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Narendra Modi and Indian foreign policy-A paradigm shift from phlegmatic to prudent

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vasureddy
Dr. Vasu reddy graduated MBBS from kurnool medical college , post graduation from All India institute of medical sciences, New Delhi and surgical oncology from kidwai memorial institute of oncology. He has good knowledge in history, economics and politics.

India from decades under the rule of congress stayed to be a non-aligned nation with a fewer number of diplomatic ties. Its foreign policy changed from a dormant one to proactive one, with initiatives taken to develop ties with the neighbouring countries, initiatives to safeguard security, participate globally in various issues (like climatic change, use of renewable source of energy). It participated as a member in various organizations (like permanent membership in United Nations, NSG group, etc..,).

With a vision of Vasudhaika Kutumbam (the world is one family) under the NDA government led by Shri PM Narendra Modi raised the concept of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas. The image of India is raised during his rule. He had made 109 visits to nearly 61 countries. Even at the time of swearing in ceremony as Prime minister almost all of the SAARC leaders were present in the year 2014. Shri Narendra Modiji also raised the vision of making India as “Vishwaguru” (master to the world), in this path by vaccinating largest population in the world showed up India as the torchbearer.

Visit to countries:

After swearing as Prime minister, Modiji within first 100 days extended friendship hand to neighbouring countries to maintain cordial relation and the then external Affairs Ministry published a booklet called “Fast track diplomacy” describing the achievement made in foreign policy. External Affairs minister described this policy had 3 faces- proactive, strong and sensitive.

Role in United Nations:

In the United Nations general assembly summit in United states in September 26-30, 2014, Modi addressed the UN assembly and pitched for the start of world YOGA Day and importance of YOGA. With his efforts International Yoga Day is celebrated every year on 21st June since its inception in 2014. Also, India has pleaded for international equality day marking the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to combat inequalities. India is a member of G4 and G77 nations in UN. Recently India has been included in UN security council for the eighth time. India has become the president of the security council in August 2021 and had pitched upon maritime security, peace -keeping and counter terrorism.

Neighbourhood first policy:

India always tried to work together with the neighbouring nations and planned to develop policies which can help each other. As soon as Narendra Modiji took charge as Prime minister, he tried to nullify the strained relations with Pakistan and China by making multiple visits and bringing them to confidence. In June 2015, landmark Motor vehicles agreement for unsurpassed movement of road traffic operations was signed between India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. In May 2017, ISRO launched South Asia satellite to provide communication services in South Asia region.

During the 19th  South Asian Association for regional cooperation (SAARC) summit in 2016 after the Uri attack, India decided to pull out of the meeting which was to be held in Pakistan, later other 5 countries stood with the cause and boycotted the summit (Afghanistan, Bhutan, Srilanka, Bangladesh and Maldives). With the issues faced with SAARC, India decided to move ahead with BIMSTEC (bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) which includes- India, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Srilanka and Bhutan.

Shri Narendra Modiji tried to make a cordial relation with Nepal by visiting the country on 3rd August 2014. The last visit was by shri. I.K Gujral 17 years ago in 1997. He was the first foreign leader to address in parliament of Nepal after it accepted democracy. India decided to fund for hydroelectricity projects in Nepal and other infrastructure projects.

India had put an end to the long standing 68 year old dispute with Bangladesh by passing Land Boundary agreement. In 2015, one more major issue regarding the people living in enclaves at the border are given option to stay either with India or Bangladesh. Thus, 15,193 people became new Indian citizens. India also helped Bangladesh by developing pipeline to supply 4 lakh tonnes of diesel. Under the leadership of Modiji, India helped Afghanistan to develop India-Afghanistan friendship dam, the Salma dam which has a capacity to produce 42 MW of power and irrigation for 75,000 hectares of farmland. Also, a new Parliament complex was constructed for Afghan government worth INR 710 crore which was opened in 25 December 2015. As Pakistan refused to allow land access for air travel, 2 air corridors were facilitated along  Afghanistan.

Also, India planned to invest $100 million in expansion of Chabahar port in southeast Iran to help in transportation of transit goods from central Asia and Afghanistan to India. India is assisting Iran with the help of BRO (border roads organization) to build a highway between Zaranj and Delaram of length of 213 kms. India is assisting about 8,000 students who are studying in India under “study in India” programme.

