DIPLOMACY IN COVID TIMES iNDIA

Today, the world is facing the Covid-19 pandemic and is also passing through a phase of economic slowdown with an air of uncertainty. By adopting India-centric foreign policy, we have been able to send a message to the world that India has a will and a capacity to define the priorities of the international system.

Repositioning After Cold war
• During the Cold War, the world was divided in two blocks. Considering those India had opted for non- alignment which seemed a better option then. Fall of Soviet Union and breaking of Berlin Wall resulted in a collapse of bipolar world system.
• India started to change its traditional path and lay down a solid foundation for its foreign policy in accordance with the requirements in the new scenario. It added a part of economic diplomacy in the traditional diplomacy which had to traverse in the direction of globalisation.
• After “Pokharan-2” during Vajpayee government, a new element of power got added into India’s foreign policy. Today, after about 22 years of Pokharan-2, India is being acknowledged as one of the major Asian powers and as a global player.

India and Its Immediate Neighbourhood
• India is the geo-political nucleus of South Asia. Immediate neighbouring countries can play an
effective role in making India weaker or stronger, then the gulf countries and East Asian countries.
• Keeping this in mind, PM Modi started his first tenure with “Diplomacy with Neighbourhood First”. Under this policy he not only, tried to move ahead by taking along Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives but also presented an example before the world through his “Heart to Heart Diplomacy” with Pakistan as well.
• After Pulwama, India not only gave a befitting reply to Pakistan’s misadventure by carrying out a “surgical strike” in POK and also conveyed a message to the whole world that India would not desist from adopting the strategy of “physical response” against anti-India forces.
• India under its Neighbourhood Policy has been successful in moving ahead in the direction of
improving connectivity, reviving of socio-religious relations, development and human assistance.
Idea of Extended Neighbourhood
• The Prime Minister had once said that neighbours are not only those countries with whom our
geographical borders meet but also those nations with whom our hearts meet.
• With this in view, countries situated in Eastern and South East Asian regions are foremost followed
by the countries of Middle East. Looking towards East, Trans-Pacific region comes first which is
presently a part of Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Indo-Pacific Region
• In this region, on one side China is following the strategy of establishing monopolistic set-up on the strength of its defence power built on the basis of its economic strength and the US on the other side is trying to maintain its supremacy. Russia is the third player which wants to move forward on “Pivot to East” strategy.

With this in mind, Russia had proposed to Japan sometime back to enter into an agreement on four controversial islands. However, Japan turned down the suggestion from Russia and now it is eyeing upon smaller countries in East Asia.
• Evaluating the whole situation, India is stressing on inclusive action. India has, therefore, tried to make an alliance with the US and Japan and also tried to maintain its traditional relations with Russia and China as well.
• For example, India played an active role in setting up the Strategic Quadrilateral (QUAD) in Indo- Pacific region on one hand and became a partner in BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on the other hand.
• Washington-Beijing-Moscow triangle has been extremely important for India’s foreign policy since the very beginning. One of the focal points of India’s foreign policy is China as it keeps posing challenges before India by following an expansionist policy.

Hope From Europe?
• Having dominated as a super power for a long era, Europe is a victim of internal contradictions. It appears to be caught in challenges posed by refugee problem, economic imbalance, idealism versus nationalism clash and Islamic terrorism.
• The conditions developed in Europe after the “Merkozy Effect” (Angela Merkel and Serkozy
economic theory) have weakened the bonding between France and Germany and a leakage in
European Union have become visible now. Brexit has shown that European Union is no more a
reflection of optimum unity.

India in Middle East & Africa
• Middle East which has always been the nucleus of geopolitical activism. India has succeeded in
establishing comprehensive partnership relations with the countries of this region.
• India’s trade and energy security is closely connected with the security of Hormuz Water Treaty and Bab-el-Mandeb strait. The Indo-Saudi Arabia relations touched a new height. Presentation of their highest civilian awards by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to PM Modi stands a testimony to this.
• Inclusion of African continent in India’s foreign policy is quite important. India has been following the policy of Afro-Asian Brotherhood for a long time and now India has cordial relations with the African Union.
• PM Modi’s diplomacy with the coastal countries proved to be extremely decisive, especially with
Seychelles. It is also possible that Seychelles-Chabahar may emerge as an alternative to Gwadar-
Djibouti Connect and India may succeed in Blue Water Diplomacy.

India’s position in global multilateral order
• Between the year 2014 to the year 2020, India might have not got entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group but in Missile Technology Control Regin Club (MTCR), India succeeded getting entry before China.
• India’s membership in MTCR was its first entry in any multilateral export control system after which India would be able to purchase higher level missile technology and its joint venture with Russia would also get a boost.
• After the US back out from Paris Agreement of 2017, India has emerged as an example for other developing nations in this regard. India is presenting standard of environmental policies along with development requirements before them.

In this direction, International Solar Alliance, headquartered in Gurugram, is very important. The
objective of this alliance is to aid in implementation of Paris Climate Agreement.
• This is a first agreement-based international intergovernmental organisation which is fully or partly situated between Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.


Conclusion
The traditional conventional elements of India’s foreign policy have become ineffective and stress on practical initiative in external affairs has increased. India needs to tell that she is in the process of becoming a world power and has a capability to define priority of international system.