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Tuesday November 19, 2019

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Atithi Devo Bhava (Guest is God)

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One more foreign dignitary visited us this month. There were many during the year from all parts of the globe and there will, undoubtedly, be more such visits before the sun sets on 2010. It has become an old ritual that our VIPs visit other countries and their dignitaries visit us in return and so on. But I do not understand what is the purpose of such visits. Have we ever given thought to what is the substantial outcome of such visits? Do we have any mechanism to assess the outcome of such visits on which our government spends millions of rupees every year?

Sometimes I think that these visits have no significance in the absence of a clear foreign policy of our country. Sometimes we want to be very friendly with Pakistan and sometimes we want to raise our objections in front of the dignitaries who visit us. But till date we are not able to frame a strong and effective policy to handle neighbours such as Pakistan and China. Even smaller neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc. are not favourably inclined towards India.

What stops our government from framing a strong and effective policy rather than looking at the other countries like US or erstwhile USSR and now Russia to solve our border disputes and other affairs? Now the time has come when we must be very clear in our thoughts about what measures are to be taken to handle the foreign affairs in the best interests of the nation. After all it is long term and permanent interests and not transient visitors that give a nation the weightage to achieve such ambitions as membership of the UN Security Council and commensurate status in the comity of nations.

The last visit of a US president was in the year 2006 almost four years back and what joint charter was announced by the then president and our prime minister? Did we really peruse and assess that document before inviting Mr. Obama in year 2010 about what will be the outcome of his visit for India’s wider interest. No one in the government has ever tried to assess the previous joint charters released by dignitaries from both sides at the end of such visits. I am sure no one has ever done that.

Our foreign policy is reactive rather than being proactive. We speak only when there is some intrusion or any mischief being created by one or the other neighbour, otherwise we are not at all active on this front. We blame our intelligence and security agencies for whatever happens and play the endless blame game. I think first of all we should frame a strong and effective foreign policy and make sure that our intelligence and security forces are working as per that policy to secure the nation.

India believes in Atithi Devo Bhava (Guest is God) and thus we welcome all our guests and try to fulfill all their desires but at the same time now we must assess that if we are welcoming any guest then are these guests genuinely supporting the interests of the host or not.

We welcomed Mr. Obama and will welcome all the dignitaries always but we have to see that whatever understandings they reach and agreements they sign are not only mutually beneficial but also in the long term national interest of the countries as well as promoting world peace and prosperity.

I am sure that this special edition on the US will sharpen the thought process of our policy makers and strategists to develope a strong and effective foreign policy and this will also enlighten our readers about the US India relations - past, present and future.

Jai Hind!

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