Sunday, September 2, 2018

India Foreign Policy fact of the day

India's state capacity is notoriously weak. Nowhere is it so weak as in its foreign policy apparatus. Bloomberg has a timely article on this,
India Has 1.3 Billion People, But Fewer Than 1,000 Diplomats... The nation of 1.3 billion people only deploys around as many diplomats as New Zealand, which has a population of around 5 million... With roughly 940 foreign service officers, India has one of the most understaffed diplomatic corps of any major country -- just slightly higher than New Zealand’s 885 officers, or Singapore’s 850. It’s vastly outnumbered by the Japanese and Australian services of around 6,000 people, the estimated 7,500 diplomats of rival China and the U.S. State Department’s service of nearly 14,000... In 2016, the ministry said it was still 140 officers short of its sanctioned strength of 912 diplomats.
Indian foreign policy capacity in terms of number of diplomats.
And in terms of diplomatic missions.
The capacity weakness manifests in its effectiveness
The shortage is particularly pronounced at a time when Modi has increased his foreign travel, visiting nearly 60 countries in just four years. Modi has made five visits each to the U.S. and China and four visits each to Russia and Germany. But thin staffing makes it difficult for India to follow up on his headline-generating outreach.
The decreasing attraction of foreign service as a career is nicely captured by this Shashi Tharoor statement,
It seems appalling that we have to make do with a diplomat who is only there because he couldn’t fulfill his dream of being a police superintendent or customs official.

1 comment:

Maitreya said...

Gone are the days when the Indian Foreign Service used to be the top choice among UPSC applicants. These days the allure of a foreign posting has gone down significantly.

Also - that Bloomberg article speaks of China as a "rival" to India. That's like calling Mexico a rival of the United States. Indians often like to compare themselves to China, and are proud of their international recognition and "democracy" - real or imagined. In reality, there's no comparison whatsoever - especially in foreign policy. Who can forget that famous case of Modi going to Mongolia and making empty promises which India could not keep: https://www.oneindia.com/india/iran-says-india-promises-chabahar-not-fulfilled-mongolia-china-2732539.html

And it's not just about China having more cash. It's more about the mindset. As I always say: While Chinese foreign policy is about surviving the next century, Indian foreign policy is about surviving the next election.

Countries may hate China or love it - but there's a healthy amount of respect too for China's unique achievements. Everyone knows that there is at least something that they can learn from China.

And what can they learn from India, dare I ask? Perhaps how to keep your nation hungrier than North Korea: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/india-is-hungrier-than-north-korea ;-)