The Indian foreign policy in circa 2010 remained as intangible as it
has been always barring some success in terms of getting Big 5 led by the US knocking its doors.
Otherwise it was typical of its characteristic, more often delivering mixed signals with itself unable to pursue diplomatic billiard well and at the same time often proved vulnerable to fall as a victim. In the process,
India saw a few smaller countries especially in neighbiurhood often snubbing it. Even on crucial front like climate change, India seems too eager to oblige the US.
But in 2011, the government of India is all set to chart out on a more promising roadmap in the coming year with a much brightened possibility of entering the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Keeping that prestigious berth as a virtual ‘jewel in the crown’, in the coming months New Delhi is likely to focus on improving its ties in the neighbourhood, often neglected Africa and the crucial the Indian Ocean rim.
Even during last two years the government has able to improve its relations with countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
Among the major global players, all five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, China, Britain, Russia and France — came calling on India in 2010 extending all round friendship even as each one of them sought India’s help for reviving their economies.
In the neighbourhood front and other smaller nations, India has been lately trying to consolidate its relations. Bangladesh under a longtime friend Sheikh Hasina has been very cooperative during the last two years especially in fostering stronger economic ties and as well as helping Indian government curb the activities of northeast India’s insurgent groups in that country.
Now peace process with ULFA is heading towards a positive direction, thanks to Sheikh Hasina regime's help to arrest the chairman Arabind Rajkhowa and others.
It is the sagacity of the leadership in respective countries in South Asia now that there is a growing realization that economic potential and especially the power front and infrastructure building should be exploited well.
There’s still a large untapped potential to cooperate further to mutual benefits with countries like Bhutan and Nepal.
Taking the Indo-Bangladesh ties to a new high, India has also offered to sell the surplus electricity from the northeastern state of Tripura.
The External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is expected to visit Dhaka in a few months. The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is also likely to follow.
Similarly on Nepal front, the External Affairs secretary Ms Nirupama Rao is likely to lead a delegation in January.
Similarly, New Delhi has scripted a much stronger tie with another strategically sensitive Myanmar and would strengthen them further with new projects. No wonder, the US was not amused a bit.
Truly, India has been doing its best in fulfilling several developmental commitments. This approach is in fact ideally suited to be the ‘model for development cooperation’ India has been stressing with Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh where in the people from these countries can work together for economic prosperity.
In the coming months, Indian foreign policy managers will also explore other options of diplomatic tools: like marine partnership and energy cooperation and would undertake concrete steps to bridge the gulf with African countries as also strengthen its bond in the Indian Ocean rim.
In this context, countries those will come in focus include Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana.
Official estimated also say put together these countries account for around 50-60 per cent of India’s total bilateral trade in Africa.
India along with other countries like Brazil and South Africa in blocks like IBSA and BRIC has also inched ahead to enhance India-Africa partnership that has today obviously led to counterbalance the monopolistic G7 nations on the global economic plane.
Among the highlights, an Africa Forum is on card sometime next year and it will be South Africa’s turn to host the IBSA summit in 2011.
During last one year or so, the government of India has also extended cooperation to international community to fight terrorism in general as also help combat the sea piracy. Besides offering itself as a pro-development partner for Afghanistan, New Delhi would also give itself greater engagement in Indian Ocean rim with countries like Mauritius, Mozambique and Seychelles.
There is a growing realization that India ought to enhance its presence in Africa and subsequently build up lasting strategic partners in the continent in order to play a vital role in reshaping the global economy aftermath the 2008 recession and the more recent ‘Greek crisis’ in European economy.
In recent months, therefore, India has tried to strengthen defence ties with smaller countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Lesotho and Botswana.
In the end it must be said that sustaining a lasting friendship in international relation is a continuous stream. The new thinking in foreign policy, therefore, ought to have broader scope as well as show greater flexibility for setting up new goals and compromises.
New Delhi’s foreign policy engine rooms under the constant hawk's eye of the PMO – knows it pretty well.