Historically, India’s international role in science diplomacy has been characterised on the one hand by the participation in the Western-influenced legacy of the former colonial power. On the other hand, India was already an important pole in a multipolar Asia in the mid-20th century and it still is (cf. Uddin Ahmed et al., 2021). India’s aspiration to play a leading role on the continent has only become less prominent in recent years due to the emergence of China. Nevertheless, India is very well networked through numerous agreements with the leading industrialised nations, e.g. Germany, Japan, the U.S., and enjoys a high standing (Jaishankar, 2019).
The current system of higher education and research institutions in India is one of the largest and most complex in the world. Besides very renowned institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) or the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), it also includes a large number of modern universities. With less than one percent of GDP, India still allocates less money to research than the industrialised countries. However, experts in many international research fields work very closely with colleagues in India, which is also reflected in a remarkable Indian diaspora in the fields of research and science and in the related diplomatic fields of action (Balakrishnan, 2018).
Moreover, India itself gives home to a number of international initiatives in high-tech sciences. One of these is the cooperation in space technologies where India is on echelon 2 together with Japan, France, and Germany (behind U.S., Russia, and recently China; Cf. Giri, 2021). The India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA), with more than 100 sunshine countries as members, is another excellent example of modern-day science diplomacy. It was founded in 2015, the headquarter is in Gurgaon, India. In pharmaceutical industry, India reaches far more than 100 countries worldwide providing generic drugs and is the “mainstay of the global supply chain for Covax vaccine distribution” (Bhutta et al., 2021). India disposes of well-established institutions for the promotion of science diplomacy activities. The Forum for Indian Science Diplomacy (FISD), for example, which is hosted at the Research and Information System (RIS) for developing countries is a program that was especially designed to link stakeholders in Indian science diplomacy. The program has come out with a series of activities, including a journal on science diplomacy and a training program (FISD, 2022; Cf. NISCAIR, 2022). In the moment, India is preparing a draft Science Technology and Innovation Policy. Science attaches, science diplomats and representatives of foreign missions in India from about 20 countries have recently been involved in round table discussions (Ministry of S&T, 2021).
EU and India work closely together, e.g. in the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in international ocean governance (cf. the Indian Ocean Rim Association IORA). The EU-India Think Tanks Twinning Initiative (EU-India, 2021) aims to foster the joint work of Indian and European think tanks communities. Their strategic partnership will be strengthened through cooperation in various fields, e.g. foreign and security policy, global governance and international affairs. Šime (2021) argues that a more “targeted diffusion of scientific and technological solutions” might be needed here (Šime, 2021)
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– Balakrishnan, Bhaskar (2018), Indian Science Diplomacy: A Forward Looking Agenda, in: Science Diplomacy Review (Link) (accessed 31 January 2022)