Strategy and foreign affairs for India in 2024

Strategy and foreign affairs for India in 2024

Context: Here we will discuss about the strategic realities of 2023 and how it shaped our Foreign policy while also looking at opportunities in 2024 especially considering Lok sabha elections.

Background:
• In 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told President Vladimir Putin that “this is not the era of war”
• However, 2023 became an year of war as Russia-Ukraine war continued while ongoing war in Gaza Strip is one of the most destructive conflicts seen in recent decades.

2023: Strategic realities

CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
• Two years of sustained effort to normalise ties between Israel and the Arab world was disrupted by the Hamas attack.
• Israel’s angry and disproportionate response has so far killed more than 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza — which has attracted criticism from even the US. The Israeli-Arab reconciliation process has been derailed for now, and the future of Gaza is unknown.

STRESS IN INDIA-US TIES
• Bilateral ties are facing headwinds over allegations of an Indian official link to an assassination plot against a Khalistani separatist in the US.
• India’s response has been different where The PM has expressed India’s “commitment to the rule of law”, and promised to “look into” the role of Indian citizens in the alleged US plot if information is provided.

INDIA’S MALDIVES CHALLENGE
• The change in guard in Maldives has come at the cost of India’s interests with new President Muizzu seen as close to China.

CHINA, THE BIGGEST WORRY
• China continues to be India’s biggest worry and strategic challenge with the Border standoff in its 4th winter.
• Russia’s increased dependence on China and Maldives getting closer to China in the Indian Ocean have added to the concern.

G20, GLOBAL SOUTH POSITIONING
• India’s success in negotiating a joint declaration at the G20 summit came as a surprise for many in the international community.
• A big takeaway from the G20 process was New Delhi’s mobilisation of developing and less developed countries under the umbrella of the Global South.

What are the challenges and opportunities in 2024?
The outcome of the Lok Sabha elections will be very important for India’s strategic and foreign policy posture.

US & CANADA RELATIONSHIPS
• A challenge lies in resolving the situation arising out of the ‘assassination plot’ in the US. But neither India nor the US, who are deeply invested in each other, want ties adversely impacted.
• Dealing with the US will not be the same as dealing with Canada, and New Delhi will not club them together.

OUTCOME IN BANGLADESH
• Bangladesh goes early into the elections in 2024 and outcome in Bangladesh will be critical for India as it enjoys good ties with the Sheikh Hasina government and any changes there can have adverse impacts as India looks to improve its connectivity with North-east through Bangladesh.

CONTINUING DEADLOCK WITH CHINA
• New Delhi will be extra careful in its response to a challenge from its biggest adversary in an election year. That imperative will frame India’s diplomacy towards China in the next few months, and even later.

SEEKING A WAY FORWARD IN WEST ASIA
• From early support for Israel to nuancing its position and balancing with Palestine to calling for a ceasefire in the last UN vote, India’s diplomatic positioning has followed an arc closely watched by many in the Global South.

NEW GOVT IN PAKISTAN
• Since 2019, when the Indian government was re-elected and the constitutional changes in Jammu and Kashmir were effected, ties with Pakistan have been at a low.
• Elections are now due in Pakistan, and there could be a new government there after February. Once Lok Sabha polls are over, an opportunity to restart engagement could arise.

TRADE PACTS, TECH PARTNERSHIPS WITH WEST
• The free trade pacts with the UK and European partners are said to be at a critical stage.
• 2024 may see these major economic diplomacy initiatives come close to fruition. 

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