Q1. With Prime minister Modi’s new and aggressive outlook to foreign policy, what changes can we expect in terms of foreign investments, management and technology in the near future?
Clearly Prime Minister Modi rather unexpectedly for most observers, right from the beginning of his term has prioritized foreign policy and has a very energetic for pol, and in terms of both outreach our immediate neighbors in south Asia as well as countries all over the world, he has brought new energy into India’s presence in the world. Now some of the ideas he has implemented are not new, and have been mooted before by earlier governments but some are pushing new and old ideas both. Clearly what has happened in the last 1 year, is that once again there is tremendous interest in India which has faded in the last few years, prior to the new dispensation and this is reminiscent of the kind of interest India was generation a decade or more ago. Now how does this translate into our national interest? One aspect is that there has been a dramatic rise in both FII and FDI investment into the country. For example in the first half of 2015 more funding has happened in India than the entire year of 2014. If you look at FII, it is also running at a rate of almost 50% higher than the previous year. However, everything has not gone hunky dory. The discussions in Pakistan have not gone as well as we would have hoped.
Q2. What do you feel about the increasing use of e-diplomacy and technology in terms of maintaining foreign relations with neighboring countries: whether it increases connectivity or seems too impersonal?
Technology is an enabler not just in diplomacy but also it cuts across the spectrum yet it cannot entirely replace the human touch. Even today it is important to have conferences and symposiums where people meet face to face. But e-diplomacy has its place in a country which is starved of diplomats with a minute diplomatic core. Our diplomatic core is about 1/4th of China’s and around 1/8th of America’s. So, yes, e-diplomacy should be used.
Q3. How should India tackle the challenges of the regional organizations like SAARC ASEAN etc. with special reference to trade, maritime cooperation and connectivity with South East Asian countries in particular?
A wise man once stated that India’s best foreign policy is having double digit economic growth, a case in point being china which grew into a large and substantial player in the south Asian context with no small thanks to its commendable economic growth. The need of the hour in India is to create jobs and improve economically as well as allowing neighboring countries to hitch their wagons to India, which would help them develop economically too.
Recently ASEAN has become more willing to work with India given the fact that it is now emerging as one of the fastest growing economies. However if we look at SAARC it has become moribund because of politics but we are working to change that.
One crucial aspect of cooperation with neighboring countries is the principal of reciprocity, which was what India was following earlier. However because India is a larger economy than most of the surrounding countries this principal looks quite stingy. Thus India should look to give more than it receives which will prove more lucrative in the long run.
Ties with Bangladesh Nepal and Sri Lanka have improved a great deal. However Pakistan remains a stubborn problem because of the Kashmir and border issues.
Therefore we should seek to have ties with all countries and work toward economic integration ideally with Pakistan as well otherwise we can take things slow with Pakistan and keep up the good work with our other neighbors .
Q4. What can we expect from the new BBIN corridor in terms of ties with the countries involved?
The BBIN corridor seems to be a fantastic idea and it should be pushed as hard as possible, reconnecting with the countries in question in terms of roadways highways and electrical grids is combining the best of what all these countries have to offer for the betterment of all the people, meeting all their energy needs.it is also great that other such corridors are also being planned especially in the disputed areas of Kashmir as well. We should support infrastructural collaborations and projects with our neighbors as well as understand the certain security risks that it poses and take appropriate steps towards tackling those too.
Q5. The novelty of the BRICS development and what will it mean for the countries involved given that it has prided itself on being independent of the West?
It is a bit of a stretch to call it entirely independent of the west, however it is a commendable initiative of countries that are in a similar phase of growth and which are the economic engines of the world.it is also imperative to understand that these countries are very diverse culturally and should make allowances for these differences while celebrating the similarities
Q6. In reference to Yoga Day do you feel that India’s policies towards soft diplomacy are adequate and whether it has any future in competing with rich cultural powers like US, CHINA etc?
India has enormous potential when it comes to soft power. As we can see Bollywood has spread far and wide and has a large fan following among many countries. I thoroughly support the concept and execution of yoga day, which has become a global phenomenon. We should celebrate the aspect of ours, which is celebrated worldwide. Being the original multicultural country India has celebrated its diversity and forged unity. We could look to expand to areas like education as well, I think it’s a great idea.