While foreign affairs are in the exclusive domain of the Union government, the states have an important role in cultivating relationships internationally and promoting trade ties. Discuss. Do you think the recent mechanism of States Division in the MEA can help the states play a more constructive role in foreign affairs.

While foreign affairs are in the exclusive domain of the Union government, the states have an important role in cultivating relationships internationally and promoting trade ties. Discuss. Do you think the recent mechanism of States Division in the MEA can help the states play a more constructive role in foreign affairs.

Approach

  • Introduce with foreign policy and need for states’ involvement
  • Discuss the role States can play, along with examples of success abroad and in India
  • Explain why the States’ division was set up and how it helps, along with shortcomings.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

The Indian Constitution has “Foreign affairs” in the Union list making it the exclusive domain of the Union government. However, the States, as members of the union, must have an important say to put forward both their interests and concerns, and must be encouraged to cultivate relationships with various countries and promote trade ties.

Role of States in cultivating international ties:

There is great potential for the States to play a role in securing the best deals with foreign governments for themselves within the overall policy of the Central government. Team India must also include State governments in foreign policymaking, particularly in matters relating to trade and investment. Many positive aspects of greater participation by state governments in foreign policy can be seen in India too, with states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh directly negotiating with foreign governments to woo investments in IT while Gujarat, Kerala etc. roped in investment and improved trade ties.

Countries like the U.S. and China encourage their State governments to take economic delegations to foreign countries and even to establish their own trading offices abroad.

Improving the states’ constructive role in foreign relations:

  • States Division in the MEA: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) now has a States division to encourage States to play an important role in not only implementing foreign policy, but also in formulating it. The division assists the States in building bridges with the countries in which they have a special interest on account of proximity or the presence of diaspora from that State.
  • IFS officers coordinating with States: IFS officers have been asked to choose a State each to understand its special requirements and to advise them. They are expected to bring their regional expertise to take the correct decisions on neighbours.

More measures needed:

However, a States division in the MEA, by itself, cannot make a difference in policymaking. A new structure, in which the States are fully represented, should be established and the Ministry of External Affairs should have offices in key States. Think tanks may be established in States to facilitate policy options and to provide inputs to the States and the Centre.

Subjects : Editorials

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