Regaining the horizon

Issue 10 - Jan 2008

Siddharth Singh

In this age, a mixture of goodwill, trade and that extra effort are all required to secure vital commodities. The American and Western experience of exporting manufactures and importing raw materials is difficult to replicate. But the same ends can be achieved by blending trade with soft elements of foreign policy. In the bargain transaction costs do go up but with limited quantities of commodities like oil, minerals and coal this should be seen as the rent that has to accrue to resource rich nations. Unfortunately, Indian economists are busy debating “imperialism,” “self-reliance,” “public sector vs private sector” and other irrelevant issues. It does not help that the foreign policy establishment and these economists live on different planets.

These, however, are matters to be addressed by those who practice foreign policy and are more in the technical realm. The larger issue is to regain the policy horizon that shrunk after the Nehru years. At that time India had a large influence in world affairs for the wrong set of reasons. Today when the right reasons exist, there seems to be no will to go where we have been before.