The European Union believes India’s diplomat-shortage is one of the reasons why it has taken time to strengthen its ties with India. The EU was keen to take its ties with India beyond trade and economy to matters of strategic importance, but was handicapped because India did not have enough diplomats to respond to EU initiatives. Issues related to security and counter-terrorism feature right on top of the EU agenda when it comes to working with India.

But till recently many decisions would hang in the air because of problems of communication and because the Indian bureaucracy was unable to respond to initiatives, said sources who did not want to be named. “There were no responses or feedbacks. There was no way to know the addressee or the decision maker,” said a source here in Brussels.

“India has global interests but it has perhaps around 1,000 diplomats, which is incredible. But then the Indian government recognises this as a problem,” the source added. The situation is said to have improved after the last India-EU meeting in Brussels in December 2010, when counter-terrorism and counter-piracy naval operations, among other things, were introduced in the resultant agreement.

“India has been talking about trade when dealing with the EU. But the EU thinks there is more to do,” said the source.

The other problem has been India’s tendency to deal with individual member states, but not the EU as a whole; India has also been more focused on the United Nations. The EU is keen to change this state of affairs and strengthen relations especially since it sees India becoming one of the largest economies of the world by 2050.

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