Dimensions of India's relations with neighboring countries - Daily Current Affair Article

References: -

  • Recently, Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Sringala and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited India in neighboring countries.


  • India is the largest and most important country in South Asia. It shares land borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the maritime border with the Maldives. Any nation must strengthen its neighboring relationship to increase its diplomatic capacity.
  • After the Cold War, India made a qualitative change in its neighborhood. The then Foreign Minister Indra Kumar Gujral paid special attention to the cordial relations of the neighboring countries. This is called the 'Gujral Doctrine', as Gujral was the foreign minister in 1996 and changed the recognition of reciprocity in relations with neighbors and adopted a strategy of unilateral waiver of neighboring countries. This policy was for small and allied nations. Pakistan and China were prohibited in this.

India's Policy with neighboring countries

  • India provides moral support to democratic powers in neighboring countries. Along with this, India has also taken steps against the human rights abuses happening there from time to time, such as support of Muktivahini in Bangladesh, sending force in Sri Lanka, and efforts to restore democracy in Afghanistan.
  • The importance of India in South Asia is undisputed and India has the capability by which it can help in the economic development of neighboring countries. India also engages in the financial assistance of these countries. Ganga-Mekong Project, BBIN Project, Development of Hydropower in Bhutan, etc. have been done by India. India has contributed to the creation of Parliament in Afghanistan.
  • India has supported its neighbors in times of disaster. Nepal's earthquake relief program, Bhutan's cooperation on the Doklam issue, or Maldives assistance, India has performed its duty.
  • Border disputes have been better resolved by India with its neighbors. Such as the terrestrial and maritime border dispute with Bangladesh was solved.
  • India's relations with Pakistan and China are not as good. Even after continuous negotiations, Pakistan continues to inspire terrorism against India. Links to terrorist attacks in India like Pulwama, Pathankot were from Pakistan India follows a policy of zero tolerance on terrorism, so relations with Pakistan are also moving towards uncertainty.
  • China is constantly trying to disrupt India's territorial integrity. Recently, the Indian and Chinese armies were facing each other along the border.
  • Looking at the attitude of Pakistan and China, India will have to strengthen its policies towards its neighborhood.

Gujral Doctrine

Gujral Doctrine emphasizes improving relations with neighboring countries

  • Respect for each other's sovereignty was assured.
  • No country should interfere in each other's internal affairs.
  • It was decided that one state would not act against another.
  • No country in South Asia will allow its territory to be used against any other country.

Challenges faced by India:-

China's lead in the Region:-

China is now becoming dominant in the region. China has established strategic relations with countries such as Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh. All these countries are of strategic importance to India. Recently, a controversial political map has been released by Nepal under the influence of China, in which Nepal has shown the Indian territory in its territory.

Big Brother Syndrome: -

India is much larger than in other countries in size, population, etc. In this situation, the neighbors of India always have a skeptical attitude towards India and seek out India's counter in the region.

India's asymmetry policy: -

Countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh are attracted towards China even after India has not completed many projects after signing them.

India's internal problems

India is still a developing country. More than 21% of the country's population lives below the poverty line. India spends huge money on the prevention of the population suffering from malnutrition and diseases. Hence India's ability to complete projects in other countries decreases.

What should be done?

  • The basis of foreign policy should be very strong with the neighborhood because you cannot change your neighbors. There have been many attempts by India in this order.
  • At present, where India’s differences with Bhutan are absent, there is more conflict between China and Pakistan. Relations with other countries are in a state of balancing.
  • Therefore, India should focus on regional development by settling the border dispute with China. Representatives of both India and China are trying to work out this tension through BRICS, SCO forums, and bilateral talks.
  • India is following the policy of zero tolerance for terrorism. India wants to pressure Pakistan to end terrorism from various international forums and regional forums.
General Studies Paper 2
  • International Relations

Mains Question:-

  • The basis of foreign policy with the neighborhood should be very strong because you cannot change your neighbors. Discuss the relationship between India and the neighborhood regarding the statement?