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Economic diplomacy: Reconnecting the missing link in our foreign policy

November 6, 2013 Each country has its own strategies for improving societys economic conditions. Economic deve opment cannot be achieved overnight through attractive s ogans, media b it! and propaganda. "t re#uires a ong$term strategy comp emented by an attractive po itica system where a actions of the government and its sta%eho ders are carried on with transparency and in accordance with the ru e of aw. "t is therefore imperative that good governance practices shou d be in p ace so that the country can be mar%eted overseas in po itica and economic

arena. &oreign 'inister (rof. ).*. (eiris has stated in an interview that there has been some emphasis in attracting foreign investors through a new strategy of pursuing economic dip omacy by our overseas dip omatic corps. "t is indeed we come news if it has succeeded. "t is a most four years since the war was ended and there shou d be a mammoth increase in our economic activities. +he resu ts have not been as satisfactory as one wou d have e,pected. +he &oreign 'inister shou d be commended for initiating this new strategy which seems to have been articu ated at the conference he d in -andarawe a for .ri *an%an dip omats.

/o istic approach needed 0rt and s%i in negotiations p ay a ma1or ro e in internationa trade. +his is an area where further improvements can be had. +here are a number of academic institutions dedicated to advancing studies in economic dip omacy and negotiations. +his sub1ect comes under internationa re ations and .ri *an%a does have the training institutions dedicated for the sub1ect. "t is a #uestion of having a ho istic approach to the issues that beset the image of .ri *an%a. +he countrys image is being tarnished by the pro$ separatist obby at every g oba event that concerns .ri *an%a. Economic dip omacy shou d be the primary focus of our dip omats and some performance appraisa measures shou d be in p ace to chec% its effectiveness. "t is a so imperative to se ect the best individua s to run our dip omatic missions overseas. "t shou d not be an area for rewards for those who have supported the government agenda whi st on duty. +here is a popu ar perception that those who have favoured the government of the day wou d be sent overseas as ambassadors. +his is a wrong signa given to senior pub ic servants. 0re we fu y e#uipped to face g oba isation2 ) oba isation has caused mammoth strides in the way in which trade and investments are promoted. "t has augmented the importance of economic interdependence among nations. +here is greater competition than ever before among nations for a bigger s ice of the mar%et. 3ith the advent of communications techno ogy, the economic competition has become even more rigorous compared to what it was a decade bac%. (radeep 'ehta, .ecretary$)enera 45+. "nternationa , says in his boo% 6Economic 7ip omacy 8 "ndias E,perience that it is 9concerned with anticipating and inf uencing the outcomes of future economic po icy regimes of other countries. +his re#uires a

need for better understanding of the wor%ing of mar%et forces in different countries in the given dynamic g oba economic environment. +he process of continuous engagement through economic dip omacy he ps a country in advancing its economic interests and, e#ua y important y, those of its partners. 0 crucia pre$ condition for the successfu conduct of economic dip omacy is the e,istence of a critica poo of s%i ed personne in the government, private sector and civi society to understand and negotiate trade, investment and other economic issues from the nationa deve opment perspective after ta%ing into account a countrys strengths,

imitations, opportunities and threats.: Economic dip omacy covers the entire gamut of governance and it is the use of a the economic too s of the state to achieve its economic ob1ectives. Economic dip omacy covers imports, e,ports, &7", environment, ending, securing deve opment assistance from donors and signing &+0s with countries with economic benefits to .ri *an%a. "t must a so protect the interests of the country when it comes to events that have far$ reaching economic conse#uences. .ethusamudram (ro1ect; 3here is the dip omatic response from .ri *an%a2 "ndia is active y invo ved in advancing the .ethusamudram pro1ect. 3hat has .ri *an%a done to dash this pro1ect2 "t wi have a tremendous economic impact on the shipping trade. 0 ships p ying to and from the eastern and western coast of "ndia navigate around .ri *an%a and often ships ca at (ort of +rincoma ee, )a e or 4o ombo for cargo, bun%ering, repairs and other crew re#uirements. "t is a thriving business for .ri *an%an shipping companies. /ere comes a case of economic dip omacy coup ed with officia dip omacy. +he pub ic interest itigants <("*= and /indu activists have fi ed cases with .upreme 4ourt of "ndia in an effort to scutt e the pro1ect. -ut the 0rchaeo ogica .urvey of "ndia had stated that there is no scientific evidence to prove that an ancient bridge had been in e,istence in this area. Even the committee appointed by (rime 'inister 'anmohan .igh a so advised against the pro1ect. 3hat has .ri *an%a done to verify the c aim that there is no scientific basis to the ancient bridge2 +his is case where /indu sentiments and "ndian pub ic opinion cou d have been mobi ised easi y. .ri *an%a has not even promoted tourism under the 6>amayana +rai as vigorous y as tourism industry wou d have cherished. "f .ri *an%a is indeed interested in protecting its economic interests, it shou d have made its presence fe t in 7e hi. Nothing concrete seems to have been done. (erhaps other priorities must have ta%en precedence at the time the pro1ect was mooted by )overnment of "ndia. /as the )overnment of .ri *an%a done an assessment of the economic oss as a

