Vol 12, No. 1               Jan-Mar 2017


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The Advent of the New Administration in the US: Global & Bilateral Ramifications


The assumption of President Donald Trump as the 45th President of the USA has created a new phenomenon in American politics that has begun to affect domestic socio-political and economic processes as well as its engagement with the rest of the world.

The Trump Administration’s policies related to industry, immigration, financial deregulation, taxation, and education are domestic in content, but have international implications as well. That President Trump’s approach towards alliances, competitors, rivals, perceived security threats, proliferation, climate change, outer-space, etc. is  likely to be avant-garde has been signalled early in his comments (mostly through his 'tweets') as well as in his executive orders.

This approach will also undoubtedly have an indisputable influence over the future trajectory of US-India relations, particularly on the recently proposed “defence partnership” between the two countries.

Many observers note that President Trump’s soft line approach towards Russia and President Putin; his radical remarks on Chinese economic policies and foreign policy behaviour; his transactional attitude towards allies; his distrust of multilateral trade deals; his disdain of religious extremists; his inflexible stance on immigrants and foreign workforce; and his “America first” protectionist economic policy have the potential to alter the global economic, political, and strategic order. Indeed, the debate over the “Trump phenomenon” is intense and wide ranging in the capitals of all the major powers.

The questions that are being raised include the following

What will be the future of the time-tested Trans-Atlantic strategic bond? Will Europe seriously seek a new arrangement for continental security? Will there be credible US-Russia détente? Will the US-Russia détente enhance Russian influence in Eurasia?

Will US-China relations turn into a complex, cold confrontation in the midst of managed economic relations? Will China gain enormously from the demise of the TPP initiative? Will President Trump’s opposition to TPP and the transactional bargain with Japan and South Korea lead to the reduction of US commitment to Asia Pacific region?

What will be President Trump’s strategy to defeat ISIS? What will be the regional order in the critical West Asian region? Will the region return to the Cold War years when Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt were key American allies, and Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq faced duel-containment? Will Iran walk away from the nuclear deal in the face of the hard-line approach of President Trump and go the North Korean way? Will Trump’s approach reduce or increase extremism and terrorism?

Whither US-Pakistan relations under the Trump Administration? Trump does not regard Pakistan as a “friendly” country; yet he had good conversations with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and assured him of help. The untrustworthiness of Pakistan is well established; yet many in Washington view Islamabad as a necessary evil. How would US-Pakistan ties play up during the Trump Administration?

It goes without saying that President Trump’s global, regional, and economic policies would also impact India to varying degrees.

What would be the shape of Indo-US economic ties under a protectionist US administration? How would India maintain its counterterrorism cooperation with the USA, despite the Pakistan factor? Will India’s deepening defence ties with the USA remain unaffected by the protectionist economic policy of the Trump Administration? Will the Trump Administration’s handling of the minority issue, its new regulations on labour issues and immigration policies adversely affect the Indian American Community? Will Trump’s China policy pose a challenge to the Indian approach towards China? Will Trump embrace the Indo-Pacific concept even while rejecting TPP? Above all, will India, get a high/er priority in Trump’s America?


The Indian Foreign Affairs Journal invited six experts in the field to comment on the above, and offer their views. Their views are published in the following pages.

 (The views expressed by the authors are their own, and do not reflect the views of the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, or that of the Association of Indian Diplomats)



ARUN K. SINGH: Ambassador Arun K. Singh was, till recently, the Ambassador of India to the United States, and is a former Ambassador of India to France and to Israel.

Gazing at the Crystal Ball of the Trump Administration

No doubt there will be challenges to the relationship, and differences in assessments and strategies. India will seek to exercise strategic autonomy in its decision-making while deepening trade, investment, technology, counter-terrorism, and defence partnerships. However, we will also need to factor in the fact that the USA will take decisions in its own perceived interests and in keeping with US domestic and international political compulsions. Interests and policy choices will not always align.

Although President Trump has spoken positively about India, he has also talked about jobs being ‘shipped out’ to India and the alleged misuse of H-1B visas. India would like the easing of such visas for our technology companies as well as the lowering of fees.

A special effort will now be needed to look at the dimensions of the economic partnership. This has been an area of recurrent problems and disagreements. India being under the Special 301 Watch list as well as the problems related to H-1B visas are among the manifestations of these disagreements. No doubt it is in India’s interest to build our relations with all the major poles in the desired multi-polar international system, so as to maintain the autonomy of our decisions. However, the trade and investment dimension, nearly 3.5 million strong Indian Diaspora, and about 200,000 Indian students in US universities give a particular  dimension to this relationship. As we promote “Make in India”, including in defence sector, and as India seeks partnerships for Start-ups India in the US Silicon valley, an overall politico-economic narrative for the relationship will help soften the all too frequent bumps.


DHRUVA JAISHANKAR: Mr. Dhruva Jaishankar is a Fellow, Foreign Policy, at Brookings India, New Delhi.

Making Sense of Uncertain India-US Relations

What does the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States mean for India? The short answer is that no one knows, not even Trump himself.

