive environment byavoiding hostile propaganda and intemperate statements.

 

Recent decades have witnessed particularlysignificant advances in regard of these, and, our diplomatic efforts to meet the challengesconfronting us have been largely successful. For example, we succeeded inexposing Pakistan’s nefarious designs, including sponsorship of terrorism, useof  terrorism as an instrument of statepolicy, trans-national crime and clandestine proliferation of nuclear weapons,technology, materials and missiles, and placed it all on the priority list of theglobal agenda. The Kargil War resulted in a major diplomatic victoryfor India, and several anti-India militant groups based in Pakistan were labeledas terroristgroups by the US and EU.

This, even as we want to solve all outstanding differences with Pakistan amicably and it is in that spirit thatwe hope to engage Pakistan.Given the complexities of the relationship, we have advocated a step-by-stepgraduated approach, even as we conveyed to Pakistan that credible andeffective action by them on our terrorism related concerns, including theinvestigations and trial in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, would be of the greatestsalience. Lately suggestions have emanated from across the border that there is a change in their thinking, but so long as importantelements in Pakistan'sestablishment and the Army regard India as their adversary, therelations between us can scarcely improve significantly.  Yet, we have to engage with Pakistanbecause only then we can eventually enlarge the rationally thinkingconstituency there. We have to believe that sooner or later good sense willprevail in the ruling classes of Pakistan, that instead of being adversariesour cooperation can become win-win, and that there are opportunities in workingtogether to realize our common destiny.

 

WithChinaproblems remain, but new convergences, such as on climate change and worldtrade negotiations, are blunting their propensity to cause us discomfiture. Our efforts to find a solution to the border problem havenot yielded the expected result, but we must continue to engage them in areas ofdifferences and outstanding issues. Continued rapid growthof the Indian economy is the best riposte to the rise of China. Our effort in recent years has been to develop amulti-faceted relationship with China,even as there will always be both competition and cooperation between us. There are discussionsin many quarters about China’srise and its enhanced assertiveness, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Against the backdrop of the continued high growth of China's economyand capabilities in general, and military strength in particular, Chinese mediumand long term intentions remain a matter of speculation. Given the ascendancyof China, our relations withother countries in South and East Asia, like Japan,South Korea, Vietnam, and Australia, and greater cooperation andunderstanding with them, assume enhanced importance.

Bhutan is an importantneighbour with whom we have a multi-dimensional and integrated relationship,arising from our vital strategic interests. Over the years, our economiccooperation has been highly successful, most in development of Bhutan’s vast hydropower potential, with surpluspower exported to India.This is to our mutual benefit, and has translated into tremendous goodwill in Bhutan. Thedevelopment of road and rail network, as also a network of cross bordertransmission lines, all with Indian cooperation, enhance the accessibility of Bhutan, benefitingthe entire region.

India and Nepal, as close neighbours, share aunique relationship of friendship and cooperation, characterised by openborders and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts of kinship and culture. India has naturally extended support to thepeople of Nepal in theirpolitical transition to a democratic order, to a stable, peaceful and prosperousNepal.Nepal’s political system remains fragile and under strain, and this hastemporarily slowed down our traditionally strong bilateral relations, but Indiaremains fully prepared to assist Nepal in whatever way possible and wishes thepeople of Nepal well.

 

India-SriLanka relations have undergone a qualitative transformation and are marked by increasingIndian cooperation across all sectors. Our connectivity isat an all time high, and, to further consolidate our economic linkages, we havefinalised a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. India continues to support a negotiatedpolitical settlement to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka based on a credible devolution package within theframework of an undivided Sri Lanka, and thus encourages an expeditiousnecessary reconciliation and re-integration process of its Tamil minority intothe country’s mainstream.

 

Ourlargest border is with Bangladesh. Theproximity 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 acceptanceof each others’ legitimate concerns, along with widening cooperation across thespectrum for mutual benefit. 

