Know India’s foreign policy – Part VI

Asian pivot to Asia

Historic terrestrial and maritimetrade routes of Asia

India views the ongoing global power shift [196] from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean as an opportunity to lift billions of persons out of extreme poverty and aMarch to Modernity.[197] Investors and companies have been encouraged to tap the aspirations of the 1.2 billion strongIndian market for goods & services and profit from Indian Ocean trade through the Make in India initiative launched by the Government of India.[198][199] The challenge facing India is to successfully leverage the country’s youth dividendtowards achieving the Indian Century.[200][201]

India has staked a claim to playing acentral role in the Asian Century[202][203][204] by embarking upon a programme to modernise and diversify assets of the Strategic Forces Command, raise the profile of theAndamans and Nicobar Command (ANC), and renew civilizational ties with regional countries. India has prioritized the strengthening of strategic partnerships – with Russia, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore & Iran – in order to offset and forestall an irrecoverable shift in strategic balance of power in Asia.[205]

China-India driven economic growth, fresh opportunities to develop new geographical zones due to improvedSino-Indian relations, observed collateral consequences on local populations & economies caused by recent US-led military interventions in Iraq & Afghanistan, conspicuous absence of the US President at the APEC Indonesia 2013 summit due to the United States federal government shutdown of 2013,[206][207] budgetary constraints of the US military,[208] mounting regional capabilities to counter US power projection in Asia [209][210] and the unconvincing US pivot to Asia dissolved the appetite amongst Asian countries to support a US-led China containment policy.[211][212][213][214][215][216][217] The improvement and optimisation of inter-Asian trade through future mega infrastructure projects, like theBangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor and Thai Kra Isthmus Canal,[218] are increasing seen as viable and vital to the continuation of economic integration of regional markets.[219][220][221][222]

Inadequate representation in global security and governance architectures has led India to complement traditional international forums such as the United Nations Security Council, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) with special interest groupings such as BRIC/BRICSShanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), East Asia Summit(EAS), Indian-Ocean Rim Association(IORA), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD),Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

India aspires to an incontournable role in the Asian pivot to Asia.[223][224] Between 2004 and 2014 Western think-tanks, especially in the US and UK, failed to foresee the political consequences in India of improvements in basic education and freedom of the press by missing to read the changes in priorities of the growing middle-class electorate and the swings in electoral voting patterns. Highlighting the “inability to keep pace with the transformations” in Asia by Western countries, Michael Kugelman – South and Southeast Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center – advocated a change in mind-set and the necessity for Western countries to make their presence felt in India.[225][226][227] The appointment in January 2015 of former Indian Ambassador to the US,Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, as Foreign Secretary [228][229][230] seeks to reassure Western countries about Indian strategic intentions in Asia.[231][232][233]

Europe

European Union

European UnionIndia

India was one of the first countries to develop relations with the European Union. The Joint Political Statement of 1993 and the 1994 Co-operation Agreement were the foundational agreements for the bilateral partnership. In 2004, India and European Union became “Strategic Partners”. A Joint Action Plan was agreed upon in 2005 and updated in 2008. India-EU Joint Statements was published in 2009 and 2012 following the India-European Union Summits.[234]

India and the European Commission initiated negotiations on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in 2007. Seven rounds of negotiations have been completed without reaching a Free Trade Agreement.[235]

The European Union is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for 20% of Indian trade. France, Germany and UK collectively represent the major part of EU-India trade. India was the European Unions 8th largest trading partner in 2010.[236] EU investment in India more than tripled between 2003 and 2010: from €759million in 2003 to €3 billion in 2010. Trade in commercial services tripled from €5.2billion in 2002 to €17.9 billion in 2010.[237][238]

Denmark

DenmarkIndia

Denmark has an embassy in New Delhi, and India has an embassy inCopenhagen.[239][240]

Tranquebar, a town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, was a Danish colony in India from 1620 to 1845. It is spelled Trankebar orTranquebar in Danish, which comes from the native Tamil, Tarangambadi, meaning “place of the singing waves”. It was sold, along with the other Danish settlements in mainland India, most notably Serampore (now in West Bengal), to Great Britain in 1845. TheNicobar Islands were also colonised by Denmark, until sold to the British in 1868, who made them part of their colony of British India.

