Contours of India’s Foreign Policy in the Current Era

Session Report
Chaitanya Vivek Deshpande

three-day online certificate training course on India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy was organized by #IMPRI Centre for International Relation and Strategic Studies (CIRSS)IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi from 14th to 16th March 2023. The second session of day 1 of a three-day immersive online certificate course on India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy was conducted by Prof. Annapurna Nautiyal, Vice-Chancellor of the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal UniversitySrinagar, Uttaranchal. The subject for this session was ‘Contours of India’s foreign policy in the Current Era.’ 

The session started with the background of choosing Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam as the tagline of India’s G-20 Presidency. Prof. Nautiyal points out that this is not a new phenomenon. The Indian tradition of treating the whole world as family goes back to Vedic literature. The objective is to convey that we have one earth, we have one family and we have one future.

This is exemplified by the Indian example itself wherein there are multiple religions, traditions and languages. This diversity has created India’s legacy of tolerance. Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam, thus, represents the same for the world. India’s spiritual traditions, Yoga and Ayurveda are also becoming very very popular across the world. Along with this, Bollywood, and Indian food culture has a global footprint. Thus, India can act as a bridge for peace in this volatile world. 

As the world becomes Google Village from a Global Village, the power dynamics at an international level are decided by technology. China’s rise at the global level is significantly related to its technological prowess which was preceded by exponential rise in its manufacturing capacities. As China becomes a challenger to the USA on the world stage, the conflict between democracies and autocracies becomes significant. India is a democratic country believing in dialogue and consensus. Thus, India can play a pivotal role in enhancing cooperation between G20 countries. 

The US-China Bipolarity

The New World Order indicates bipolarity between China and the USA and also the multipolarity highlighted by the presence of emerging powers like India, Brazil and others. Thus in this confusing scenario, the world has shown no signs of change where power plays a primary role. Thus, it is critical to build a consensus for cooperation amongst the world powers. India’s belief in consensus building for global issues can act as a catalyzer for trust building. India can bridge the communication gap between various world powers. 

India has to deal with China as a global power not only on the international stage but as its neighbor. Be it the boundary dispute or Belt and Road Initiative, India’s policy has to be one that promotes dialogue. China’s increasing footprint in India’s neighborhood is accepted by its neighbor not by choice but by compulsion that China could facilitate the aid and infrastructure which India could not. Thus, India needs to give assurances and reassurances that India stands with its neighborhood.

G20 provides an opportunity for India to convey different messages in different fields. One such area is climate change. Prof Nautiyal pointed out that she belongs to an environmentally fragile area of Uttarakhand. India also has experienced the Joshimath tragedy in the Himalayas. Thus, to tackle this climate crisis, India has to take a path of ‘democracy, dialogue and diplomacy’ to safeguard our ‘One Earth.’ 

Along with climate, the Covid crisis brought the world to its knees. Even the USA felt helpless during the crisis. However, it was India that provided vaccines to the world and sent a message that India does not only talk but it also acts. India has also the scope to work in the field of capacity building, improving transparency in global governance, making it more democratic, along with change in social structures. 

However, these issues require multilateral cooperation. Countries will only fall into the line and consensus can be built if India’s own system follows the message it is conveying at the global level. The message of peace, harmony and security can be given through G20. The aim of India has been always Satya i.e., truth and Ahimsa, non-violence. Global Partnerships are crucial to realize these goals. India’s initiatives like its Buddhist diplomacy can help to build the necessary consensus for Global Peace. 

India believes in Civilizational Diplomacy. The recent example of Panchamrit at COP 26, Glasgow reflects the same where the traditional civilisational values of environmental conservation are reflected. Also, the five S strategies of Samman (Dignity), Samvad (Dialogue), Samriddhi (Prosperity) Suraksha (Security) Sanskriti (Cultural Linkages) represent the ethos of India’s diplomacy and foreign policy. India’s Panchsheel also is globally renowned for its orientation towards solving conflicts by mutual dialogue. 

With this legacy, India has to do focused efforts while hosting G20 nations. It has to be clear about its objectives. G20 summit is an opportunity to showcase its diversity. The planned two hundred meetings of G20 would bring out a significant outcome for India with the clear message to the world that we are also rising.

Chaitanya is a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more session reports from Day 1 of India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy:

India’s Digital Public Diplomacy and Brand Building.



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