Permanence of temporary provision : Article 370

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In tough times of 1947 when all the 560 odd newly independent British provinces had the choice of either going with Dominion India/Pakistan or to remain independent, the province of Jammu & Kashmir under Raja Hari Singh choose to remain independent.

This was a state with majority Muslim population ruled by a Hindu ruler and was on the border of both India and Pakistan.

Jinnah the creator of Pakistan argued that the Muslim majority state should join the separate land for Muslim but this proposal was rejected by the Maharaj. So to force it’s incorporation the Afridi tribe with support of the Pakistani administration attacked the the newly independent province.

This tumultuous scenario forced the hand of Raja Hari Singh to request for help from India as the state was incapable to defending itself from this likely invasion.

India under Pandit Nehru did offered the support on a condition that the state will sign the instrument of accession which the King readily agreed to. This is how the State of Jammu & Kashmir became integral part of Union of India.

Image courtesy The Hindustan Times

Article 1 which states that “India i.e. Bharat shall be a Union of State” implies that all the states including the State of Jammu & Kashmir are integral part of India.

Similarly the preamble of constitution of Jammu & Kashmir also recognises the state to be integral part of India.

Being a secular personality and to prove the world that India is a democracy in true sense, the government back then decided to heed to the instrument of accession and incorporated Article 370 into the Constitution of India.

Article 370 “Temporary provision with respect of State of Jammu & Kashmir” which is in line with Instrument of accession gave some special powers to state including having its own flag, state citizenship and a separate state constitution.

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Accordingly the state constitutional assembly was incorporated which debated and finalized a state constitution which among other provisions provided for Article 35A making it compulsory to be a citizen of the state for purchasing land in the state.

Though article 370 was meant to be a temporary provision until the state is fully integrated into India but it was being dragged even after 70 years of independence.

This special status to a state was not acceptable to a certain section of Indian society and the demands to repeal it started to make rounds.

As the support for repealing this article grew over the years, many parties including a national party incorporated this wish in its manifesto for the election.

Within 90 days of coming to power with a strongest mandate in recent years, BJP government under Modi- Shah duo implemented their plan and unilaterally changed the status of the state overnight.

The government took a leaf out of Israeli playbook and sent in Army, enforced section 144, shutting down the communication lines etc. before unveiling the presidential order of reorganization of State into two different union territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Also a bill was introduced in the Upper House which provided for amending Article 370 and same became an act within 3 days of introduction.

It was so quick a move that even before people realized, their special powers were robbed from them.

This move of the government was portrayed as a win for the nation and also showed to the world the resolve of this government.

Though the benefits are numerous both for the people of erstwhile state and whole of India as now people from around the nation can purchase land and settle in that region which will most certainly increase integration, more job opportunities can also be created by attracting private investments and reducing the state bureaucracy will definitely reduce corruption which means more money will trickle down for development of people.

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This move was also compelled due to the current international developments like Trump offering of mediation on the Kashmir issue to Pakistan Prime Minister

Also the likely success of proposed talks on the status of Afghanistan which might lead to withdrawal of US troops from the region and Taliban getting a say in the Afghanistan government ultimately leading to less Indian influence in that region and more susceptibility to terrorist attacks on the Indian side of Kashmir.

Despite numerous benefits of the said move, the conversion of State into two union territories has been criticised by people around the world and in India.

Some criticism is due to the lockdown of Kashmir because of which normal life of people is affected, also the shortage of food, closure of emergency services like closure of hospitals etc. has been criticised.

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But most importantly the criticism is because, this move is being made unilaterally by a few in the central government without even consulting the state representatives, making this conversion inherently against the spirit of democracy.

The pledge of “We the people” in preamble was vehemently ignored.

Special powers to a particular state is opposed to the spirit of the constitution as it infringes the Article 19 Right to Equality. But taking away this power suddenly will further annhiliate the already annhiliated group of people.

