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South Asia

India Needs a Review of its Foreign Policy Options against China



The situation on border is still tense and India requires a serious review of its foreign policy against China which has been consistently negating the traditional positions of the two states on borders. After the Galwan episode China dares again in Sikkim at Naku la but to face a bitter pushback. On January 21, 2021 the incident took place at Naku La (a pass in the northern Sikkim). Sikkim is a small state located between Nepal and Butan   that merged with India in 1975 after a decisive referendum. The development took almost three decades for China to pass recognition in the year 2003. India and China share a long 3488 kilometers long border and Sikkim lies about 2500 kilometers (1500 miles) to the east of Ladakh. The border at Sikkim has witnessed a huge defence built up and military training exercises over the last few years, especially in the aftermath of Dokhlam crisis of 2017.

The Ambiguous Borders

The border between the two states is not fully demarcated and the process of clarifying and confirming the Line of Actual Control is in progress but to evade a conclusive agreement. McMohan line (850 kms. or 550 miles) drawn by British in 1914 at Simla determines the borders in the east. The dispute in the western zone of Ladakh Aksai Chin and Galwan and Pangong Tso owes to the failure of the British empire to demarcate a clear border line between the empire and China. In the pre-independence era two border lines were proposed known as ‘Johnson Line’ and ‘Macartney -McDonald Line’. The Johnson line (proposed in 1865) shows Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir i.e. under India’s control whereas Macartney-McDonald Line (proposed in 1893) places it under China’s control. While British initially remained silent over the former but in the light establishment of a Soviet Garrison near Sinkiang, as part of the larger game plan against the Soviet communists, they decided to officially follow the Johnson line that placed the huge land chunk of Aksaichin with India. However, the British failure to draw an agreed upon line with China passed a disputed legacy to India in 1947. And as Steven A. Hoffman remarks this ‘British ambiguity’ about Indian frontiers with China, paved the way for this post-colonial dispute. Since China followed a distinct policy over Tibet denying it an independent existence it unilaterally tried to impose the solution with Tibet and India which have resulted in intermittent conflicts between the two states.

The Chinese position on Tibet has turned more critical as US President Donald Trump has signed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 (The Hindu). This gives United States’ Tibet policy a ground from where the US can clamor for its long commitment to support the cause of Tibet and the Tibetan government in exile (Central Tibetan Administration, CTA). The Act will now make it the official policy of the US Government to derail any Chinese proposition of interfering in the religious life of the Tibetans especially, the selection of the new Dalai Lama. It also supports the cause of Central Tibetan Associations government-in-Exile at Dharamshala, India. If the US can be so decisive about its Tibet policy why can’t India. India too has to review and reformulate its Tibet policy in view of the recent Chinese misdemeanors around the borders.

Modi’s Foreign Policy & the Indo-Pacific

After the latest border standoff Modi’s foreign policy has scored significantly as states like the US, France, Japan, Australia have turned pro-Indian against China. At the subcontinental level, however, it has faced the brunt of smaller states like Nepal, Maldives and Srilanka who have been under Chinese influence due to its ‘debt trap diplomacy’. India has to realize this realistically how China is undermining its position in the subcontinent. Its relations with Maldives, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Burma, and the Indian Ocean island states are currently satisfactory. The Chinese concern in South Asia is governed by its $62 billion dream project of CPEC that links Xinxiang province with Gwadar port. It runs through Karakoram area of Pak Occupied Kashmir, an officially claimed territory by India. In 2018 India even turned down the Chinese proposal of changing the name of the project as per Indian wishes. In the wake of the troubled waters in South China Sea and strained ties with Taiwan, South East Asian states and Hong Kong disorder CPEC provides a safe route for China to connect with South Asia, Middle East and Africa. Modi government has counterbalanced the Chinese overtures by following a more assertive approach in foreign affairs especially in the ‘Indo-pacific’ where it transforms the ‘look east policy’ into ‘act east policy’, secures a deal to build Sabang Port of Indonesia near Malacca strait, enters into oil exploration in South China sea with Vietnam and secures an understanding on strategically important Cocos island with Australia. He is the biggest challenge to China’s ambitious BRI project since the road to Indian supremacy in the continent runs through its veins (Thakur 2019).

