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Role of Neighborhood First Policy Context

Recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohammad Saleh. It is notable that this is his first visit to the Maldives as Prime Minister, which has been considered as the step taken under the ‘Neighborhood First Policy’ with an attempt to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. However, this period of relations is not new. After winning the elections this year, Saleh has clearly stated that his policy will be of ‘India First’. Flexibility of relations is being seen as a new, moderate neighborhood policy or implementation of ‘Neighborhood First Policy’.


‘Neighborhood first policy’

  • With a rapidly changing scenario, the policies also change in order to deal with external matters. Therefore, India also keeps such changes in its foreign policy from time to time to get the most benefit of the situation. 
  • India launched ‘Neighborhood first policy’ in the current period of globalization to address the need for regional integration in South Asia in the year 2005.
  • ‘Neighborhood First Policy’ means giving priority to its neighboring countries, which means ‘Neighborhood first’.
  • Under this policy, focused on development of border areas, better connectivity and cultural development of the region and encouraging people’s interaction.
  • It is notable that this is a medium of soft power policy.
  • The important points covered under this policy are as follows:
  • Through this policy, India is keen to provide political and diplomatic preference to neighboring countries and the Indian Ocean Islands.
  • Support is to neighboring countries by providing assistance in the form of resources, materials and training.
  • The purpose of this policy of India is to promote such model of regionalism in the leadership of India which is also conducive to neighboring countries.
  • Extensive connectivity and integration to improve the flow of goods, people, energy, capital and information.
  • As well as connecting with neighboring countries through cultural heritage.

Implementation of Neighborhood First Policy of 2018

  • In the last one year, the present government has generally been emphasized on strengthening relations with neighboring countries, although disagreements are still on prominence in the area of relations with key powers like Russia and China.
  • Keeping this in mind, the Prime Minister paid a lot of attention to “Sochi Retreat” with Chinese President Xi Jinping with “Wuhan Summit” and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but at present, even more important is his relationship with his current neighbors To maintain the sweet is.
  • Nepal is the first place in India’s Neighborhood First Policy and for the strength of relations, a bus service from Janakpur in Nepal has started from Ayodhya and Ayodhya from Janakpur.
  • In relation with Nepal, since the blockade of 2015, there was little rigidity in the government’s policy. When Mr. Oli was re-elected despite the anti-India campaign in 2018, the present government showed willingness to step up its move towards Nepal and as an unorthodox step, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj traveled to Kathmandu.
  • After this, the Prime Minister of Nepal, Oli has been officially invited to Delhi and the Prime Minister has twice been visited by the current Prime Minister and in December the Prime Minister is also likely to become part of Nepal’s “Vivah Panchami” festival.
  • During the previous rule of Abdullah Yameen in Maldives, when the Emergency was declared, India did not make any attempt to militarily threaten despite domestic commentators and Western diplomats.
  • When Yameen refused to grant visas to thousands of Indians (job seekers) and navy and military personnel, India responded on his reaction that every country has the right to decide its visa policy.
  • Apart from this, in relation to political crisis and elections in Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, India has not given any public political statements and also maintained distance from any statement which can be considered as one-sided interference or preference.
  • Perhaps this year the biggest policy change was done by giving concession to the Ashraf dense government in Kabul. After more than two decades of refusing to join the Taliban, the two countries were partners in a dialogue and in November, India sent its ambassadors during the Moscow Conference in Afghanistan, where Taliban representatives were also present.
  • As well as the U.S. In Moscow decided to send a diplomat as a “supervisor”, but the Indian delegation of former ambassadors in this area informally participated in this area.
  • It is notable that before that the Indian government was separated from the above process and crossed any red line on Afghanistan’s ‘Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution’ was considered.
  • However, the Russian government changed the situation with high level access, which has presented the conference as a major diplomatic success, while India’s involvement itself was reduced by President Ghani’s estimation.
  • During his visit to Delhi, President Ghani made a strong base to support the dialogue with the Taliban.
  • During the joint negotiations between the two countries, President Ghani insisted that there were problems like ‘Islamic State’ and ‘foreign terrorism’ in Afghanistan and that is why the Taliban of Afghanistan is opposed.

Kartarpur Link is a step forward

  • In the above-mentioned perspective, the government laid the foundation stone of a six-kilometer long corridor connecting the holy shrine of Sikhs, Kartarpur Sahib with India and Pakistan.
  • The Pakistan government also agreed to make such a 4-kilometer long corridor in their area with appropriate facilities.
  • India treated Pakistan with softness and sent two Union Ministers to join the ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan.
  • Kartarpur corridor is also considered as part of India’s ‘Neighborhood First Policy’.
  • It is noteworthy that after the Uri attack in September 2016, no Indian minister had visited Pakistan, and after the cancellation of talks of the Foreign Minister in the United Nations this year, it was assumed that the government would not be able to meet any new government The agreement will not be proposed.
  • However, it seems that there is no possibility of any major change before the Prime Minister’s visit to the SAARC Summit.
  • Despite this, while promoting people-to-people ties among the people, the Prime Minister also praised the efforts made in connection with the Kartarpur corridor, compared to the collapse of the wall of Berlin, Between being a new hope is being communicated.

The reason for adopting ‘Neighborhood First’ policy with ‘Big Brother’

  • Due to all the above policies, the question arises, why has the Government decided to change its role in the neighborhood rather than the role of ‘Big Brother’ in a more real and informal version?
  • One of the main reasons for this is certainly the response from some small neighbors like Nepal and Maldives, who have become hard on their policies after being armed and strong, even if India has not given advice only in their interest.
  • Apart from this, India’s current policy in response to China’s policy of entrapment of loans to India’s neighbors in the name of building infrastructure and to force India to pursue activities is important.
  • Therefore, the spirit of China’s relationship with both ‘cooperation and competition’ and the spirit of self-restoration and self-resurgence have made this policy important.

Temporary or durable option

  • There is no difference in the fact that India’s present vast population, rapidly emerging economy, huge military strength and relatively better position to influence other states on the international military platform has naturally raised it as a power in South Asia. is.
  • In such a situation, India should not give much emphasis on retreating in an aggressive situation, as this will make it a ground for the rivalry of the U.S.-China.
  • At the same time, the estimation of how sustainable or sustainable is the current policy is hidden in future trough, although India and Pakistan, being regarded as always due to the bitterness of relations, have agreed to establish a dialogue between the Kartarpur Corridor. It is also not appropriate to put question marks on the significance of the policy.

Forward path

  • The shared history, her heritage, value and ways of living with her neighboring countries provide her a common platform.
  • India is making a balanced effort to establish himself as a super power with great powers and is trying to achieve maximum benefits for its domestic development.
  • Therefore, it is necessary for its success that at least stalemate can be made by our neighbors, in such a way that the policy of Neighborhood First Policy can prove to be an effective alternative, provided its continuity is maintained with commitment.
  • There is no doubt that India will soon become the fourth largest economy in the world, but with this development it is necessary for India to always maintain peace that India is not concerned about its neighbors’ relations.
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