Business and Diplomacy

Indian business has forayed significantly in West Asia and North Africa in recent years. A large number of Indian companies are invested in currently strife-torn Libya and are naturally facing the heat of the conflict in that country. According to the Indian Foreign Ministry, 15400 Indians have left Libya since the movement started against the Gaddafi regime. But India either takes an ostrich-like policy or chooses to sit on the fence. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, it abstained when the UNSC authorised military intervention in Libya. India is still stuck in the North-South divide. Evidently, Delhi’s diplomatic stance is at odds with the country’s business interests though there is no getting away from the fact today that the business of government is business. What India should be prepared for is the domino effect-the Libyan turmoil can extend to other nearby countries, especially Syria.

India of course stands for stability in the region. What has happened in Libya however is an internal uprising of democratic aspirations. NATO muscling in has only complicated the scenario. In Syria also, the majority are against minority repression. The National Transitional Council in Libya has already been recognised by 45 countries. It is in India’s interest to join the group. Jawaharlal Nehru talked of dynamic neutrality but put the stress on the word ‘dynamic’. India has to adapt its foreign policy to a changing world order. Real priorities should not be obscured by old fashioned principles. In any case, India has always been in favour of revolutionary political change in other countries as long as that does not lead to the rise of military dictatorships. It has shown adaptability in the case of the change in Egypt. But underlying foreign policy shifts should be the prime consideration of promoting India’s business interests.

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