India was fortunate not to feature prominently during the heated and divisive 2016 U.S. election season. Mixed statements and the belated appointment of senior officials to key U.S. government positions suggest that some of the bigger questions about U.S. engagement with the rest of the world remain unsettled. The logic of converging India-U.S. interests along every dimension – bilateral relations, the balance of power in Asia, counterterrorism, and multilateral affairs – remains strong, regardless of the change of administration in Washington. However, India can no longer take traditional U.S. positions for granted. It must double-down on its own unilateral efforts in accelerating its development, in Acting East to preserve a favourable balance of power in Asia, in coercing Pakistan and stabilizing Afghanistan, and in reforming the structure of global governance. It must also seek alternative partners, whenever possible.

At the same time, New Delhi will have to try to convince the Trump Administration of the central logic of its predecessors’ engagement with India: that a stronger, wealthier, and more dynamic India – even if it retains its independence and does not always act in accordance with the United States – advances American interests. This is always a hard sell, but it is particularly so in today’s political environment. It remains to be seen whether ‘America First’ can ever align with India as a ‘leading power.’


ANNPURNA NAUTIYAL: Professor Annpurna Nautiyal, is Professor of Political Science, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal, Uttarakhand


Trump’s Foreign Policy Uncertainties and Modi’s Developmental Agenda: A Way Forward

... [P]resident Trump’s policies are not yet clear, and many leaders have not met him. However, his meetings with Shinzō Abe, Netanyahu, and Xi Jinping have fared well. President Trump has reassured Japan about economic cooperation, friendship, and its commitment to Japan’s security. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the USA - despite the US missile attack on Syrian air base and continuing tensions between the USA and China related to North and South Koreas - has still prompted a high level dialogue and cooperation mechanism. However, the future of the relationship will also depend on President Trump’s stand on China. President Trump’s liking for strong leaders resonates with Prime Minister Modi’s image of a tough leader, and is likely to create a favourable atmosphere for Modi’s India. In view of President Trump’s transactional, bilateral, mercantilist and militarist approach toward trade, global affairs, and concerns for job loss for Americans, scholars envision emergence of good chemistry between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. The latter’s restrictions on H-1B visas could disturb India’s equations with the USA. But, as the US scholar Walter Anderson has pointed out, a convergence of US policy of calculated altruism to build a strong India and Indian aspiration for a global role can fulfil USA’s larger strategic goal in Asia.


MONISH TOURANGBAM: Dr. Monish Tourangbam, is Assistant Professor at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University (Karnataka).


Forecasting India-US Relations in the Trump Era:

Mostly Sunny and Warm, No Major Disturbance in Sight

As the Trump Presidency became real last November, shockwaves in the USA and around the world were apparent. However, amidst the tell-tale signs of uncertainty that were going to define the coming of the Trump era, many commented that India-US relations would, in all likeliness, remain stable. During President Trump’s election campaign, India was hardly a matter of attention. Even as he made apparent his disdain for mainstream US foreign policy orientations, there seemed to be hardly any concern regarding the trajectory of India-US relations. The future of the India-US strategic partnership had been secured by the outgoing Obama Presidency, evident with his visit as the Chief Guest during India’s Republic Day celebrations, the signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), and the promulgation of the Joint Strategic Vision of the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region. The prevalent view among strategic watchers in both India and the USA has been that the relationship has firm support across the major political parties in both the countries. Though the larger uncertainty surrounding the Trump Presidency seems to have brushed off on India as well, no drastic changes in Indo-US strategic convergence are being expected. India’s strategic embrace of the USA in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region has become pronounced over the years, and it is expected that the strategic rationale inherent in the relationship will stay strong in the Trump administration.  


OBJA BORAH HAZARIKA: Ms. Obja Borah Hazarika, is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Dibrugarh University, Assam


Trump’s Grand Strategy:

A New Doctrine and its Discrepancies

Economic protectionism by the US will also lead to consternation with countries like India. Although President Trump has commented that he is looking forward to working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi there exist several policies mulled by President Trump which may be pernicious for Indo-US relations. For instance, President Trump’s isolationist policy could raise concerns in India regarding the reliability of the US as a strategic  and economic partner. India’s interests will also be undermined if the US refuses to cooperate on tackling global warming given that President Trump has denied climate change on many occasions. Recently, the US administration undid most of former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which required states to decrease carbon emissions from power plants. President Trump’s decree also reversed a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands and it undid rules to curb carbon emissions as well as methane emissions. Such measures widen the difference in views on climate change held by India and the US. Although President Trump did not target India in the manner China, Japan and South Korea were blamed, for cheating the US through currency manipulation or bad trade practices, India will be adversely impacted as President Trump begins to implement protectionist policies including the reduction in granting of H1B visas which will impact India’s IT sector. Countries like India which embraced the liberal international order will also be impacted if the US retreats to an isolationist policy ceding ground to powers like China with whom India shares less complementary economic and political values compared to the US.


NETAJI ABHINANDAN: Dr. Netaji Abhinandan, is an Assistant Professor, Department of  Political Science, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack.


Trump’s Foreign Policy:

From Walking the Talk to Talking the Walk

... [I]t is highly unlikely that President Trump would abandon the path of intense engagement with India pursued by his predecessors, and toe a more aggressive line. Considering his intransigence towards China, which is viewed as a competitor, it is expected that he, just like President Obama, would rely upon democratic India to counter the growing economic and strategic influence of China in Asia. Also, in the wake of China’s growing assertions over the South China Sea and the emerging geo-political conflicts in South East Asia, America’s strategic interests would certainly be better served if it augments its strategic partnership with India.