It might lead to more radicalization and will provide fuel to the already growing calls of freedom.

This move might also backfire if common people comes to the street protesting this sudden change of status after army troops are removed.

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So it would have been better if the center would have taken the state representative into confidence.

To negate the blowback of this move, the government has to first improve the economic opportunities for the people, by creating jobs in the region, by investing more on infrastructural development projects.

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Also elections should be conducted immediately so that people might feel that they have someone through which they can raise their concerns.

Grassroot leaders should be taken into confidence, through whom the messages against radicalization should be spread.

The decision is taken by the government, now the focus should be on remediating it’s negative effects so that people of Jammu & Kashmir can be fully integrated into the union of India.

The Modi Doctrine

As foreign affairs is a very dynamic and a delicate topic so there are bound to be some setbacks and India is no different as she also faced some setbacks in these last five years, prominent among those are the downward trend in relations with Pakistan, Russia and uncertainty in the relation with the Dragon.

In the last leg of this series we will analyse the misses of India’s foreign policy and how Modi government 2.0 can remediate these mistakes and move forward to take India at even higher levels.

The Misses

India & Pakistan

One of the big promises made during the 2014 electoral campaign was to create an atmosphere free of terror and to improve our relations with Pakistan, which the government tried to implement from the day of swearing in ceremony of the new cabinet by inviting Prime Minister Sharif, but relations only went south from thereon and the rift between the two neighbors only widened.

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Though efforts were made from both the side to resolve the long pending problems between the two, like surprise touchdown by Modi to wish Nawaz Sharif on his daughter wedding. But Pakistani establishment failed to rein in its powerful military and the non-state actors from acting rouge.

Because of which many flash points occurred between the two nuclear powers like the attacks at Gurdaspur and Pathankot air base, but the triggering point of the downfall was the attack on the Indian Army troops.

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Indian government immediately retaliated this by launching a surgical strike, but a strategic error was made as this covert operation was popularized, leading to internationalization of Kashmir issue and reducing the options with the government but to take military action in case of such misadventures by our neighbors in the future like air-force was used after the Pulwama attack.

Also the Indian establishment was not fully able to leverage position to put economic pressure on the Pakistani side and force there hand to arrest the perpetrators of terror attacks like Hafiz saeed.

Even getting a UN sanctions against terrorist Masood Azhar took years and still the government is unable to convince the world to put Pakistan on the black list of FATF (Financial action task force)  (Which will effectively make foreign money market inaccessible to Pakistan).

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Poor management of this Pakistani problem also caused domestic issues in Kashmir making the common Kashmiri feeling more angered and raged with India.

Apart from Pakistan the other big miss has been the relation with China.

India & China

Relations between India and China has always been of frenemies and it continues to remain as such even today.

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Though the strategic interest of both these emerging powers align on some issues like both fight against the hegemony of the western world, but most of the time their interest collide with each leading to tension.

Modi government has tried to resolve the long pending issues with China by following Nehruvian philosophy of Panchsheel, but the list of issues are so long and complex like territorial issue at Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, or the latest China- Pakistan economic co-operation etc. that it causes even small issue to flare up quite quickly as was the case with the military standoff at Doklam in 2017

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The government has tried all in its power to maintain a good relation with China by having bilateral summit, increasing the trade with China etc. still India has not been able to utilize its position to reason with China on important strategic matters like not to build an economic corridor in Pakistan occupied Kashmir as it is technically an Indian territory or to lift off its veto against India’s entry into NSG (Nuclear supply group).

Though both the administration reiterate about the Wuhan summit, but the results are yet to be seen in reality

A much bigger hiccup than China is India’s relationship with Russia.

India & Russia

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Russia has been the greatest friend of India since its independence in 1947, it has always helped India during tough times like vetoing against Kashmir resolution introduced by US and its allies at UNSC, providing rocket engine technology when the whole world refused it and the famous Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1971, which wade of the threat by China and US of attacking India for India’s support in Bangladesh freedom struggle.

