New Delhi: The image of India in the Western world has altered radically over the past decades, thanks to the cumulative effect of high economic growth, steady integration with the international market economy, the successful introduction of new technologies and communications, and more importantly its foreign policy.

Currently, we are living in such a situation where the US is losing its sheen and China is enhancing its agenda of establishing hegemony in the world, and in the year 2020, a black swan COVID arrived which impacted the momentum of globalization, and supply chains. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also played a major role in today's geopolitical situation. The Russia-Ukraine war has created a divide where one side is led by the US and another one is aligned with Russia and China. While the entire world's attention was on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China started its own game, trying to unify Taiwan with its mainland. Taiwan has also become a focal point between US and China.

In a such tense situation, Afghanistan had become a mess after the US decided to leave the country. After the US chose to take the backdoor, the Taliban came to power, and ever since the civilians faced a major humanitarian crisis.

India's foreign policy has changed for the "good" with the emerging geo-political situation. India has shed its pacifism and has become explicit and assertive in articulating and protecting its core interest. India has started an "India first" policy where New Delhi decides for itself and its independent foreign policy cannot be subject to intimidation. And this was observed during the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

India's Stand On The Russia-Ukraine Crisis

India's response to the Ukraine crisis and the engaging geopolitical issues have unfolded a new chapter of foreign policy. Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, India has emphasized the need for diplomacy and dialogue while defending its independent stand, which prioritizes the country's energy and food security. Throughout this year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reiterated India's position on the Ukraine conflict. Even in the UN, India always advocated for diplomacy and dialogue.

In the UN, India has abstained from various procedural votes relating to the conflict but it didn't pick any sides. Even in September, on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Samarkand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said "today's era isn't of war."

"Today's era isn't of war and I have spoken to you about it on the call. Today we'll get the opportunity to talk about how can we progress on the path of peace. India-Russia has stayed together with each other for several decades," the Prime Minister said.

This statement reflects India's strong stand in the Ukraine conflict but still, but the western hemisphere of the world is still concerned about India's stand and especially buying the oil. However, India's stand-in buying Russian oil shows its strong position.

India's Position On Changing Geopolitics of Oil

With one-fifth of the population, India has the right to have its own side and to weigh its own interest. In the 2+2 ministerial meeting in April, Jaishankar on buying Russian oil said, "If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia. I would suggest your attention should be focused on Europe. We do some energy which is necessary for our energy security but I suspect our total purchases in a month is equal to what Europe does in an afternoon," he remarked.

He also said, "I prefer to do it my way and articulate it my way."

While responding to a query on whether India's oil imports from Russia are not funding the ongoing Ukraine war in June, EAM said, "Look I don't want to sound argumentative. If India funding Russia oil is funding the war... Tell me than buying Russian gas is not funding the war? It's only Indian money and Russian oil coming to India funding the war and not Russia's gas coming to Europe not funding? Let's be a little even-handed."

India's Foreign Policy Towards China And Pakistan

In the past decade, the world has also seen a change in India's stand against Pakistan and China. India is the only one in south Asia which is standing strong still against its Belt and Road Initiative since 2014. Also, India has made its position very clear about the border-sharing area. In the Galwan clash in 2020, India had given a strong reply to China.

India's revamped foreign policy has even given China a shockwave. Last year in June, India banned 59 Chinese mobile applications including the widely-used social media platforms such as TikTok, WeChat, and Helo keeping in view the threat to the nation's sovereignty and security.

The majority of the apps banned in the June 29 order were red-flagged by intelligence agencies over concerns that they were collecting user data and possibly also sending them "outside".

This action came after 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were killed during violent clashes in Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh amid border tensions with China.

Standing like the "Great wall of China" India clears the clouds of doubts over its defense capabilities and also that New Delhi would stand idle. India is joining hands with various countries through QUAD, G20, BRICS, RIC, ASEAN, I2U2, SAARC plus, and many more to stand against China's ambitious goal of achieving its hegemony. It may seem like the old style of meandering but actually, India promotes its priorities in a much more direct manner.

And in the case of Pakistan, India doesn't limit its policy to cricket but is seen in the army, film, and in international fora.

In September 2016, four terrorists of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed entered the Army camp in Uri near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and launched an audacious suicide attack on an Indian Army brigade Headquarters, leaving 19 soldiers dead. In retaliation, the Indian Army troops including the commandos from various Para (Special Forces) units carried out strikes across the border on multiple targets. Pulwama attack by air strikes. And this was repeated in the 2019 Pulwama attack.

India had also banned Pakistani artists to perform or act in the motherland. These all show that "new" India is not going to tolerate rival countries' nefarious acts.

India has close geo-political and geo-cultural relationships with countries in central Asia. Despite similar security concerns emanating from Afghan, India still tried to send humanitarian aid to the Taliban-ruled country.

India Growing Closer To Small Island Countries

In the past year, India witnessed that its foreign policy is no more paying attention to just developed nations like US and Russia but also the small island countries.

Last year in November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Initiative for the Resilient Island States (IRIS) for developing the infrastructure of small island nations, saying it gives new hope, new confidence, and satisfaction in doing something for the most vulnerable countries.

Launching the IRIS initiative at the 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP26), along with his British counterpart Boris Johnson, PM Modi said, "The launch of Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States fills us with new hope and beliefs. This gives us the satisfaction to do something for the most vulnerable nations."

Speaking about the impact of climate change on the world, PM Modi said, "The past few decades have proven that nobody remains untouched by the effects of climate change. Be it developed nations or nations that are rich in natural resources. It's a huge threat."

"Small Island Developing States are most threatened with climate change. For them, it is a matter of life and death, a challenge to their existence. Calamities due to climate change can become devastating for them. It is not only a challenge for their lives but also for their economy," he added.

Earlier, in May, former President Ramnath Kovind visited Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica. Notably, this is the first high-level visit from India.

Recently, in the first week of December, India and Papua New Guinea held the first round of Foreign Office Consultations on Monday and reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including development partnerships, and political, economic, and cultural ties.

During the consultations held at Port Moresby, the two sides exchanged views on regional and global issues and cooperation in multilateral fora.

These new steps show the Indian foreign policy base which is "VasudhaivaKutumbakam" and "Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas Sabka Vishwas." India had become a voice for the voiceless land and this will be seen in the G20 presidency.

India And G-20 Presidency

India officially assumed the G20 presidency on December 1 with an agenda to achieve like here where the country's agenda will be cooperation for sustainable and equitable development for shared global peace and prosperity and capacity building to face emerging global challenges.

At the closing ceremony of the G20 Summit in Indonesia, PM Modi said that India's presidency will be " inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented."

While giving his address, PM Modi said, "India's G20 presidency will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented. In the next year, it will be our endeavor that G20 works as a global prime mover to give impetus to collective action."

This G20 presidency is an opportunity for India to showcase its capability and also could lead India's future.