India is a developing country that has recommended itself as a progressing power. The country’s economics, political influence, and military potential have been significantly growing during the last years and decades. Politicians highlight this tendency, and scientists find developing India an interesting topic of research. The article by Kanti Bajpai and Byron Chong, named “India’s Foreign Policy Capacity”, is dedicated to India as well. It presents an audition of India’s foreign policy capacity, based on the method of conceptualization and framework, introduced by Wu et al. The article was published in the Policy Design and Practice journal in 2019. The authors are Kanti Bajpai, an Indian academic analyst, and Byron Chong, a research associate at the Centre on Asia and Globalization. The article is very informative and factual; it is based on the analysis of real factors and provides theoretical information along with the research. The article has a clear structure; it starts with an introduction and a review of previous works, contains body paragraphs with descriptions of the research itself. The authors conclude the article with suggestions for the improvement of foreign policy capacity in India.
Critical Review of the Article
The article’s key concepts are India’s foreign policy capacity and the methods of its audition and improvement. Policy capacity is defined as the set of competencies and capabilities that are required for policy functioning. The authors focus on analyzing such leading institutions of India’s foreign policy as the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) within a structured framework. The authors raise a question concerning the correspondence between India’s ambitions and plans to become one of the world’s leading countries and its actual foreign policy condition. The analysis, introduced in the article, is a helpful tool to answer this question and to improve foreign policy.
The article by Bajpai and Chong is aimed to analyze India’s foreign policy capacity and to introduce methods of its improvement. The authors start by describing India’s political position in the world and reviewing previous studies on the matter. Opinions on India’s foreign policy appear to be controversial among specialists. Such experts as Sashi Tharoor and Daniel Markey note weaknesses of India’s foreign policy institution, for example, a small number of personnel, lack of publicity, ineffective mid-career training. Alternatively, Kishan S. Rana observes both positive and negative aspects of it and highlights such strengths of India’s foreign policy as careful selection of employees and high morale. Bajpai and Chong dedicate the most continuous part of the article to the description of the audition itself. Researchers analyze the professional, managerial, and organizational skills of IFS officers, the infrastructure of foreign policy institutions, the relationship between foreign policy bodies and other political institutions or the public. The article ends with the conclusion, which contains suggestions on the improvements of the foreign policy capacity.
The article is based on a method of conceptualization and framework of the policy capacity, introduced by Wu et al. This framework introduces capacity as a conception, a “system” of structured capabilities (individual, organizational and systemic) and capacities (analytical, operational, and political). Bajpai and Chong focus on examining such important bodies of India’s foreign policy as the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), as these governmental institutions seriously influence the direction and methods of India’s foreign policy. Moreover, “larger capacities available outside government”, such as National Security Council (NSC) or Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, are analyzed in their relationships to the IFS and the MEA (Bajpai and Chong, 2019, p.5). This multifaceted research allows to identify problems on systematical and organizational levels of India’s foreign policy capacity structure and make relevant conclusions. However, the article does not link strong and weak points, discovered in the foreign policy capacity, with facts of the country’s actual foreign policy. Authors provide no examples from real political situations, which sometimes makes it difficult to fully understand their ideas.
Critics and Comments on Core Information and Main Findings
The article presents India as a country with a developing, but a still heterogeneous and controversial system of foreign policy. It is convincing and well-structured and contains full and detailed information. A brief review of previous works on the matter at the beginning of the article is very useful and provides a more detailed glimpse of the subject. Moreover, the authors’ comments on these works help to understand their own position better. Theoretical information on the method of Wu et al., used as a base for the audition, is also very helpful.
It seems that the main idea of the research is to show contradictions in India’s foreign policy and to encourage its amelioration. The authors choose two main bodies of India’s foreign policy (IFS and MEA) as objects of the analysis. Analysis of these institutions allows authors to conclude that three levels of capacity are not equally developed. The individual level is a strong point of India’s foreign policy capacity. This statement is based on the fact that the professional skills, knowledge, and morale of IFS officers are sufficiently high. “The organizational and systemic levels are weaker”, as coordination inside the departments and individuals of one institution and co-operation among governmental bodies are not highly developed (Bajpai and Chong, 2019, p.17). The lack of officers, strict hierarchy in the institutions, and traditional non-publicity are the main reasons for this weakness. Moreover, poor interaction of IFS and MEA with the public creates foreign policy unawareness among people.
The audition covers two main bodies of India’s foreign policy. Although the provided information seems full, extending the number of studied institutions could broaden the research and display a more detailed landscape. Adding some examples from real events could make the analysis more illustrative, surely, if these examples are not scandalous or disrespectful. Although this inclusion could make the article less politically neutral, it might be useful for practical reasons.
The conclusion, introduced in the paper, is based on the core information and main findings of the conducted audit. Bajpai and Chong introduce suggestions that they find useful for improving India’s foreign policy capacity on organizational and systemic levels. For example, the authors propose to reduce centralization and hierarchy in the institutions, to recruit more officers to the IFS. These changes are highly likely to be helpful for the system of foreign policy in India. Bajpai and Chong admit that the one and only correct model of foreign policy does not exist. However, they regard audits based on the method of conceptualization and framework as useful for analyzing and improving India’s foreign policy capacity. The analysis results in the suggestion of patterns of improvement in the foreign policy, which increases the usefulness of the article. Logical development of the thought and understandable structure of the text makes this article pleasant and interesting to read.
Future Relevant Research Agenda
Future researches, relevant to the current article, could conduct a similar audition to India’s foreign policy capacity as applied to the following years. It could be useful to understand the dynamics of changes and make sure that the introduced methods of improvement are effective. Other ways to extend and deepen the research exist as well. For example, the audit, similar to the one introduced in the article, could be applied to a wider range of India’s foreign policy bodies. This would make final results more accurate in accordance with India’s foreign policy in general.
To sum up, the article by Bajpai and Chong provides information on India’s foreign policy capacity. It focuses on the development of India’s foreign policy, which has impressively progressed. India becomes more and more influential in both Asia and Europe, its impact on world politics increases. These facts expand the need for researches on India’s foreign policy and make the improvement of it essential. The article by Bajpai and Chong is convincing, informative, and useful; it is factual and refers to the analysis of real organizations. Both theoretical information and research are included in the article. The logical structure of the text facilitates reading and allows one to focus on the information itself. The authors suggest interesting methods to improve the foreign policy capacity in India. “India’s Foreign Policy Capacity” is an example of a high-quality article, introducing an audition of the chosen sphere and conclusions on the matter.
Bajpai, K. & Chong, B. (2019). India’s Foreign Policy Capacity. Policy Design and Practice, 2, 1-26. Web.