India's Relations with its SAARC Neighbours
Amb Satish Chandra, Vice Chairman, VIF

India's relations with its SAARC neighbours have, over the decades, oscillated from very good to stressed barring Pakistan and Bhutan. With the former they have generally been very bad and with the latter very good. With the rest, notably Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, they have seen many ups and downs.

The volatility in India's relations with its SAARC neighbours, notwithstanding their multifaceted ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious etc. links which go back to antiquity, can to an extent be attributed to the huge power differential between the former and each of the latter. Whether it is size, population, GDP, foreign trade, foreign exchange reserves, or defence spending, India towers over its SAARC neighbours as brought out in the tabular statement below. However, in terms of per capita GDP, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan do much better than India. The human development indicators of the Maldives and Sri Lanka are also substantially better than India’s, while those of Bhutan and Bangladesh are only marginally worse.

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