In this context, the recent visits of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to the USA suggest that the politico-security relations between the two countries would rather continue with same intensity than run into troubled waters.  With regard to Indo-Pak relations, US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley’s offer of mediation notwithstanding, there is no reason to believe that the US would choose to meddle in the bilateral conflict between the two countries. In fact, following India’s strong objection to this proposal, the USA quickly reverted to its previous stance of non-interference, asking India and Pakistan to resolve all issues through ‘direct dialogue’. On the other hand, India can take solace from President Trump’s tough stand on terror as Pakistan would be under constant watch for its cross-border activities against India.

Thus, there might be some friction between New Delhi and Washington in the economic sphere unless differences are properly handled. However, in the politico-strategic realm, the relations are unlikely to encounter any serious blockade under the Trump Presidency.





M. GANAPATHI: Ambassador M. Ganapathi, is a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, former Ambassador to Kuwait, former High Commissioner to Mauritius and former Consul General in Sydney, Australia.

Contours of India’s Foreign Policy - An Overview

From the early days of recorded history, Indian thinkers have written about the significance and importance of foreign policy in governance. A codified approach towards political and diplomatic strategy finds reference in the Arthasastra of Kautilya or Chanakya – the first structured treatise on statecraft. Kautilya strongly believed that nations acted in their political, economic and military self-interest. In Kautilya’s view, expediency was to be the main consideration in foreign policy. Kautilya laid down measures to be adopted in carrying out an effective foreign policy. The contemporaneous Thirukkural has an entire chapter  outlining the essential attributes of an envoy in the conduct of foreign policy and diplomacy.

The foreign policy of any country cannot be divorced from its domestic politics and governance – the influence and outcome of each impact on the other. The Freedom Movement and the thoughts and ideas of its founding fathers heavily influenced independent India’s foreign policy. Shaped by the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ahimsa and Satyagraha as well as the reverberations of the struggle against colonialism, India saw its foreign policy anchored in the ideas of non-alignment as well as in supporting movements against colonialism, racism, and apartheid. India became a champion for non-discriminatory non-proliferation. It chose to chart an independent course, and positioned itself outside of any of the post-War alliances. Civilisational India could not have been expected to be a camp follower. There has been a cross-party national consensus on foreign policy, the thrust of its orientation remaining more or less the same– that is, firmly anchored in strategic autonomy.


VIVEK MISHRA: Dr. Vivek Mishra is an Assistant Professor, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata and Visiting Faculty at Presidency University, Kolkata.

India-US Maritime Cooperation: The Next Decade

Today India conducts the largest number of military exercises with the USA than with any other country. A significant number of these take place in the maritime domain. Recently, maritime partnerships between India and the USA have ridden high on the back of multiple agreements in the areas of defence and security, particularly the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) and Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), besides some others that are in the pipeline like Communication and Information Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). However, two significant developments that could potentially change the course of the India-US maritime partnership in the next decade are the actions on the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean signed in 2015, and India’s elevation to a special status of ‘Major Defence Partner’ through a Congressional imprimatur in the USA. The paper seeks to explore the ramifications in the Asian maritime domain of an enhanced partnership between India and the USA, besides looking at the geopolitical fallouts of the Indo-US effort to link the security of the Asia-Pacific to the security architecture of the IOR as we go forward. It also looks at how the maritime and riparian ramifications of burgeoning Indo-US ties have altered the rhetoric of the balance of power associated with Asia, and its consequent fault lines.


G. PARTHASARATHY: Ambassador G. Parthasarathy, is a former Ambassador of India to Myanmar and former High Commissioner of India to Australia, to Pakistan and to Cyprus.

India’s Foreign Policy and Security Challenges: Past and Present

India is a country that cherishes and derives its strength from the principle of unity in diversity. Our attire, dance, and music symbolise this unique diversity, as do our cuisine and festivals. All major religions have blossomed in India. The Semitic beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been welcomed on our shores. At the same time, our own Indic religions rooted in our soil– Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism– have developed and grown in harmony. There have, however,  been challenges that we have faced - and continue to face - on our land boundaries and our maritime frontiers, across the Indian Ocean to our east and to our west.

India’s maritime history began in the 3rd millennium BCE, when the Indus Valley established maritime contacts with Mesopotamia. Following the Roman occupation of Egypt, trade flourished with the Roman Empire, not only on our west coast, but also with Tamil Pandyan Kings. The Chola Dynasty reached out beyond the shores of what is now Tamil Nadu, between the third and thirteenth Centuries. It extended its domains from Sri Lanka to Srivijaya (Indonesia), in Southeast Asia. Similar trade and maritime contacts flourished between the rulers of Kalinga (Orissa) and the kingdoms of South and Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.





S. KALYANARAMAN  Dr. S. Kalyanaraman is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

T. V. Paul (ed.), Accommodating Rising Powers: Past, Present, and Future, (New Delhi, Cambridge University Press, 2016), Pages: 336, Price: Rs. 595.00


AMBREEN AGHA: Dr. Ambreen Agha is a Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi

Tilak Devasher:  Pakistan: Courting The Abyss, (New Delhi, Harper Collins India, 2017), Price: Rs. 470.00, Pages: 472






Published in Volume 11, 2016



Vol 12, No. 2                        Apr-Jun 2017


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Developments in the Indo-Pacific Region

and Options for India


A panel discussion on ‘Developments in the Indo-Pacific Region and Options for India’ was held during the regular meeting of the Association of Indian Diplomats on 2 May, 2017, with Ambassador Sanjay Singh, President of the A.I.D. in the chair.

