STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Does India Have a Neighbourhood Policy?

Smruti S. Pattanaik is Research Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
Dr. Arvind Gupta was Director General at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
Ashok K. Behuria is Senior Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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    The article argues that India does not have a well-defined neighbourhood policy. It makes a historical survey of the approaches of different Indian leaders to the neighbourhood and examines the reasons for the prevailing negative perceptions about India in the region. It argues that these negative perceptions have come about because India has largely adopted an ad hoc and bilateral approach vis-à-vis its neighbours and has allowed its policy to be guided by an overarching concern for security. In recent years, India's approach has changed considerably. However, it needs clearer articulation. The article suggests that India must effectively communicate its vision of regional integration to its neighbours, enable them to participate profitably in its growing economy, spell out its ‘non-negotiables’ in matters concerning its security and national interest, maintain linkages at the highest political level, open multiple tracks of communication and take a leadership position in multilateral forums like SAARC and BIMSTEC to bring peace and prosperity to the region through greater cooperation in diverse areas. This will prove effective in improving its relations with its neighbours.

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