Impact Of Domestic Policies On Foreign Relations
Baljit Dhaka
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Impact Of Domestic Policies On Foreign Relations

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Impact Of Domestic Policies On Foreign Relations  

Why in news?

The decision to amend Article 370 of the Constitution on Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or the CAA, 2019 and the proposal for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been called into question by several countries and international organizations.  

International Fallout

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the CA “fundamentally discriminatory”
  • The United States, arguably India’s best friend today, urged the country to “protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India’s Constitution and democratic values”. 
  • The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) referred to CAA as not only “highly discriminatory and arbitrary” but also contrary to New Delhi’s “obligations under international human rights laws”.
  • India’s External Affairs Minister pulled out of a meeting with senior members of the U.S. Congress after U.S. lawmakers refused New Delhi’s demands to exclude Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal — she has been critical of the Indian government’s policies in Kashmir — the message that went out was that India is unable to justify its own policies. Or that it does not bother with what others think of it.
  • The same issues found a voice in the U.K. Parliament.  

Relation with Bangladesh

  • In the past decade, and especially after completing the Land Boundary Agreement, Dhaka and New Delhi had worked hard on building connectivity, opening energy routes, trade, and developing travel links.
  • By clubbing Bangladesh with Pakistan and Afghanistan on the treatment of minorities, India has introduced a note of bitterness that is hard to mistake in the bilateral engagement.
  • Some in Sheikh Hasina’s government has pointed out that the Modi government’s desire to naturalize only one group of immigrants from Bangladesh but castigate the others as “illegal immigrants” will be seen in a communal light by Bangladesh Government.
  • This will also affect India’s relation with Islamic countries including Arab countries as such steps will be seen as discriminatory on grounds of religion.
  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation plans for a special meet on Kashmir and the CAA in April 2020, possibly in Islamabad.  

Global Expectations

  • If the Indian government continues the path of risking diplomatic capital at the cost of domestic policies, then its stature in the world and its ability as a soft power may be impacted. It may not be able to mold responses from responsible and powerful states.
  • A great power, among other things, is a state that is willing to live up to certain global expectations and has the ability and willingness to help with system maintenance. India must not fall far behind in this regard.
  • Great powers have traditionally been supportive of India’s rise in the global order and have more or less stood by India in its pursuit of power and reputation. However, this might change sooner if concerns highlighted by the international community are not heeded and if the government continues on its path of domestic preoccupations.  
  • If there is a change of power at Washington next election with Democrats winning the Presidential polls, then it might become more difficult for India to maintain steady relations with the US.
  • Both Moscow and Beijing will not support India either to consolidate their position in the new global order.  

Way Forward

  • Instead of fighting for domestic issues on the international front, India must re-focus on negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), initiating the Afghan peace process, and put together her activities for new initiatives in the Indian Ocean Region.