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Three years of Modi govt: What India has achieved on foreign policy front

The Narendra Modi government in the last three years has successfully transformed India’s foreign policy. There has been a major shift in India’s external affairs. Gone are the UPA days when India used to play a second fiddle at international stage. Today, with Modi at the helm, the world is looking at India with renewed respect and immense enthusiasm. India has successfully shifted its gear from role-taker to rule-maker.

“India’s transformation is not separated from its external context. Our economic growth, employment opportunities for our youth, our access to capital, technology, markets and resources and security of our nation are all deeply impacted by developments in the world. But, the reverse is also true. The world needs India’s sustained rise as much as India needs the world.”

This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his address to India’s flagship geo-political conference Raisina Dialogue in January. “India represents a global opportunity of great significance. It is a force for peace, a factor for stability and an engine for global prosperity,” the PM had said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s signature foreign policy is guided by the ancient Indian principle – Vaasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the entire world is our family).

In an effective pursuit in India’s might in global foara, Modi had made a strong pitch for reforms in United Nations. “We must reform the United Nations and the Security Council. This is essential so that the institutions have greater credibility and legitimacy. With a broad-based representation, we will be more effective in achieving our goals,” Modi had said in his speech at the UN summit in September 2015.

Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, India has become an indispensible player in the international forum. Modi has captured the centre-stage just when the world was looking for a leader.

But amid all these, there are challenges remain. Despite the backing of the US, India could not join the NSG non-proliferation, thanks to China which nixed our entry into the NSG. And India’s quest for permanent membership of the UNSC is still miles away.

In these three years, India-US relationship has seen a renewed momentum. Modi has swiftly positioned India as a world power at par with the US and sold the idea that India and the US are “equal partners” having “shared interests”.

“A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific,” PM Modi had said addressing the joint sitting of the US Congress in June, 2016. Modi, who made four trips to the US since he took over as the Prime Minister, was the sixth Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress.

Since 9/11, the US has emerged as the toughest interrogator of Pakistan on terrorism. At the US stage, PM Modi has named and shamed Pakistan, the epicentre of global terrorism.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, India has shoot down the syrupy track-II diplomacy, proposed by the fifth column, which was used by the previous UPA dispensation. India had paid back the September, 2016 terror attack on its Army camp at Uri with surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In a first move by any Indian Prime Minister, Modi raked up PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan during his Independence Day address last year. This has set the tone for new liberation moments in these three provinces, illegally occupied by Pakistan, where human rights violations are rampant.

At the same time, Modi has forged India’s close links with Afghanistan and Iran by building a strategically significant transport corridor from Kandla Port in India, through Afghanistan, to Iran’s Chabahar Port which is located a heartbeat away from Balochistan’s Gwadar.

In a clean break from our early stance, India has publicly confronted China under Modi’s leadership. The Modi government allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh last month. Contrary to India’s traditional reluctance of openly confronting China’s hegemonic ambitions, India’s has strongly opposed One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the basis of sovereignty, thanks to Prime Minister Modi. India has skipped the opening ceremony of China’s Belt and Road Forum (BRF) registering its protest in this regard.

Modi’s foreign policy is also packed with economic diplomacy. Never before any Indian Prime Minister visited so many countries as Modi did. Apart from boosting the bilateral relations between India and respective countries, Modi’s foreign visit have opened up floodgates of Foreign Direct Investment inflows. Interestingly, the downhill ties with China could not affect the India-China bilateral relationship on economic front as China has emerged as one of the fastest-growing sources of FDI into India. India’s ties with Britain, Australia, France and Germany have gone from strength to strength in the last three years.

Yet another important feature in India’s external affairs under Modi is adding cultural symbolism to the foreign policy diplomacy. During his visit to Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Mongolia, PM Modi have successfully revived the thousands of years of civilisational connect of these countries with India.

In its clasp on neighborhood outreach, India has been building stronger ties with its South Asian neighbourhood with a focus on regional stability, peace and prosperity. India has structured the SAARC grouping, sans Pakistan. Our might in SAARC was visible when the 19th SAARC Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad, was cancelled after India’s boycott. India’s relationships with Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Maldives are at their best. In a priceless gift to its South Asian neighbours, India has launched GSAT-9 satellite to provide communication and help in disaster management to South Asian countries.

India has significantly improved its relations with the Arab countries overcoming the hesitations of history. It is pertinent to mention that Saudi Arabia had welcomed Modi with red carpet when the Indian Prime Minister visited the country last year. This has certainly unnerved Pakistan.

It is not just Arab, Modi in the past three years have engaged with a number of countries which were never visited by an Indian Prime Minister earlier.

“Engaging with unengaged is the hallmark of Narendra Modi’s foreign policy,” said Anirban Ganguly, Director of the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Foundation, who co-edited the book ‘Modi Doctrine’ while speaking to Opindia.com.

Engaging with the Indian diaspora is yet another key feature of three years of Modi government. PM Modi is involving Indian diaspora, which contributes significantly towards India’s foreign exchange reserves, in India’s development agenda.

Amarendra Khatua, Director of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), who has worked as ambassadors to several countries told Opindia.com, “India first, India aggressive is the theme song of this government’s foreign policy. India is pursuing foreign policy bit aggressively. With emergence of India as a new economic power, India the country draws more attention from the world audience.”

The Modi government’s foreign policy in the last three years has ticked all the important silos – counter terrorism, climate change, trade and technological cooperation and energy security.

In a mirror effect of India’s cultural clout in the world, yoga has gone international with the entire world along with the United Nations celebrated International Yoga Day on 21 June. After yoga, Modi wants to make khadi an international brand also.

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Saswat Panigrahi
Political writer, policy observer.

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