In the series of articles focusing on the achievements and failures of NDA government led by Prime minister in the first year in office, in this article we will have a review of Modi government foreign policy of 1st year rule. NDA government will complete 1 year on 26th May 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been very attentive and dynamic in regard of foreign affairs and he has revived the image of India at global level. Within one year we have seen a complete turnaround in the foreign affairs. None of us would have expected that Modi will focus on foreign affairs with such high intensity. As Prime minster has said many a times, ‘World’s perception of India has changed over one year’.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was sworn in, there was little expectation that foreign policy would feature prominently on his agenda; domestic priorities were expected to dominate. And if you’d only listened to the prime minister’s Independence Day speech on August 15, which did not mention foreign policy, you’d think that those expectations had been met. But looking past the rhetoric at the reality of the first 100 days of the Modi government, it is clear that foreign policy has not been missing in action. This should not surprise anyone, given that India’s geography, economic connections, energy demand, large diaspora and role in various multilateral groupings make it difficult for any Indian government to ignore the external environment or set aside foreign policy.

Relations with Geographic Neighbors:

Improving relations with the geographic neighbors has been a priority of the government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited SAARC heads to attend his Oath taking ceremony when he was voted to power in May last year.  It was called a shrewd and intelligent decision by the political thinkers.Subsequently, the importance of the neighborhood was highlighted in the president’s speech to parliament, which demonstrated the government’s agenda. In addition, the prime minister and the foreign minister Sushma Swaraj have walked the talk, choosing neighboring countries as their first overseas stops. Sushma Swaraj visited Bangladesh and Nepal, while Prime Minister visited Bhutan and Nepal.

We’ve seen India accept a United Nations ruling and surrender its claim to a section of the Bay of Bengal, partly to improve relations with Bangladesh. We have also seen the Modi government deal with Indian state governments in order to facilitate relations with the neighbors, with the foreign minister reaching out to the West Bengal chief minister before her trip to Bangladesh.

Prime Minister NarendraModi also travelled to Mauritius and a visit to Maldives was also scheduled but he could not visit the island country due to political unrest in that country. India also extended its immediate helping hand to Nepal when this neighbour country was hit struck by the severe Earthquake on 26th April this year.

Nowhere are the challenges and opportunities clearer than with Pakistan. When Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif traveled to India, there was hope that this would lead to greater political and economic engagement between the two countries. Modi’s subsequent tough talks on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir and the cancellation of foreign secretary-level talks have left observers alleging a U-turn. Engagement with Pakistan has resumed after the visit of foreign secretary S. Jaishankarto Pakistan.

Act East Policy:

Prime Minister Modi has gone beyond the rhetoric ‘Look East Policy’ and termed the relations with Asia Pacific Countries as ‘Act East Policy’. Prime Minister has emphasized his focus on improving trade with the Asia- Pacific Countries. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has visited Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam. Prime Minister Modi Visited Japan which was a strategically important visit because Japan can play important role in building Infrastructure in India. Japan can also play the biggest role in developing Bullet trains – Dream Project of Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Australia to participate in the G-20 Summit. He signed various important MoU’s relating Economic issues, bilateral trade, Renewable Energy, Nuclear Energy etc. PM Modi called for closer bilateral security cooperation and a comprehensive global strategy to tackle the menace of terrorism. Modi while addressing the Australian Parliament, the first Indian Prime Minister to do so, said “It has taken a Prime Minister of India 28 years to come to Australia. It should never have been so. And, this will change. Australia will not be at the periphery of our vision, but at the centre of our thought.” After visiting Australia, He visited to Fiji which was the first visit of an Indian Prime Minister in past 33 years.

Relations with USA:

India’s relations with US have been challenging always in the history. To deal with this tough task Modi has two approaches that he could have opted towards USA. First approach,hold the U.S. at arms’ length to pay it back for its lack of official engagement with him over the last few years. Second, continue to build on the bilateral relationship, recognizing the reality of the breadth and depth of India-U.S. relations and its potential to help his priorities (including economic growth, meeting energy needs, managing China’s rise).

Modi in USA images
Modi in USA images

Over the last few months, it has become clear that Modi has chosen the second option. What’s been surprising is the speed and extent to which he has done so, despite his supporters’ unhappiness. The U.S. government has been a willing and eager partner. President Barack Obama became the First US president to visit India on the Republic Day. India renewed the Nuclear Deal with US that was signed by previous government. Other agreements relating to renewable energy, environment change and economic issues were signed on this visit of American President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also visited USA last year. The US has also promised to build 3 smart cities as part of ‘
Smart Cities Project of NarendraModi.

The major challenge that lies ahead in the India-U.S. relationship will be translating the various opportunities into outcomes. This will likely involve tackling political and bureaucratic obstacles in India. It will also likely involve companies rather than the governments, limiting what officials can achieve on their part.

China:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Chinese President Xi Jinping last year and this year he visited China. China is largest trade partner of India and geographically the most important neighbour. It is time to put aside the border issue with china and work progressively for the development of Infrastructure. China has the largest Foreign exchange reserves and is willing to invest at a large scale on projects in India. Total 22 agreements were signed on this visit. India is now too substantial for China to wish away, especially in an hour of economic slowdown. Modi has promised to take on the naysayers and intelligence agencies in his backyard. He has delivered on —at least committed to the delivery of — an easier visa regime for Chinese visitors. He has advised the Chinese that a degree of manufacturing in India could make the Chinese goods easier to flow through India’s polity.He has invited the Chinese to partner in areas as far apart as skill-building and urbanization. In the joint statement, at India’s behest, there was even a paragraph on cooperation in space and civil nuclear technology.

Modi in China images
Modi in China images

European Countries:

Narendra Modi has not left any stone untouched over the first year in office. He has visited France, Germany and Canada last month. He Invited German investors to invest in India in his dream projects ‘Make in India’ and ‘Smart cities’. Other than this he has also visited Brazil to attend BRICS Summit held last year.

In conclusion it can be said that Prime Minister Modi has adopted a far sight and has shown interest to engage with the countries all over the globe. It is very important for India to build strong Political, Economical and cultural relations with all the partner countries of the World. World Bank and IMF has predicted 7.5 % growth rate for India which can only be achieved by engaging actively with all the foreign partners, taping the potential in field of inviting FDI to India and developing Infrastructure.

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