This 'debate' section of the journal is based on general remarks on the subject from the chair, specific presentation from Ambassador Rajiv Kumar Bhatia, one of the panellists as well as a substantive intervention from one member, namely, Ambassador Yogendra Kumar, - all updated before going to press.

To enrich the 'Debate', an article titled "India and Shifting Power Equations in the Indo-Pacific" by Prof. Chintamani Mahapatra, Rector, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Professor for American Studies, School for International Studies  is also included.

(The views expressed by the authors are their own, and do not reflect the views of the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, or that of the Association of Indian Diplomats) 



SANJAY SINGH: Ambassador Sanjay Singh is a former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, and, Former Ambassador of India to Iran.

Developments in the 'Indo - Pacific' region : The Viewpoint from India

India today seeks cooperation with other likeminded countries in shaping such a regional architecture. While it itself believes in democracy and the rule of law, India does not seek to interfere in the internal affairs of other states. Sitting atop the Indian Ocean with a modernising navy, India provides security for important SLOCs crisscrossing the ocean as well as protection from piracy and other non-traditional threats. India—which has a strategic partnership with ASEAN—accepts the centrality of ASEAN and its structures and processes in the evolving economic and political architecture of the region. Today, through active participation in ASEAN led fora (EAS, ARF, ADMM++, etc.), and in organisations such as IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) and IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium), India is making its own contribution to dealing with contemporary challenges and promoting cooperation in the region. As the second most populous country in the world, with a rapidly growing economy being true to its own principles, India is a force for stability and growth. India has made special efforts to reach out to the countries with interests in the region through its “Act East” policy, especially the USA, Japan, Australia, and ASEAN countries towards realising this objective as also to safeguard its own strategic space.

India hopes that China, in realising its ‘dream’, will not pursue an aggressive policy in Asia to back its territorial claims and other interests but practice moderation and restraint and ensure that its rise is peaceful. India is working towards a concert of Asia with major powers as cooperative and not competitive players. In this objective, the USA, Japan, and other major Asian states will be key partners.



RAJIV BHATIA: Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia is a former Ambassador of India to Myanmar and to Mexico, High Commissioner of India to South Africa and to Kenya.

East Asia: Changing Dynamics, Drivers and Options

The dispersion of power, marked by an asymmetrical multi-polarity, defines international relations today. It is moulded by a constantly changing interplay of factors pertaining to the domains of geopolitics and geo-economics. This explains why scholars and observers come up with divergent interpretations of what is happening in the global theatre, and why they are often constrained to revise or even change their evaluations and projections. This reading applies especially to the region of our focus, where perceptions prevalent in end-2016 need to be changed in mid-2017; and this could happen again after six months from now.

Thus, interpreting the meaning and implications of developments in the Indo-Pacific requires a combination of humility, tentativeness, and collective wisdom. A single expert, with a blindfold placed on his eyes, may be able to identify the tail or foot of the proverbial elephant, but not the entire elephant itself!



YOGENDRA KUMAR: Ambassador Yogendra Kumar is a former Ambassador of India to the Philippines. He was, earlier, on the Faculty of the National Defence College, New Delhi.

Policy Uncertainty Unlikely to Abate

India needs to continue its policy of deeper engagement in the maritime sphere, given its largely benign image and the commitment, as expressed in Prime Minister Modi’s SAGAR speech, to regional economic integration. The government’s flagship SAGARMALA programme involving the construction of ports and SEZs around them needs to be integrated into the India’s policy for the wider Indian Ocean region. Thus, the Indian Ocean region presents an opportunity for shaping this maritime order into an open, inclusive, and equitable one. This would also facilitate the tapping of the full potential of India’s own ‘Blue Economy’. The fostering of an Indian Ocean maritime order, which Prime Minister has envisaged as giving everyone a stake, would require the commensurate and timely development of maritime capabilities (including the Navy and Coast Guard) as well as regional organisations such as IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) and IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium). As the foregoing paragraphs show, the window of opportunity may not be open indefinitely. At the same time, India’s desire to play an extended regional role is getting support from its traditional friends in the USA, Japan, and elsewhere.

India needs to continue its regional relationship-building for ‘balancing’ China. This  involves greater investment in ASEAN as well as in the other East Asian mechanisms; it also depends on pushing through regional connectivity projects which can be the key to impacting the strategic landscape favourably. The Modi-Trump Joint Statement (27 June 2017) describes the two countries as “responsible stewards in the Indo-Pacific region… A close partnership (of the two) is central to peace and stability in the region…” This ‘balancing’ would be contributed through close naval and coast guard partnerships with the South China Sea littorals, as well as with the USA, as they give the Indian Navy access to the Chinese mainland abutting this sea. The Chinese navy’s power projection capabilities are still limited in the Indian Ocean, with the prevailing maritime order not being favourable to it.



CHINTAMANI MAHAPATRA: Prof. Chintamani Mahapatra is Rector, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Professor for American Studies, School for International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University,  New Delhi.

India and Shifting Power Equations in the Indo-Pacific

India is “Acting East” and India will be a key player in matters related to peace, security as well as development in the Indo-Pacific region. The changing balance of power in this region is reflected in dynamic interactions involving India, the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the ASEAN. No country clearly intends to contain China in the Cold War sense. Nevertheless, all countries have woken up to an emerging reality that shows that China’s “peaceful rise” is no longer peaceful. China has begun to throw its weight about in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, South Asia, and the Indian Ocean, and thus, not-so-quietly, new power configurations are emerging. The US is a relatively declining power. China is a fast rising Asian power.  Hence, new equations and deeper intra-regional cooperation are visible involving India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the ASEAN.






