The year of 2016 was turned out to be defining as well as surprising year for the world leaders, policy makers as well as people of the countries. It has thrown out some unusual results which will create ground for the development of new world order. There has been profound changes happened in the last year. Starting from Britain’ s exit from the European Union, election of Mr Donald Trump as the next US President, Russia’s intervention in Syria, China’s assertion in South China Sea as well as North Korea’ s testing of Hydrogen bomb has created uncertainty and fluidity in the world politics. In fact, in the language of S Jaishankar, India’s foreign secretary every variable is in flux. Having said that, the year of 2016 was a mixed bag for India. India, though achieved great successes bilaterally but failed to achieve any concrete results at multilateral level.
We will first look for successes and next failures and finally the upcoming challenges for Indian diplomacy.
Achievements for Indian diplomacy in the year 2016:
1. The bilateral relations with United States of America has reached to a major high point due to various high level visits and signing of strategic agreements like LEMOA. USA has declared India as a ” major defence partner” giving a boost to the enduring partnership between two countries. Our Prime Minister has also addressed the US congress.
2. The bilateral relations with West Asian countries , particularly GCC countries have also received shot in the arm due to the signing of strategic partnership with these countries in the areas of energy security, defence partnership, counter- terrorism, sharing intelligence information etc.
3. The passed year was also important for India with respect to the relations with Afghanistan. India has successfully delivered various projects related with infrastructure and reconstruction. For instance, Salma dam, parliament building etc. India has also developed a military angle in the bilateral relations with Afghanistan. After US- Iran deal, India got the opportunity to improve relations with Iran. In this context, India has signed Chahbar agrrement,which will also help India to improve connectivity with Afghanistan as well as Central Asian countries. India also signed Asghabat agreement with Iran and other countries. It will give a major push to the International North South Transport Corridor.
4. India and Japan finalized the Civil Nuclear Agreement. It is the first non- NPT nation to sign this agreement with Japan. This agreement will help in the Civil Nuclear energy cooperation and development because of the Japan’ expertise in cutting edge technologies.
5. The India–Africa partnership has achieved a high water mark after the India-Africa Summit 2015. In the last year there were number of high level visits from India led by our Prime Minister, President as well as Vice President to Africa to forge a greater understanding with African countries.
Failures/ Challenges faced by India in 2016:
1. India has faced most serious challenges in the neighbourhood due to cross-border terrorism instigated, nurtured and supported by the Pakistan. The various terrorist attacks led to the deterioration of bilateral relations between the two countries. It has also poisoned India’s relations with other countries like China. The organization of SAARC has also failed to a extent due to the intractable relations between two countries. It has suffered a major blow when five countries including India boycotted the SAARC summit in Islamabad.
2. The bilateral relations with China has also deteriorated despite receiving initial momentum due to visit of high dignitaries from both countries. China’ objections to India’s NSG bid on the grounds of procedural hurdles, technical hold on banning Pakistan based terror group chief Mzssood Azhar, developments related with Dalai Lama and other economic issues and India’ s closeness towards USA,Japan etc created strain in the bilateral relations. Most importantly, CPEC(China Pakistan Economic Corridor) part of OBOR(One Belt,One Road) has emerged as a new bottleneck between the two countries.
3. The relations with Russia was also ambiguous even after signing inter-governmental agreement for defense purposes. Russia ‘ s relations with Pakistan in military terms and support for CPEC has created resentment in the diplomatic circles of India.
4. At multilateral level also, Indian diplomacy failed to achieve anything substantial. India’s bid for permanent membership to UNSC, India’s bid for NSG membership, India’s push for Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism etc has failed to take off. Even in BRICS summit, India’ s perception about terrorism was not accepted by Russia and China.
In the era of uncertainty and populism at the global level, India has to take significant as well as astute measures to bring about conducive climate for the fulfillment of India’ cherished aspirations. In fact, Indian diplomats should analyse the past mistakes and emerging challenges before taking further measures. There is need to take a holistic and comprehensive approach understanding the predicaments and situations of other countries. Then only, the intractable issues can be resolved and aspirations can be fulfilled.