India’s Neighbourhood First Policy as a concept came about in 2008 but after 2014, it got more focus and salience
A high-level Parliamentary panel has said that it is in India’s strategic interests and foreign policy requirements to focus on wider engagements and deepening of ties with smaller neighbors, especially keeping in mind China’s Belt and Road vision and America’s Indo-Pacific vision.
The Standing Committee on External Affairs, in its report presented in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday on the subject of India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy, said that it is a dynamic policy that “adjusts to our renewed interests in the region while evolving according to regional circumstances“.
“Being aware of China’s Belt and Road vision and America’s Indo-Pacific vision, the committee has been of the considered view that it is in India’s strategic interests and foreign policy requirements to focus on wider engagements and deepening of ties with smaller neighbors,” it said in the report.
It further added that the opportunities presented by an open and competitive South Asian market may also be grasped and consolidated from both security and economic perspectives.
The committee noted that India’s Neighbourhood First Policy as a concept came about in 2008 but after 2014, it got more focus and salience. It also suggested having a roadmap to promote trade connectivity and contact among people of neighboring countries.
The panel, headed by BJP’s P P Chaudhary, urged the government to maintain synergy between Neighbourhood First Policy and Act East Policy. “While considering the principles and objectives of ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ and ‘Act East Policy‘, the Committee has noted that the Neighbourhood First Policy exclusively focuses on India’s immediate neighborhood while the Act East Policy focuses on the extended neighborhood in the Asia-Pacific region,” the committee said.
The committee has also been seized of the fact that India is facing continuing threats from cross-border terrorism, illegal migration, smuggling of fake currency and contrabands, trafficking in drugs and weapons, etc., and has found it imperative to enhance the security infrastructure at the borders, it noted.
It also noted that India has been pursuing the humanitarian issue of the release of prisoners and fishermen in Pakistan’s custody. Since 2014, India has been successful in securing the release and repatriation of more than 2,700 Indian prisoners including 40 Indian fishermen and five Indian civilian prisoners.
“The committee is aware that many more Indian nationals including fishermen have been languishing in Pakistani prisons for a long time and have desired that the ministry should step up its diplomatic efforts to secure their early release and repatriation to India,” the report said.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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