BHASWATI MUKHERJEE: Ambassador Bhaswati Mukherjee, is a former PermanentRepresentative to UNESCO, Paris; former Ambassador of India to the Netherlands

India and the UN: Reform and Role in a Globalised World

In its pursuit of international peace and security, India is fully aware that the strengthening of multilateralism through the United Nations represents the best hope in a troubled world, with new and emerging threats such as non state actors like the IS, and Islamic fundamentalism in general. These new threats must be combated multilaterally. The US has recently bombed IS hideouts in tunnels in Afghanistan. There is tension building up in North Korea which is making threats of a nuclear attack. In our immediate neighbourhood, tensions are growing with Pakistan which is threatening to execute an innocent Naval Officer, Kulbhushan Yadav, on charges of ‘spying’ in Baluchistan. The reality is that he was kidnapped in Iran by the ISI, and taken to Baluchistan. It is imperative that US President Trump understands the value of multilateralism pursued through the United Nations, and that the USA will continue to play an important role in strengthening international peace and security through the UN. His new Permanent Representative to the UN, Nick Hailey, who is of Indian origin, has recently made some positive comments in this context.

In a global context, foreign policy has come to be a mechanism by which a nation pursues its legitimate aspirations, based on its national security interests externally through bilateral and multilateral agendas. We live in challenging times where the World order is being re-shaped: on the one hand because of the decline of the West and the rise of emerging States, and on the other because of the threat posed by international terrorism and non-state actors and, more recently, the ISIS. This is compounded, in India’s case, by its hostile neighbourhood where, especially in the context of Pakistan, the issue has always been how to engage and how much space to engage. Should India continue to engage? The response is that it should engage to the extent possible, and should simultaneously continue to pursue our national interests multilaterally.

Much has been written about India’s abiding legacy to the UN. Swami Vivekananda had said: "India, for thousands of years, peacefully existed. Even earlier, when history had no records and tradition dares not peer into the gloom of that intense past, even from then until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live".

This message from India is more relevant than ever before in our quest to strengthen international peace and security through the United Nations.


NIRMALA JOSHI: Prof. Nirmala Joshi is a former Professor, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi.

India’s Engagement with the Central Asian Republics: An Appraisal

In India’s multifaceted engagement with the CARs, the bilateral context of each relationship are strong factors. As young democracies, one of the challenges faced by the CARs is the transnational challenges carried out by non-state actors. These challenges have a grave impact on their security and stability as nation states. The CARs are committed to building open, democratic, and secular societies, and each country is still in the transformational mode. This goal needs strengthening by providing them the requisite expertise and experience, if the CARs so wish. A sustained security dialogue will enable India to understand better, and possibly work out a common approach. Other areas of cooperation—such as economic, skills development, connectivity with Asian and African countries, and the diversification of their energy markets—are the key focus of CARs. In this endeavour, India could assist all the countries.

In view of the emerging complex geopolitics in this region there exists a wide area of shared perceptions on regional security and economic development. In order to be an effective actor on the Central Asian scene, it is crucial for India to connect with the region by surface transport. An opening in the southern direction to the Indian Ocean could be extremely beneficial for the CARs, and thereby provide them with a significant alternative to their landlocked status. In the long run, it could bring about a change in the geopolitics of the region, and widen the scope for peace and stability. At present, Iran is the best option for India to connect with the Central Asian region, and ties with it should be accorded the topmost priority. At the same time, ties with Russia will have to be nurtured. A vigorous policy on the part of India is the way forward to Central Asia.


NALIN SURIE: Ambassador Nalin Surie, is a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, a former Ambassador of India to China and to Poland and a former High Commissioner to the UK. He is presently the Director General of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), New Delhi.

China and the State of India - China Relations

China is now the second largest economy in the world and perhaps already the largest trading nation in the world. It has in place an ambitious and extensive defence modernisation programme coupled with an economic and technological modernisation programme that is intended to transport it into becoming the world’s leading power. The problem is that while China’s growth and ambitions are known, the manner in which it intends to use its new power remains problematic.

China has so far, been a status-quo power. It was fortunate to have inherited a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and used the Cold War in a skilful manner to convert its obvious weaknesses into strengths. It has intelligently used the processes of international economic inter-independence to develop its economy and obtain access to high-end dual use technologies without restriction almost till recent years.

It is also a fact that despite being the world’s largest democracy, India was denied access to high level technologies in the guise of dual use technology restrictions since 1974. However, a Communist totalitarian regime did not face any such barrier. The double irony is that China has depended enormously for its development on external support especially from the west and Japan. Yet, today it is these very countries which see China as their biggest threat if not competitor on the international arena.








DHRUV C. KATOCH: Major General Dhruv C Katoch is a former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, (CLAWS) and is presently Director, India Foundation and Editor, SALUTE Magazine

Lt Gen PK Singh, Maj Gen BK Sharma, Dr Roshan Khanijo (eds.), Strategic Year Book 2017, New Delhi, Vij Books India, June 2017, Pages: 215, Price: Rs 1495.00 (HB), Rs.750 (EBook)


VIVEK MISHRA: Dr. Vivek Mishra is an Assistant Professor, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata. Assistant Professor, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata.

