India has stood as an independent democratic state since the formation of the first government in 1947. According to its Constitution, the populous nation prides itself as a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic” (Congressional Research Service 2022). In recent times, the country has been able to develop close strategic relations with other major powers on the international front, such as the US. The new ties are on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty of each nation which means no aggression to one another and ensuring the union provides mutual benefits. Beyond the formation of new relations, there is a need to explore the internal systems and statistics that create opportunities and challenges for the bonds to happen. The paper focuses on the nation’s domestic perspective from within, its standing with the international community, and how these elements join together to fulfill a viable foreign policy.
The Domestic Context Affecting International Relations
The purpose of domestic policy is to deal with the administrative issues that directly impact activities within the country. Foreign policy refers to government activity that furthers the nation’s politics beyond its borders. Foreign policy does not occur in a vacuum unaffected by domestic policy, with this statement being truer in India than in other regions. Many factors in India would affect their foreign policy stance on various issues beyond their borders. The factors include the nation’s geography, culture, the people’s goals, requirements, challenges in the region, and their position on the world stage.
The geography of India today includes an emigration challenge, porous borders between Pakistan and Bangladesh, and constantly arising boundary disputes. With the population at 1.39 billion as of 2021, more people continue to opt to leave the country, resulting in net migration of -2,663,434 as of 2017 (World Bank 2021). The government seems to have no way of dealing with it, and they must intercede with fiscal policies and digital interventions that improve the welfare of the people. The continued emigration means a reduced market for foreign investment to target, and less consumer purchasing power derails the economy’s growth. Most of the country’s neighbors have a more profound history of engaging in terrorism, piracy, human rights violations, and drug abuse (Gohel 2020). The porous borders defy the outcome that future success for India offers security and stability without more border policing (Gohel 2020). Furthermore, China’s encroachment on its Himalayan border has resulted in the first India-China altercation.
The culture of India has been built over centuries which makes for a difficult compromise when there is a need for change. After independence, the nation had a foreign policy manifested by acts of non-violence championed by Mahatma Gandhi in times when sentiments of anti-racism and anti-colonialism allowed the nation to stand out. However, this stand meant that India was projecting their values and diverse culture developed through compromise on the international stage. In turn, other superior nations used this attribute to manipulate the nation, which saw itself as a model soft power but failed to live up to the potential due to weak leadership (Jaishankar 2022). Under Prime Minister Modi, the country has a different foreign policy (Kaura and Rani 2020). Strategic partnerships have become more commonplace for a nation aiming to overcome sentimentalism with national prosperity and security.
Needs and Goals
As the needs and goals of the people take center stage, India may require to re-invent itself. The nation acknowledges its size, history, capability, strategic location on the continent, and ability to deliver most domestic compulsions. As such, the support for local businesses on the sub-continent, except for China, to supply goods is widespread. Trading agreements with all neighbors guarantee bilateral trading, except with Pakistan (Dhiman and Kaur 2017). With the BJP party creating the perception of a Hindu nationalist government, change to grow could be afoot. It is the only way to convince all nations on the sub-continent. Beyond the sub-continent, India’s trajectory is that the country remains poised to become the fifth largest economy by 2025 from the $3.17 trillion GDP and 8.9% annual growth of 2021 (World Bank 2021). As a plus, the country remains a hub for security, success, and stability in an affluent region. In fact, despite strained India-China relations, the two nations compete for international dominance as trade between the two countries offers a significant economic boost on both sides (PTI 2022). India offers the raw materials for China’s manufacturing capabilities which results in the sale of finished goods to the vast market in India at affordable prices.
India’s leadership is successfully forging a path toward former glory in a world that continues to become more interconnected and less ideological. In the past, the nation suffered unsatisfactory results working with multilateral bodies such as the UN when aiming to resolve the Kashmir issue. Instead of shying away, the country is more pragmatic as coalitions formed are issue-based, with democracy a relevant decider in whether to grow relations. For instance, distraught India-China relations and growing Pakistan-China ties have made India seek international support (Kaura and Rani 2020). Today, the nation can boast of selective association with the US, Japan, Australia, and ASEAN as it grows its markets and sources of technology and capital sources.
International Relations Theories
International relations theories rely on the fact that a country primarily acts on behalf of its interests. Personal interests may include influence over other nations, economic success, military strength, and self-preservation. When interests align, states may collaborate, and if they oppose one another, successful or unsuccessful negotiations could happen. Many theories support international relations, but the most suitable for India is liberalism. It assumes more interdependence among nations on the international stage, reducing the need to wage war by fostering negotiations. The lack of naivete in this theory is the acknowledgment that the world is not the safest place.
