Conference on India in the Emerging International Order

Country: India

City: Kolkata

Abstr. due: 25.08.2015

Dates: 02.11.15 — 04.11.15

Area Of Sciences: Political science;

Organizing comittee e-mail: conference@jair.net.in

Organizers: THE JADAVPUR ASSOCIATION OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

The international politics have gone through veritable changes in the current decades. The changes have impacted the perception of foreign policy making and also conducting of foreign policy. The content of foreign policy making and implementation across the globe has witnessed very different variable functioning, which is away from the traditional precepts of understanding foreign policy ideas. India has also been impacted by the changing nature of International Order and the diverse variables at play, which determine the course of foreign policy. In short Indian foreign policy of late has been trying to balance out the old determinations and the newer ones. The cold war phenomenon has gone too past now. At times that serves as important reference points and at times the relevance is lost. The question of polarity has also attained different meaning with the arrival of different nations as new players and newer power blocks. The questions around ideology, ideological representations, ideological functions and ideological competitions have become too vague to be identified, but the priority debate between realism and ideology still haunts the international order. The debates about international order emanating from the idea and processes of globalization have also evolved into the phenomenon of neo-globalization phenomenon. Though it has to be noted that the steeper debates of the first decades of globalization has subsided, making significant aspects of the globalization process as a way of life all across the world. Thus the debates residing in the international order regarding globalization have achieved newer forms.

One of the most important characteristic of the current international order is the economic connectivity among the nation states and related to that is the question of accessibility and utilization of technology. Economic connectivity between nation states and their varying degrees have become lately the sharpest point of conducting International politics. Transfer of money has become extremely easy thus investments are up for grabs. The issue of economic connectivity is a two way sword; in the sense the issue both cuts at the international level as well as at the domestic level. Visibility of nations have increased (albeit the closed ones). The investment mechanisms have become liberalized. Markets have become more interconnected yet representing different demands which are met through inviting investments from all across the globe. Investments, on the other hand have their own assessments about nations at play and their domestic political order. Thus destinations for the investments are both readily available or conducive political contexts are sought for; and there lies the politics of the current international order. The traditional resource grab competitions have not ceased yet; rather the meanings of resources have changed considerably. The resources up for acquiring have become more intangible, in the sense like intelligence. With a more interconnected world, information and communication have become more open and accessible. Technology has made it possible for a substantive number of humanity to generate, gather and disseminate intelligence. There is a huge pool of organized and unorganized agencies, both in the shape of institutions and private individuals who are gathered from every corner of the world with required analytics to handle such intelligence. Thus the traditional role of information has evolved into contemporary modes of intelligence where nation states are not the sole proprietors, rather they are buyers. This phenomenon is shaping the world politics pretty rapidly and posing different variables to deal with.

Thus the contemporary international order is fast changing in matters of functioning with newer variables. Traditional and old variables are being packaged in contemporary variables and there are new variables to work with. So any foreign policy study or to make any assessment about foreign relations or to assess the international status, we have to take into consideration the current contexts. Any study should be able throw light on the current context to come up with tangible options for conducting foreign policy both for short term contexts and to build a long term vision.

Indian foreign policy persuasions are also at the crossroads. It is for a long time that India has been positioned just outside the loop of the most active bustling of international activity. The reality of having India’s own priorities coincide with another reality of India appearing late in multiple fronts as far as setting goals are concerned. The factors, though are of both international and India’s own making. This proposal would like to identify five heads, under which India’s position in the international order can be deliberated upon to assess the current context and to arrive at some ideas about how should India position herself for the future.