The Alternatives

The current BJP government has effectively checked the ‘strategic maneuvers’ of economically expanding and territorially asserting China at Doklam in 2017, Nakula in May 2020, at Galwan on June 15, 2020 and now again at Nakula on January 21, 2021. Since China has not dropped its ‘inching forward policy’ against its neighbors India needs to give a serious rethinking to its China policy. While China lays claim to Galwan and consider Arunachal as part of South Tibet India has to reexamine its policy of appeasement as has been charged by many. The policy of derecognizing of Tibet as part of China and claiming territories to the north of Aksaichin under Johnson line, officially followed by British in 1942, should be on the cards.

India has been following the ‘One-China policy’ (a policy that believes that there is only one sovereign state under the name China, as against the view that there are two states, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) also called Taiwan) since 2003 when China also recognized Indian integration of Sikkim. The recent US Act over Tibet and Indo-US strategic partnership troubles China and China has counseled India to stick to the ‘One China policy’ and refrain from entering into any agreement with Taiwan. Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of China calls the Tibetan Government in Exile based in India at Dharamshala “a separatist political organization”, working towards Tibetan freedom, a gross violation of Chinese constitution. China also expects India to dissociate itself from any collaboration with Taiwan government. In the meantime, the meeting between Lobsang Sangay of CTA and the US diplomat Robert A Destro also worries China that takes it as a step against the US commitment of not supporting the cause of Tibetan independence and TGiE (Tibetan Government in Exile). Since China doesn’t honour the Mac Mohan line and the western borders India’s sticking to the principle of ‘one China policy’ that considers Taiwan as part of PRC appears off the mark and deserves a withdrawal. Sympathy with the citizens of Hong Kong and Nepal over occupation of its territories by China (Rui village and 11 more strategic points) should be vocal and India should attempt at building a joint surveillance and monitory system over the borders of these smaller neighbors as a means of collective deterrence.

Although India and China are officially committed to the One-China, One-India policy, the latter has never kept the words thorough its border prickings. Today, when India is troubled by the question of Kashmir China has more sores at its end in the shape of South China Sea, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, issues with Japan and South Korea and Southern Magnolia. It provides significant leverage to Indian foreign policy school to probe for the ‘appropriate policy exchanges’ to undermine the Chinese position on its borders and South Asia. Alas! The policy of placation doesn’t give way to the counsel of Kautilya and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, who had advised Prime Minister Nehru to be aware from the Chinese expansionism and stand for Tibetan security to develop a buffer between the two states. India has emerged strongly out of the pandemic and its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ (free supply of vaccine to all the neighbors except Pakistan) would surely strengthen its ties with them. China has been critical of this benevolence but despite of Chinese propagation against the vaccine about 92 countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Cambodia and Bolivia, have approached India for commercial supply of vaccines (News18). The foreign policy decisions on QUAD, Indo-Pacific, One China Policy, Tibet and South China Sea are primary keeping in view the new NAM policy which is fraught with dangers .


  • News 18. January 26, 2021. “Covid Diplomacy: How India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ Jabs Have Put China on the Ropes”.
  • Thakur, Harish K.  2019. “Understanding the India China Border Fiasco: The Unfair Timing and the Befitting Reply”. Iablis (Globkult).
  • The Hindu. December 28, 2020. “Trump signs Tibet policy to preempt Chinese move on Dalai Lama’s succession”.
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South Asia

The Need for Feminist Foreign Policy in India



As more and more research is being done, there is a definitive link that connects gender equality with international prosperity and welfare; giving an equal opportunity for half the population can’t be just out of moral obligation. It is necessary for the economy and security of a nation. Currently, with resources that are in short supply, the way to maintain a good governance, growth in the economy, health, peace and security is to invest in women and girls. Various countries are promoting gender equality through development, diplomatic and security activities. Countries like Sweden, Canada, France and Mexico have adopted a comprehensive foreign policy that advances gender equality called “Feminist Foreign Policy.” India as a rising great power has to consider a more inclusive foreign policy.

