Systemic Challenges

Shortage of Manpower:

  • Despite expansion number of diplomats are smallest among G20 and BRICS nations.
  • For instance, in Africa over two dozen Indian embassies remain headless for want of diplomats.
  • Similarly at the United Nations, where India is seeking permanent membership of the coveted Security Council, the Indian mission is the smallest among the G-4 (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) aspirants to the Council.
No inter agency process:
  • The inter-agency process becomes vital for foreign policy effective implementation. However, inter-agency coordination in India is virtually non-existent, especially when compared to other countries that India is engaging with leading to foreign policy initiatives often getting bogged down in bureaucratic wrangles.
Tax base problems:
  • As the world’s 10th largest economy, India is becoming a rich country. But it remains a poor state primarily on account of its extremely small tax base.
  • This in turn affects India’s ability to have a more proactive foreign policy. Thus, while India merely negotiates, China (with a huge trade surplus) invests in countries of strategic importance.
No strategic vision in foreign policy:
  • Presently, there are a series of catchy but vacuous foreign policy initiatives, such as Neighbourhood First, Act East, Think West and SAGAR. Sadly, these parts still do not add up to the sum of India’s foreign policy.
Lack of institutionalised process of policy planning and making:
  • India’s foreign ministry also lacks an institutionalized process of policy planning and making.
  • No say of think tanks in foreign policy
Ineffective engagement of state governments:
  • The inability of centre to effectively engage key state governments as stakeholders in the foreign policy process can also scuttle bold initiatives.
  • For instance the West Bengal government’s opposition to the Teesta River Agreement with Bangladesh left India’s previous prime minister embarrassed in talks with Dhaka.
Other challenges:
  • Making a war free scenario in the SAARC neighbourhood, which would make India an attractive destination for foreign investment
  • Developing the ability to shape the rules in global institutions, which will have a direct bearing on the country’s economic well-being.
  • India faces an economically rising China to the east, staking a claim on disputed territories in the Asia-Pacific region and spreading its influence to the littoral states of the Indian Ocean.
  • To the west, the relationship with Pakistan continues to be fraught with difficulties with no solutions in sight in the near future
  • The sum of the investments which India gained through foreign policy is still only a fraction of the one trillion dollars that India estimates it needs for infrastructure alone.



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