Yogendra Kumar (Ed.): Wither Indian Ocean Maritime Order?, (New Delhi, KW Publishers, 2017) Pages 292, Price: Rs. 880.00


RAJESH RAJAGOPALAN: Prof. Rajesh Rajagopalan is Professor in International Politics, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Sten Rynning (Ed.), South Asia and the Great Powers: International Relations and Regional Security, (London, UK, I.B.Tauris Publishers, 2017) Pages: 320, Price: £59.00


M. MATHESWARAN: Air Marshall M. Matheshwaran (Retd) is a  Former Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff.

Ajey Lele, Fifty Years of the Outer Space Treaty: Tracing the Journey (New Delhi, 2017, Pentagon Press), Pages: 232 Price: Rs. 995








Vol 12, No. 3            Jul - Sep 2017


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V. S. SESHADRI: Till recently, Vice-Chairman, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi, Ambassador V. S. Seshadri is a former Ambassador India to Myanmar and to Slovenia.

India and the International Trade: Some Perspectives

This paper seeks to review India’s external trade since 2000-01. It highlights the positive features reflected in trade trends. It  also tries to flag certain areas of concern that may need to be addressed. It attempts to present an overall snapshot and some macro perspectives rather than getting into a detailed analysis product wise or market wise. The essay also dwells briefly on the current framework of rules governing international trade, particularly as they relate to India. 


DILIP SINHA: Ambassador Dilip Sinha is a former Ambassador / Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador to Greece and a former Special Secretary for International Organisations in the Ministry of External Affairs.

International Dispute Settlement Mechanisms and India-Pakistan Disputes

The primary purpose of law is to provide security. While national laws, or municipal laws as they are called, have evolved in content and sophistication to aspire to cover a wider gamut of human life such as social and economic development, international law has struggled to keep pace. Despite an explosion in laws regulating various aspects of international affairs, maintaining peace and security remains its primary and most challenging preoccupation. This paper deals with dispute settlement mechanisms and India-Pakistan disputes.


BHASWATI MUKHERJEE: Ambassador Bhaswati Mukherjee, is a former Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO, Paris and former Ambassador of India to the Netherlands.

A New Paradigm in India-EU Relations

Does India regard the EU as a significant actor or prefers the bilateral approach towards individual member countries? Is it a dialectical relationship? How do India’s relations with the USA impact India-EU relations? Jean Luc Racine makes a cynical assessment about the EU-India-US triangular relationship. He acknowledges: “Some will deride Europe as a ‘bawdy old lady’, known for over 400 years, but with ‘no excitement, no passion’ left. The romance is with America, even if it is ‘tough love’, because the US was more open to migrants and is more prone to change the world.”

What adds complexity to this task is that conceptually India, post 1947, is regarded as a ‘modern state’, with the attributes of sovereignty, territoriality, and raison d’état (justification of sovereignty).In contrast, the EU is considered to be a ‘post modern intra state entity’ which does not emphasise sovereignty, the separation of domestic and foreign affairs, and which, after Schengen, increasingly regards borders as irrelevant. It is generally considered that the EU as a ‘post modern actor’ does not base its foreign policy on the balance of power and zero sum logic. There is no doubt that its inability to develop and implement a coherent and strong Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has sent wrong signals to its strategic partners, including India.


GULBIN SULTANA: Ms. Gulbin Sultana is a Researcher at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi

India-Sri Lanka Relations - in the Context of India's 'Neighbourhood First' Policy 

In the final analysis, it can be argued that whatever approach India adopts towards Sri Lanka, it will be impossible to alter two realities: the increasing presence of China and the anti-India sentiment which is deep rooted in that country. It should be kept in mind that since the pre-independence period, the Sri Lankans perceive India as wanting to dominate it economically as well as strategically. This feeling has not died down completely over time. Politicians and business communities have exploited these feelings over the years to pursue their selfish interests. And, they will continue to do so in the future too.

Thus, India’s aim is to protect its interests despite Chinese presence on the Island, and to create an atmosphere of interdependence so that the domestic anti-India constituency becomes less effective. For this, India needs to use the tools of both soft and hard power simultaneously. India has exhibited its capability as far as hard power is concerned. There is a growing realisation in Sri Lanka that as far as security assistance at the time of emergency is concerned there can be no better option than India. India’s proximity positions it as a country on which Sri Lanka can rely for immediate assistance. Hence, while Sri Lankan nationalists often oppose Indian economic activities in Sri Lanka, no such opposition was observed in the Island against the security cooperation between the two countries. Unfortunately, India failed to exhibit that it can be a reliable economic partner.


SAMATHA MALLEMPATI: Dr. Samatha Mallempati is a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi.

Developments in Maldives: Implications for India- Maldives Relations

After the formation of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) government in Maldives in 2014 led by the current President Mr. Abdulla Yameen, many developments took place at the political, economic and foreign policy arena of Maldives. The government of Maldives has implemented various polices and embarked on actions having implications for nascent democratic development in the country.

At the political arena the opposition the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP), leader and former President of Maldives, Mr. Nasheed was arrested in 2015 on terrorism charges. The opposition parties formed an umbrella platform Maldives United Opposition (MUO) to mobilise public opinion. Maldives government tried to take control of the situation by passing various laws which targeted opposition members, curtailed freedom of expression and took control over the decision making bodies. Maldives also opted out of Commonwealth membership when asked to end the political crisis through negotiations.