Nevertheless, there is recognition that with more globalization, there is more to lose should nations decide to solve conflict with war if it happens (Amadi 2020). The current theory in India features a strong-willed prime minister enthusiastic about collaborating with nations like the US that have had a tumultuous relationship with India. The maturity of this theory is that despite past differences, the nations agree to collaborate on issues that would yield mutual benefits.
There are domestic and internal situations that, linked to the foreign policy in India, can further their ambitions. India’s foreign policy action and formulation are courtesy of a few actors in government. Civil societies offer much-needed watchdog services domestically, thus keeping the government accountable in its quest for foreign policies with broader benefits (Ingram 2022). Accountability in the face of persistent corruption continues to rock the Asia Pacific region, which includes India. In the past decade, it is possible to point out that there is a struggle in India against the tide of corruption as the country got ranked eighty-fifth out of one hundred and eighty nations. The CPI score of 40 out of 100 in 2020 compared to 36 out of 100 in 2012 shows an improvement (Transparency International 2021). It is a sign that Prime Minister Modi’s regime continues to try and do better under the watch of other stakeholders.
The economy of India is a mixed economy that features co-existence between the public and private sectors. It is a traditional economy with people free to engage in business and other professions they qualify for, thus making it a less bureaucratic process for foreign companies. With the privatization of many state-owned ventures, the nation continues to open the door to opportunities such as foreign investment. India has the advantage of a lower cost of living despite an average GDP per capita of $2,277.4 in a country with a low cost of living, and things are affordable to the general public (World Bank 2021). With a lower cost of living comes an advantageous wage difference in favor of international technology businesses that set up information hubs in India. The result is challenges such as continued outsourcing leading to job losses which could be as high as the 6% unemployment rate estimated by the World Bank (2021). Nevertheless, there is a larger middle-class population in India, which guarantees foreign direct investments (FDI). With FDI net inflows rising from 1.8% in 2019 to 2.4% as of 2020, the benefit of more consumer spending is a realization foreign companies continue to make.
Elections and State Capacity
Foreign policy involves compromise based on the leadership’s vision, and how local elections go determines whose vision comes into power. For instance, the re-election of Prime Minister Modi by a resounding margin was evidence of people trusting his foreign policy (Tamvada 2019). The economic development connection with foreign policy is in the nation’s interests abroad. With India aiming for stability, security, and prosperity, partnerships with far-away nations like the US are vital since they guarantee opportunities against hostile relations with some of its neighbors (Chung 2020; Tuli 2022). The state’s capacity to recognize its domestic production potential affords India a chance to employ a foreign policy that helps them negotiate successfully in international markets.
The creation of foreign policy rests within the confines of institutional frameworks. The political institution has become broader as it entails constitutional rules plus formal and informal regulations which govern political and social lives inside and beyond the state (Morin and Paquin 2018). It is an incorporation that would explain that, despite a leader’s vision for a specific foreign policy, the execution has to be within a particular framework. For India, it represents a need to evolve sustainably from traditional institutions into a modern system that supports upcoming trends of unpredictability and uncertainty (Menon 2022). Institutions provide context for longevity, allowing gradual assimilation of new ideas, which could be too slow in some cases. For instance, law enforcement bodies represent the intention to keep law and order. Unfortunately, the challenge of a large population makes it difficult to trust the security offered by a weak police-to-population ratio. Some efforts are to alleviate this, such as the continued strengthening of different departments (Samarth Pathak 2022). However, the weak police-to-population ratio aforementioned could be a dissuading factor for foreign organizations willing to invest due to the lack of a guarantee of safety and security.
Perspective: An Individual, State, and System Analysis
The key to any foreign policy is the gains meant to come to the state through national strategies. The analysis from the state’s perspective is more secure borders against volatile neighbors, countering potential terrorist activity, security, and regional stability. These advantages yield systemic benefits that aim to sustain the employed foreign policy growth trajectory. It may include institutional reforms that cope with foreign investment, corruption, and political diplomacy, among other ventures. From an individual perspective, foreign policy does not deliver if the benefits do not trickle down to the domestic and Diaspora populace (Spohr and Silva 2017). Protecting people’s interests and engaging them to derive the maximum benefits of the policy aligns with individual needs to fulfill the promise of long-lasting success.
The world has become more dynamic, and India’s foreign policy demands flexibility and pragmatism to respond effectively. The domestic context of the country includes a populous nation with representatives at different levels of government. Above the structure lies the leadership of Prime Minister Modi domestically, where his majority party, the BJP, shows the people’s faith in his vision. Through self-analysis of India’s geography, culture, needs, and world position, he has gradually changed India’s course. Despite discourse with some nations, the foreign policy employed manages to become an issue-based collaboration that favors the state, individuals, and the system. Liberalism represents the best international relations theory that aligns with the nation’s culture and goals for prosperity, security, and stability.
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