‘Strategic partners’ are now dime a dozen
- India and Rwanda announced a strategic partnership after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Paul Kagame at the ongoing Vibrant Gujarat summit, promising to enhance their exchanges and tighten cooperation between them.
- But move has raised eyebrows both within Ministry of External Affairs and outside, with officials conceding that they have “lost count” of the number of such strategic partnerships announced by India in the past two decades.
- Since signing its first strategic partnership with France in 1998, India has announced 30 such.
- India has signed a “strategic partnership” despite the fact that New Delhi does not even maintain a mission in Rwandan capital of Kigali.
- At present, the Indian High Commission in Uganda is concurrently accredited to Rwanda and Burundi, though Rwanda opened its mission in Delhi in 1999 and has posted an Ambassador here since 2001.
- President Kagame has visited India on a number of occasions, including the India Africa business summit, but the last Indian dignitary to visit Rwanda was the then Minister of State for External Affairs, Preneet Kaur, in 2012.
- Larger problem, was that “really important” strategic partnerships with countries such as U.S., Russia, France and Germany and neighbours such as Afghanistan lose some value every time govt associates a country with the title that does not have the same strategic importance.
- Main criterion for choosing strategic partners should be complementarity of interests in vital areas of security, defence and investments on long-term basis.
- India’s ties with Russia were referred to as a “special and privileged strategic partnership”, United Kingdom is a “long-term strategic partnership,” Vietnam has been upgraded to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and Malaysia an “enhanced strategic partnership”, a more formalised structure for strategic partnerships needs to be devised.