Mains Practice Question


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Discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with India’s neighbourhood foreign policy


Leaders from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new Indian government, while Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar were not invited.
No significant bilateral meetings occurred with any neighbouring leaders.
India plans to adjust its strategic agenda for specific regions based on the evolving global situation and its strategic interests.

Challenges and Opportunities in India’s Neighborhood


  • Diplomatic relations with Kabul have been minimal since the Taliban took over in August 2021. India maintains a low-level engagement through a technical team for humanitarian aid, with no high-level interactions planned.


  • Engaging with Myanmar's junta, which is dealing with internal armed resistance, presents a challenge. Indian strategic circles suggest that India should also consider engaging with opposition groups due to the potential instability of the current government.


  • The election of President Mohamed Muizzu, who campaigned on an "India Out" platform, is significant. In response, India replaced its military personnel with trained technical staff as requested by the Muizzu government, indicating readiness for further engagement.


  • A restrained approach from Indian government members during the third phase of the BJP government is beneficial, as both countries aim to combat extremism, radicalization, and terrorism.


  • India is prepared to assist Bhutan with its five-year plan, a financial stimulus package, and the Gelephu city project.


  • China has a notable influence in Nepal, with former Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's government appearing to use Beijing's support against India. India needs to work hard to regain the trust of the Nepalese people, which was damaged by the 2015 economic blockade.

Sri Lanka

  • India's support during Sri Lanka’s financial crisis earned goodwill, but this was undermined by disputes over Katchatheevu island.

Seychelles and Mauritius

  • India aims to enhance port infrastructure in these countries as part of its maritime diplomacy and security efforts. Progress has been made on Agalega Islands in Mauritius, but developing Assumption Island in Seychelles remains challenging.


  • India's relationship with Pakistan fluctuated in 2014 and 2015, deteriorating after terrorist attacks in Pathankot and Uri in 2016. The 2019 Pulwama attack and subsequent Balakot strikes heightened nationalist sentiment in India. Changes to the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019 led to a further downgrading of diplomatic relations. Recent terrorist attacks in J&K have hindered any potential for renewed engagement.


  • High-level engagements, including Modi's meeting with President Xi Jinping at the SCO summit in Kazakhstan, could offer a chance for progress. However, India insists on complete disengagement and de-escalation, which will require significant time to move 50,000-60,000 troops and equipment from both sides of the border
Other Points to Consider

India’s engagement with Western countries

India’s involvement in the South-Asian region




Previous Year Questions

1.Indian diaspora has scaled new heights in the West. Describe its economic and political benefits for India. (2023)

2.‘India is an age-old friend of Sri Lanka.’ Discuss India’s role in the recent crisis in Sri Lanka in the light of the preceding statement. (2022)

3.Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South East Asian countries economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South-East Asia in this context. (2017)

20-Jun 2024