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Tag Archives | india’s foreign policy

Nadaan Parindey, ghar aaja

Kerala, Gujarat and Punjab show that states can play an important role in diaspora relations.

States are increasingly reaching out to their diaspora

States are increasingly reaching out to their diaspora

States are maneuvering around foreign policy considerations by reaching out to Non Resident Indians (NRIs). Foreign Policy is considered the domain of the Union Government however, some state government have proved adept at working around this by focusing on selected areas of outreach. One of the primary ways that states play a role in foreign policy is by reaching out to diaspora. As NRIs are an important source of remittances to the states, the states benefit from solving the issues faced by NRIs. States are also better poised to engage with diaspora as they have direct links with them and can devote more resources than the Union to deal with issues. One of the ways in some which states have done this is by forming a public sector undertaking which can work with relatively more freedom than the state administration itself.

More and more states have begun to institutionalise NRI relations through specific departments, divisions or boards. The states with the most developed institutional structures are Kerala, Punjab and Gujarat. These three states that stand out are not surprising given that they have huge diaspora spread out in different parts of the world. The states have tailormade their policies according to the interests of the diaspora which allows them flexibility and innovation.

Institutions dealing with diaspora relations in Kerala

The State Government of Kerala has expressly looked at institutionalizing administrative processes with respect to the interest of non-resident Keralites (NRKS) through a department called Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department (NORKA). However the real work is done by a PSU established under the Department called NORKA ROOTS. Kerala which receives the highest remittances in the country has been working on making its diaspora employable from arranging pre-departure orientations, easy authentication of certificates, skills upgradation programme, financial assistance, rehabilitation projects for returnees, job portal, travel assistance etc.

Institutions dealing with diaspora relations in Gujarat

On the other hand Gujarat has set up an NRI division under the General Affairs Division which merely allocates funds and decides the composition of the Non-Resident Gujarati Foundation (A Government of Gujarat Undertaking). The NRGF looks at how NRIs can play a vital role within the state and has set up district committees for NRIs in every district to deal with any problems, to provide financial aid to the Gujarat Samaj, create a database of NRGs etc.

Institutions dealing with diaspora relations in Punjab

The NRI Affairs Department in Punjab has an intensive mandate from coordinating with the Home Ministry, liaising with NGOs, providing grants and waivers for NRI investment, focusing on twinning of cities such as Derby with Kapurthala and Jalandhar with the Borough of Hounslow, cultural exchanges etc. Punjab has gone a step further and allowed NRIs to vote in state elections (though they have to return to India to cast their votes).

There are some common strands across the policies of these three states such as the outreach to diaspora, creation of databases, grievance addressal and encouraging investment. The state governments of Kerala and Punjab have set up NRI cells under the respective police (though for Punjab, this has been upgraded into an NRI wing with cells in every district). While Gujarat has not set up similar institutions, it has set up an NRI cell under the State Women’s Commission to deal with complaints related to harassment of women abroad. While the grievances of the NRIs generally fall under the Home Ministry, the states have ensured their own jurisdiction by making BRI grievances a law and order issue pertinent to the state.

All the three states have also focused on issue identity cards to NRIs. The issue of cards such as Non-resident Keralite, Non-Resident Gujarati and Non-Resident Punjabi pushes for the sub-national identity which has generally subsumed under the larger Indian visa. This also reinforces the regional identity of the NRI and gives them a stake in the domestic affairs of the state.

States working in diaspora relations is a crucial and overlooked part of foreign policy. Increasingly, states have started looking to their diaspora for several reasons. Even states with relatively smaller diaspora such as Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have started engaging with diaspora so that they can be important stakeholders of the state. The role played by states in diaspora relations is an important one because it eases some of the burden that the Union bears in dealing with all these problems. It also acts as a bridging mechanism between NRIs and the Central Government. Other states in India should also consider similar mechanisms (or those more contextualized to its needs) so that they can tap into the advantages of their residents in a globalised world.

This post is the first of a series of blogposts on ‘States in Foreign Policy’.

Hamsini Hariharan is a Research Scholar with the Takshashila Institution and tweets at @HamsiniH

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India and the US—Pakistan partnership

How should India view the US—Pakistan relationship? What are the circumstances under which the US will cease its support to Pakistan’s military—jihadi complex?

