See ed­i­to­rial ‘ASEAN is­sues’

The Hitavada - - FRONT PAGE -

THAT the is­sues re­lated to South East Asia are bounc­ing to the global cen­trestage at this par­tic­u­lar time has a lit­tle ring of con­cern, thanks to the ag­gres­sive­ness of two coun­tries, China and North Korea. The ap­peal of Prime Min­is­ter Mr. Naren­dra Modi to the world lead­ers at­tend­ing the twin sum­mits to evolve a con­sen­sus or a com­mon agenda has to be viewed from this an­gle. He has in­sisted that the very na­ture of pro­jected con­flict in the area has all the propen­si­ties of ex­plod­ing all over the world, and that it should be the en­deav­our of ASEAN lead­er­ship to en­sure that the con­flict does not take place at all or is kept quar­an­tined so that South East Asia does not be­come a fresh con­flict zone fi­nally en­gulf­ing the whole world. Even as other lead­ers seem to agree, how­ever, the un­will­ing­ness of North Korea and China to walk along may jeop­ar­dise prospects of har­mony. If this is go­ing to be the out­come of the ASEAN sum­mits, then it must be said sadly that it was only a for­mal­ity.

Of course, the global lead­ers at­tend­ing the sum­mits in Manila are prac­ti­cal enough to un­der­stand the harsh geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­ity. There should be lit­tle doubt that they would not al­low the ex­er­cise to be a to­tal waste.

From the In­dian point of view, there is a pos­i­tive out­come -that ev­ery other leader is ap­pre­ci­at­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of Mr. Naren­dra Modi to global af­fairs. United States Pres­i­dent Mr. Don­ald Trump has gone on record ap­pre­ci­at­ing the method, man­ner and sub­stance of Mr. Modi’s diplo­matic en­gage­ment. The pic­ture that has con­tin­ued to emerge from var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties is that the world lis­tens when Mr. Modi speaks, and pon­ders se­ri­ously when he in­sists upon the prin­ci­ples in­volved in seek­ing res­o­lu­tion to is­sues. The world lead­ers re­alise that In­dia is try­ing to push the dis­course to a vast zone of ac­com­mo­da­tion of mul­ti­lat­eral in­ter­ests. And they also re­alise that Mr. Modi is not talk­ing only po­etry but has a hard-headed and prac­ti­cal ap­proach to so­lu­tions of tick­lish is­sues.

De­spite the great­ness of many an In­dian leader in the past, the world of­ten took the In­dian point of view as a po­etic ex­pres­sion of a global view. To­day, that is not the pic­ture. The Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia is be­ing treated as a hard-headed prac­ti­tioner of the art of di­plo­macy, ask­ing hard ques­tions, seek­ing hard an­swers, sug­gest­ing prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions, ex­pect­ing the world to sit up and take no­tice in the most se­ri­ous man­ner.

In the ASEAN con­text as well, Mr. Modi is con­tin­u­ing to play a sim­i­lar role -- per­haps more au­then­ti­cally, more au­thor­i­ta­tively -- much to the sur­prise of most and even cha­grin of a few. But the as­sid­u­ous­ness with which Mr. Modi has pur­sued the In­dian ini­tia­tive on global plat­forms has now taken In­dia to a po­si­tion in which the world may love In­dia or hate In­dia but never ig­nore In­dia and her point of view. This po­si­tion of be­ing an im­per­a­tive, be­ing a se­ri­ous global player, be­ing a be­liever and seeker of tough so­lu­tions to hard is­sues is the out­come of the Prime Min­is­ter’s cre­ative genius.

Of course, the cur­rent state of the world is truly com­plex with the threats that span from North Korea to China to the Mid­dle East with Is­lamic State to the al­most sud­den tough­en­ing of the Amer­i­can stance against Is­lamic rad­i­cal­ism. To fit this com­plex jig-saw puz­zle into a for­mat­ted diplo­matic frame­work is cer­tainly a daunt­ing task. As the world lead­ers fid­dle with so­lu­tions, In­dia has the priv­i­lege of a leader who has earned cer­tain grav­i­tas, cer­tain pres­ence in the cen­trestage as a ma­jor player. This is, of course, not to­day’s urg­ing; In­dian lead­er­ship across decades has con­trib­uted to this sit­u­a­tion. Yet, Mr. Modi’s con­tri­bu­tion is to push things to fruition at this stage to na­tional ad­van­tage.

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