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Editorial Today – Foreign Policy: Losing the neighbourhood

Issue It is about some decisions, which should have been avoided while pursuing foreign policy.

Nepal India’s unpopularity in Nepal had increased in the recent past.

Sri Lanka Sri Lankan Prime Minister had cleared that Sri Lanka is neither pro-India nor pro-China.

Maldives India is accused of interfering with the internal matter of Maldives.

Myanmar Indian media had glorified Indian Army’s operation in Myanmar

Conclusion

 

Issue

  • It is about some decisions, which should have been avoided while pursuing foreign policy with its neighbour in recent past according to some experts.
  • India gives high priorities to its neighbour in its foreign policy but even after that most of its neighbour accuses it of having big brother attitude. But generally they didn’t complain about it openly. India’s unfriendly relation with Pakistan is not unsurprising but what has provoked other countries to suddenly come out openly against India needs to be analysed.

 

Nepal

  • India’s unpopularity in Nepal had increased in the recent past.
  • Nepal accuses India of interfering in the domestic affairs, either citing security implications or to offset the country’s unfriendly strategic choices. For example, take the instance of constitution making in Nepal.
  • The Madhesis were not happy with the certain provisions of the constitution and thus protested against it. This led to blockade along the Indo Nepal border. As a result there was shortage of goods in Nepal. It affected the common people mainly.
  • As India had expressed its displeasure with Nepal’s sovereign act of Constitution-drafting which resulted from the legitimate feeling of unhappiness among the people of Terai, especially the Madhesis and Tharus, living close to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; people in Nepal thought that India abetted the Madhesi blockade of essential supplies to Nepal. This caused resentment among people of Nepal against India.
  • Thus in response to the blockade, Nepal complained to the United Nations, prompting its Secretary-General to highlight “Nepal’s right of free transit, as a landlocked nation as well as for humanitarian reasons”.
  • Also the joint statement issued by the EU-India Summit, in March 2016, on “the need for a lasting and inclusive constitutional settlement in Nepal that will address the remaining constitutional issues in a time-bound manner, and promote political stability and economic growth” also irked Nepal, which reacted by saying: “The Government of Nepal calls on all to fully respect the sovereign and democratic rights of the people of Nepal and refrain from making uncalled for statements. The Government and people of Nepal are fully capable of resolving their issues themselves within the framework of the constitution.
  • These issues led Nepal to have an agreement with china securing transit route through China, which seeks to bypass its geographical dependence on India for ports to trade with the world.
  • Government of Nepal believe that India wants to topple the present government in Nepal. It led to calling back its ambassador from India and cancel President of Nepal visit to India further straining ties between the two neighbours
  • Moreover Nepal was not happy with the way the Indian media conducted itself in the wake of the great earthquake. It hurt their pride.

 

Sri Lanka

  • According to experts India had interfered in Sri Lanka’s 2015 election by pro actively promoting coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena to defeat the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose anti-Tamil record and pro-China tilt was resented by India; which was a very bad precedent.
  • Though involving ourselves in regime changes in the neighbourhood is a terrible idea in the longer run, but India has not achieved anything even after regime change.
  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister had cleared that Sri Lanka is neither pro-India nor pro-China. Moreover the new government is actively engaging itself with china for economic and infrastructural assistance because it cannot be adequately provided by India.
  • Experts suggested that by intervening in Sri Lanka’s domestic politics decades ago, first by propping up the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and then by sending military forces to ‘keep peace’ there, we ended up creating bigger problems for ourselves. We should learn our lesson from this history and stay away from interfering in the messy domestic politics of our neighbours.

 

Maldives

  • India is accused of interfering with the internal matter of Maldives. Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed is considered as pro-indian. Thus India was highly critical of how the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was jailed by the current regime.
  • The Maldivian government responded by saying it hoped that India would “adhere to the principle of Panchsheel and will not intervene in domestic politics of Maldives”.
  • It also led Maldives to strengthened its engagement with China, which has gladly been offering economic and infrastructural assistance to Male.

 

Myanmar

  • Indian media had glorified Indian Army’s operation in Myanmar which Myanmar believed that the media coverage’s showed them in bad light. It led them to say that every country must respect the other country’s sovereignty.

 

Conclusion

  • The argument here is not that India has absolutely no stake in what happens in Nepal, Sri Lanka or Maldives. Indeed, the domestic politics and foreign relations of its neighbours do, and should, concern India. But any decision taken in this regard should show India behaving as a big brother to its neighbour and thus the policy should be properly formed with much deliberation.
  • This has become more important as India’s neighbour try to play china card more often. Though it is not possible to match china in economical and infrastructural assistance to neighbours, atleast we shouldn’t alienate them.
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