A joke called foreign policy

The gravity of the matter suggests that for the UPA, India’s foreign policy is a mere joke which it thinks can be tweaked at will.

The Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh has decided that he will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) beginning on Friday in Sri Lanka. The excuse that PM used to save himself from the foreign trip was a very emotional one: “Attendance is not important if it is against people sentiments.”

The move has come as a no surprise for us Indians who, over a period of three weeks, have only heard the government’s dum-dum tone on the summit.

When President Pranab Mukherjee said that India’s foreign policy should be an extension of its national policy, it was pretty much clear what UPA government will do. It has left no space of doubt now that the government’s foreign policy, as its national policy, has become hostage to the local chiefs who, time to time, take a ride of their own.

First it was Jayalalithaa who got a resolution passed from the Tamil Nadu assembly for stopping any “titular, ministerial or official” person from participating in the summit. Then it was DMK chief Karunanidhi who voiced his opinion twice and met the prime minister for the same.

It is also to be noted that the formal declaration comes only after Karunanidhi’s visit to the prime minister on Friday. This makes our assumption loud and clear that the UPA government is tweaking its foreign policy for its regional/national political gains.

This not only questions prime minister’s credibility as the head of the country it also shows India in abad light when it comes to foreign policy. As Mallika Joseph wrote in her article in The Indian Express, “In his recent address at the Annual Conclave of Indian Ambassadors/High Commissioners Abroad in Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh outlined what he believed were the five principles that have come to define Indian foreign policy. While acknowledging the attempts made to fundamentally reset Indian foreign policy over the last nine years, he emphasised the need to base it on India’s role and destiny in world affairs. Seen in this light, Indian foreign policy in the neighbourhood falls flat on its face.”

The Hindu reports that “over the last two decades, an Indian Prime Minister had participated in five of 10 CHOGMs. On four occasions, a Central Minister led the Indian delegation and at the previous CHOGM at Perth, Vice-President Hamid Ansari had represented the country.”

The gravity of the matter suggests that for the UPA, India’s foreign policy is a mere joke which it thinks can be tweaked at will.

And this joke has not only embarrassed the Indian head of the Commonwealth Kamlesh Sharma, but us too.

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