In the economic arena there are allegations of large scale corruption against the government and the opposition alleging that increasing debt and freehand given to foreign powers to own the land in Maldives will lead to economic bankruptcy and presence of foreign powers in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which will be a threat to the security and stability of the region. The Foreign policy of the government is moulded to attract the large scale investments particularly from extra regional powers.

In this scenario, the article looks into internal developments, India’s response, possible implications for India’s security and challenges and opportunities that exist in bilateral relations and future scenario.






CHINTAMANI MAHAPATRA: Prof. Chintamani Mahapatra is Rector, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Professor for American Studies, School for International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University,  New Delhi.

Uday Mahurkar, Marching with a Billion: Analysing Narendra Modi's Govenment at Mid term (New Delhi, 2017, Penguin India),  Pages: 288, Price: 599.00


ERIC GONSALVES: Ambassador Eric Gonsalves is a Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and a Former Ambassador to Japan and to Belgium.

Shyam Saran, How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century, (New Delhi, Juggernaut Books, 2017), Pages: x + 312, Price: Rs 599.00


AMBREEN AGHA: Dr. Ambreen Agha is a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi.

Rajiv Dogra, Durand’s Curse: A Line Across the Pathan Heart, (New Delhi, Rupa Publications, 2017), Pages: 256, Price: Rs. 595.00


VIVEK MISHRA: Dr. Vivek Mishra is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Netaji Institute for Asian Studies (NIAS), Kolkata

Securing India: Vivekananda International Foundation Perspective - Issues and Trends, (New Delhi, Wisdom Tree, 2017), Pages: 202, Price: INR. 1,495.00


YOGENDRA KUMAR: Ambassador Yogendra Kumar is a former Ambassador of India to the Philippines. He was, earlier, on the Faculty of the National Defence College, New Delhi.

Gopal Suri, China`s Expanding Military Maritime Footprint in the Indian Ocean Region: India`s Response, (New Delhi, 2017, Pentagon Press), Pages: 120, Price: Rs. 349.00



Vol 12, No. 4              Oct - Dec 2017


Click Here to Download Full Issue




Situation in West Asia - Implications for India*


There is a pervasive sense of crisis across West Asia as the region is coping with sectarian and ethnic contentions. There are ongoing civil conflicts in Syria and Yemen, in which regional players are also actively involved. These battles have left hundreds of thousands dead and civic life devastated, but have not provided military victory to any party.

At the heart of these conflicts is the competition between the two regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, for regional influence. Their battle-lines have been largely shaped on sectarian basis, so that the divide between Shia and Sunni has become the hallmark of domestic and regional mobilisations on both sides.

The sectarian divide has also led to the rise of the trans-national Jihadi force, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that, for a little over two years, has set up a proto-state across the territories of the two Arab neighbours, and had obtained affiliates in other parts of Asia and North Africa. It has also inspired vicious “lone-wolf” attacks in West Asia, Europe, and the USA by adherents motivated by its alluring propaganda on social media. Now that ISIS’s “proto-state” has been decimated by organised military action in both Iraq and Syria, lone-wolf attacks are likely to become even more frequent and widespread.

The breakdown of state order in Iraq and Syria has also encouraged the Kurds in both countries to pursue their aspirations for the widest possible autonomy, if not full independence. This has not only alarmed the leaders of the two countries, but also regional powers like Turkey and Iran which have Kurdish minorities of their own, and fear discord from domestic assertions of similar aspirations.

Turkey has deployed its military forces in the border areas of both Iraq and Syria, even as the USA is backing the Kurds in Syria against the ISIS, but could also use its affiliation with the Kurds to set up its military presence in both countries.

Syria is experiencing a peace process, led by Russia and backed by Iran and Turkey, which seeks to bring together the largest possible groups in the Syrian conflict to discuss and agree on constitutional arrangements that will resolve ideological and military contentions, and prepare the ground for national reconstruction. However, divisions between most groups are so deep that consensus-building has been a daunting challenge.

The role of two players in regional contentions is particularly disruptive. In Saudi Arabia, in a departure from several decades of past political practice, all political, economic and military power is now in the hands of one young prince, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has promised wide-ranging reform at home while leading a regional Sunni “Islamic Military Alliance” against Iran. In this, he enjoys the full backing of the Trump administration, which shares the Prince's visceral animosity for Iran, even seeking to withdraw from the nuclear agreement that had been so painstakingly negotiated by major world powers during the Obama regime.

Support extended by President Trump has emboldened the Saudi Crown Prince to open a new front against fellow GCC member, Qatar, accusing it of seeking accommodation with Iran and backing Islamist groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar has been subjected to comprehensive economic and political sanctions since June 2017 to compel it to accept several humiliating conditions for the easing of the blockade, acceptance that would effectively deprive the small island nation of all its dignity and even compromise its sovereignty.

The Saudi game-plan has not worked so far: Qatar has remained firm in rejecting the onerous conditions sought to be imposed upon it; it has also obtained the backing of Turkey and Iran, which has re-shaped regional alliances and called into question the Saudi-led “Sunni” coalition against it.

There are no indications that any effort is being made by any country or group to promote engagement and confidence-building between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In fact, the divide between them is being exacerbated by abusive sectarian rhetoric and even suggestions that the USA and the Kingdom might be promoting regime-change by encouraging dissent among Iran’s disgruntled minorities.

