Aligarh: “In a changing world where China has become more assertive in reshaping the global order, India has abandoned its conventional and traditional approach to diplomacy. It took a more dynamic, ambitious and risk-taking approach after 2014, and engaged with different countries, including neighbours, in a way never seen before,” remarked Mr. Syed Akbaruddin, retired ‘IFS and former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, during the presentation of the Sir Syed Memorial Lecture-2022, an annual event of Sir Syed Academy, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Speaking on “The Changing Contours of India’s Global Engagements,” he cited several examples from his long diplomatic career and experiences in international relations forums. “In the realigned global sphere and due to the areas of cyberspace, climate change issues, energy needs and inflation, foreign policy is no longer foreign,” Akbaruddin stressed.
“We are witnessing global turbulence not seen in the recent past; US unipolar dominance has faded and China has established its leadership role in green technologies, medicine, solar energy, etc. ; on the other hand, insufficient market access in China, border clashes and the Belt & Road Initiative in POK suggest that the differences between India and China may widen in the future,” said Mr. Akbaruddin.
Describing the shift in India’s foreign policy, the former UN envoy said: “Election results have consequences, which are reflected in our current foreign policy. It is now based on the principle “think big, act bold and take risks”.
“The 2015 India-Africa Summit attended by leaders from 54 countries, inviting 10 ASEAN leaders as guests at the Republic Day Parade in 2018, and the recent formation of the group I2U2, an alliance of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, reflect this pragmatic shift in India’s foreign policy,” Akbaruddin stressed.
“Prime Minister Modi has visited the UAE 4 times while no previous Indian Prime Minister has visited this country in the past 30 years. Foreign trade agreements with UAE and Australia and partnerships with EU countries, UK etc. helped reshape our diplomatic and economic relations with major countries around the world. India’s soft power is also recognized with the institution of International Yoga Day. It certainly contributes to a robust foreign policy,” Akbaruddin said.
Praising Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the former diplomat said: Sir Syed had a remarkably balanced attitude rather than being carried away by emotions. A non-rigid mindset, political awareness, a scholarly mind and an understanding to achieve negotiated outcomes were Sir Syed’s hallmark. It is a prerequisite for modern diplomacy.
Stressing that India is more active globally, he urged UMA students to maintain balance, aim high and prepare for leading roles in foreign policy and international relations for the country.
Presiding over the conference, Prof. Tariq Mansoor, Vice Chancellor of WBU, said that foreign policy is a dynamic matter and that India’s humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka etc. . indicates a more active and assertive role of India in neighborhood and global affairs. India’s relations with the Gulf countries, especially the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have improved a lot in recent years.
“China is a security threat to the established world order and is also trying to dominate the South China Sea at the expense of other neighboring countries in the region,” Professor Mansoor said.
He added that India’s firm stance on the border dispute has been welcomed by all parties involved.
Speaking of Aligarh Muslim University, he said, “we are a combination of modern and oriental and we look to the future in a positive way.”
Prof. Mansoor congratulated Mr. Syed Akbaruddin for his informative lecture and hopes his continued association with WBU will benefit students and faculty alike.
Earlier, Professor Ali Mohammad Naqvi, Principal of Sir Syed Academy, hosted the chief guest.
“WBU has helped build strong relationships, especially with the Islamic world,” he said.
Professor Naqvi briefly mentioned the activities of the Academy.
Dr. Mohammad Shahid, Deputy Principal, Sir Syed Academy offered the vote of thanks.
The discussions were led by Dr. Faiza Abbasi.
The program was attended by Professor Mohammd Gulrez, PVC, and several other faculty members and students.