Modi’s One Year and India’s Foreign Policy – India Acts East and Links west
Narendra Modi has completed one year in office and the media is abuzz with articles on his performance so far. Many had expected that Modi will be more inward looking and will be focused on domestic issues like rampant corruption, ineffective governance and bringing the major economic reforms legislations. However, he has surprised all and has emphasized on improving India’s foreign relations and its image in the world. ‘Look East’ has long been the talk, now India under Modi is down to reshaping it as Act East Link West.
It would safe to say that India’s foreign policy had become dormant by the end of UPA2 and like policy paralysis elsewhere, India’s policy was no different as it suffered the same. In his one year in office so far Modi has visited 18 countries so far and would be visiting Russia and the C.I.S. /S.C.O. bloc countries in central Asia Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan in June. The central Asian countries have huge energy resources. These five countries also known as ‘Stans’ control the most energy rich parts of the world which are pretty diverse as well. It has become very important for both the Asian giants, India and China; in fact it makes a very important part of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives. It is needless to say that this visit would be watched the world over as all the fight is about central Asia as the situation in the Middle East, the traditional energy hub of the world has worsened.
Here are some major takeaways from his foreign visits which are happening for a reason the opposition has failed to understand or is pretending so on account of their own failure. India is successfully executing its Act East Link West Policy under pragmatic and visionary Modi.
“Act East Link West” : Narendra Modi http://t.co/9bDIle5j9S
— NEWS MSME (@newsmsme) April 17, 2015
Economic Agenda is high on all the visits
Modi has attempted to be India’s chief salesman, selling the idea of India as the resurgent economy and has been quite successful in that. For example, in China he was quite successful in telling the Chinese businessmen that they are ought to be on the train and must not miss the India’s growth train that can hugely benefit them. The observations of IMF, World Bank, World Economic Forum about India’s growth surpassing China bode very well for us. He has so far signed agreements nearing 100 billion dollars. Japan is investing 35 billion dollars, China has so far signed agreements worth 42 billion dollars including Xi Xinping’s India visit and Modi’s recent China visit.
Make in India and Digital India have evoked a very positive response from all over the world. The world is now looking curiously at how India brings the reforms in the domestic Economy like GST, Land Acquisition and retrospective taxation which is a very irritant so far.
India has signed agreements with USA for assistance in Aircraft carrier technology as India prepares to start building its largest aircraft carrier so far. Defense Co-operation with South Korea was a major underpinning of his recent South Korea Visit. South Korea has expertise in ship building and the agreement will bode very well for our Navy. India needs to revamp its Navy big-time and South Korea will be a great country to work with in this regard. They have already been manufacturing in India and their brands like Hyundai, Samsung and LG are household names in India. Now this co-operation can be taken to another areas which are more strategic.
India, South Korea to deepen defence and economic cooperation pic.twitter.com/HKezFMniwf
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) May 18, 2015
France will be supplying India with 36 ready to fly Rafale aircrafts which is going to bring some respite to our Air Force as it faces a shortage of Aircrafts. India needs about 42 squadrons of different air crafts in its Air Force and at present we do not meet that criterion. This deal with France will be a breather for the Air Force which has been facing a depleting force challenge of late on account of lethargy of previous governments to move forward with big deals. The deal with France was clinched in a government to government format and has helped change India’s perception of moving slow in big ticket decision making.
Seeking Co-operation for Make in India and Digital India
Most countries which Modi has visited have their core strengths in key areas like Defense Equipment (France, USA, Germany, Japan and South Korea), Innovation (Germany and USA), Skill and Vocational training (Germany).
Germany has excellent strengths in dual education training that can help us in training and equipping our young work force with key essential skills as they will enter the Industry. For make in India to be a success we need skilled labor. Manufacturing base enhancement is not only a need but a necessity. It is one sector which can absorb all the three segments of work force Skilled, Semi-Skilled and largely unskilled.
Focus on China
It would be very safe to say that Modi has been pretty focused on China and many of his visits like Japan and USA in particular had a very significant China dimension to it. India has sought to increase presence in China’s neighborhood and has been successful with Modi’s successful visits to Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia. Our relations with Vietnam are also gaining traction in co-operation. The proposed visit to the ‘stans’ is also going to increase India’s stature in central Asia.
Focus on maintaining India’s edge Indian Ocean
India has increased its efforts to maintain its supremacy in India Ocean. Our relations with other Indian Ocean powers like Australia and Indonesia are ‘positive’ and ‘correct’. Modi has been successful in upsetting Chinese equations in Sri Lanka.
Mauritius and Seychelles visits were particularly successful in ensuring that India remains the most important naval presence beside USA in Diego Garcia. Though Indian Ocean will continue to be a theater of increased India-China rivalry as the two Asian Giants continue to increase their influence in the region.
Amid the talks of Asian Century and resurgent and increasingly assertive China, it is imperative for India to step up its game and use its edge in edge in soft power and democracy before it is too late.
India cannot defer improving its foreign relation as China has already begun to make explicit outreach to be the dominant power in Asia. India cannot and will not play a second fiddle to China in Asia. The time is ‘now’ before it’s too late. Though there are avenues of positive co-operation with China in many areas but realistically we are fighting for influence in the same region.