India’s size, demographic dividend, a burgeoning market and strength of her democracy have been instrumental in charting her rise not only as a regional power but a global influencer. Building upon India’s strengths in a multipolar, multilateral world order, the Modi doctrine is emerging based on cooperation, cultural ethos, and trade at its helm.
PM Narendra Modi has been at the forefront of overhauling India’s outreach to the world. Till March 2019, he had made visits to 41 countries, some even multiple times, sealing ties of friendship across the world, sometimes even with countries that have been each other’s rivals. Taking a departure from the past, there is fresh thinking and vigour in how India engages with the world. With the motto of ‘Nation First’, pragmatic realism has become the real driver in diplomacy. In the grand scheme of things- economic growth, global leadership and securing borders are defining the course of India’s engagement with the world.
Israel, an all-weather friend, remained out of the Indian bilateral outreach. However, in 2017, PM Modi unshackled India’s diplomatic relations with Israel from narrow political considerations and became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit the country. The two countries have retierated their concern on global terrorism. India’s defence modernisation programme and agriculture sector have been strengthened due to her deepening cooperation with Israel.
However, India’s closeness to Israel has not had any bearing on other nations from West Asia, where PM Narendra Modi’s bilateral visits have made an equal mark in taking forward India’s economic interests, among other areas.
There is a significant size of India diaspora residing in West Asian countries. Their safety and interests are of paramount importance. They also send billions worth overseas remittances, helping make India the top recipient of remittances in the world. PM Narendra Modi’s engagement with the leaders of the region are greatly focussed on well-being of Indian citizens living and working there.
PM Modi made visits to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar. He became the first prime minister in 34 years to visit UAE. Since then a number of high-level engagements have ensured that the relations between the two nations are fostered through startegic, economic and security partnership. People to people interactions between India and UAE were always strong. However, with the leadership of the both the countires coming more decisively together has led to more opportunities in the sphere of commerce and intelligence sharing.
India’s growing economic stature, coming on the back of various structural reforms, booming capital and improved ranking in ease of doing business has made her an an attractive investment hub. In the recent visit of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, announced a slew of infrastructure and trade agreements to the tune of $100 billion while also reaffirming his country’s support in fighting terrorism and extremism. He also announced release of 850 Indian prisoners languishing in Saudi jails.
With Iran as well, India has enhanced strategic cooperation with development of Chabahar port. It would be the first time that India will be operating a port outside its territories. The port would allow India to bypass Pakistan and conduct trade with Iran and Afghanistan seamlessly.
If forging new relationships is a priority for the Modi government, then renewing old ties is also on the top of the list. There is new perspective and approach involved in moulding India’s ties with her old friends.
India in partnership with U.S., Japan and Australia has resurrected Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to secure her interests in the martitime zone and solidify military prowess through joint naval exercises.
The two biggest democracies in the world, India and U.S. have much in common. Further, bolstering relations, the two nations signed the bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement to facilitate logistical support, supplies and services between the US and Indian militaries. In 2018, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) was signed to faciliate Indian access to advanced defence systems.
With Japan, PM Modi has infused a new sense of direction. From the realm of technology exchange to infrastructural development, Indian economy is one of the preferred investment destinations for Japanese companies. Northeast India’s connectivity infrastructure has received immense impetus with Japan extending financial cooperation towards the development of the region. The Japanese state of the art high-speed rail technology is strengthening India’s ambitious bullet train project.
Major global powers have supported India’s tough action on terror and have come together to defend India’s right to secure its borders. In both the instances of surgical strike and air strikes, where India defined a new normal in the fight against terrorism, other countries stood with India’s efforts to protect her citizens.
In the past five years, Indian diplomacy, led by the Modi doctrine has undone years of inertia and reluctance, and taken India to its rightful position in global high tables. It has done away with the baggage of the past when it comes to renewing old relations or forging new friendships. India is not hesitant to assert herself and is also successful in rallying support of other major global players.