After Independence in 1947, Indian prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru‘s visit to Denmark in 1957 laid the foundation for a friendly relationship between India and Denmark that has endured ever since. The bilateral relations between India and Denmark are cordial and friendly, based on synergies in political, economic, academic and research fields. There have been periodic high level visits between the two countries.[241]

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark, accompanied by a large business delegation, paid a State visit to India from 4 to 8 February 2008. He visited InfosysBiocon and IIM Bangalore in Bangalore and Agra. He launched an ‘India Action Plan’, which called for strengthening of the political dialogue, strengthening of cooperation in trade and investments, research in science and technology, energyclimateand environment, culture, education, student exchanges and attracting skilled manpower and IT experts to Denmark for short periods. The two countries signed an Agreement for establishment of a Bilateral Joint Commission for Cooperation.

In July 2012, Govt of India decided to scale down its diplomatic ties with Denmark after that country’s refusal to appeal in their Supreme Court against a decision of its lower court rejecting the extradition of Purulia arms drop caseprime accused Kim Davy a.k.a. Niels Holck. Agitated over Denmark’s refusal to act on India’s repeated requests to appeal in their apex court to facilitate Davy’s extradition to India, government issued a circular directing all senior officials not to meet or entertain any Danish diplomat posted in India.[242]

Vatican City & the Holy See

Holy SeeIndia

Formal bilateral relations between India and the Vatican City have existed since 12 June 1948. An Apostolic Delegation existed in India from 1881. The Holy See has a nunciature in New Delhi whilst India has accredited its embassy inBern, Switzerland to the Holy See as well. India’s Ambassador in Bern has traditionally been accredited to the Holy See. The present Apostolic Nuncio to India is Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio while India’s ambassador to the Holy See is Chitra Narayanan.

The connections between the Catholic church and India can be traced back to the apostle St. Thomas, who, according to tradition, came to India in 52 CE in the 9th century, the patriarch of the Nestorians in Persia sent bishops to India. There is a record of an Indian bishop visiting Rome in the early part of the 12th century.

The diplomatic mission was established as the Apostolic Delegation to the East Indies in 1881, and included Ceylon, and was extended to Malaca in 1889, and then to Burma in 1920, and eventually included Goa in 1923. It was raised to an Internunciature by Pope Pius XII in 12 June 1948 and to a full Apostolic Nunciature by Pope Paul VI on 22 August 1967.

There have been three Papal visits to India. The first Pope to visit India wasPope Paul VI, who visited Mumbai in 1964 to attend the International Eucharistic Congress. Pope John Paul IIvisited India in February 1986 and November 1999. Several Indian dignitaries have, from time to time, called on the Pope in the Vatican. These include Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981 and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral in September 1987. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, called on the Pope in June 2000 during his official visit to Italy. Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat represented the country at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

United Kingdom

United KingdomIndia

British Prime Minister David Cameronwith the Indian Prime MinisterNarendra Modi during a bilateral, November 2014.

India has a high commission in London and two consulates-general inBirmingham and Edinburgh.[243] The United Kingdom has a high commission in New Delhi and five deputy high commissions in MumbaiChennai,BangaloreHyderabad and Kolkata.[244]Since 1947, India’s relations with the United Kingdom have been through bilateral, as well as through theCommonwealth of Nations framework. Although the Sterling Area no longer exists and the Commonwealth is much more an informal forum, India and the UK still have many enduring links. This is in part due to the significant number of people of Indian origin living in the UK. The large South Asian population in the UK results in steady travel and communication between the two countries. The British Raj allowed for both cultures to imbibe tremendously from the other. The English language and cricket are perhaps the two most evident British exports, whilst in the UK food from the Indian subcontinent are very popular.[245] The United Kingdom’s favourite food is often reported to beIndian cuisine, although no official study reports this.[245]

Economically the relationship between Britain and India is also strong. India is the second largest investor in Britain after the US.[246][247] Britain is also one of the largest investors in India.[248]

In 2008 Britain gave India a £825 million aid package to help India develop its health and education systems.[249][250]

France

FranceIndia

French President François Hollandewith the Indian Prime MinisterNarendra Modi during a bilateral, November 2014.