resu t of this new shipping route2 "ronica y on the "ndian side, the economic gains must have been simu ated, otherwise the pro1ect wou d not have received the green ight from the )overnment. 3here was the dip omatic protest over this pro1ect2 .ri *an%as stance shou d have been on the historica facts, the massive environmenta damage it wou d cause to natura marine habitation and a so on the fact that when the tsunami struc%, ?era a coast was spared due to these geographica conditions. Even the "nternationa 4ourt of @ustice <"4@= wou d have been moved against this measure. 3here were the so$ca ed re igious$based parties in "ndia at the time2 3hy did they not canvass support from .ri *an%a2 +he street protests were e,treme y margina compared to /indu ma1oritarian po itics. -@( and some other a ied parties had protested but it wou d be interesting to see how -@( wou d react to this pro1ect if it comes to power. 7id .ri *an%a produce a report on the pro1ect2 7o we sti have time to voice our concerns2 Economic dip omacy and regaining ).(A concessions Now &oreign 'inister (rof. ).*. (eiris, an B,ford educated ega uminary, has stated that his main ob1ective in foreign po icy is economic dip omacy. +his means that the time is opportune to revive our re ations with the European 5nion. +he business obby and 4hambers of 4ommerce must come to the fore and obby the )overnment to resurrect the fu ).(A concessions. Bf course this wou d have po itica ramifications and borders on good governance practices. +here are many domestic issues that wou d surface if we are rea y interested in reviving the ).(A concessions. "t is the po itica wi of the )overnment that counts. Bur mar%et share in the E5 for appare e,ports was ta%en over by (a%istan, "ndia and -ang adesh. 0ccording to studies underta%en by the "nstitute of (o icy .tudies <"(.= we wou d fee the pinch from ne,t year onwards. "f we increase our e,ports, we wou d redeem our ever$increasing debt burden. .o the mi ion do ar #uestion is, are we serious about enhancing the image of .ri *an%a abroad2 0re we rea y serious about improving the domestic po itica situation2 4an we rea y meet the demands of the E5 or the internationa community2 7o we consider these as 6foreign conspiracies as some ministers of the )overnment who are ca ing themse ves 6patriots harp on this nonsensica ogic2 "(. E,ecutive 7irector 7r. .aman ?e egama says; 9+he E5 shou d recognise that democracy bui ding can best come from within rather being imposed from outside, and shou d therefore become a supportive faci itator of democracy bui ding and human rights in a non$intrusive manner, a owing .outh 0sia to find its own answers that are consistent with the ethos of the region.: +he E5 is a powerfu organisation with po itica bac%ing from powerfu countries. +hey wou d of course resort to the carrot and stic% approach as has been the po icy of many powerfu organisations. 0 sma country i%e .ri *an%a cannot do much e,cept toe the ine and get things done in our favour. 3hat we need now is the restoration of pub ic confidence in the institutions that nurture democracy in .ri *an%a such as @udiciary, media, po ice and e ections. <+his writer is a free ance 1ourna ist and a po itica obbying and pub ic affairs consu tant. /e is a member of the 0merican 0ssociation of (o itica 4onsu tants=