Accepting non-resident ambassadors a strategic imperative for India

Accepting non-resident ambassadors a strategic imperative for India
Minister of External Affairs India-Dr S Jaishankar

With the world moving from a western centered unipolar format, to a more equalized dynamic in recent times, many nations have found themselves spearing the expansion of their diplomatic apparatus.

While India can surely boast of having established one of the largest systems of diplomatic missions in the world, there is room for improvement considering the nation’s new found status as a regional power which holds immense sway at international forums.

India has significant reach in most parts of the world, barring a few nations and has developed intricate diplomatic relations with both developed and developing nations around the world.

One aspect of diplomacy, on which the nation must focus, is the acceptance of non-resident ambassadors, especially in the case of nations which present with limited resources.

There are many nations in the world which do not enjoy the benefits of a dedicated Indian Embassy with in their borders. To make up for this lack, India uses embassies and officials who are located in the region, to meet their needs.

This is done by extending their remit beyond the nation they are located in, allowing them to tend to the needs of other nations in the region, thus maintaining a diplomatic dialogue with them on behalf of the nation of India.

Conversely, India has shown a lack of acceptance for the establishment of such endeavors from other nations, not wanting to be at the receiving end of such diplomatic efforts.

This has prompted many experts, both with in the Indian apparatus and beyond the nation’s borders, to question this approach. In the current geopolitical climate, many observers have come to the realization that India no longer has the luxury of limiting its diplomatic reach to what has already been established.

In fact, the nation definitely requires to be more accommodating of the diplomatic efforts of nations which have limited ties with India.

A major hurdle in the way of this initiative is the fact that India has shown an aversion for accepting the non-resident ambassadors from other nations, thus limiting the scope of building deep ties with these cultures and economies.

The fact that many of these nations are smaller in size and navigate geopolitics with limited resources at their disposal, is something that a nation such as India must consider.

It is important to note that India itself has refrained from establishing diplomatic offices in various nations, which are listed below:

  • Estonia
  • Albania and Moldova
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Solomon Islands
  • Cook Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu
  • Taiwan
  • Lichtenstein
  • Comoros
  • Swaziland
  • Eritrea
  • Antigua & Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis
  • Barbados, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent & Grenadines
  • Somalia
  • Liberia
  • Nicaragua and Costa Rica
  • Uruguay and Paraguay
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador
  • Lesotho
  • Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde
  • Burundi
  • Benin and Chad
  • Central African Republic and Gabon
  • El Salvador and Honduras
  • Dominican Republic and Haiti

One can assimilate from the names on the list that these nations are of great significance to regional/international politics and economics. This is precisely why India has provisioned its diplomatic missions in each respective region to maintain ties with these nations in the interest of mutual benefit.

What is striking though, is that India prefers that other nations engage with it more directly and is not easily swayed to accept non-resident diplomats. This makes it difficult for many nations to maintain their ties with the Indian diplomatic apparatus.

While some observers might believe that the current status quo is efficient enough and should be maintained as is, smaller nations in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, which have significant percentages of their population in India, see things differently.

Considering the population of India, the most highly populated nation in the world, its no surprise that communities from smaller nations get lost in the noise. One must remember though that these communities which seem small from an Indian perspective, make large portions of the populace of a smaller nation.

Thus, it is natural for these nations to work towards helping meet the needs of their people, even if they are residing in India.

To do so, they must make use of the resources they have and the diplomatic systems they have already established, which often means the appointment of a non-resident ambassador who can play various roles for their nation.

India has been the preferred destination for students and jobs seekers from various nations and the numbers only continue to grow as the nation continues to grow economically and expand its footprint as a provider of quality education.

With this incremental, yet significant increase, the nation must remain cognizant of the needs of foreign nationals and the relationship India maintains with their countries of origin.

As is natural, if India’s stock as a regional and international power continues to rise, the nation will have to take on the added responsibility of maintaining diplomatic ties with smaller or remotely placed nations as well.

Hence, it is imperative that the nation begins to prepare for this eventuality and takes steps to ensure that its policies and outlook are congruent with the needs of such nations.

One of the most important tenants of maintaining fruitful relations with nations around the world, is the ability to accommodate them and be considerate of their needs.

This is precisely why the Indian diplomatic apparatus and the political structure behind it, must now abandon approaches which date back to times when the nation wished to limit its interaction with the rest of the world.

It has become quite obvious with the passage of time and India’s progression on the diplomatic, economic and geopolitical fronts, that the nation must now accept its role as a more open global power.

India also has the added responsibility of ensuring that its rivals are not able to overpower its diplomatic efforts through their own as time passes.

China for example, has established a significant presence in Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. As a natural regional rival to the Chinese apparatus, India has the difficult task of countering the Chinese narrative in these regions for the sake of its own security.

Failing to do so, will not only cut India off from important partners in these regions, but also limit its ability to keep its rivals in check and maintain its border security.

Thus, the current climate is calling out for India to take a more holistic approach with regards to diplomacy and geopolitics, for the benefit of the nation and its allies