View From India | New year, new uncertainties for Indian diplomacy

January 01, 2024 09:49 pm | Updated January 02, 2024 12:42 pm IST

Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. File.

Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. File. | Photo Credit: AP

(This article forms a part of the View From India newsletter curated by The Hindu’s foreign affairs experts. To get the newsletter in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.)

Best wishes for a happy and peaceful new year to all readers of The View From India — the only newsletter that provides a comprehensive look of the issues that matter in foreign policy from an Indian perspective, and keeps you informed of the most important developments in Indian diplomacy every week. As we head into the new year, do let us know what you’d like to see more of in The View From India in 2024 and share your feedback with us at We would love to hear from you.

What lies in store for Indian diplomacy in 2024? The Narendra Modi government is heading into the new year, and the upcoming general elections set for this summer ahead of a possible third term, high on confidence after recent electoral victories. As far as India’s diplomacy is concerned, however, it is electoral uncertainties in many countries — and navigating a world in flux while protecting Indian interests -— that is likely to remain a top priority in 2024.

As The Hindu’s Suhasini Haidar writes, domestic policies abroad, rather than geopolitical events, could be a major factor in foreign policy in 2024, given that more than a fourth of the world, in terms of population and number of countries, will go to vote during the year:

  • India’s neighbourhood will see the impact of elections as early as the first few weeks of 2024, with polls in Bangladesh scheduled for January 7, the second round of general election in Bhutan on January 9 and an election in Pakistan scheduled for February 8.
  • The election in Bangladesh appears to be heading in the direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, which will be a boost for Delhi-Dhaka ties, given PM Hasina’s close ties with India.
  • In Bhutan, outgoing Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering has already been ousted in the first round of elections, and the contest is now between former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former top-bureaucrat Pema Chewang’s new Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP). While both will be inclined favourably towards India, Delhi will watch the new Bhutanese government’s moves with China most closely, as it picks up the boundary delimitation agreement signed with Beijing in September.
  • Pakistan’s election, like Bangladesh’s, appears one-sided at present, with former PM Imran Khan and most of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s top leadership in prison, even though they remain popular. The likely winner, three-time PM Nawaz Sharif, has already made it clear that he intends to improve ties with Pakistan’s neighbours, especially India.
  • Sri Lanka, still grappling with economic issues but on a more stable wicket due to support from India, is due to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in 2024.
  • Domestic electoral considerations will also cast a shadow on major diplomatic events. With U.S. election season set to enter into full swing and India’s polls set for April or May, Delhi faces a narrow window to host the Quad summit, likely in February, after U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit and the Quad meet set earlier for January were called off.

Beyond the neighbourhood and the U.S., there are many other electoral uncertainties both in the West and the Global South in the coming year, as Haidar explains. You can read her analysis here.

Eyes of much of the world will certainly be on the U.S. in particular as campaign season heats up in coming months. Varghese K. George, in this Explainer, looks at how the poll year is shaping up for both India and the U.S., what are the fundamental questions that the two democracies are grappling with, the visible trends, and the likely impact on bilateral relations.

Also making news last week:

In the first major breakthrough in the case against eight former Indian naval personnel sentenced to death in Qatar, the Court of Appeals in Doha has commuted their sentences, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on December 28.

Hailing India and Russia relations as “very steady” and “very strong”, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said during a visit to Moscow that he was “confident” that the annual India-Russia leadership summit, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have skipped for two years, will be held in 2024, even as Mr. Putin extended an invitation to PM Modi to visit.

Top 5: Here’s what we are reading this week

  1. From the Israel-Hamas war and stalemate in Ukraine to new threats to global shipping and a continuing freeze in ties with China, Rajiv Bhatia analyses the major trends and challenges for Indian diplomacy in 2024.
  2. With less than a year left for the 2024 U.S. presidential election, America cannot ignore the standing of Donald Trump, its 45th President, and the most polarising figure in its electoral politics, writes Narayan Lakshman.
  3. Stanly Johny writes on the global fallout of two warfronts in Ukraine and Gaza and how India, the West and the Global South are navigating them.
  4. Dinakar Peri explains the threat to global shipping following the sharp rise in missile and drone attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi rebels in Yemen.
  5. Is right-wing populism seeing a resurgence across the world? Irfan Nooruddin and Rahul Mukherji discuss this question in a conversation moderated by Radhika Santhanam. You can also listen to their conversation here
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