India is the first country to recognize Maldives after its independence in 1965. On 17 December 2018, India announced a financial assistance package of US$1.4 billion and also offered additional 1000 scholarships over the next 5 years. As part of Cooperation in the field of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Male city council was gifted 2500 LED street lights and 2 lakh LED bulbs. An aggrement was signed to launch Rupay card in Maldives and an “make in India” vessel named “KAAMIYAB” gifted to Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). India has trained over 1250 MNDF trainees over the past 10 years and have offered 175 training vacancies in 2019‐20.

India is building the National college for policing and law enforcement in Addu, under an Indian grant of US$ 33 million. India had also helped Maldives in tough times like Wakashio oil spill where India sent 30 tonnes of technical equipment and material. Operation Neer- when fire accident at Male water and sewerage company occurred leading to deficiency of drinking water, Indian INS Sukanya, INS Deepak, C-17 Globemaster-III and IL-76 carried water to Male by Indian Navy and air forces. A joint military exercise ‘Ekuverin’ was conducted between India and Maldives.

Look east policy to Act east policy:

Look east policy was initiated in 1991 to strategically counter influence of China in this region an act east policy in 2014 was initiated.  With more than 50% of Indian trade occurring Malacca strait its necessary for India to improve relations with ASEAN countries. By being a member of Mekong-Ganga cooperation India developed ties with Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. India and Myanmar agreed for 4 lane road with a length of 3200 Kms connecting India, Myanmar and Thailand. This road is planned to further extend to Cambodia and Vietnam as a part of framework of Asian Highway network. In 2020, India gifted Myanmar INS Sindhuvir first ever a kilo class submarine. Keeping in mind of Indian industrialization and farmers, India opted out from RPEC (regional Comprehensive economic partnership) where 15 countries signed a free trade agreement which form 30% of world’s population and 30% GDP of world.

West asia/Middle east:

With Link west policy, Modi developed relations with GCC countries. India stood against ISIS and gave rhetorical condemnation of both sides during the Israel Hamas conflict in 2014. 46 nurses who were abducted by ISIS in Iran and were later on released. Operation Rahaaat: At the time of Houthi rebel aerial attacks on Yemen, India using navy and air force successfully pull-out Indian and many other foreign nationals out of the chaos. Prime Minister Modiji is the only PM who had visited both Israel and Palestine. After US proposed Jerusalem to be capital of Israel, India voted against this move in declaring Jerusalem as capital of Israel alone but India continued to maintain its strategic friendship with Israel. In GCC countries, there are around 90 lakh Indians working in these countries.

Around 65% Oil and more than  80% of gas supply to India is from these countries. Various gulf countries have honoured our Prime Minister with rewards and honours improving the mutual relationship between these countries. Even with repeated attempts of Pakistan to 57 members of Organization of Islamic countries (OIC) over Kashmir issue, India is been invited for the meet and none from the OIC heeded indicating how effective Indian policies have outreached to the middle east nations. Also with improved strategic relationship there was foreign investments in public and private sectors from the GCC investing in India in  ARAMCO (Saudi Arabia) and ANDOC (UAE).

Relations with North and south America:

Shri Narendra Modi was called as ‘Man of Action’ by then president Barack Obama. Obama attended 66th Republic day function in India as the chief guest. He is the only prime minister who had met 4 presidents of US. Similarly Barack Obama and Donald Trump had visited India. Recently, the Prime minister met for UN general assembly in US, where he declared India as “Mother of democracy”. US president Mr. Joe Biden promised to support India in having permanent membership in UN.

Relations with other countries:

During the covid pandemic, Vaccine Maitri (or “Vaccine Friendship”) program, under which India supplied around 66.4 million doses o to 95 countries. He was the first to visit FIJI after 33 years ever since Indira Gandhi visited in 1981. He also attended a forum for India-Pacific Island cooperation along with 14 pacific islands nations. He visited UAE on 16th august after 34 years before which Mrs. Indira Gandhi visited. Also, the first Indian PM to visit Jordan in 30 years. First Indian PM to visit Palestine signed six agreements worth 50 million USD to construct a super specialty hospital, centre for empowering women. First PM to visit Bahrain in Aug 2, 2019.