Gender is hardly recognized or given importance when it comes to policy conversations, even though it plays a significant role in peace and security. It is often considered that it side-tracks the main problems with regard to international security and great power competition. However, there is no need for the contradiction between the two. A sign to see how far gender equality is embedded in society is to know the number of women in leadership positions, specifically in departments of security or even the academic study of security where the number of women is less.

According to research, women’s engagement in economics, politics, peace, and security procedures will result in stronger economic development, fewer human rights violations, and peace. Women empowerment is important for a country that aims to promote global security, increase the use of their foreign aid and continue to support stable and democratic allies. In the previous decade, numerous nations have adopted gender mainstreaming in their foreign policy. The critical areas of progress that have systematized gender equality are administration, strategy, and resource management. This comprehensive effort of bringing in gender equality in foreign policy is called as Feminist Foreign Policy. A foreign policy with a political framework focused on the security and safety of the marginalized community can be defined as a Feminist Foreign Policy.

The approach for defining and adopting a Feminist Foreign Policy will vary between counties and regions, depending on their lived experiences. However, that a conversation on Feminist Foreign Policy is an important one is under no debate, happening at a time when gender norms are evolving in our society. In the present-day scenario, there are countries around the world have laws preventing women from carrying out jobs in sectors like mining, manufacturing and construction, and millions of women live in countries where domestic violence is not punishable, gender mainstreaming in broader policy objectives and wider adoption of FFP can shape the future of our civilization.

In India’s foreign aid and assistance gender can be highlighted in bilateral as well as through multilateral institutions, directly impacting the neighborhood, as well as partners in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific and Small Island countries.

In a historic feat, India was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council on June 18, 2020.  Following that, India also became a member of the prestigious UN Commission on the Status of Women in September 2020. India committed to pay attention to its efforts on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and women’s inclusion. In August, 2021 India assumed a month long UNSC presidency where it ended with its first resolution being passed on the Afghanistan situation demanding that the territory not be used for training terrorists. India’s diplomatic framework has embraced tools for soft power. The strategic moves taken up by India can be seen as step towards uplifting women.

A feminist foreign policy would give India a chance to create a beneficial surrounding for peace, remove domestic barriers against women, and also help in building strong bilateral partnerships. With India being surrounded by adversaries along its borders, this approach would also allow India to show itself as a nation that gives importance to various issues; have a better performance in indicators and indexes that are curated to assess the development of countries and gender gap such as the Global Gender Index and Gender Inequality Index; set an example for other nations and contribute continuously towards women empowerment.

It could also be a starting point for an internal shift with regards to India’s domestic context, particularly in terms of preconceived patriarchal gender roles, in which women are seen to be inferior to men. Empirical research has mentioned that for a progressive social and economic development of a nation, gender equality is a requirement. By removing the prevailing barriers that restrict the participation of women and other communities that are marginalized, India would develop a more inclusive policy. Domestic policies need to have a gendered lens that can protect the marginalized. Without having a balance internally, a feminist foreign policy will not sustain.

An FFP will give a major boost to the country’s international relations when its committed to women empowerment and extensively build a stronger partnership with countries that have adopted feminist foreign policy, for example, countries like Mexico, Canada and Sweden or those that are supporters of gender equality. Thus, FFP would allow India to deepen its commitments and make an impact as an emerging power.

Giving importance to human security and gender issues, would put India in a better position to achieve its international power ambitions. India slipped to 140th rank from 112th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020 – 2021. This is primarily due to the lack of political representation, absence of technical and leadership roles, inequal income, reducing women labour force participation rate, lack of proper health care and the literacy ratio gap between men and women.

A major boost for India would be a significantly better performance in the Global Gender Gap Index. This would lead to India becoming a role model for various countries. India can be an example by achieving gender parity in a variety of social indicators that is very important to assess a country’s development.

