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Modi 2.0, Ministry of External Affairs Opportunities & Challenges

Modi 2.0, Ministry of External Affairs Opportunities & Challenges

Tag: GS 2 || International Relations|| Indian Foreign Policy|| Challenges of IFP

Why in news?

  • Among the main challenges of the new External Affairs Minister will be to balance India’s relationships with the United States and Iran. There will be several other issues to manage, both in India’s neighbourhood and beyond.

Neighbourhood

  • Pakistan: The challenge with Pakistan will be to open a window of opportunity while maintaining the official position that talks and terror cannot go together.
  • Bangladesh: With Bangladesh, the goal will be to build on the successes of the past five years.
  • BIMSTEC: The new Minister will also have to invest in the relationship with Nepal and the Maldives, and in BIMSTEC as a whole, which the Prime Minister has indicated as a priority.

China

  • Border issues: There are a host of unresolved issues with Beijing, including the border dispute.
    • Coherent strategy: The Ministry of External Affairs under its new leadership will have to coordinate with the Prime Minister’s Office and other government agencies to craft a coherent strategy towards managing the relationship.
    • Informal summits: While the informal summits between the PM and the Chinese President will set the course, the Foreign Minister has to fill in the crucial gaps.

US & Russia

  • While the relationship with the US is robust, contentious issues include trade and H1B visas, besides Iran.
  • Potential US sanctions will be a factor as India seeks to enhance its longstanding strategic partnership with Russia, especially in defence, nuclear energy and space.

Middle East

  • New Delhi has reached a solid footing in its relationship with the Gulf countries as well as Israel in the last few years.
  • Eight million Indians live and work in the Middle East, and the region is key to India’s energy security.
  • The new Minister will have the task of keeping India’s relationships insulated from rivalries of the region.

Multilateral Groupings

  • As India takes up a wider global leadership role in the G-20, SCO, BRICS, RIC, India-ASEAN, India-Africa Forum, a whole range of relationships will have to be pursued, with India’s core national interests on top at each of these groupings.

Additional info

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

  • The BIMSTEC is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018).
  • The BIMSTEC member states—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan—are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors.
  • A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation.
  • Leadership is rotated in alphabetical order of country names.
  • The permanent secretariat is in Dhaka.

Mains question

  • What are the challenges and opportunities that await the External Affairs Minister as the new government assumes office?