    Unresolved Issues: There is a plethora of unresolved issues which are very relevant for India till date and thus are directly and indirectly related to the question of security. The issues include border disputes with Pakistan and China in particular and also such issues are there with Bangladesh though of a different nature. The Pakistan phenomenon, though goes beyond the border problem and poses a constant security problem for India of various kinds including terrorism. The question of China is a pretty complex one for India. Sino-Indian border dispute is still a haunting issue that escalates tensions at the military level. Sino-Pakistan strategic alliance is the immediate security challenge that India faces. China is already a global player and India has to enter competitive scenarios with China. China also poses problems related to influence building in the South East Asian region where India’s policy priorities had been set through Look East Policy during the past decades and has been turned into Act East Policy recently.
    Policy Fundamentals: India had been pretty fast at identifying foreign policy fundamentals after independence. The then international setting was comprised of variables such as resisting colonialism, situating within the set up of the Cold War and alike. The fundamentals were envisaged keeping in view the priorities to be set for a new nation in terms of research interests and survival of a new nation. The neutrality issue was very much ingrained within the context of the Cold War. Now, the world has changed and with the world the variables to understand the functions and stability of nation states have also changed. The issue of neutrality has become segmental rather than being general. Economic connectivity undoubtedly forces nation states to engage more with other nation states. India is no exception. India might have opened her economy late, but the aspirations within a nation are flying ahead of the time taken by the policy makers. There might be a requirement to review India’s policy fundamentals set in the post independence context. There might be a necessity to change policy fundamentals in tune with variables related to economic integration with international community, democratic states and development issues.
    Contemporary Standing: India’s contemporary standing can be identified in three orbits. The first orbit would contain the neighboring states. That includes South Asian nations and should include the adjoining regions of South East Asia too. There is a need to understand that many engagements pertaining to Connectivity arguments cannot be implemented if the South Asian neighbors are not treated in conjunction with South East Asian nations. Especially if issues are related to investments, infrastructures and development. India stands aspiring in this area, but faces stiff competition from China in matters of economic as well as political influence. Apart from China, India also a need to build financial credibility and decisiveness to push through this region. The second orbit is a space for international power play. This orbit contains developed nations, economically and militarily powerful nations and incidents of international importance which require positioning and posturing. The complexity of the scenario India faces is about issues and incidents which figure in India’s foreign policy fundamentals and with whom India has historical relations. It is also important on the other side to situate foreign policy in the contemporary concerns and variables. It would be important for India to place itself tactically within this orbit. It would be important to for India to decide where to participate in the space of big power politics and where not to participate. But the main question would be to set fundamental parameters and ideas to engage or disengage. One thing is for sure that contemporary parameters have to be new. They cannot fall back on the past parameters. So it is important to set fresh principles. The third orbit is about India’s standing in the international institutions. International institutions would mean United Nations, Regional Organizations, Sub-regional platforms and International Economic Organizations. India seeks permanent seat at the Security Council, along with certain other developing nations. It is to be decided as far as India is concerned that whether demanding the permanent seat at the Council would represent India as a nation state by itself or whether as a representative of the developing world. As far as Regional and Sub-regional organizations are concerned, they represent the most active form of diplomatic missions currently. The importance of Regional and Sub-regional organizations are augmenting, thus the active and judicious participation of India in these platforms has become more important than ever. The most important international institutional platforms are the economic ones. World Bank, International Monetary fund, Doha Rounds and the like are the platforms where things concern both international and domestic. Because economic policy decisions don’t really hold along the geographical boundaries. On one hand there is a well argued demand of liberalizing economy more and on the other there is a caution over not making policies such that it falls on the wrong side of the world economy or on the wrong side of the domestic plight. Especially given the uncompromising positions of the northern nations vis-à-vis agricultural subsidy, environment and sensitive issues related to development. Thus India’s contemporary standing is more multifaceted and requires great research and vision to take India forward. Overall India is rightly positioned, which have to be followed by decisiveness, relevance and domestic political consensus on foreign policy vision.
    International Politics-Domestic Politics interface: More India increases stakes at the international level, more the interface between the international and Domestic becomes important. Thus more responsible and accountable the domestic political set up would be required to become. Aspiration and assertion at the international level would demand a broad domestic political consensus where change in the government would not matter in cases of foreign policy. It is also to be noted in this context that this interface is not any fixed characteristic. Rather this interface is activity in itself. What would be absolutely ineffective, lethargic and passive is to think that international aspiration is all about domestic aspiration. Rather there is a need to understand that international aspiration would also mean building international stake within the country. The stakes such as those would come through the economic route and through robust law and order solutions. Bureaucratic hassles should be abolished. India should become one market, and that would obviously mean abolishing financial regimes which are contrary to liberalizing markets. Liberalizing markets would democratize the market space where India needs diversity of private investors. Making individuals autonomous and incentive prone would open up the country to newer areas of international engagements. So there is a dire need to give the domestic scenario a new shape and new sensibility about the true nature of international aspiration.
    The Subjectivity: Analyzed above are the factors which are tangible. But an aspiring nation readying to take a leap might not just be thinking about the tangible things. Tangible factors are good to deal with but exclusive dependence risks foreign policy to assume ‘fire brigade’ approach. The question thus would be whether an aspiring nation can sustain such approach or not. ‘Fire Brigade’ approach might be fine for momentary issues but there is a need to rethink about the principles on which our foreign policy would ride. Because when battle lines will be drawn (not in the sense of war exclusively) and issues become complex and challenging. When India will be required to take positions then the ‘fire brigade’ approach would not help. So beside the tangible factors India also faces challenge to draw up some sustaining ideas about its international position and status. India needs a world view.
 

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