 

With Afghanistan,in our commitment to assisther in every possible way, India has provided extensive humanitarian,financial and project assistance, tothe tune of 1.5 billion dollar, responding to her own priority needs, for her reconstruction, and in building apluralistic and prosperous society, even as the security situation thereremains a concern to us. Indiaregards this as crucial for regional peace and stability and views herrelationship with Afghanistanas direct and bilateral.

 

WithMyanmar, neighbouring ouroccasionally troubled eastern region infested with sporadically violentinsurgency, a cooperative relationship is being steadily built around acommitment to stabilize the area, in economic projects, and creating multi-modaltransport links extending to Thailandand beyond. 

Relationsbetween India and Maldives remainclose and friendly. We supported their historical democratic transition, and assistMaldives in developing her infrastructure facilities in key areas like humanresource development, public health care, and tourism.

 

TheSouth Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for us represents India’s commitment to the region’s progress andsocio-economic development which can best be furthered through cooperation inwhich Indiaplays a pivotal role. In addition, we see the SAARC process of cooperation ascontributing to our goal of building a peaceful and prosperous periphery. Atthe 14th SAARC Summit that we hosted in 2007, India made every effort tostrengthen SAARC, moving it from a declaratory to an implementation phase.

 

OurLook-East policy has created new opportunities and partnerships in theAsia-Pacific. We have also strengthened our political and economic ties withimportant 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 evolvedand 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, andBIMSTEC - cooperation among BangladeshIndiaMyanmarSri Lanka, Thailand,Bhutan, and Nepal).Wehave launched special drives to strengthen trade, economic and technicalcooperation, with Africa and Latin America inparticular. The strategic importance of the Indian Ocean,lifeline for our trade, has been increasing. We now chair the Indian OceanRim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). This cooperation, both inthe economic context, and to contain growing threats such as piracy, is growingwell.

 

Overthe years, India’sdevelopment cooperation and partnership have evolved, from sporadic and ad hoc aidand technical cooperation, to now as an important component of our foreignpolicy. These programmes, providing Indian resources, expertise, andcooperation to other developing countries in a bid to help them develop faster,also win friends and generate goodwill for the country. Our partner countries appreciatethat India’scontribution emanates not from a state of affluence or surplus, is not drivenby any ulterior motives, and is not tied with conditionalities. Ministry ofExternal Affairs now has a full-fledged Development Partnership system andmechanism to coordinate and administer all such Indian cooperation, such as lines ofcredit, and technical cooperation under India Technical and Economic Cooperation(ITEC) by way of training, experts, study tours, projects, consultancy, and disasterrelief and humanitarian assistance, to some 160 countries around the world, allin a spirit of partnership, interdependence, and mutual benefit. Total Indiandevelopment cooperation currently measures up annually to well exceeding one billiondollar.

 

Amost notable Indian foreign policy success was the landmark agreement firstwith the US and subsequently with several other major countries enabling us toaccess nuclear power technology, materials and research, in waiver from the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency (IAEA), thus effectively ending the sanctions regime wewere operating under, and opening doors for also receiving sensitive and dual-usetechnologes and materials for peaceful applications. This is particularlyinstructive, for when in 1974 we tested a peaceful nuclear explosive device,the world, led by the nuclear weapon states, reacted by forming a nuclearcartel, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and by cutting off nuclearcooperation with India unless we agreed to forego our nuclear programme and putall our nuclear facilities under international safeguards to guarantee thatcommitment. As the nuclear weapon states were not willing to do so themselves, andwe could not afford to brook consequent strategic insecurity, we refused to comply,suffering the consequences for our growth and development. In contrast, in thewake of our 1998 Pokharan-II nuclear tests, the world opinion, after itsinitial knee-jerk reaction, eventually, within a short period of ten years, cameabout to the NSG and IAEA deciding in September 2008 to permit internationalcivil nuclear cooperation with India,thus ending India’snuclear isolation.

