The Evolution Of India’s West Asian Policy (ORF) For prelims: Recent agreements with west Asian countries and map of West Asia. For mains: India-west Asia diplomacy, India’s interest in West Asia, and reasons for instability in West Asia. India’s vision: To establish itself as a powerful and prosperous state in Asia Importance of west Asia for India

  •         India has huge stakes involved in the region such as energy, trade, and safety of Indian community in the region.
  •         Energy security: 70 percent of India’s imported energy needs come from West Asia and this dependence will only increase as the Indian economy continues to grow at 8 percent or more.
  •         Security of Indian community: India is the largest recipient of foreign remittances from West Asia and 11 million Indians working in West Asia. Therefore, stability in the region is high on India’s core agenda.
  •         To counter radicalization: close cooperation is essential to counter radicalization in India.
  •         Gateway to Central Asia: West Asia is the gateway to landlocked and energy-rich Central Asia.
  •         Geostrategic importance: To reduce the influence of China in West Asia and in the Arabian Sea. China is continuously making an inroad to west Asia through the OBOR initiative.

Transformation in New Delhi Foreign policy: New Delhi has adapted its foreign policy to suit the evolving needs and conditions of global politics Non-Aligned Movement to pragmatism to strategic Autonomy:

  •         During the Cold War years: In the world of bipolarity, India’s foreign policy followed the principles of the 1955 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). NAM aimed to use Afro-Asian solidarity to shape international relations from offices beyond Washington and Moscow. Thus, the non-aligned values of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference in domestic politics were a crucial component of Indian’s foreign policy fabric.

o   This was reflected in the Nehru-Nasser alliance, through which India supported the Arabs against Western interference, particularly in the case of Palestine and the 1956 Suez Crisis.

  •          The 1990s- Era of ambiguities: Neoliberalism of the USA and receding influence of Moscow left India with very fewer flexibility options in West Asia.

o   During Gulf crisis: India faced threat to Geopolitical Interests, As the international community began to rally against Iraqi hostility, New Delhi failed to publicly align itself with either side. Iraq, a non-aligned secular state in a sea of Gulf monarchies, was India’s natural ally to for ideological reasons. o   Dilemma: Iraq was also one of the few Middle Eastern countries that supported India’s claims on Kashmir. There was conflict between traditional stance as a non-aligned power and taking a stand against Western intervention in the conflict. o   India’s weak-willed diplomacy: India failed to formally condemn Iraq for the invasion due to their strong relationship and stressed on the security of the 185,000 Indian expatriates stranded in the region. Foreign Minister I.K. Gujral was caught embracing Iraqi Prime Minister Saddam Hussain. o   Pronounced stand: India supported the UN Security Council Resolution 678 in November 1990- which authorised the use of force against the Iraqi army if they refused to withdraw before 15 January 1991.during this period it was clear that inaction would cost future, particularly through poor relation with Gulf countries. o   Gulf crisis was treated by the US as a “test of friendship”: New Delhi found itself pressured into supporting the US-led coalition against the Iraqi army through intelligence and assistance. o   India’s commitment to south-south cooperation: India abstained from voting on UNSC 686 resolution which dealt with settling the boundary dispute, rebuilding the affected areas of Kuwait, and Iraqi liability for damage. The act of abstaining signaled India’s ideological commitment to non-interference. o   Fear of a Washington-centric system: Gulf War acted as the US’ public announcement that a new world order had arrived. India was forced to face the realities of a neoliberal world in which economic benefits came with political costs.

  •         21st century: Strategic Autonomy

o American hegemony is being challenged economically, militarily, diplomatically and culturally. o   Multipolarity: The rise of regional powers such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India, and Increased multipolarity has enhanced India’s ability to truly pursue its national interests internationally, without involving itself in messy political alliances or ideological factions.

  •         India in restructured Geopolitical landscape of West Asia:

o   Favorable economic opportunities:  India can follow a business attitude without the burden of man a strictly business attitude. o   Stability in Gulf: In terms of energy security, trade, and people-to-people ties, stability in the Gulf is a major priority in India’s foreign policy calculations. o   Strategic autonomy: After the USA withdrew from JCPOA, In a Parliament session, Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan, made it clear that India’s “bilateral relations with Iran stand on their own and are not influenced by India’s relations with any third country.” o   The Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in l 2019, clarified that as a nation that imports 85% of its oil primarily through the Gulf, India will push for a diplomatic resolution of the matter to secure its interests. In a time when global powers are shifting inwards, India has taken up an important role as one of the few nations willing to stand behind the promise of Globalisation. Also read: India’s Foreign Policy Needs Rework In The Next Five Years Let Best Asian Brain To Fight Climate Change Source