France and India established diplomatic relationships soon after India’sindependence from the United Kingdomin 1947. France’s Indian possessions were returned to India after a treaty of cession was signed by the two countries in May 1956. On August 16, 1962 India and France exchanged the instruments of ratification under which France ceded to India full sovereignty over the territories it held. Pondicherry and the other enclaves of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam came to be administered as the Union Territory of Puducherry from July 1, 1963.

France, Russia and Israel were the only countries that did not condemn India’s decision to go nuclear in 1998.[251] In 2003, France became the largest supplier of nuclear fuel and technology to India and remains a large military and economic trade partner. India’s candidacy for permanent membership in the UN Security Council has found very strong support from former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Indian Government’s decisions to purchase French Scorpène class submarinesworth US$3 billion and 43 Airbus aircraft for Air India worth US$2.5 billion have further cemented the strategic, military and economic co-operation between India and France.

France’s decision to ban schoolchildren from wearing of head-dresses and veils had the unintended consequence of affecting Sikh children who have been refused entry in public schools. The Indian Government, citing historic traditions of the Sikh community, has requested French authorities to review the situation so as to not to exclude Sikh children from education.

Nicolas Sarkozy visited India in January 2008 and was the Chief Guest of theRepublic Day parade in New Delhi. France was the first country to sign a nuclear energy co-operation agreement with India; this was done during Prime Minister Singh’s visit, following the waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. During the Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July 2009, a detachment of 400 Indian troops marched alongside the French troops and the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the guest of honour.[252]

Italy

ItalyIndia

Relations between India and Italy have historically been strong and cordial.[citation needed] Italy and India are also close economic partners and is home to a large population of Indian immigrantsSonia Gandhi, the chief of India’s leading political party, the Indian National Congress, was born in Italy and acquired Indian citizenship through marriage to former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi.

There have, however, been occasional diplomatic flare-ups and there are ongoing issues between the two countries. The difficulty in obtaining a visas of any kind (tourist, business, employment and others) which when issued are only for very short term and after a lot of hurdles for both Indian and Italian nationals has reduced noticeably the possibility of tourism and business development between the two countries. Indian passengers of Sikh origin, have been singled out for additional screening because of their traditional turban. Italian security staff at airports have insisted that Sikhs remove the head-wear instead of following special security-check provisions which have been implemented in most western countries (especially USA, Canada and UK) with regard to Sikh air-travel passengers.

India maintains an Embassy in Rome, and a Consulate-General in Milan. Italy has an embassy in New Delhi, and Consulate-Generals in Mumbai andCalcutta.

There are around 150,000 people ofIndian Origins living in Italy. Around 1,000 Italian citizens reside in India, mostly working on behalf of Italian industrial groups.

Two Italian naval guards currently face trial in India in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen within the Indian Contiguous Zone off the Kerala coast on 15 February 2012. The Enrica Lexie incident, where Italian Marines of the San Marco Regiment are accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen, sparked a major diplomatic row between India and Italy. In March 2013, the dispute evolved into a stand-off when Italy reneged on a sovereign undertaking given to the Indian Supreme Court regarding a conditional release accorded to the two Italian marines. Indian Supreme Court retaliated by barring the Italian Ambassador from leaving India. A major diplomatic crisis was averted when Italy backed down and complied with its undertaking to the Indian Supreme Court by returning the two Italian marines to India.

India-Italy relations have been severely affected in the wake of the Enrica Lexie incident and the Choppergate bribery scandal regarding the sale of AgustaWestland AW101 VVIP helicopters by Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica.

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