India’s record on women’s rights—or rather, women’s oppression—makes it far-fetched to quickly and successfully take on an FFP structure. Man-centric qualities are so profoundly instilled inside Indian culture that India has barely figured out how to achieve an adjustment of the arrangement of disparity at home. Subsequently, it does not have the credibility to take up feminist qualities in its international partnerships. An FFP approach may not just help India in cultivating imaginative ways of reasoning, yet in addition permit it to expand upon its traditional perspective on security, work with various representations, and develop strong bilateral partnerships.

Before adopting a Feminist Foreign Policy, India also needs to bring a change within the policies of the country. It is crucial for women to shape the outcomes and can’t just be receptacles, especially in peacebuilding, reconstruction and rebuilding. There are more women joining the Indian Foreign Service, but the Ministry has to make sure that they are taken up to the highest rank. The thought that women can’t handle challenging issues must be changed.

A feminist foreign policy would provide equal opportunity and basic human rights to women, girls, and other marginalised communities. A feminist foreign policy will aid India’s bilateral and multilateral alliances, as well as its attainment of great power status. For a feminist foreign policy to succeed, a country must first establish gender equality within its borders.

 Gender is clearly a significant factor in India’s development assistance. It must, however, be expanded to include other aspects of economy and security. Gender equality must be implemented within India. More women in government are needed.

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South Asia

Crisis in Sri Lanka and The India-South Asia Challenges: Way Forward



Authors: Dr Aditya Anshu and Nipun Tyagi*

Lot of articles and theories which are describing the current state of Sri Lanka and major factors that contributed towards the deteriorating performance of Sri Lankan economy. The ongoing Sri Lankan crisis has been examined by experts from global economic perspective and regional security but India as a country faces multi-faceted challenges, which must be managed sensibly. The approach of India should be balanced and crafted politically as well as diplomatically to protect the strategic Indian interest in Indo pacific region and to counter the influence of China and its expansionist policy.

To believe economist and experts on Sri Lanka, the blame initially was colored upon the COVID 19 pandemic for economic fall and disparity that engulfed the Island nation. It was argued trade has been adversely hit, the foreign remittances from the tourist were near to none, which possibly caters biggest foreign currency deposit. To add, the series of deadly bomb blast in 2019 at Colombo could be direct possible connection towards the decreasing number of tourists in Sri Lanka. Hitherto no expert or possible specialist cared to argue the failure of Rajapaksa brothers far-right nationalist policy of last 10 years was creating a liability trap for Sri Lanka along with creating deep cleavage in peaceful multicultural society.

The ramifications of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia are also creating difficulties and is one of the other prominent factors for the sluggish economic conditions of Sri Lanka. The Russia – Ukraine war has further exacerbated the economic calamity of the country as Russia is the second biggest market to Sri Lanka in tea exports. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s tourism sector is heavily reliant upon these two nations for the tourist arrivals. As a result, the Ukrainian crisis has further created an adverse graph of already ailing economy of Sri Lanka. 

When Rajapaksa-led governments, liaising with extremist Buddhist ideology, entered with full majority in Sri Lankan political regime post 2009. This resulted in the end of over the ground ethnic persecution of Tamil and other minorities community. However, the persecution and intimidation continued in more subtle and systematic way for Tamils and other minority groups resulting division, hate and selective development. Being anti-minority became the symbol of jingoistic nationalism which helped Rajapaksa winning elections for next two decades.

On the Indian domestic front, Congress and other opposition parties are comparing Indian economy and its slothful growth with Sri Lankan crisis and blaming government for inflation, food crisis, rising unemployment and imbalance of economic situations. Significantly, inter-religion conflicts, caste division, income disparity and rising unemployment in India has been severely criticized by opposition parties and civil society groups drawing similarity of parallel class conflicts in Sri Lanka during the period of 1990 till now. The political parties alleged that ruling BJP is adopting the same Sri Lankan pattern to prosecute the minorities and ignoring economic turbulence which can be resulted for crashing Indian economy in the long run. But in view of scholars and academics it would be too early to comment on the opposition political parties assertion on government and about the Indian economy’s performance, nevertheless India needs to seriously monitor the situation with caution that is developing in Sri Lanka on various-fronts.

