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

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