Modi’s diplomacy – Out of the box approach
[ By Ranjeet Kumar
N] arendra Modi has taken over the reigns of India at a time when global geopolitical situation is in a state of flux. But at the same time India’s magnetic strength is also getting stronger with whom many big powers from both camps are eager to align with. The hopes and expectations from Modi’s India are growing very fast as Modi promises to transform the country very soon into an economically vibrant nation. The huge middle class market, almost of the size of the European Union is once again resurgent and promising growth and employment to the developed economies who still are struggling to come out of recession.
Hence Modi is the international leader of the year as he offers economic opportunities to developed countries but he will have to make a tight rope walking, to balance relations in extreme delicate fashion, with a single aim of protecting and promoting India’s national and strategic interests. Being an astute politician himself, Modi’s diplomatic initiatives have proved to be of far reaching significance in international arena. Starting with his swearing in invite on May 26, 2014, to all the heads of States of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Modi has made forays in international diplomacy with great tact as his invite to SAARC leaders has indeed proved to be a master stroke, coming out from a political leader who till now was deeply engrossed in domestic affairs. The SAARC invite has reenergised and galvanised India’s dormant relations with immediate neighbors, which has been bane of Indian foreign policy and proving to be extremely difficult. But the way Modi has won the heart and minds of the people of Bhutan and then of the people of Nepal speaks volumes of his political knack of engaging with the world leaders also.
These moves of Modi will lead to regaining the clout in India’s strategic backyard, for which India will also have to make smart moves to strengthen intra-SAARC cooperation and removing mutual mistrust. Modi tells us that India’s destinies are linked with its neighbors with whom he will walk extra mile to deepen relations. So, when from the very first day he startled the world by hosting India’s neighboring leaders, he made his intent very clear and by making his first foreign visit to Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan kingdom, he reemphasised his priorities in no uncertain terms. Tells Rajeev Sharma, a columnist on diplomatic issues with China’s Global Times, Modi has given an example of Out Of Box thinking by focusing on Near Abroad – Bhutan, Nepal and next Myanmar. All these share land boundaries with both China and India. Modi’s neighborhood watch diplomacy will counter the China factor in these countries.”
Modi’s first multilateral diplomatic engagement was only one and half month after his taking over, during which he fared very well as he met world leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jin Ping individually. In fact, Modi is no stranger to international leaders. As a Chief Minister of Gujarat he has been to China four times, to Japan three times and to Israel two times, where he was given access to all the top leaders, as they knew very well that Modi is the real business oriented politician with whom they can do business with. Knowing very well the state of relations between India and China Modi never hesitated to visit and seek investment from China in his home state and as Prime Minister when he met the Chinese President he did not mince words that he means business while dealing with China on bilateral issues and at the same time promised to expedite the Chinese wish and proposal to set up four Industrial parks in India especially for Chinese investors. Chinese businessmen wants to exploit not only Indian market but also use India based Industrial parks as business and production hub for their business activities in South Asia.
Modi’s slogan of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (all together, development for all) has even impressed the US Secretary of State John Kerry, who mentioned this in his speech delivered at a US think tank. This slogan can be reinterpreted in strategic sense also, as Modi in his very short tenure of two months has given a clear message that he will extend his one hand to China while at the same time shake the other hand with Shinzo Abe’s. Modi has conveyed this through his actions. He would like to take along with him not only China but its bete noire Japan also. Though Chinese President Xi Jin Ping has announced his intention to make India his first bilateral foreign sojourn , Modi would be making his first bilateral foreign visit to Japan outside South Asia.
But Modi’s diplomacy has not been flawless. Says Rajeev Sharma, “Japan was badly handled by first announcing and later postponing his Japan visit. Modi should not have tried a meeting with Germany’s Merkel in the first place as he had given word of honour to Abe that Japan will be the first destination of his bilateral overseas visit.”
But It is indeed Modi’s magnetic appeal of his strong personality that the world leaders came calling to pay obeisance to him on his landslide victory in Parliament elections and after assuming country’s reigns. As the world leaders called Modi to congratulate him they dispatched their senior leaders no less than their foreign ministers among whom was the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who was sent by President Xi has his Special Envoy on June 8. This was followed by the French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Russian deputy prime minister Rozogin, British Foreign minister William Hague, etc. and ultimate of them all was the US Secretary of State John Kerry who was indeed given a snub publicly by Sushma Swaraj on the issue of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Parliament of Nepal, in Kathmandu on August 3