Author Professor Harsh V. Pant, who is Vice President – Studies and Foreign Policy at Observer Research Foundation, on how India‘s foreign policy has evolved during 10 years of NDA:

How do you rank it in 1-5 parameters?

Foreign policies generally never change dramatically because they are governed by some immutable factors — national interest remains prominent… what has happened in the last decade is that the world has changed dramatically.

Modi government came in with a very different set of ideas about how they wanted to govern India, and what perhaps they thought was their role. We often make this argument academically that 2014 was really the time when India shifted from having a centre-left approach to a centre-right. So in that sense the politics changed, and therefore it is inevitable that some of the consequences were felt in foreign policy as well. Equally important is the fact that world has changed and India emerging as an economic power.

We are looking at a very fundamentally transformed world and a fundamentally transformed India, where aspirations are becoming more important in shaping politics. If you combine both, you do get a sense that Indian foreign policy has seen a significant shift.

NDA in the first term was very cautious; in the second term, it has handled crisis well. Foreign policy is largely measured by how you are performing in a crisis. So both terms combined, average I would say 4.

What are the challenges that still remain?

I think, 2 or 3. One is of course; the big – China question — where do we go from here. Indian policy makers are trying to build resilience within the system. Both domestically as well as trying to link up with the like-minded countries, but China is our important and powerful neighbour. So what are the new parameters of this relationship? The old parameter, we know is not working.

What is the new arrangement we can come to, so that it allows us to continue on the path of development, which is the primary responsibility and primary priority of any government that is going to come to power, which needs a peaceful border.

The other, of course, is China’s increasing footprint in the neighbourhood, which is challenging India in a way that it is now becoming a real problem. How do you frame a new relationship with neighbours?

And the final challenge is going to be wider — into Pacific, where India is now increasingly trying to become a larger power.

What is the way forward then?

The way forward certainly would be to continue focusing on domestic development as priorities and all our partnerships. We have passed that phase where we were looking at a partnership through ideology. Today, I think we cannot afford to make ideological distinctions and ideological partnerships.