Once again, global politics is taking many twists and turns.The ongoing trade war, Brexit incident, America first policy, and weakening multilateral trade agreements are signalling something else. It looks like that change is going to replace the stability. In India too, BJP clinched clear-cut majority with greater expectations. Obviously, “Neighbourhood First Policy” of India, is the outcome of all these events that took place in the recent time. Surely, with this move, Indian leadership will aspire to milk better benefits out of global uncertainty.
Originally, it was the brain child of then external minister Indra Kumar Gujral in the National Front government in 1996. At that time, more emphasis was given for neighbours with non–reciprocity. But, unfortunately, the government was short lived and collapsed within six months. Since then, successive governments focused more at the global powers to advance interests. It took almost more than twenty years to think about neighbours.
Rationale behind neighbourhood first policy
People’s expectations and challenges
This is the second term for BJP government with clear-cut majority. Accordingly, people have great expectations. Now, if they fail to satisfy people, they will not be in position to criticize opponent. At the same time, they are well aware about the rising unemployment rate. It is the highest in last four decades. Here, important point is the percentage of rural educated youths have outnumbered urban. Nowadays, agriculture is no more promising career. Also, agrarian distress is going to become a big threat for rural landscape.
Make in India mission
In order to address the confronting issues, government in the first term launched the make in India mission with objectives of employment generations and promotion of export. But, it earned little success in the last term. Nevertheless, government is gearing up to make it a successful for survival of both people and government itself. Neighbourhood first policy would be a part of market expansion for make in India mission.
American protectionist agenda
Trumps aggressive America first policy is big blow for the multilateral trade agreements. Now, more shift would be in favour of bilateral or regional agreements. India has greater comparative advantage over its neighbours in terms of various items and vice-versa. Therefore, neighbourhood first policy may be a win win situation for both India as well as neighbours.
Trade war impacts
Trade war between US and China fettered the Chinese ambitions. It is a great opportunity for India to do both to bargain with China to recorrect trade imbalance and to make business friendly atmosphere to attract dissatisfied MNCs.Though out of compulsion, China would agree for Indian demands to correct trade imbalance with concessions for Indian imports. Earlier, China made it clear that China will not impose tarrifs on any nation except US.
Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka
India is a victim of terrorism since last three decades. Recent deadly attack on Sri Lanka made it clear that terrorism cannot be confined within geographical or political boundaries. It is the time for India to show solidarity with neighbours in the difficult time. Through combined efforts, the terrorist attacks and activities can be eliminated. In the war against terrorism, this might prove a milestone for India.
Chinese presence in Indian Ocean
String of pearls policy and Chinese active presence in the Indian Ocean is a big cause of concern for Indian leadership. Smart use of soft policy by China to influence the behaviour of Indian neighbours isn’t new. Chinese monetary help for Sri Lanka and others to bailout from financial difficulties is not going down well for India. In this way, China is strengthening its position in the strategically important and sensitive zone.
Indian technical might
India is well known space power in the world. Its expertise can prove boon for south Asian nations against natural disasters. So far, Indian help saved many lives in this region. All accept that India is a rising power.Today, India is in the position to offer something to its neighbours without reciprocity.
It took almost three decades to resume the earlier non-reciprocal policy of Indra Kumar Gujral or popularly known as “Gujral Doctrine.”Though late but better late than never. With this move, India can not only fortify its national security, tame terrorism but also expands its market base and power the make in India mission. Without neighbours cooperation, no nation could become successful at the global stage. It looks like there is a good omen for Indian future.