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

In my previous post, I had written about the 3 schools of thought on India—US partnership. Well, Pakistan is the main protagonist in one of the three strategies and hence it makes sense to look at the US—Pakistan equation in greater detail from an Indian perspective.

This Pakistan centred line of thinking goes as follows: why should India support the US when it continues to support and even encourage Pakistan’s military—jihadi complex (MJC), an irreconcilable adversary of India? This perspective has further found an availability heuristic too: our minds are fresh with the news of approval on the sale of F-16 to Pakistan, further confirming the bias that the US continues to play a double-game with India.

So, how should we view the US—Pakistan relationship? What are the circumstances under which US will cease its support to Pakistan’s MJC?

The US continues to mull over its relationship with Pakistan. The policy paralysis on this front was explained in this article. Suffice to say here that at present, Pakistan is important to the US national interest for two reasons. First, US still continues to see Pakistan as a part of the solution to the Afghanistan problem. There is no scenario in which US policymakers see a decline in threat from Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan without an active role of Pakistan.

Second, Pakistan’s demand for war machinery, F-16s for example, serves the US military-industrial complex well. In fact, the optimal scenario from a US perspective is not the one where it blocks equipping Pakistan militarily, but a scenario where the US military-industrial complex can be a service provider to India and Pakistan, both. In that sense, a simmering localised conflict between India—Pakistan is not a particularly adverse outcome for the US.

Given that these are the two policy priorities for the US with regards to Pakistan, what will wean the US influence away from Pakistan? First, India has to demonstrate leadership in working with Afghanistan and other countries in restoring peace in that country. The US is desperately looking for alternatives but hasn’t managed to cobble up anything apart from an already faltering quadrilateral peace process. If this goal is beyond India’s capabilities, India will have to make peace with US—Pakistan cooperation on the Afghanistan issue in the near term. This also means a realisation that the co-operation will remain fungible—benefits accrued to Pakistan on its western front will, in turn, be used against India.

The second scenario in which the US might be forced to reconsider its Pakistan policy is when China becomes a major threat to US interests in East Asia and the Indian Ocean Region. In such a case, it would be in direct interest of the US government to ensure that India is focused on one common adversary only. It might then seriously reconsider its support to the MJC in the form of both arms and money. Whether India chooses to align itself with the US or chooses to be a swing power will then become an important question.

Until these two scenarios unfold, the US will continue to secure its partnerships with both India and Pakistan — and its support to the military—jihadi complex is a bitter reality that India will have to swallow.

Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas) is a Research Fellow at the Takshashila Institution.

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“नोतुन प्रजन्मो — नई दिशा” : भारतीय विदेश नीति के बदलते समीकरण

बांग्लादेश दौरे से कुछ ऐसे समीकरण सामने आ रहे हैं जो भारतीय विदेश नीति के प्रभाव का परिचायक बनेंगे

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas) and Pradip Bhandari

जून ७ को भारत और बांग्लादेश ने “नोतुन प्रजन्मो — नई दिशा” नामक संयुक्त घोषणापत्र से अपने द्विपक्षीय संबंधों को एक नया आयाम दिया। प्रधानमंत्री की इस यात्रा में भूमि सीमा समझौते पर मोहर लग गई। समुद्रीय सीमा के पारस्परिक समाधान के उपरांत यह भूमि सीमा समझौता दोनों देशों के रिश्तों में दूसरी लगातार सफलता हैं।

इन दो बाधाओं के हटने से दोनों देश अपनी प्रमुख मांगों को एक दुसरे के सामने बेजिझक रूप से रखने में सफल रहे । जहाँ भारत ने बांग्लादेश से अपने पूर्वोत्तर राज्यों के बांग्लादेश से अभिगम (access) की मांग में सीमित सफलता पाई, बांग्लादेश ने तीस्ता मसले को जल्द निपटाने की बात उठाई।

हालांकि इन मामलों का पूर्ण समाधान अभी दूर है, इन नुकिलें विषयों पर खुलकर बातचीत ही अपनेआप में एक मील का पत्थर है । इन दोनों विषयों पर प्रगति ही भारत-बांग्लादेश द्विपक्षीय साझेदारी को निर्धारित करेगी । साथ ही, इस दौरे से कुछ ऐसे समीकरण सामने आ रहे हैं जो भारतीय विदेश नीति के प्रभाव का परिचायक बनेंगे। आइए, इन समीकरणों पर ध्यान केंद्रित करें।

