India and the world
India's troubles in South Asia
India need to reorient her foreign policy and economic diplomacy to secure its strategic interests.Rising India can sustain her global profile only when it scores successes in South Asia.South Asia is emerging as a diplomatic battleground between India and China. only a peaceful, democratic and developed South Asia serves India's regional and global interests. To achieve her foreign policy objectives, India needs fresh thinking and imaginative diplomacy.
Some important facts about India and South Asia help to guide us.
- South Asia has one-sixth of world's Population, but it is also the home of one-third of the global poor.
- South Asia is the least integrated region in the world. The trade, investment and financial flows among the south Asian countries is far less among themselves in comparison to similar linkages with outside word.
- There are four Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in South Asia-Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. These countries have low per capita GDP. poor and non-diversified economic base and lack capabilities to face economic and natural vulnerabilities.
- South Asia also suffers from political instability, intra-state and inter-state conflicts of complex nature. Democratic institutions have weak roots. All most all conflicts have direct or indirect linkages with India.
- India is the largest country in the region with 76 percent population and 73 percent land area of the region.
- India has scored impressive economic growth during last twenty years and has emerged as global player. Its economic diplomacy under the banner of Look East Policy has succeeded in East Asia, but its policies have not scored desired success in South Asia. the regions are not difficult to locate. Perception of India as a regional bully or big brother, external interference, historical factors are some of the fundamental reason for this failure.
- The rising India needs to consolidate her position in South Asia.
In the light of these bold facts India has to pursue a new course in South Asia. A proactive Economic diplomacy working in close coordination with public diplomacy can produce the desired results. The economic logic has become so strong in the age of globalization that it can overcome the political and strategic hurdles. India , through her newly sharpened tools of economic diplomacy like trade concessions, private and public investment and development aid and concessional credit lines can earn the place of a genuine partner in the development of South Asia. India- Sri Lanka Free trade Agreement signed in 1998 has led to three fold increase in the trade between the two countries. India is also playing important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. She has also offered concessional terms of trade and generous development aid to the four LDCs of South Asia. However, more needs to done.The bottom line of any Indian economic diplomacy in South Asia is that it should avoid the expectation from reciprocity from her neighbours. It has to convince that it is the genuine partner in the peace and development of South Asia. The region would automatically serve India's strategic interests.