[Answered]“The foreign policy of India has changed from ‘non-alignment’ to ‘multi-alignment’ in recent times.”Examine.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. Discuss the situation of India’s foreign policy shift. Reason for shift towards multi-alignment.

Conclusion. Way forward.

Non alignment meant not about joining any of the bloc and taking a balanced approach. Multi-alignment means having a series of parallel relationships that strengthen bilateral partnerships and seek a common approach towards security, economic equity and the elimination of existential dangers like terrorism. Policy of Non-alignment had its genesis in the backdrop of cold war. However scenario has significantly changed with emergence of multiple power dynamics with a shift towards multi-alignment and multi-polar world.

India’s shift towards multi-alignment:

  1. Deepening India-U.S. ties: Indian ties with USA has reached new heights despite of many issues. India signed a nuclear deal with US in 2008.India today is a signatory to 3 of 4 US foundational agreements that it signs with its strategic defence partners that is LEMOA, COMACASA and GSOMIA.US changed the name of its Pacific command to Indo-Pacific command.
  2. Change in attitude for Israel:India today has vibrant relations with Israel which were earlier marred with Palestinian considerations.India’s traditional stance has always been of recognition of Arab rights of Palestine and limited relations with Israel.
  3. Focus on Asia: India is a member of QUAD which partners Japan, US, Australia and India. It looks to further Indian interest in pacific region creating a major power bloc in the region.India is also member of major groupings such as BRICS, ASEAN and BIMSTEC etc. Emphasising Indian engagement in multiple global fronts.
  4. Reaffirming ties with Russia: Russia is India’s long term friend. The strong links that exist between the two nations still exist. Russia is regaining its position as India’s principal defence supplier.The list of agreements drawn up in Moscow covers nuclear, space, energy and defence. Russia has committed to building additional nuclear reactors at Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu) and in Andhra Pradesh.
  5. Relations with China:India’s biggest border dispute is with China. Despite the 1962 war, serious localised fighting at the Nathu La and Cho La passes in 1967; and the Doklam stand-off in June 2017, China maintains good economic relations with India. It was because of the maturity of political leadership on both sides, as well as a commitment made by the two nations to non-violence three decades before.
  6. Focus on middle-east:Relations between India and Pakistan remain stagnant, but with other Islamic countries like Saudi, Oman, Iran has deepened significantly. Significant investment has been made by Middle East countries in India. Middle East is one of major supplier of oil to India and relations with missile east countries has reached new heights recently.
  7. Relations with Japan:Japanese relations with India, is more than strategic, with defence, foreign policy, and economic aspects all receiving attention. Japan’s willingness to cooperate on peaceful nuclear energy and willingness to acknowledge India as a reliable and trustworthy nuclear power (despite not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) is again certain to have a positive impact on nuclear establishments across the world.

Reason for shift towards multi-alignment:

  1. Economic needs of the fast developing India had to be supported by opening of its economy and getting more foreign assistance.
  2. World that emerged post soviet era saw the rise of US as both an economic and strategic power. It was difficult to pursue India’s growth trajectory without engaging with US.
  3. Globalisation, growing interdependence, and the emergence of transnational challenges have pushed India to engage with multiple global partners.
  4. Emergence of economic powerhouse in form of China has also posed a new challenge in front of India.
  5. Indian foreign policy is evolving to encompass the growing needs of its national security and prosperity.

India’s current foreign policy, Act east link west, Project Mausam, Indian Ocean overreach, Neighbourhood First policy, SCO, BRICS etc. are steps in right direction which will be beneficial for India.Non-alignment served India well during the difficult years from the mid to the late 20th century, but had apparently outlived its utility. The time had possibly come to shift towards multi-polar world, and India is just doing that. Today, India’s commitment to peace has been layered by a realistic appreciation of the shifting contours of a dynamic challenge.

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