Foreign Policy Brief: Update on Bharat’s Soft Power
April – June 2018
As global affairs continue to be defined by security concerns, geopolitical interests and people’s aspirations, India’s path of Panchamrit or the five principles – samman (respect), samvad (dialogue),samriddhi (prosperity), sanskriti evam sabhyata (culture and civilizational links) and surakhsa(security), provides a unique approach in shaping the geopolitical narrative. This policy brief highlights the manifestation of these principles, particularly emphasizing on the former four in India’s conduct of diplomacy. This edition’s prime focus is Asia and Indo-Pacific.
Foreign Policy Updates:
1. India Nepal Engage at the Highest Level
Giving primacy to ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, Indian PM Narendra Modi marked his third visit to Nepal in May. Reaffirming the deep cultural ties, PM Modi commenced his visit by offering prayers at Sita temple in Janakpur and at Muktinath temple, thus also becoming the first Indian PM to visit the Terai region. The Ayodhya-Jankapuri bus service was also announced to promote the Ramayana tourism circuit. The emphasis being given to connect the two countries, is also reflected with the development of Raxaul – Kathmandu railway line, which was announced during Nepali PM Oli’s visit to India in April. India has also committed to aid Nepal in its hydropower projects. This symbolizes India’s policy of economic development and shared cultural values, in defining the geopolitical narrative.
For more information: Livemint
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first official visit to Indonesia to enhance strategic cooperation through economic and cultural ties. Indonesian President Joko Widodo and PM Modi inaugurated the first Joint Kite exhibition themed on Ramayana and Mahabharata. This was followed by the MoU between Lyang-lyang museum and Kite museum in Ahmedabad. PM Modi also visited the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest in southeast Asia during Ramadan. With growing security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region, the leaders discussed convergence between India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) policy and Indonesia’s maritime fulcrum policy. A highlight of the visit. This visit also saw an agreement allowing India to access the strategic island of Sabang in Indonesia close to the Malacca Strait.
3. Singapore Highlights India’s Act East Agenda
PM Modi’s visit to Singapore in May, was packed with elements of culture, commerce and connectivity – the 3Cs defining India’s Act East Policy. He unveiled Kala Sangam established by the Indian Heritage Centre to bring and promote Indian artisans in Singapore. PM Modi visited the Mariamman temple, built in 1827, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Chulia Mosque. His visit also marked the launch of Indian payment apps – BHIM, RuPay and SBI app to facilitate smoother commercial transactions. Being the first Indian Prime Minister to deliver the keynote address at Shangri-La Dialogue, PM Modi spoke of India’s role in bringing peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, especially amidst China’s expansionist agenda and coming of the Quad. The visit to Changi Naval Base highlighted the importance of India-Singapore maritime connectivity.
For more information: Connected to India
Courtesy: DNA India
4. India Mangolia Enhance Bilateral Relations
EAM Sushma Swaraj became the first foreign minister in 42 years to visit Mongolia. With the idea of increasing economic and people-to-people engagement, India and Mamgolia discussed the prospects of direct air-link between New Delhi and Ulaanbaatar. EAM Swaraj, emphasized on reviving historical and spiritual links between the two countries, most prominently defined by Buddhism. She was welcomed by the Chief Abbott of Mongolian Buddhism at the Gandan Tegchenling Monastry, a hub of Buddhist knowledge and tradition. Addressing the centenary celebrations of Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, as Indian ambassador to Mongolia, EAM Swaraj highlighted his contributions in strengthening India-Mongolia relations and bringing Buddhism to the formerly communist country. India and Mongolia, being strategic partners conducted the 6th India-Mongolia Joint Committee Meeting to further economic and cultural ties to achieve common strategic interests.
For more information: The Hindu
Courtesy: Embassy of India in France/Facebook
6. Celebrating the 4th International Day of Yoga
The International Day of Yoga (IDY), 2018 was commemorated across the world, rendering it the status of International “Week” of Yoga. With the idea of carrying forth this goal, states duly reciprocated to New Delhi’s efforts in expounding its yoga diplomacy, the foundations of which were laid four years ago. President Ram Nath Kovind celebrated Yoga day in Suriname, which is home to substantial Indian population. Projecting Yoga as a strong tool of soft power, President Kovind also announced cooperation on Ayurveda and traditional medicine between India and Suriname. EAM Sushma Swaraj in her address the European Parliament on Yoga Day, spoke of Yoga being the finest representation of India. In 2014, Indian PM Narendra Modi’s proposal in UN General Assembly to celebrate 21 Jun.2017 as the International Day of Yoga received unanimous approval of 177 countries.
For more information: American Institute of Vedic Studies
Courtesy: MEA India
7. The first ever India-Nordic Summit
PM Narendra Modi, became the second only Indian Prime Minister to visit Sweden, after 30 years. India and Sweden co-hosted the first India-Nordic Summit, attended by heads of all five Nordic states – Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. The summit being third of its kind, first two being held in the US, was India’s main achievement as it broke the past tradition of bilateral diplomatic relations to engage at a multilateral forum. While Sweden committed to invest over $50 million for innovation partnership with India, the Nordic summit also spelled out in favour of India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and UN Permanent Security Council.
For more information: The Diplomat
Global Young Achiever’s Network
India and the World Order
Ambassador Asoke Mukherji (left) and Professor Sachin Chaturvedi (right), authorities on International Relations, addressed a young delegation of 160 Indians at the Policy BootCamp 2018, a flagship programme of Vision India Foundation.
Former permanent representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador Asoke Mukherji spoke on the dynamics of the world order. Speaking of India’s uniqueness in the global world order, Amb. Mukherji mentioned that India’s rise is not just a recent phenomenon but a historic continuum, which needs to be manifested in the future as well through the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
Professor Sachin Chaturvedi, Director-General at Research and Information System for Developing Countries, spoke the shift in economic global order and the rise of BRICS economies. Emphasizing on the need for South-South as well as North-South cooperation, Prof. Chaturvedi spoke of various avenues in which India can take lead, especially in innovation, developmental cooperation and global governance.
Emerging Trends in India’s International Relation
Arunima Gupta, Manager at VIF and Kamal Madishetty, VIF Alum designed and delivered a five-hour module on “International Relations for India,” during Policy BootCamp 2018. The module was formulated to critically engage enthusiasts in an India-centric International Relations. The delegates analysed India’s foreign policy choices at different stages, through the prevalent IR theoretical discourse as well as through the concept of Rajamandala, as written in Arthashastra by Kautliya. Focusing on India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood, the module gave insights into the recent initiatives, namely, Neighbourhood First, Act East and Indo-Pacific and Panchamrit. Through role play activity, delegates deliberated and discussed the prospects of India joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), thus experiencing negotiation skills and understanding how national interests drive foreign policy considerations.
Vision India Foundation partners with Embassy of Israel
Vision India Foundation in partnership with the Embassy of Israel, as a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, will be organizing the third edition of the World Governance Expedition in October 2018. A delegation of 30 youth leaders and change agents will interact with various stakeholders – government representatives, policy-makers & researchers and civil society organizations. They will visit sites of historic importance and gain a cultural understanding of the country, a foremost step in building lasting relations. A unique initiative, perhaps the first of its kind in India, World Governance Expedition provides a lifetime opportunity for youth to engage with leaders and decision makers, gain first-hand experience of policy making and governance and build a lasting network of future leaders and change-makers.
At VIF we continue to maintain our focus on preparing the next-generation leaders of our country. GYAN aims at connecting the future leaders across the world to India and build on a leadership committed to achieving the aspirations of a sustainable and prosperous humanity.