In fact, Iranian leaders have seen evidence of this mischief in the agitations that took place in the country in end-December 2017. There are legitimate concerns that the sectarian divide, ongoing proxy competitions, animosity of the USA, and fears of domestic discord could, inadvertently or otherwise, lead to a direct conflict between the two regional powers, with regional and extra-regional allies having mobilised on both sides. Thus, the Saudi-Iran strategic confrontation could easily descend into a full-blown regional war.

This will have negative consequences for India’s interests and those of most Asian countries that have substantial energy and economic links with West Asia. India has the added concern relating to the safety and welfare of its eight-million citizens working in the region who remit to India about US$ 30 billion annually. The implications of a region-wide conflict will in fact be so horrendous that sitting on the fence and not being involved may be a difficult option.

Prime Minister Modi has accorded priority to India’s engagement with the principal West Asian countries during his visits to Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE and Qatar, and when ties have been refreshed, strategic partnerships have been affirmed.

There have been strong expressions from regional powers that India be involved actively in the promotion of stability and peace in the region.

What has been India's reaction to the developments, given the interests mentioned above? Should India involve itself diplomatically in West Asian contentions and, if it does, what should be the nature and content of the initiative?

[*IFAJ  is grateful to Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad, former Ambassador  of India to Saudi Arabia, to the U.A.E, and to Yemen, for assisting us in preparing this Debate Concept Note.]


The Indian Foreign Affairs Journal had invited the following six experts in the field to comment on the above, and offer their views. The above Debate Concept Note and their views has been published as the 'Debate'.

 (The views expressed by the authors are their own, and do not reflect the views of the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal, or that of the Association of Indian Diplomats)



TALMIZ AHMAD: Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad is a former Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia, to the U.A.E, and to Yemen.

An India-UAE Initiative to Address West Asia Security


RANJIT GUPTA: Ambassador Ranjit Gupta Former Ambassador of India to Yemen, to Venezuela, to Oman, to Thailand, to Spain, and was also the Head of the Indian Representation in Taiwan.

Current Geopolitical Scenario in West Asia: Implications for India


ADIL RASHEED: Dr. Adil Rasheed is  Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi

Shifting Diplomatic Gears in a Rapidly Unravelling West Asia


SAMEENA HAMEED: A former Assitanf Professor at the Indo-Arab Cultural Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, Dr. Sameena Hameed is Assistant Professor in the Gulf Studies Programme of the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal University, New Delhi.

The ‘Security Dilemma’ in West Asia: Implications and Options for India


ANIL TRIGUNAYAT: Ambassador Anil Trigunayat is a former Ambassador of India to  Jordan and to Libya and is a former High Commissioner of India to Malta.

India’s Choices in the Middle East Today


SUJATA ASHWARYA: Dr. Sujata Ashwarya is Assistant Professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Understanding Changes in West Asia: Implications for India






ASHOKE KUMAR MUKERJI: Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji, till recently Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, was earlier Special Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi and is a former  Ambassador of India to the Republic of Kazakhstan and a former Consul General of India in Dubai.

Role of the United Nations in the contemporary world. It is generally accepted that the United Nations Charter of 1945 gives the United Nations (UN) a role in global governance. The UN is tasked to maintain international peace and security to use international cooperation to address global socio-economic, cultural and humanitarian issues, and to uphold respect for human rights and non-discriminatory fundamental human freedom.  These are often referred to as the three pillars of the UN system.

How has the UN peformed this role? Preventing a third world war after 1945 has often been considered a success of the UN. On the other hand, by the end of 2016, more than 65 million people across the world have been displaced by war and violent conflict, the highest such figure since the end of the Second World War.  It is clear that keeping in view  the major transformations in the world over the past seven decades, the effectiveness of the role of the UN has varied, depending upon the resilience and responsiveness of its structures.


P. S. RAGHAVAN, Convener of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), till recently Ambassador of India to Russia; former Ambassador of India to the Czech Republic and to Ireland; Former Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi

The Making of India’s Foreign Policy: From Non-Alignment to Multi-Alignment.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in May 2014, he promised to pursue a robust, pro-active foreign policy that would leverage India’s strengths, create equities through our network of bilateral and multilateral engagements, and  promote India’s political, economic and security interests in the current global geopolitical flux.

 This paper reviews the main elements of  foreign policy, the challenges confronting it and the global geopolitical trends that have a major impact on it. It also looks at some factors that influence  foreign policy in democratic societies, and important considerations for formulating and analysing  foreign policy.





PRABHAKAR MENON: Former Ambassador of India to the Netherlands, Ireland, Senegal, (the then) GDR and Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN.

Claude Arpi, Tibet : The Last Months of a Free Nation: India Tibet Relations (1947-1962) Part I,  (New Delhi, 2017, VIJ Books), Pages: 468, Price:  Rs.1295 (HB); Rs.750 (PB); Rs.750 (EB)


ANUP SHEKHAR CHAKRABORTY: Dr. Anup Shekhar Chakraborty is an Assistant Professor for Political Science and Political Studies, at the Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata and Member, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (MCRG)

Darvesh Gopal & Dalbir Ahlawat (Eds.), India- Australia Relations: Evolving Poly-centric World Order, (New Delhi, 2017, Pentagon Press), Pages: 280, Price: Rs. 995 (HB)






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