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Vol 12, No. 1                Jan-Mar 2017




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

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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




'Indo - Pacific' Region and Options for India

(Tentative working Title)

(The 'Debate' is based on a panel discussion, on the above subject, held during the regular monthly meeting of the Association of Indian Diplomats, on 2 May 2017. The Chair and the three main panellists are the contributors to this "Debate")


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


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.


BIREN NANDA: Ambassador Biren Nanda is a former High Commissioner of India to Australia; Ambassador to Indonesia (and Ambassador / Permanent Representative to the ASEAN)


ASHOK KANTHA: Ambassador Ashok Kumar Kantha is a former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, a former Ambassador of India to China and a former High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka; and to Malaysia.






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: An Insight - and -  the State of India - China Bilateral Relations


(This article is an updated and revised version of a talk by the author, delivered at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati on April 17, 2017,  under the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, and is published under arrangement with them, and with their permission.)


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.

Indian Engagement with Central Asia : The Regional Context

(Tentative Working Title)

Whether in the past or in the present the Central Asian Republics ( CARs ) hold immense geopolitical / strategic significance for India. After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 a fundamental shift occurred in international politics; a shift from Europe to Asia particularly to vast Eurasian landmass. In the process Halford Mackinder’s theory of geopolitics ; the heartlands of Eurasia and ‘ pivot of history ‘ regained a heightened prominence in international politics. Central Asia’s geopolitical location in the centre of Eurasia and its abundant wealth of natural resources has been attracting world attention. The Russian Federation, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States of America  have established their presence in the region and are jockeying to expand their influence and build leverages.

The competition for Central Asia has taken the form of respective regional groupings vying to expand their operational activities and possibly control the region. These are the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union led by Russia, the ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt is a Chinese initiative, while the New Silk Road Strategy project has the backing of the U S .In view of the above the space for Indian engagement appears limited. It should however, be noted that these regional initiatives have global ramifications -  attainment of a global power status. 

The article would explore areas for India to build durable partnership. .It would focus on the region; local aspirations in capacity building in the security sphere and skill development in areas of economic development, infrastructure activities especially in the provinces which will facilitate Indian access to the region,  strengthening  political cooperation and the rich legacy of historical ties and cultural contacts.


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

India and the United Nations, its reforms and its role in a globalized world

(This article is an updated and revised version of a talk by the author, delivered at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Goa on March 17, 2017, under the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, and is published under arrangement with them, and with their permission.)






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


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: .... Price: Rs. 995


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