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But during the last five years due to changing strategic realities and interest, India administration to some extent has been ignoring its traditional partnership with Russia, which is compelling Russia to slowly move towards developing a relations with Pakistan and proof of that is Russia conducting its first ever bilateral military exercise Druzhba with Pakistan in 2016

Though the Modi government has tried to keep its Russian friends happy by conducting an annual bilateral meet between the two premiers and by not bogging down to the pressures and sanctions from the US against purchasing weapons from the former Soviet Union especially S-400 anti aircraft weapon system, still relations with Russia is a hiccup in Indian foreign policy strategy.

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Apart from the above big three, other misses of Modi government has been with Latin America, Europe, Africa and South East Asia

India & the world

Nehru did build strong relations with most of the countries of Latin America through Non-Alignment movement, but later governments didn’t follow the suit and somewhat ignored the relations with that resource rich part of the world.

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Modi government also intimate the same policy and ignored the Latin American region almost completely.

Apart for Brazil thanks to annual BRICS summit, that region is the least travelled by the one of the most travelled head of the state.

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India doesn’t have an embassy in many of the Latin American countries and this has been a big miss for India as that region has large amount of resources be it the black gold (coal), uranium or the lithium which is currently the most sought after resource because of its use in making recyclable batteries.

Also trading opportunities were missed as still India and Mercosur (South American trade bloc) have not been able to take full advantage of the preferential trade agreement (PTA) signed between them due to which trade growth has faltered and has been $39 billion which  dwarf if we compare Chinese trade with that south America which is approximately over $200 Billion

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Indian-African relation dates back to thousands of years, but still the relation has not evolved much with most of the Africa nation apart for few counties like Kenya or South Africa.

India doesn’t even have a permanent embassy in many of those 54 countries in African continent.

Also in trading terms India lags way behind than China and has a total bilateral trade of $63Bn which is only 25% of the total Chinese trade of over $240Bn

This relation has been a big miss because India has made numerous promises to many African nations in these five years but has faltered fulfilling most of them also delays and cost overrun on many of these infrastructural projects promised by India has been frustrating for them.

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Even with the European Union we are still not able to negotiate a free trading agreement since last two decades which is affecting our exports badly and also except a few nations in Europe, we still don’t have strong bilateral ties with many of the eastern European countries like the Baltic region and many states in Balkans.

South East Asia has also been a miss for Indian foreign policy, eventhough this region is in our neighborhood.

Though an FTA was signed between India and ASIAN back in 2004 still India was not able to reap its benefits as it didn’t cover the trade in service sector. Also the region is not happy with India delaying the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) negotiations again and again thereby causing a bad publicity of India around the world.

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Apart for above Modi administration has faltered in Increasing trade with the world due to poor negotiations at WTO or bilaterally which has affected the growth of Indian economy.

Way Forward

Thought there has been a lot of misses and hiccups in these last five years, but they also provided a lot of opportunities to capitalize upon from which Modi government 2.0 must learn from and try to improve upon them.

Image courtesy The Economic Times

India should negotiate a better deal for itself at the world stage by including more and more of professional negotiators and industrialist in negotiating process rather than ministers and bureaucrats with least of business acumen.

India should also reach out to the parts of the world where it still has minimal of contact like Africa and Latin America by setting embassies, searching for opportunities to trade with them, by investing in their developmental projects and reaching out to them by utilizing its soft power, which will help in building goodwill.

With China, India should follow the Wuhan spirit and try to increase exports to China so that both the economies gets vested into each other more deeply, which will help us cutting a better negotiations in future.

Image courtesy The Hindu

With Pakistan, India needs to use its diplomatic and economic capital to isolate Pakistan, so that they are forced to close these terror factories, also recent mobilization of troops to Kashmir region is a good move to build economic pressure on a broke Pakistan. India should also sincerely pursue getting Pakistan into the black list of FATF which contains the names like Iran and North Korea, so that more pressure is built on them.

