National Consensus and International Obligations: A Research Note

AuthorRonen Sen
Published date01 December 2014
Date01 December 2014
Subject MatterResearch Note
Research Note
Ronen Sen joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1966 and was India’s ambassador
to the United States between 2004 and 2009. Before that he had also served as
India’s ambassador to Russia, Germany, as well as High Commissioner to the
United Kingdom.
National Consensus
and International
A Research Note
Ronen Sen
The dichotomy of globalization is that consensus on any issue, at the
national or international level, obviously involves consultation and com-
promise. Membership of most international organizations and all interna-
tional agreements—bilateral, regional, or global—involve some
give-and-take and some degree of surrender of sovereignty. With the
rapid increase in the pace of global interdependence and connectivity,
the inherent tensions between globalization and national sovereignty could
become more pronounced, particularly in a large democracy and emerging
federal polity like India. In this backdrop, I will focus on various types of
challenges we have encountered in forging consensus on India’s foreign
policy and briefly touch upon how these could be addressed.
The most dramatic manifestation of lack of national consensus on
foreign policy was the survival of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government by a narrow margin in the vote of confidence in our
Parliament in July 2008 on the India–United States (US) nuclear deal. In
the perspective of its major strategic benefits, the irony of opposition to
the nuclear deal within India from the Left Front and the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA), and internationally primarily from Pakistan
and China, was not lost to most observers. Fortunately, with the passage
of time, internal political opposition to the nuclear deal has subsided to a
considerable extent.
India had a good tradition of honouring its international commitments.
Much before the adoption of the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties, we
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
18(2) 175–180
2014 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/0973598415569937

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