IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Gaps in the casting of India’s foreign policy  

15th August, 2020 Editorial


  • Chinese soldiers squatting on India’s side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), cartographic aggression by little Nepal, Iran joining a virtual alliance with China, Russia getting close to China, Pakistan shooting across the Line of Control (LoC), a looming financial crisis and other challenges, fundamental questions are being asked about the strategic depth of our foreign policy.


Dealing with China

  • With all the investments made by the Prime Minister and our large galaxy of China experts, we had no inkling of the Chinese perfidy as we had romanticised the ‘Wuhan Spirit’ and the ‘Chennai Connect’ in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu.
  • The Prime Minister who alone knew what transpired at these informal summits, said nothing, but his body language and enthusiasm lulled us into thinking that these leaders would never fight a war.
  • It came as a complete surprise that the Chinese amassed troops on the LAC and the Prime Minister characterised the Chinese action as expansionist.
  • Even before the promised disengagement has taken place, we have concluded that China lost the battle, which it had begun after careful planning and preparations. We have declared victory in a battle that has not ended.


Russian ties

  • We were surprised in 1962 that the erstwhile Soviet Union refused to intervene in the India-China conflict on the plea that “one was a brother and the other was a friend”.
  • We now know that the rose-tinted glasses of reliability through which the general public sees Russia are unreal.
  • A President of India had remarked that Russia is an exception to the rule that there are no permanent friends.
  • Russia’s quasi-alliance with China is a reality, while our perception of Russia has the veil of a fairy tale.
  • Our close defence relationship, with 60% of our arms supply coming from Russia is explicable, but not sustainable.
  • A ministerial meeting of India, China and Russia a week after the loss of 20 Indian soldiers at the LAC was intriguing to say the least.


UNSC high table and NSG

  • The most celebrated fairy tale is the impression created that the UN Security Council will be expanded soon and that India will be a permanent member.
  • The impression is widespread even in informed circles because of the occasional optimistic reports emanating from New York.
  • The vast majority of the members of the UN would want to abolish the veto rather than give it to more countries.
  • To maintain the myth that India is likely to get a place on the high table with veto power is to keep an illusion alive.
  • A former Foreign Secretary has recently clarified that there was no offer of a permanent seat to India during the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, hopefully ending the speculation on that score.
  • India joining the Nuclear Supply Group (NSG) is like Russia joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) because the NSG was set up originally to deny India any nuclear material following India’s nuclear tests in 1974.
  • Every member of the NSG is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapon Treaty and the best it could do was to give us an unconditional waiver, which we already have.


The civil liability law

  • We hear about six American nuclear reactors being set up in Andhra Pradesh every time there is a discussion on bilateral relations.
  • Here again, the presumption is that the hurdle of our Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, placing the responsibility of any damages being on the supplier, will wither away.
  • Many formulae are being suggested, but a senior nuclear scientist admitted a couple of years ago that the United States was using the Liability Law as a smokescreen not to transfer nuclear technology to India.
  • The Clinton White House was of the view that India could use the India-U.S. Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation for acquiring technology and material from other countries, and the U.S. should refrain from strengthening India’s nuclear capability.