Wednesday, May 27, 2015

India’s foreign policy in West Asia

Despite being a major player in the region, it is said that India’s foreign policy in West Asia lacks vision and is nearly moribund. Critically examine why.

India has a strong influence in the West Asia and North Africa due to various reasons like old civilizational ties with Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia; old sea trade routes; Khilafat Movement days; the Non Aligned Movement amd the Bollywood. Today the region holds immense importance for an aspirational India. There are about 7 million Indians working in these areas that are a source of huge remittances despite facing gruelling working conditions with little social security amd prospects of eviction due to domestication of jobs. Most of India's trade passes through Suez Canal and India depends upon oil (70%) from this region only. Paksitan enjoys cosniderable influence there as well due to Islamic nature.
Of late, India had recently lost much ground in these regions due to wide involvement of the West, specially after 9/11. India's stance has often vacillated on key issues as is evident from voting patterns in the UN. For example India abstained from voting on Libya and did not oppose when the West pushed for regime change. In Syria, India did not raise voice against IS Congress's decision to arm moderate Syriam rebels despite India's own bitter past with arming of Taliban. India voted against Iran on the nuke issue presumably under the US pressure, despite the engagements like Chabhar port and Delaram Highway.
The more turmoil that happens in a country, India seems to be less willing to engage it. The Palestine issue seems to be another area where India is facing problems due to increased trade in defense with Israel and silence is construed as endorsement of human rights violation. India's role seems to have been limited to evacuating its citizens form war torn areas.
The most glaring evidence is lack of diplomatic and high level visits.
Clearly, India needs to revamp the stance. The region is torn with ISIS, political turmoil, mutial bickering and Shia-Sunni sectarian divide. Any moves to directly engage ISIS will be detrimental to us. So we need to work on confidence builidng measures and starting diplomatic exchanges and cultural shows. Gulf Cooperation Council will be good place to start afresh and seek multilogues on concerned and shared issues. And it is quite sure that if India makes its voice heard, it will be recieved well in this region.

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