In 2014 with the BJP coming into power, world witnessed a paradigm shift in the India’s foreign policy. Today’s Indian foreign policy is designed by Bharatya Janata Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it is completely contrary to the Nehruwian vision or principles which the served as the moral principles of Indian foreign policy for more than sixty years. Indian foreign policy today is run on the principles of military engagements, alignments, expansionism and hard-core power manifestation.
The paradigm shift in the India’s foreign policy is not merely a constructed narrative, but a hardcore reality. Two documents published by the two opposite and leading political parties of India; Congress and BJP, justify this fact. In 2014, Congress published a document titled as “Non-alignment 2.0: A foreign and strategic policy for India in 21st century” written by Sunil Khilnani, Rajiv Kumar and Pratap Bhanu, which states that “If there can be any global India; that India should be based upon only real Indian power and that is Indian soft power”. BJP has also published a document under the title “India and the balance of power” penned down by Raja Mohan. The document implies that “After more then half century of wrong starts and unrealized potential, India is now finally emerging as a swing state in global balance of power”. Hence, the radical change in the Indian foreign policy designs is a hardcore fact of the 21st century.
The transformation in the Indian foreign policy is not primarily because of the extremist Hindutva ideology of the ruling party but it is majorly linked with the growing economic and strategic interests of India in the region. According to the most sophisticated and credible energy report; “World Energy Outlook Report 2018”, “In terms of demand, world’s largest energy demand center is China, followed by India. The pace at which energy demands of the two states are growing, it would not be late until 2025, that the two countries will import 90% of their energy”. The growing energy demands of the two countries bring them to conflict in the region of Indian Ocean.
Indian Ocean is surrounded by Middle East having highest active energy reserves, Central Asia having world’s second largest active energy reserves, South East Asia which have world’s third largest active energy reserves and Africa which also has abundance of energy resources. It is known as the “Energy ring of the world”. China, through its Chinese Dragon, is aspiring to be the “King of the Ring”. Quoting the words of John Mearsheimer, world’s most credible structural realist, he said, “The fate of 21st century would be decided in Indian ocean. This ocean has four choke points. Whoever would be controlling these four choke points, would be controlling the whole world”. Most of the projects of the Chinese Dragon are operating in the Indian Ocean region. All the major eleven ports (Strings of Pearls) of the project are also in the Indian Ocean. In some areas, China has successfully achieved its targets and is some, it is progressing with a productive pace.
China’s growing infiltration in the Indian Ocean ensures China’s energy securitization. It can also be synonymously called as India’s energy security vulnerability. This security vulnerability of India has put India in direct or indirect confrontation with China or pro-Chinese states. In the immediate neighborhood, India is surrounded by South Asian countries and China. At the same time, the projects of Chinese Dragon are underway in almost all of the South Asian countries. That is why, in its immediate neighborhood, Indian’s foreign policy is aggressive, expansionist and militarist with the agenda to create security hurdles in way of successful completion of Chinese backed projects. India has started bullying every South Asian state with the aim to bring security vulnerability in the region. In the context of Pakistan, it is not now the strategic, ideological or historical clashes primarily between the two border states, rather it is the growing and deepening friendship between China and Pakistan in the context of CPEC due to which India has adopted a hardcore policy against Pakistan. The evident episodes in this context are Baluchistan insurgency, accelerated fascism in Kashmir, revoking of Articles 370 and 35-A, LOC violations and disrespecting air boundaries etc. United States of America is also aggressively trying to extend or keep intact its sphere of influence in the South Asian region in order to contain Beijing by projecting India as a potential counterweight of China.
In the extended neighborhood, there exist Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and South East Asia. In these regions, Indian foreign policy is driven by a Divide and Rule policy where India is making political, economic, strategic (military) bilateral alliances with the pro US or anti-China states in order to counter increasing influence of China and establishing a sphere of influence of Delhi under the clout of United States of America.
In the peripheral neighborhood which is constituted by Europe, Northern America, Latin America, Australia, Japan and Russia, India is trying to play a role in keeping the global political order intact. The current global political order is still uni-polar but it is rapidly moving towards multi-polarity where the global dominance is shifting from Global North to Global South. India, in the peripheral neighborhood, is swinging towards anti-China or pro-US global powers in order to ensure global power dominance away from China. QUAD-IV signed in 2021 between India, US, Japan and Australia, is the evident example in this regard.
In a nutshell, it can be said that the extremist foreign policy designs of India under the rule of BJP are not primarily because of the aggressive designs of Hindutva ideology but because of the immediate economic threats India is faced with, in the wake of energy securitization. The growing Chinese dominance primarily in the region of Indian Ocean is the major element that defines the scope of India’s foreign policy in the 21st century. The growing multi-polarity and the shifting of global power dominance away from the hands of pro-Indian states has raised unrest among the India’s domestic and foreign policy makers. The paradigm shift in the India’s foreign policy doctrine under the rule of BJP has put India in an unstable position.