Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first foreign visit in his second term to Sri Lanka and the Maldives shows the Indian government’s traditional diplomatic emphasis on the “Neighbourhood First” Policy. It is necessary for India to maintain an amicable relationship with its immediate neighbours to achieve its aspiration as a global power as these nations are economically and strategically important. However, for the past few years, India has faced challenges while maintaining bilateral relations with the neighbouring nations. Now, the government is taking measures to address these challenges to obtain a strategic advantage in the region.
Since time immemorial, Nepal and India have been bonded together through historical, cultural, religious, social, economic and political ties. Yet, there are obvious differences in the interests and views of these neighbours in the current times leading to drift in the relationship. Nepal is strategically important for India and has a high influence on India’s national interests. Therefore, the government must take steps to improve its diplomatic relationship with Nepal.
Recently India’s decades long effort to get the full membership of the 2nd largest intergovernmental group – the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) got the huge boost when it attended the OIC’s 46th session of council of foreign ministers meeting at Abu Dhabi as a guest of honour on the invitation by the host country – United Arab Emirates (UAE).It has to be noted that, India has never been invited to the OIC before and the latest development comes at a time when the India-Pakistan tension is running high, is being seen as a diplomatic success.
Several changes were made in the foreign policy of India in 2014 when the new government was formed. Act East Policy was one of them. Since its enactment, it has come a long way in improving India’s ties with various nations in East and Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific. However, since its enforcement, circumstances have changed. China’s influence is challenged by various aspects like the trade war, regional tensions in China, an increase in protectionist policies, etc. India needs to make use of this situation to enhance the Act East Policy to its advantage to counter China and improve its economy through trade with East and Southeast Asian nations.
Russia has been a time-tested partner of India for a long time now. Relationship with Russia is a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. The bilateral ties, in recent times, have suffered minor drawbacks due to India’s inclination towards the West and Russia’s growing relationship with China. Despite these differences, India-Russia ties remain strong. It can be seen through PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit and the 5th Eastern Economic Forum. Mr. Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Russian Far East and this visit is intended to give “a new direction, new energy, and new speed” to the bilateral relations.