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 Also India should reason with Pakistan’s allies like China and Turkey to force Pakistan to mend its way or otherwise face consequences.

As Richard N. Hass said “Success in foreign policy, as in carpentry, requires the right tools for the job”

Therefore India should also use the right tools to try and build a much deeper relations with the countries with whom she has been able to foster a strong partnership during Modi’s first term and also should try and explore opportunities to manage and improve its relation with countries with whom she lagged behind

Then only she can achieve her dream of becoming a super power of the world

The Modi Doctrine

India again went for the greatest voting exercise in the world, which went on for a month and result was as expected, India gave its mandate to Modi led BJP government, but surprisingly with a margin which was even bigger than the previous election.

Credit goes to some of the brilliant moves and policies of the last Modi government, like successfully implementing a sleepy GST bill, the Jan Dhan yojna which lead to more than 90% of Indians (around a billion people) getting into the formal economy, the Direct Benefit Transfer introduced under various schemes like LPG subsidy, MGNREGA etc. This led to reduction in corruption to a certain extent, which was even acknowledged by the World Bank etc.

A lot of credit also goes to the proactive foreign policy of the government, which not only benefited the nation but also brought India into the big league on the global stage.

This is a series of three articles where we will explore the hits and misses of Indian foreign policies over the last five years and how it has benefited the nation. Thereafter we will discuss some measure that the current establishment should to take to help India reach its rightful place on the global stage.

The Big Hits

Modi government even at the state level had been very instrumental in getting foreign investment and building relations with foreign states, Vibrant Gujarat summit is a great example of that and he brought the same intensity to the office of Prime Minister.

Example of this proactiveness is seen during the Indian cabinet swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where all the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) nations were invited, which gave a firm message to the world and to our neighborhood that for this government ‘Neighbours comes first ‘

The Neighbour First Policy

Biggest complain that our South Asian partners had with us over the years is that India doesn’t pay enough attention to its own backyard and rightly so

India since independence has focused more on global affairs then on the affairs of its surroundings, Non-alignment Movement is a shining example of that.

Though successive government since Narsimha Rao’s in 1991 has looked to transform this image with policies such as Look East policy, Gujral Doctrine of 1997 etc. but energy to these efforts was provided by the Modi administration when he changed the framework of Look East to Act East and introduced the policy of Neighbour First both in speech and spirit.

We saw this Neighbour first policy into implementation when the Indian Prime Minister made his first official foreign visit to Bhutan thereby emphasizing on regional co-operation before global co-operation.

It was just a trailer of what we were going to achieve in the next five years and the momentum just picked up from there.

After that many more state visits were made and a lot of agreements were entered with all our neighbors such as the long pending Land Boundary agreement was signed with Bangladesh which solved the problem that British created via Radcliff Line, Delhi – Kathmandu bus services was started, India- Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project was inaugurated in 2016 to enhance connectivity.

Also Line of Credit ‘Soft Loans‘ worth Billions of dollars were disbursed, many infrastructural projects were taken up, of which some of them were for free like building of Afghanistan Parliament.

All these moves were in n true spirit of “Sabka sath, Sabka Vikas”

But the greatest gift by India to its neighbours was the launch of ‘The South Asian Satellite’ which was said to be the brain child of Modi himself.

This move not only increased our goodwill amongst our neighbors but also raised our stature as a regional power in the eyes of the world.

Though maintaining good relations with neighbors is utmost important for any country, but equally important is to maintain good relations with the world at large and Modi administration took care of its global relation with an equal swag.

India and its Global Relations.

Be it the relations with US, China, Russia or The Middle East or for that matter Latin America every relation was given a due importance.

India & US

Modi in his very first year of Prime Ministership made a state visit to the US.

