If there is one thing everyone can attest to about the Modi government, it is the fact that Indian foreign policy has been on steroids since May 2014. The passive aggressive pursuit undertaken by Prime Minister Modi himself is actually quite impressive. Indian foreign policy has always been very tactful and positive. India has maintained workable-to-good relations with the majority of the states, even with those with conflicting interests. Under former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, foreign policy became more international and ambitious than ever before and it would only be fair to say that Modi has continued on this path and made it stronger through his unique innovation.
India has traditionally positioned itself as a passive power with an ambitious, but unclear, regional and international agenda. Even though India showed pursuits of ambition and innovation from time to time, Indian foreign policy portrayed a lack creativity and dominance. The majority of India’s international fixtures resulted from its geographic and strategic presence in Asia and its growing economy, which other ambitious states could not afford to ignore. India has attracted a lot of foreign investment and has contributed to a variety of international issues. India has positioned itself as a friend to all and a foe to none, which has definitely benefitted it to win the confidence of many major nations. However, its regional and international influence has been constantly challenged either by China or by its own over ambitious nature. The Modi government is exploring a unique avenue by reaching out to less influential and underdeveloped countries. In addition to this, there is an effort to strengthen the bilateral ties with countries of similar cultural backgrounds. India is changing its inward looking foreign policy of attracting investment and strategic favoritism to an outward looking foreign policy of expanding its sphere of influence and identifying markets of Indian trade and culture for expansion. Although India’s journey to become a serious international player has existed since Nehru’s time, it has never been pursued with such vigor and enthusiasm.
Looking back at the inauguration day of the Modi government, the PM made a symbolic move by inviting all SAARC national leaders. Apart from its unclear and ever-changing policy with Pakistan, the Modi government has successfully resolved several border issues with Bangladesh, improved trade ties with Sri Lanka, enhanced its strategic influence in Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar, countered China, and strengthened the already developing friendship with Afghanistan. The PM is taking initiative and conducting visits to states where no Indian leader has stepped before. His recent visit to the central Asian states of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan not only embarked newer trade treaties, but also established important military cooperation pacts and energy trade deals.The extent of this new foreign policy of universal acceptance is such that the PM conducted a visit to the island nation of Fiji as well. In response to China’s recent opposition to text-based negotiations of the United Nations Security Council reforms, India has significantly increased its outreach programs to Pacific islands and African states. In order to balance China’s tactical pressure, India has come out in full open support of the UN Convention on Law of Sea, which questions China’s blatant expansionist agenda in the South China sea. Additionally, India is organizing a first of its kind summit with Pacific island states and the largest ever India-Africa summit through which it plans not only to increase its bilateral ties, but also familiarize these nations with the larger goal of the UNSC reforms. India’s recent attention to smaller nations has not in any way put behind the good work initiated by Dr. Singh’s former government. India’s ‘Look East’ policy which was rebranded to the ‘Act East’ policy by Modi, has only strengthened India’s relations with Eastern nations through several trade, energy, and development agreements. Establishment of the BRICS bank is another such example of continuing foreign policy. By bagging the atomic energy deal all around the globe, the Modi government has definitely made the most of the atomic isolation ended by Dr. Singh by signing the first nuclear dealwith the US.
India has developed its international presence and strategic influence majorly through its soft power attributes rather than through its third-largest military. The current methodology adopted by the government coincides with the global order envisioned by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Indian government is taking the right steps in making India a serious contender for key decisions concerning global politics.
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