Citizenship Law and NRC Issue can Strain India’s Ties With its Most Important Neighbour — Bangladesh

The Print’s daily roundtable TalkPoint posed a question connected to the foreign policy implications of the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the National Register of Indian Citizens: CAB, NRC, Kashmir: Is Modi govt damaging India’s diplomatic standing for domestic politics? 

‘Neighbourhood first’ was supposed to be the guiding principle of Modi government’s foreign policy. But all three measures — the new citizenship law, NRC and Kashmir issue — are examples of policy actions that are likely to have adverse outcomes for India’s interests in the region.

The amended citizenship law and the NRC issue will put strains on India’s relations with its most important neighbour in the Indian subcontinent — Bangladesh. In 2018, Bangladesh emerged as India’s largest export market for Indian-made two-wheelers. Bangladesh has also surpassed Pakistan in terms of GDP per capita. The 2011 census data shows that illegal migration from there is reducing — it a stock problem from the past and not a flow problem of the present. Most importantly, the Sheikh Hasina government is one of the few steadfast pro-India formations in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the signal being sent to other leaders in the region is that taking pro-India positions might turn out to be a loss-making proposition.

In the case of Kashmir, Pakistan will try to use the Article 370 issue to drive a wedge between the US and India. From Pakistan’s standpoint, returning to the India-Pakistan hyphenation era in the eyes of the US is desirable. From India’s viewpoint, the more Pakistan features in India’s foreign policy outlook, the less energy it has for confronting the more significant global challenges.

Read the entire discussion on website here.