There was a time when a country’s diplomats were mainly focused on political and military relationships with other countries, like pitching for either military co-operation (for example in a case of a possible war with another country) or voice of support on international podia while discussing an international issue (for example the Kashmir issue for India and Pakistan).
Yes, bilateral trade and commerce also played a crucial role in diplomatic negotiations. In fact, that aspect of diplomatic negotiation has been there for several hundreds of years. The Consulates of a country (like the US and British Consulates located in various Indian cities) are actually focused on fostering business prospects of their country in the “host country”.
However, the liberalization and globalization of the world resulted in the emergence of a special breed of diplomats, named “Economic Diplomats”. They are the diplomats exclusively focused on all the economic aspects of diplomacy and foreign relations, such as pitching for funds and aids from international organizations (WTO, IMF, etc.), identifying their respective countries’ business opportunities in other countries and charting out necessary roadmaps to tap the same, etc. Economic diplomacy is now a specialized wing of Statecraft, with almost every nation having a pool of expert Economic Diplomats.
The emergence of Economic Diplomats was the result of the dynamic character of Diplomacy, which is understandably very receptive to the changes in world affairs. And it is this dynamic characteristic of Diplomacy that is today signaling the need of another specialized wing of Diplomacy – Environmental Diplomacy.
The global warming has become a hot issue, highlighting the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This has subsequently resulted in a “national compulsion” for every country to explain its stand/problem/view on climate change and emission issues. And this has further resulted in the need to develop a pool of efficient and expert Environmental Diplomats, who are able to present their respective countries’ views on international podia.
And I suppose that India is at least somewhat lagging behind on this score. I think this came into light during the recent Copenhagen Summit, where the India delegation was sometimes failing to present its views effectively (though of course there were stiff and shameless opposition from the developed nations). I also feel that India failed to develop a united stand with other like-minded developing nations, thereby creating a strong pressure on the developed nations.
And the reason behind India’s not-so-effective Environmental Diplomacy is probably the Indian government is not precisely considering the domain expertise while selecting its Environmental Diplomats. There have been a number of IFS and IAS officers who are responsible for defending India’s environmental views and policies on the international arena. Unfortunately, many of them are not that expert in the field as they are supposed to be to effectively executive their responsibility.
Just one example is enough to establish that the Indian government has been unnecessarily biased to the bureaucratic community while choosing “members” of its Environmental Diplomacy team. Who is our Chief Climate Negotiator? Mr. Shyam Saran, our former Foreign Secretary.
There is no doubt that Mr Saran is a brilliant and talented person, who unarguably deserves crucial positions in the Government. But does he hold that level of expertise in Climate Change issues, which our Chief Climate Negotiator is expected to have? Well, I do not think I am sure.
I hope the Indian government is aware of the fact that Environmental Diplomacy is a specialized wing that should be handled only by people with strong domain expertise and skills. And I hope that the government is working towards the development of a well-qualified team that will be successful in defending our environmental views and policies on the international arena.