The first and the foremost issue which needs to be handled cautiously will be that of displaced migrants landing on Indian shores. The impact of the Sri Lankan crisis can increase the burden of refuges towards India. It will be very challenging for India to absorb the possible migration from Sri Lankan for food, shelter, and job opportunities; creating clusters in southern cites in which they can be deprived of basic human needs and rights. To cater women and children will not only be tasking for India but also can create a situation like Rohingya crisis. The proximity of Sri Lankan peoples to southern Indian states can help them to enter Indian territories which may disturb the sovereignty, regional stability, and could be the cause of national security of the country. “There is no accurate data on the number of refugees, but India has about 400,000 refugees including 238,222 recognized and documented refugees according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Report, 2021.

The second issue of concern for Indian government is to handle security challenges, regional security, peace and maintenance of law and order in India and South Asia. There are several reports which indicated the presence of Islamic State (IS) and other terror outfits active in southern states of India which can manipulate and employ the poor migrants landing on Indian shores for terror and illegal activities.  Investigation in a series of cases by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal agency to counter terror has revealed numerous times about the strong presence of Islamic State (IS) in the southern states of India.  The Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of Parliament on 16 September 2020 about 17 cases registered related to the presence of Islamic State (IS) by in southern States of Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu resulting to arrest of 122 accused.

There is no doubt that deep set networks for terror finance, extreme ideology and human resources connected with Sri Lanka exist in parts of Southern India. It is already evident after the terror events of 2019 in Sri Lanka and activation of all these will spell potential threat to security of South-Asia in general and India in particular.  The IS and other terrorist organization may take the advantage of internal violence and fragile administrative capability in Sri Lanka and can become serious threats for India’s national security.

To extend further, it would be very dangerous for the country like India to have the political and economic instability in neighboring countries as near as Sri Lanka. This might trigger a ‘domino-effect’ in the region, creating socio-economic imbalance in South-Asia.  The recent political and economic changes in Sri Lanka have created a threat for India’s vision for regional stability and security in South-Asia region.  In 2014 government of India launched Act East policy focusing on boosting economic co-operation, building infrastructure for greater connectivity, improving important strategic & security ties, and Greater focus on defense cooperation with East and Southeast Asia countries. India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy towards Sri Lanka had resonated with Sri Lanka’s ‘India First’ foreign and security policy in 2020. Therefore, the role of India becomes very important as well as challenging, to help the Sri Lanka maintain its peaceful internal order and to counter the debt trap policy of China.

Geopolitical experts have also argued that India can make use of this opportunity to revamp its diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka, which have been at distant owing Sri Lanka’s proximity with China under Rajapaksa’s rule. It would be strategically and geopolitically important for India to extend assistance to Sri Lanka during this crisis times for a better and conducive atmosphere in southern Indian ocean area.

Sri Lanka’s economic collapse may be an opportunity for India to swing the pendulum back with massive financial assistance to Sri Lanka. This has been followed up with India’s four-pronged economic and financial assistance approach to Sri Lanka. It includes credit lines for the import of food, fuel, and medicines; currency swaps to boost foreign exchanges; modernization; and holistic investments, in the sectors of renewable energy, ports, logistics, infrastructure, connectivity, and maritime security.

As a friendly and cooperative neighbor, India must carry multiple role and responsibility for Sri Lanka’s political stability, economic recovery, and strategic security where with right-intent diplomatic strategy is the key to determining India’s geopolitical influence in the region to counter interventionist China and its not so friendly policies. We cannot ignore the fact that turmoil in Sri Lanka is always perceived to influence India. That was in a speech by the then US Defence Secretary Robert Gates in the 2009 edition of the “Shangri La Dialogue”, when he said, “We look to India to be a partner and net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond…”. It  is the time for India to come forward and prove it .

*Nipun Tyagi is scholar of Defense & Strategic Studies and Currently looks the International Office at Bennet University, India.

