Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The recent publication of Chinese defense papers clear the air on a variety of issues, including the direction the Chinese military is planning to take. It sets out a broad framework within which expansion will take place, with a few defined focus areas. These areas are forays into high seas and overseas interests-including energy security.
A case for an Indian white paper on foreign policy may be built as follows:
1. A white paper lays down an integrated approach to foreign policy, with all variables being put in the balance. It can serve as a document which translates into actions. A foreign policy will define actions, and not actions foreign policy.
2. A piecemeal approach to foreign policy may be avoided. Rather than shaping the very basics of a particular policy over years in joint communiques and conferences (as happened with Look East Policy, now Act East policy after it remained stale for long); it is desirable to put in place a comprehensive plan.
3. A white paper also assure predictability and continuity in foreign policy. In the international arena, it is important to be consistent. The recent breakdown of talks with Pakistan over Hurriyat leaders is an example of break in foreign policy. (Or include Indian vote on Sri Lanka in UNHRC)
4. A white paper will help cover all aspects which have hitherto been on the backburner or neglected: for example, India's policy on the middle east. Rather than ad-hocism, a well thought out approach is required.
5. Lastly, a white paper will assimilate the tenets of Indian foreign policy at one place, listing down its successes and failures-or reasons for its shift, as also future strategies.
With the Indian phenomenon growing larger on the international scene, it is important that India is seen as a country with a broad plan on how to deal with emerging geopolitics in the future, rather than a nation that decides foreign policy at whim.

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