Lesson 3, Topic 1
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Foreign Policy Architecture

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New Government’s priorities:

  1. Neighbour First: Prioritizing an integrated neighbourhood
  2. Domestic interest: Leveraging international partnerships to promote India’s domestic development.
  3. Act East: Ensuring a stable and multipolar balance of power in the Indo-Pacific
  4. Counter Pakistan: Dissuading Pakistan from supporting terrorism.
  5. Global Role: Advancing Indian representation and leadership on matters of global governance.

Steps taken with this New approach:

  • Warmed up to America
  • Sustained the old friendship with Russia
  • Deepened strategic partnership with Japan and Australia
  • Boosted India’s neighbourhood policy
  • Wooed international business leaders
  • Reconnected with India’s diaspora
  • Championship of reforms of UNSC
  • Stress on environment
  • Initiative to get closer to France, Canada, Germany, islands state and Africa

Critically examine the inadequacies in India’s foreign policy architecture and suggest what needs to be done to address these inadequacies. (200 Words)

Foreign affairs in the present times need a professional approach and technical knowledge in diverse fields like climate change, trade relations, strategic aspects etc. Given the rising profile of India on the global front, there must be an overhaul of the Indian foreign policy architecture to buttress India’s position globally. Some lacunae are as follows –

  1. The cadre strength of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is around 900. This is too low. As an analogy, much smaller city states like Singapore have more diplomats than India.
  2. Due to small cadre strength India is not adequately represented in many areas around the world. Thus, India’s ability to influence other nations suffer.
  3. The perspective Policy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs is a moribund institution which does not get due importance.
  4. The low cadre strength leads to over worked officers who are too involved in day today administrative affairs to devote much time to the larger picture and policy formation.
  5. Foreign affairs encompass diverse fields like strategic affairs, economic affairs, cultural affairs etc. However, the foreign policy establishment in India rarely has outside experts or even officers from other departments on deputation to deal with such issues effectively.
  6. Intellectual weakness- Indian foreign service officers are generalist by training. while in the contemporary diplomacy to which issues ranging from trade to climate change to science and technology are central, these officers are becoming less efficient to deal with these issues.
  7. Ideational shortcomings- The Indian foreign policy establishments suffers from an acute inability to ideate outside the box. Much of the intellectual are spent on routine management of ministry where ad-hocism, outdated precedents ,pragmatisms are guiding principles. This principles have resulted in deep rooted structural biases against long term planning and strategic thinking. our foreign policy by design tends to be reactive in nature, rather than proactive or creative.

An overhaul of the foreign policy architecture will take the following steps –

  1. Increasing the pace of the recruitment in the IFS as suggested by the Shiv Shankar Menon committee.
  2. More deputation by IFS officers to other relevant ministries and departments like Culture, commerce and defense establishments.
  3. Lateral entry into IFS for specialised posts or specific countries by outside experts and deputations by officers of defense forces, economic and commerce ministries.
  4. Institutionalising the ‘soft power’ aspects of Indian Foreign Policy by establishing institutes modelled on the Allaince Francaise of France and the Confucius Institutes of China.

A strong institutional framework is needed to ensure that the Foreign Policy of the country has a holistic outlook and contributes to the nation’s overall objectives.