India is witnessing a renaissance in its foreign policy domain under the present NDA government led by extremely competent Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.
India, by virtue of its history, has always been undermined in the world. Despite having best intellectual capital, vast resources, sustainable demand has been deprived of its appropriate recognition at world’s forum. Many blame incompetent leadership for this gaffe but I would rather put the onus on “not having long term perspective” in foreign policy.
Our neighbour (China), on a contrary has outclassed many developing/emerging countries by having a very effective mechanism to deal with other nations. It’s aggressive foreign policy in 1980 helped it to imported capital and technology from more advanced nations, adopted a course of attempting to build up its national strength. The Capex helped it sustain economic growth till of over 7 % for 3 decades. Now China holds such a commanding position at world market that a mere 0.5% devaluation of its currency can shake world markets.
India has now learned from its past and has a more forward looking approach now. Under Modi, the government has taken concerted efforts to gain lost grounds. It has set itself up for an audacious task of titling world’s opinion in its favour by citing its growing economic prowess. Modi has taken undertaken visits to almost 40 countries and received as many as heads of 15 countries (Obama’s visit as republic day parade chief guest remains as most coveted) ever since he has become PM. His initiative of “Neighbourhood First” has had significant impact with relations with Bangladesh (historic land boundary agreement passed in parliament), Afghanistan for building infrastructure in war torn country. India as a country gained a strong alliance partner, which could help both from security perspective (countering Pakistan) and economic perspective (Iran oil trade route).
Similarly significant gains have been made in relations with Myanmar (action taken against NSCN terrorists), Srilanka(sea trade link revival), Nepal (reconstruction aid of USD 1 Bn post massive earthquake in 2014), Thailand (trilateral road from Assam to Thailand), Fixing loops in DTAA with Mauritius and Singapore.
At the same time, Modi after extending hand of friendship to Pakistan as a responsible leader, has now sent out a very clear communiqué of stop terrorism before any talks. India has also been very successful in publicly shaming Pakistan by sharing dossiers with prominent world leaders. This has helped India gain confidence and also its ability to exercise restrain even in dire circumstances. Such confidence goes a long way in showing country’s maturity and develops long term alliances (present India – US – France is one such example of alliance)
Another huge success experienced under Modi’s leadership was the sharp upsurge in ties with the US, elevating the strategic partnership to unprecedented levels. The personal rapport established by Modi with Obama and other world leaders like Shinzo Abe and Angela Merkel significantly advanced India’s interests and enhanced India’s profile. His personal rapport has made businesses in these countries to commit investments of as many as USD 100 Bn over next five years. His feats include concessional bullet trains from Japan, manufacturing of auto by German majors, nuclear power generation from US companies. In addition to above, we have now line of sight of committed capital for road, ports, airports, solar and other infrastructure projects.
Modi has been able to negotiate with many European countries such as Luxembourg, Switzerland etc to tighten strings around black money. His personal intervention has gone a long way to build consensus among these countries to bring unaccounted finances in mainstream. Results shall follow in due course.
Modi has been able to link foreign relations with domestic growth. He has sat with world leaders to adopt best business practices, worked out modalities and created common market access. Stable FDI regulations, predictable tax regime, even grounds for all businesses (30% local sourcing irrespective of whether it’s Apple or IKEA), projects such as Digital India(e-commerce has been a boon) etc are all outcome of a homogeneous mix of foreign relations and domestic growth.
India is on a cusp of revolution. It’s on a path from where only if it employs foreign capital, it can sustain growth rate of 8% for the next four decades, leave alone our own capital.
The Author works for a Foreign Bank and is based out of New Delhi.