Rong Ying

China International Studies (English) - - News -

is Vice President and Senior Research Fellow of China Institute of International Studies (CIIS). 1 According to Indian media, the “Modi Doctrine” was first proposed by Nisha Desai Biswal, then US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs. Indian scholars generally focus on diplomacy when they talk about the “Modi Doctrine,” while Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj summed up the “Modi Doctrine” as “India First, Neighborhood First, seeking to be a global power, valuing Indian diaspora, and putting emphasis on delivery.” See “‘Modi Doctrine’: Prime Minister’s Vision Gets a New Name in Washington,” NDTV, June 10, 2016,; Anirban Ganguly, et al., “The Modi Doctrine: New Paradigms in India’s Foreign Policy,” New Delhi Wisdom Tree, 2016; “Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the Launch of the Book ‘The Modi Doctrine’ at IIC, New Delhi,” August 13, 2016,

2 “More than 50,000 People to be Affected as India and Bangladesh to Interchange Enclaves,” Xinhua,

June 8, 2015,

3 Kanti Bajpai, “Narendra Modi’s Pakistan and China policy: Assertive Bilateral Diplomacy, Active Coalition Diplomacy,” International Affairs, January 2017, narendra-modi-s-pakistan-and-china-policy-assertive-bilateral-diplomacy-active.

4 “Can Act East Address Northeast India Isolation?” East Asia Forum, October 27, 2017, http://www.

5 Dhruva Jaishankar, “Actualizing East: India in a Multipolar Asia,” ISAS Insights, No.412, May 2017, East%20-%20india%20in%20a%20multipolar%20asia.pdf.

6 Kanti Bajpai, “Narendra Modi’s Pakistan and China Policy: Assertive Bilateral Diplomacy, Active Coalition Diplomacy.”

7 C. Raja Mohan, “Modi and the Indian Ocean: Restoring India’s Sphere of Influence,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for International and Strategic Studies, June 18, 2015, modi-andthe-indian-ocean-restoring-indias-sphere-of-influence.

8 Pranay VK, “Strategic Salience and of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Economic and Military Dimensions,” National Maritime Foundation,; “India Committed to Preserve, Advance Regional Cooperation: Swaraj,” Daily News, September 1, 2017,; “Rearranging the BRICS,” The Indian Express, September 5, 2017, opinion/columns/raja-mandala-rearranging-the-brics-rics-summit-2017-brics-xiamen-narendra-modi-indiachina-4828862.

9 “India Committed to Preserve, Advance Regional Cooperation: Swaraj,” Daily News.

10 “Rearranging the BRICS,” The Indian Express.

11 Narendra Modi and Barack Obama, “A Renewed U.s.–india Partnership for the 21st Century,” The Washington Post, September 30, 2014.

12 Amrita Narlikar, “India’s Role in Global Governance: a Modi-fication?” International Affairs, January 2017, Vol.93, No.1, 13 Ibid.

14 Narendra Modi, “India Will Set Climate Change Conference Agenda,” The Indian Express, April 14, 2015,

15 “Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the Launch of the Book ‘The Modi Doctrine’ at IIC, New Delhi.”

16 Ibid.

17 “Myanmar Covert Operation: The Inside Story of the Surgical Strike,” NDTV, June 11, 2015, https:// 18 Zheng Ruixiang, et al., The Rise of India and China-india Relations, Contemporary World Press, 2006, pp.231-242.

19 “PM to Heads of Indian Missions,” Indian Press Information Bureau, Prime Minister’s Office, February 7, 2015,

20 Zheng Ruixiang, et al., The Rise of India and China-india Relations, p. 225.

21 Ashley J. Tellis, “India as a Leading Power,” April 4, 2016, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,

22 “India’s Prime Minister Modi Made a Speech on Independence Day,” India Today, index.php?m=&c= Index&a=show&at=29&id=20.

23 According to the original statistical method, the economic growth rate of India in 2016 is estimated to be only 3.7%. For details, see Yashwant Sinha, “I Need to Speak Up Now,” The Indian Express, September 27, 2017,

24 Ashley J. Tellis, “India as a Leading Power.”

Translating geostrategic advantages into economic progress

At present, India enjoys a favorable position in the geopolitical game of the major powers and has conducted strategic and in-depth cooperation with western countries, the United States in particular. However, the biggest issue for India’s rise is its development, which neither geopolitical speculation nor assistance of others can help. After taking office, Modi had raised the concepts of “Make in India,” “Digital India,” “Skill India” and “Smart City” in an attempt to attract Western capital and technology transfer and get management expertise. His efforts however have not been as successful as expected.

India’s development needs a favorable environment of global governance. Currently, anti-globalization prevails in the West and the economic and trade conflicts between India and the United States are on the rise.25 US media once commented that this is an encounter of “America First” and “India First.”26 India and the United States remain close on a strategic level, but their economic and trade frictions have not diminished. Issues such as the H-1B visa and trade deficits are still there. If India seeks to promote the reform of the global governance system and make the process of globalization more open, inclusive and universal, it still needs to unite with developing countries, especially emerging ones, in order to better safeguard its own interests.

Mismatch of diplomacy for neighborhood and great powers complicates strategic security environment

The contrast between India’s diplomatic approaches to South Asia and that of the great powers has caused reflection and raised criticism from

India’s domestic strategy circle. Although some people think that India’s diplomatic achievements ought to be judged more from its diplomacy with the big powers than with its South Asian neighbors, it is also a reality that India has not fundamentally improved its position in South Asia.27 Pakistan is an important country in South Asia and a key neighbor of India, and the current tension between India and Pakistan is not in the interest of either country. The Modi government has made a big shift of its policy on Pakistan by insisting on countering terrorism as the primary issue for bilateral talks. This is a major readjustment of the comprehensive dialogue framework that was launched in the 1990s.28 India is also perceived to make attempt to exert pressure on Pakistan’s western front by increasing strategic cooperation with Afghanistan to squeeze the space for Pakistan’s strategic security.

The policy of maintaining military pressure and cracking down on Pakistan through international isolation could be counterproductive.29 Tension between India and Pakistan will not only consume India’s energy and diplomatic resources, but could also create new problems for India in South Asia and prevent it from becoming a real global power. To resolve the security dilemma between India and Pakistan, a comprehensive dialogue is a must. In addition, India’s emphasis on geopolitical diplomacy and active steps to enhance its influence in the Indo-pacific region may further aggravate the geopolitical competition in South Asia and shift the strategic balance there. Eventually India will lose its favorable position in the interplay among major powers and undermine the strategic security environment necessary for its own development.

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