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South Asia

Understanding Current Economic Havoc in Pakistan



Economic position of Pakistan is incompatible with its economic potential. It has wide range of natural resources encompassing, reserves for chemical, industrial, and textile businesses. It also possesses prevalent network of rivers i.e. support for agro-production and huge potential of hydroelectric energy generation. As well as, it has opulent mountainous ranges containing precious minerals like copper, gold, granite etc. Above and beyond, the country is rich in other economic ignitors like agro-industry, livestock, construction industry, tourism, and small manufacturing industries. Despite such huge economic capability and ingenious global-market-penetration capacity, the country still fails to turn its status as a developed economy.

Surely, one will eagerly strive to dig out the stumbling block that halts economic development in the country. Reason is apparent i.e. archaic, oblivious and biased policy mechanism, comprised of, obsolescent policy framework, egocentric political frat and inapt intervention of transnational entities in policy structure.

Policymaking fraternity in Pakistan seems inept at managing the crisis with prescience due to unawareness of modern-global policy making tools. They appear to be inexperienced in dealing with the colossal economic disorder because of frail strategic approach for resource management and lack of expertise to prioritize best choice during policy formulation. This incompetence, in policy machinery, paves the way for an unending jumble of economic crisis in the state. 

Moreover, the policies in Pakistan remained prey of vested interests of political leaders. The elected public representatives appear to be more focused on personal gains regardless of public welfare. So forth, the country’s political culture is transformed from serving people to tug of war for reigns of governance. This paradigm shift in political role of leaders created an environment of wandering competition between different political groups. On one hand certain political groups have joined together to jolt their common opponent through all possible gambits. On the other hand the latter try to revive its governance control by hook or crook. Resultantly, the economic affairs of the state are ruined by the unsympathetic leaders, who, deemed to fail in addressing the remedies to eradicate the current economic turmoil from the country.

Additionally, the transnational companies cause a severe threat to economic activity in Pakistan. They play a major role in downgrading the policy making process in the country. The companies influence the policy makers to drive the policies in their favor to boost their market share for retaining their decades-long monopoly in open market. This monopolized market structure minimizes the opportunity for new entrepreneurs and creates a gap in demand and supply of commodities. Resultantly, a market in-equilibrium appears in the country which further exaggerates the rise in prices and leave people with minimal choice of commodities.

Consequently, the above perils drowned the country into economic catastrophe. Foreign debt burden, imbalance of payments, high inflation rates, low production and depreciation of currency created a dilemma of muddle for financial institutions of the country. Most of the industries including automobile, textile, stock market, agricultural production and transportation are at the brink of fiasco. The incumbent government is looking feebly towards IMF for bailouts on hard conditions that further will increase debt burden on the ex-chequer of Pakistan. State bank reserves are declining swiftly. Consequently, tax burden on public commodities is increasing day by day. Simultaneously, consistent increase in dollar rate puts pressure on Pakistani rupee. Import of products like Mineral fuels including oil, electrical equipment, iron, steel, pharmaceuticals, Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes, plastics, plastic articles, organic chemicals, oil seeds, in short, each and every commodity of day to day utility has become more costly. Down to that an overall inflation is raising its head which further ignites poverty in the country. Moreover, hike in petroleum prices owing to twofold reason i.e. global price increase due to Russia-Ukraine War and IMF conditions to impose petroleum development levy, aggrandized heavy tolls on transportation, food industry and  other economic activities around the country.

 Thus, for a prosperous economic state, it is need of the hour to ponder over the above roots of the current economic turmoil and eradicate the menaces with prudence and efficient manner. Policy makers should adapt modern approaches while policy formulation. They should include most of the options with clarity and succinct way to remove all kinds of uncertainties and to prioritize the best one amongst the chosen ones for implementation. Politics should be for public service not for self-interests. Political groups should reevaluate their vision and endeavor for the country to make it a shining star in the galaxy of the world. Policy implementation should be equitable and equal. Intervention of transnational business groups and pressure groups in policy procedures should be condemned. Market competition must be supported through easy and doable policies for new entrepreneurs. So that, a healthy competition between the entities may be created to maintain market equilibrium and eradicate monopoly of fewer business units.  

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