 

Yet, India’s commitment to general andcomplete nuclear disarmament has remained as firm as ever. We have only refusedto be subjected to arbitrary discrimination starting with the 1968 NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty and continuing with the 1996 Comprehensive Test BanTreaty. Arms limitation anddisarmament through proper multilateral negotiation has been central to India’s worldview, as also freely permitting peaceful uses of nuclear technologies. India continuesto stress for a cooperative thrust to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons. India is theonly country to commit to no-first-use.

 

Partlythanks to our initiatives and efforts, terrorism and proliferation of weaponsof mass destruction (WMDs) have been high on the global agenda. Internationalterrorism remains a major threat to peace and stability. The results, in theform of terrorism, clandestine nuclear proliferation, extremism and radicalismare felt not just by Indiabut by the world. The nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction canbe frightening. Some of these countries not only have links withterrorism, but also avowed policies to change the status quo through force orresort to nuclear blackmail. These issues are of particular concern to India becausethe beehive, the epicentre of all these activities is right in ourneighbourhood. In the global war against terrorism, there can be no room fordouble standards, of distinction between terrorism that cannot be tolerated andterrorism requiring resolution of its root causes. Some progress has been madein 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 withthe evolving contemporary realities. Although we love the idea of choice, we seekrefuge in the familiar and the comfortable. Though we have a global economy of sorts, theglobal polity does not represent the hopes, fears and aspirations of themajority of the world’s people. In an increasingly connected and inter-dependent world, the managementof the global diversity requires the application of principles of democracy,pluralism, inclusiveness, cooperation, and tolerance.

 

India, a founding member ofthe UN even before our Independence,has a steadfast commitment to the UN and its lofty objectives all along playing a most active andconstructive role in the UN system. India has been a regular andamong the largest contributors to the UN peacekeeping operations in hot-spotsaround the world. We firmly believe in the urgent need for the UN to bestrengthened, by greater transparency, equity, democratic representation in itsdecision-making; and for its most fundamental objectives to safeguard peace andsecurity, the UN Security Council must be expanded in both permanent andnon-permanent categories. Indiahas offered herself for a new added permanent member, on the basis of herindisputable credentials. This has already been publiclysupported 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. 

 

Inour new emerging world, there are several new significant processespropelling the world towards greater multilateralism and a pluralistic world order. Since theexpansion of the UNSC is so difficult procedurally, the effect has beencreation of a number of other processes or structures more in tune with theday’s reality,accommodating new players who can contribute to solutions to tomorrow’sproblems. Just as the replacement of G-8 by G-20is a historic event in recognition of the tectonic shifts in global economicpower balance, its success should pave the way for a similar remodelling of theglobal political architecture, akin to a political P-20.

While themajor responsibility for the global warming and climate change phenomena,caused by accumulation of green house gasses in the atmosphere, lies with the advancedcountries, its adverse affects are felt most severely by developing countrieslike India.Any concept of ‘shared responsibility’ in this context must include ensuringtheir right to development. What we seek is equitable burden-sharing, includingaccess 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 Indianorigin, the Indian Diaspora, live and work abroad. They constitute an important link with the mother country. They make creditablecontributions to the countries that they live in, and also to India with theirresources and remittances - the largest in the world, entrepreneurship andtechnological skills, and goodwill.  Animportant role of India'sforeign policy has been to ensure their welfare and well being within theframework of the laws of their host countries. They are an important aspect of theresponsibility of our diplomatic missions. In times to come, India will bethe largest contributor to the world’s workforce, around 136 million peopleover the next ten years. We already issue over 5 million passports annually. Indianinvestments and business are today creating or protecting a significant numberof jobs in Europe and America.

 

Ladies & Gentlemen,

 

Letme bring my presentation to a prolonged pause. Mind it, I am not saying it isthe conclusion, for as the wit observed, a conclusion is simply the place wheresomeone got tired of thinking. One faces one’s future with one’s past. Life isthe art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises. There isunquestionable need to build a new consensus in wider international relations todeal with a variety of complex challenges. Multilateralism, democracy, andinclusive participation is the way to go about it. Tolerance, understanding andacceptance rather than conflict have to be its hallmarks. India willalways 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.

 

Mandi

25 February 2014.          


 

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