Also, along the Indo-pacific region India formed QUAD group along with U.S., Japan and Australia to counter growing aggressiveness of China. Along with France India plans to create Paris-New Delhi-Canberra. With performing marine exercises, like ‘malabar’ naval exercise (India, U.S, Japan), multilateral naval exercise along with 16 countries in Andaman and Nicobar Islands ‘Milan’, RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise) with 25 nations India is sending a strong message to China to prevent its aggressive occupancy of others territorial borders. 

With neighbourhood policy and formation of new groups, India is on the move to develop collateral ties and grow along with the neighbouring countries.

1. QUAD – U.S., Japan, Australia, India
2. RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise)- 25 nations formed a group
3. BIMSTEC( Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation)- India, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan
4. IORA-Indian ocean Rim association. Has 23 member states and 9 dialogue partners
5. ASEAN- Association of Southeast Asian Nations 10 nations. Though India is not a member of AEAN nations, strategic relationship with these nations made (India not included)  ASEAN-India agreement helps to develop shipping route between India and vietnam
6. Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) policy- Modi said 5 points under this policy “Our goal is to seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries; sensitivity to each other`s interests; peaceful resolution of maritime issues; and increase in maritime cooperation”.
7. SIMBEX- joint naval exercise with Singapore
8. Samudra shakti – joint naval exercise between Indian navy and Indonesian
9. Milan – Joint multilateral naval exercises conducted biennially in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Herculean side of Shri Narendra Modi:

With one side giving a friendly hand to India, China in the back stage developed aggressive behaviour and tried to follow the typical “mouse nibbling “attitude over Indian territory. It also stood against many pending geopolitical issues of India. Doklam standoff: mid-June 2017 when Indian forces prevented China from building a road in the Doklam region, which India sees as belonging to Bhutan though it is claimed by China. The Indian action was strongly motivated by the fact that the road would have enabled Beijing to take control of the Zampheri ridge which overlooks the Siliguri Corridor.

The Doklam standoff lasted from 16 June to 28 August 2017 during which time Chinese rhetoric was vitriolic with the threat of war. Meetings at the leadership level defused the crisis. China though appeared to be giving hand forward to India in maintaining cordial relation, but inside it worked as glove in hands with Pakistan encouraging terrorism and trespassing the borders which led to stand off in Doklam in 2017 and in Ladakh in 2020. 

But with the continued cross- border terrorism encouraged by Pakistan in the form of Pathankot airbase attack in December, 2015; 18 soldiers killed in Uri, Baramulla district of J and K, September 2016; Pulawama attack killing 40 CRPF soldiers in February 2019 India decided to reiterate by “surgical strike” on terrorist camps in POK and air strike in terrorist training centre in Balakot in Pakistan. India stood on its policy of “Terror and Talks cannot go together”.

China stood on the way in many pending geopolitical issues:

  1. Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar placed on the UN’s 1267 Committee list (but in May 2019 it pulled back marking himas global terrorist)
  2. NSG (Nuclear suppliers’ group)
  3. Permanent membership in UN

India countered China for these acts successfully

  1. India allowed anti-China activists to meet at Dharmasala
  2. Preference to Dalai Lama by giving him place to live
  3. Support to Taiwan and Hongkong

After Malaysian Prime minister commented on internal matter of India, India decided to ban imports of palm oil from Malaysia. Also, to decrease the palm oil imports a new scheme, called National Edible Oil Mission-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP), for self-reliance in edible oil with an estimated investment of over Rs 11,000 crore was initiated.

Conclusion:

With these initiatives of Prime minister Narendra Modiji, maitri (friendship) hand is offered to all the countries and many nations were been helped in various wayswith an aim to make India Viswaguru and concept of Vasudika kutumbam. Similarly, tough foot pressed upon those nations which stood against sovereignty of our country. These charactersitics of Modiji made him be the most approved leader worldwide as per Morning consult survey. Also the image of India is raised among world nations and would grow to be a global power.

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vasureddy
Dr. Vasu reddy graduated MBBS from kurnool medical college , post graduation from All India institute of medical sciences, New Delhi and surgical oncology from kidwai memorial institute of oncology. He has good knowledge in history, economics and politics.
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