This opportunity was grabbed with both hands by this administration to leave a mark of its foreign policy objective on the world.

The greatest highlight of this visit was the world famous speech at THE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN in New York and the famous dialogue of Star Wars “May the force be with you” at the Central Park.

The speech at The Madison Square was a huge hit around the globe because there are very few artists, leave alone politicians who can fill the stadium to its full capacity and Modi proved that he is one of those rare personality.

Though the real objective of this move was to use the strength of our influential but to an extent neglected diaspora living in the US, to mold the policies of US government in favor of India.

This in itself was the first time that an Indian politician was talking straight to the common people of the diaspora

This speech is still remembered as a master stroke by many foreign policy pundits, as after that the diaspora gained a lot of confidence and the US Congress and lawmakers alike started looking favorably towards India and Indians.

That’s not all, there were many substantive agreements signed with the US in the last 5 years.

Prominent amongst those were COMCASA (Communication Capability and Security Agreement) and LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) which are two of the four foundational agreement US signs with its closest allies. These agreements are important because it facilitates inter-operability between the two militaries and also is a pre-requisite to purchase high-end technology from the US like the Howitzer and Guardian Drones

In layman language India has now joined the small but elite group of nations which are eligible to purchase high end armed drones and missile technology form the US, which will not only strengthen our attacking capability but also deter our adversaries.

India was also given the status of Major Defense Partner (A term specifically created for India) it means that US will have a defense ties with India at par with its NATO allies which is considered to be a privilege as US is virtually guaranteeing the supply of its latest defense technologies without any roadblocks.

There are various examples of the strong ties that Modi was able to establish with US, one of which is the recent adventure by IAF on Pakistan based terrorist camps in Balakot, was not criticized by the US (which is the general norm) but instead India was encouraged and Pakistan was warned against such provocations.

Also the memorable visit by President Barak Obama to Indian Republic day celebrations ( First by a sitting US President).

Due of this proactiveness in foreign policy, US used its diplomatic capital to get India admitted into three out of four export control regimes namely MTCR (Missile technology control regime), Australia Group (Control regime for chemical and bio-technology that could be weaponized) and Wassenaar arrangement (Control regime for conventional arms and dual use technology)

Being part of these multilateral agreements will help us to procure and trade in modern technology freely without any restrictions and curtailment with the member countries of these agreements. An example of benefit of being member such treaty is the recent agreement between India and Russia to enhance the capacity of BrahMos a Supersonic Cruise Missile beyond 300 Km radius.

It is the first time in history that a country which is not part of the Non-Proliferation treaty was admitted to these elite groups

Apart from Defense, relations has also progressed in other fields during the first term of Modi. Be it the economic relations which lead to increase in our bilateral trade from $104 billion in 2014 to $142 billion in 2018

Setting up of 2+2 dialogue mechanism in which both Foreign and Defense ministers of both the nations will meet and discuss the issues which affects them, or be it getting special exemptions from the US to import oil from Iran and to make huge investment to the tunes of billions on Chabahar port of Iran.

Greatest part of this relation is that it is bi-partisan, i.e. both democrats and republicans are in favor of good relations with India and as a mark of respect to this special relation US changed the name of Asia-Pacific region to Indo-Pacific region in its policy documents and changed the name of its Pacific command to Indo-Pacific command.

Highlight of this improved relation is the inflow of FDI (Foreign Domestic Investments) from US based companies into India, be it Apple setting up factory for the first time in India or the huge investment poured into India by Google, Amazon and recently by Walmart, even offer made by Lockheed Martin to move its entire production base of F-16 to India stands out as a testimony of the great bilateral ties.

This all has become possible only because of the strong ties Modi establishment has been able to cultivate with The US.

In the second article we will explore India’s relation with other part of the world, prominent among them will be the relations with Russia, Pakistan and China. Further article will also discuss few hiccups the Modi government had to face in its last 5 years.