सर्वप्रथम, यह स्पष्ट हो चुका है कि भारत अपनी विदेश नीति में दोस्ताना पड़ोसी राष्ट्रों को प्राथमिकता देगा । इससे पहले भारत की विदेश नीति प्राथमिकता थी पाकिस्तान के साथ सर्व विवादों पर शांतिपूर्ण समझौता। इस प्राथमिकता के चलते दुसरे पड़ोसियों से रिश्ते और सुदृढ़ करना मुश्किल हो गया था क्यूंकि हमारा ध्यान पाकिस्तान पर केंद्रित था । सार्क (SAARC) जैसे बहुराष्ट्रीय मंच भी पाकिस्तान की कटुता के चलते प्रभावहीन हो गए। लेकिन अब, इस सरकार ने साफ़ कर दिया हैँ कि पाकिस्तान को उतना ही महत्व दिया जाएगा जितना वह उसका हकदार है। रक्षा मंत्री के पाकिस्तान के ख़िलाफ़ आतंकवाद पर वक्तव्य के अलावा, सरकार की पाकिस्तान नीति अब तक भारतीय राष्ट्रहित के लिए सकारात्मक रही है।

दूसरा, इस दौरे की सफलता से यह निष्कर्ष निकलता है कि भारत को पड़ोसी राष्ट्रों के दोस्ताना राजनायकों को प्रोत्साहन देना चाहिए। फिर चाहे वह मालदीव हो, बांग्लादेश हो  या श्रीलंका, अगर कोई राजनेता भारत-समर्थक है, तो भारत को खुलकर दोस्ती का हाथ बढ़ाना चाहिए। अगर ऐसे राजनेताओं की शुभकामनाओं के लिए हमे कुछ अतिरिक्त जतन करने पड़े, तो करने चाहिए।  इस तरह भारत एक सशक्त संकेत प्रसारित करेगा कि जो नेता भारत के शुभ चिंतक हैं, उन्हें भारत मुश्किल क्षणों में भी सहायता करने का सामर्थ्य रखता हैं ।

तीसरा समीकरण है भारतीय राज्यों की विदेश नीति मैं बढ़ती भागीदारी। भूमि सीमा समझौते पर हस्ताक्षर के वक्त पश्चिम बंगाल की मुख्यमंत्री की मौजुदगी विदेश नीति मैं राज्यों की बढ़ती साझेदारी की तरफ संकेत करती है। यह इस बात का प्रमाण है कि केंद्र सरकार को यह अहसास हो चुका है कि ‘पड़ोसी पहले’ की नीति तभी सफल हो सकती है जब सीमा स्थित राज्यों को भी भागीदार बनाया जाए। साथ ही यह सरकार की ‘कॉपरेटिव फेडेरलिस्म’ की नीति के साथ भी समन्वय रखता है।

चौथा समीकरण है यह एहसास कि पड़ोसियों से बातचीत में सार्क जैसे बहुपक्षीय मंच की बजाय अलग-अलग द्विपक्षीय साझेदारियां बेहतर काम करती हैं । सार्क में पाकिस्तान की उपस्थिति से आसान कार्य भी पेचीदा हो जाते हैं । और ऐसी कोई भी भारतीय मांग नहीं हैं जो केवल सार्क मंच पर की जा सकती है, द्विपक्षीय स्तर पर नहीं । अतः सार्क में अपनी शक्ति ज़ाया करने से अच्छा है कि भारत आत्मविश्वास से द्विपक्षीय साझेदारियों का एक सशक्त नेटवर्क स्थापित करें।  

“नोतुन प्रजन्मो — नई दिशा” अर्थात “नयी पीढ़ी—नयी दिशा” का नारा क्या भारत विदेश नीति का भी परिचायक होगा?

यह तो उपर्लिखित चार समीकरण निर्धारित करेंगे। फिलहाल, हमें इस बात पर ध्यान देना है कि यह समीकरण स्वतः भारतीय गणतंत्र की घरेलु सफलता पर आधारित हैं। इस सफ़लता के लिए हमें आर्थिक स्तर पर वृद्धि और सामाजिक स्तर  पर सद्भावना की दिशा में ठोस कदम उठाने होंगे ।

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotasPradip Bhandari is a student of the GCPP3 batch. He is the Coordinator, Youth Forum of Thalassemia & Child Welfare Group, in Indore.

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