A year of lassitude
Eight and a half years ago, the UPA government inherited an ambitious foreign policy agenda from the BJP-led NDA regime. Breaking the defensive tradition of Indian diplomacy, Atal Bihari Vajpayee set out to transform Delhi’s ties with America, China, and Pakistan.
If Vajpayee’s decision to conduct the nuclear tests in May 1998 put India in crisis mode with the three countries, his post-Pokhran diplomacy attempted to restructure relations with all of them. Vajpayee sought to end India’s prolonged international nuclear isolation in collaboration with the US and find a way to address India’s long-standing territorial disputes with Pakistan and China.
Unlike the Congress leadership, Vajpayee had no baggage to carry from the past and was unconstrained by the conventional wisdom on foreign policy. Although he could not bring any of his initiatives to fruition, he successfully altered the political framework for engaging America, China and Pakistan.
In the first term of the UPA government, Manmohan Singh ran with the baton. He invested much of his political capital to negotiate and implement the historic civil nuclear initiative and deepen the partnership with