India shares geographical boundary with eight countries namely Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Since the inception of our foreign policy, India has aimed at building trust with its neighbors. It aims at peaceful friendly relations and mutual economic development by enhanced trade and investments.
Let us study India's relationship with some of its neighbors in details:
Pakistan: Improving relations with Pakistan has been among top priorities in Indian foreign policy. After the visit of Pakistan former Prime Minister Parvez Musharaff in 2004, there has been a vacuum in our talks. It seems that radical groups in Pakistan took undue advantage of this vacuum and consequently there has been increased reports of cross-border terrorism activities. 26/11 attack is an unwashable strain on the fabric of friendship between India and Pakistan. But as it is said that 'time heals all wounds'. The recently elected Narendra Modi led National Democratic alliance government's attitude is worth appreciation. Indian Prime minister invited his Pakistani counterpart in his swearing in ceremony in New Delhi. This is a clear indication that both Nations are willing to take their relations on newer heights. In this aspect changed outlook India should try to adopt a sustainable foreign policy towards Pakistan. Smaller initiatives like Indo-Pak trade fair at Jalandhar, Punjab (India) needs to be encouraged. Healthy trade relations will help both sides equally.
Nepal: Since the birth of democratic institution in Nepal, India has increasingly tried to have good relations with Nepal. Currently a joint hydro power project is being built on Sharda River. This power plant is thought to mutually help both India and Nepal with respect to electricity production and irrigation facilities. From the environmental perspective, there are a number of Tiger reserves along Indo-Nepal border. Both countries have identified their importance and are helping each other to sustain the existing ones and creating new ones.
China: China being manufacturing hub of world, is strategically very important to India. In fact China has become a role model for development. India needs to build strong trade relations with China. Increasing Foreign Direct Investment caps in various sectors has been one such step of India to invite investors from abroad.
Apart from these bilateral relations, India has been active on various other forums as well which provides for greater engagement with its neighbors. For example India has been one of the pioneering advocate of TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India). This project aimed at bringing gas from Gulf countries and distribute it in TAPI countries.
India is an active member in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa). BRICS is emerging a one of the significant union in world. BRICS nations represent 40 per cent of world population and has approximately sixteen trillion dollars as its Nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP). BRICS nation contributes around eighteen per cent of world economy. The recent BRICS summit held at Brazil in July 2014.
One of the German intellectual has rightly said that 'For economic development of a nation, peace with its neighbors is a pre-requisite'. India not only recognizes this statement but also conforms to it. Going by the mood of current Indian government in India, Union government too knows the importance of its neighbors. If India wants to be a super-power then maintaining friendly relations with its neighbors is a first step of ladder in this direction.
Surendra Pal Singh