Atal Bihari Vajpayee had once said, “You can choose your friends but not your neighbors.” He had emphasized on the point that it is really important for a country to have amiable relations with its neighboring countries in order to develop. If there is strain between the neighboring countries, a lot of effort and money is spent on things like border security and army upkeep. This not only eats up the national funds but also results in unwanted wars and communal tensions. Lets take an example of the border between Canada and USA. Both the countries share the longest unguarded border and have great trade relations. Because of the friendly relations, the countries not only save on the army expenditure but they have a continuous channel of import and export of everyday goods. Whereas if we take the example of India and its neighboring countries, leave aside the possibility of everyday trade, terrorists and drugs are sneaked in to our borders form the neighboring countries. Our defense ministry spends crores of rupees on border security. If there was peace on the border, we could have saved a large amount of money and could have used it to solve millions of other problems of our populous country. Hence it is very important to have good relations with the neighboring countries.
In the hope to make our relations with our neighbors better, the current government came up with their foreign policy also known as the ‘Neighborhood first policy’. It is an important initiative taken by the government of Narendra Modi to improve the relations of India with its neighboring countries and to focus on the progress and best interest of the South Asian countries. It is a foreign policy which aims to work with neighbors in a collaborative way so that the interest of each party is met and all the parties benefit from this endeavor. Within about hundred days of being chosen as the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi visited many countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Bhutan, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Pakistan. This neighborhood policy is not biased on the size, power or economic development of a country but it is about working with the neighbors so that the entire neighborhood can progress and reap benefits by the mutual symbiotic relationships. This policy doesn’t aim to micromanage the internal politics of the neighboring countries but to join hands and formulate policies with the neighbors so as to strengthen the internal security of both the nations. For example, Nepal is the immediate north eastern neighbor of India which is currently facing the Madhes uprising. By helping Nepal solve this problem, India will indirectly make sure that this turmoil does not seep into Indian borders and created unwanted tensions for the country. By maintaining closer ties with Bhutan and Nepal, India can keep infiltration by the militant groups under control.
An effort to make the relations better and to work for the growth of South Asian countries has been sincerely made. Now, the future of this effort can be decided by the reaction of neighboring countries and the effort and perseverance of our government. There are some notable achievements that can be credited to this policy. With his visit to Bhutan, not only were the India-Bhutan relations strengthen but and the topics like insurgency in north-eastern states of India was discussed formally. On his Nepal visit, the prime minister proposed the idea of India – funded hydroelectric power plants. Nepal, an underdeveloped country has a great potential to generate huge amount of electricity by harnessing its rivers. The Indianentourage proposed the building of dams in Nepal with the Indian money and in turn Nepal could sell the electricity to India at cheaper rates; thus a beneficial agreement for both the parties. Here, India can solve its problem of dearth of electricity and Nepal can earn Indian currency to come in the league of developed nation. The Indo-Nepal power trade agreement (PTA), allows Indian private and public sector investment in hydro power development in Nepal and future power trade and transmission to India.