The 10th Quarterly Lecture organised by Centre for Public Policy Research explored the changing nuances of Indian foreign diplomacy. Since Narendra Modi took over, India’s foreign diplomacy has witnessed a burst of activity giving a thrust to India. The former Media Advisor to the UPA government, Dr. Sanjaya Baru was invited by CPPR to share his thoughts and opinions on this change in paradigm which resulted in the 10th Quarterly Lecture at Kochi on 9th September.
Dr. Sanjaya Baru is one of India’s most respected and influential commentators on political and economic issues. He was the Official Spokesman and Media Advisor to the former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh from May 2004 to August 2008. Dr Baru’s experience as the Editor of The Business Standard, Chief Editor of The Financial Express, and the Associate Editor of The Economic Times and The Times of India makes him a political spokesman of repute. Currently he is the Director for Geo-Economics and Strategy, at International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) London. His works, Strategic Consequences of India’s Economic Performance, The Political Economy of Indian Sugar and The Accidental Prime Minister : The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh, has garnered lots of critical acclaim. His contributions towards the analysis of the interplay between economics and geopolitics at the global level have been widely appreciated.
Dr. Baru critically analyzed the trajectories of Indian foreign diplomacy. To set the tone, he attempted a déjà vu from Nehruvian realism, to the end of cold war coinciding with the Indian economic crisis. Succinctly he pointed out that the laxity of a constructive economic scheme in foreign policy dissuaded India from being a central player of recognition. Only with an economic policy, can the strategic objectives be fine-tuned with better clarity. The paths chalked out by the present and previous governments gave impetus to economic development as the key to develop interdependencies in this interconnected world. This radical shift has had repercussions in the foreign policy levels too. Having visited over 30 countries in an official capacity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to make India as a global player. This is unprecedented for any Indian Prime Minister in a short span of time. Be it revitalizing ties in the immediate neighbourhood or engaging with world’s major powers, the miles clocked and the inroads made were impressive. All these global engagements are in tandem with our developmental priorities.
However the Dr. Baru dissected this hullabaloo as a political agenda rather than a prospective foreign policy plan. The reality of border disputes, shared destinies of South Asian nations, oil price crash, and a revamped Indian image post the onslaught of globalization fed IT(Information Technology) boom were deliberated upon. The clamour for United Nations Security Council seat, trust deficit dampening resolution talks with Pakistan, factors of Realpolitik guiding relations with U.S and China for harnessing mutual benefits (such as Nuclear deal removing the irritant in Indo-U.S relations or economically aligning with China) made the discussions more vibrant. The state of Kerala reaping the benefits of globalization through remittances from the Gulf and West Asia was also emphasized. The speaker was judicious to suggest that India must embark on a realist vision to gain a foothold in international politics. Only then can a pro-India foreign policy be arrived at, with economic relations serving as a catalyst.
Prof. K.C Abraham, academic director CPPR moderated the discussion, and Ms Vinny Davis, Managing Associate, CPPR- Centre for Strategic Studies hosted the event.
Click here to view the complete lecture: “India’s Foreign Diplomacy in Modi Age”- 10th CPPR Quarterly Lecture by Dr. Sanjaya Baru