Event ReportsPublished on Aug 20, 2015
From the beginning of the 21st century, India's foreign policy got a strategic orientation. Until then, it lacked coherence due to the absence of an overall plan or document stating the foreign policy objectives, says Professor Takenori Horimoto of The Open University of Japan.
Japanese expert says India's cooperation with Russia, China is revisionist orientation

India’s foreign policy objective since the beginning of the 21st century has been to become a major power based on economic growth and expansion of defence capabilities, said Takenori Horimoto, professor at The Open University of Japan. He was delivering a lecture on "India’s Foreign Policy: A Japanese Perspective" at the ORF Kolkata Chapter on 17 August. Presidency University collaborated with ORF in hosting this lecture.

Discussing India’s foreign policy, Horimoto named 2000 as the watershed year in India’s foreign policy. Beginning of the 21st century onward, India’s foreign policy developed a strategic orientation. Until then, it had lacked coherence due to the absence of an overall plan or document stating the foreign policy objectives.

In 1993, the Look East Policy was initiated when the-then Indian Prime Minister, late P.V. Narasimha Rao, went on an official visit to South Korea. This was followed by strategic partnership agreements with France and Russia. More than 23 strategic partnership agreements have been signed by India within a couple of decades, the maximum any country has signed.

The Indian foreign policy matrix at the global level has the objective to intensify cooperation with Russia and China vis-a-vis US and Japan through expansion of economic and defence capabilities. This, the professor explained, was the "revisionist orientation" with multi-polarisation as the stated objective.

He gave examples of India’s ongoing cooperation with Russia and China in BRICS Forum and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for supplementing his point on India’s "revisionist orientation" at the global level. Maintaining nuclear weapons and strengthening diplomatic infrastructure were other pointers of the orientation of India’s foreign policy at the global level.

Strategic partnership on strategic autonomy was another stated objective for consolidating its position as a "Global Power." Horimoto mentioned India’s objective at the regional level is to achieve relative dominance in Asia and in the Asia-Pacific region through cooperation with US and Japan.

The speaker labelled the Indian foreign policy at the sub-regional level (within South Asia) as "hegemonic." He said the policy aimed at maintaining status-quo, while coping with a China-Pakistan alliance and pushing forth economic integration within the sub-region.

He called India’s relations with Japan "convenient relations," hinged on non-conflicting mutual interests. Both countries have no mutual threat as the distance between the two countries is 6,000 kilometers, and both countries play a supplementary role to each other economically and in terms of security. The Indo-Japan bilateral cooperation may continue for the next 10 years, he added.

He said India’s overall foreign policy orientation would be how to cope with the rise of China.

In the discussion that followed Hiromoto’s lecture, one participant noted that the real landmark of India’s foreign policy has been the year 2014, when Narendra Modi assumed the Prime Minister’s office. He held that Prime Minister Modi’s objective has been to pursue stability and strategic understanding and not strategic autonomy. He also pointed out that there was a view that strategic autonomy was a thing of the past.

Report prepared by Mihir Bhonsale, Research Assistant, ORF Kolkata.

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