India’s foreign policy is based on a strategic ambiguity that has served it well in the international arena. This ambiguity is the deliberate lack of transparency in the country’s stance on various issues, particularly in its relations with other nations. It enables India to remain neutral or take a nuanced position on geopolitical matters, giving it room to manoeuvre without compromising its national interests.
Left to right: US President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi
sourced from – The WIRE (Wikimedia, Reuters)
India’s Foreign Policy
The concept of strategic ambiguity is not new to India, but it has taken on renewed importance in today’s world, where global powers are constantly jockeying for dominance. India’s foreign policy is characterised by a mix of realism, idealism, and pragmatism that has enabled it to stay above the fray of international politics. This has been particularly important in India’s relations with two of its neighbours: China and Pakistan.
India’s strategic ambiguity is seen as a strong pillar of its foreign policy because it allows the country to balance competing interests without aligning too closely with any particular country. It has been a valuable tool in India’s diplomatic toolkit, enabling it to avoid taking sides in contentious issues and maintain good relations with both the United States and Russia, as well as with countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Current Relationship Outlook
India’s non-alignment policy, which was initiated during the Cold War, has been redefined to suit the country’s strategic interests. Today, India is keen on building partnerships that are based on shared interests rather than ideology. It has leveraged its economic and military prowess to expand its influence in the world and become a key player in global affairs.
Under the current government, India’s strategic ambiguity has taken on a new dimension. It has been accompanied by a more assertive foreign policy, with the country becoming increasingly vocal on issues related to national security and sovereignty. The government has taken a more proactive approach to diplomacy, focusing on building partnerships with countries that share its vision of a rules-based international order.
Recent Changes in response to China
India’s strategic ambiguity has also been evident in its relations with China. India‘s position on China is not straightforward, with the two countries being economic partners on one hand and strategic rivals on the other. India has taken a cautious approach to its relations with China, balancing economic cooperation with security concerns.
Although recently China is using a variety of tactics to undermine the sovereignty of India in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, the government is looking to steer the strategy more towards strategic partnerships with countries having mutual concerns over China, especially the United States.
In conclusion, India’s strategic ambiguity has been a defining characteristic of its foreign policy. It has enabled the country to remain neutral or take a nuanced position on geopolitical matters, giving it room to manoeuvre without compromising its national interests.
As India continues to expand its global influence, strategic ambiguity will remain an important pillar of its foreign policy as evidenced by the recent success of India as one of the few major donors to have successfully delivered aid to both turkey and Syria during the 2023 earthquakes while major western nations struggle to deliver aid, especially to Syria due to contentious relations with Bashar al Assad while victims unfortunately suffer.