India’s global outreach in the past fortnight created new vibes. Prime Minister Modi on his seven-day visit to the US has launched an unparalleled diplomatic overdrive. Right from the day he landed in Houston, with his unusual bonhomie, pragmatic vision and focussed attention to detail he not only dispelled mendacious campaigns churned out by paid agents but projected India as a country with a global vision.
Kicking off his American visit with a stellar and electrifying Diaspora outreach, Modi shined at various mini summits held along the side-lines of UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) session. Putting India at the centre stage at different forums, Modi posited India’s readiness to be global stake holder. Addressing Universal Health Coverage and Climate Action summit, Modi spoke about the Ayushman Bharat program catering to the health care needs of around 5 lakh families. As a strong advocate of climate change, Modi apprised the International Community of India’s pioneering efforts in increasing India’s renewable energy production, robust energy efficiency policies including special concessions towards popularisation and development of electric vehicles, proposed ban on the single use plastic. At a time when US, has pulled out from the Paris Climate agreement, Modi reaffirmed India’s pledge of committing to the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) declared in 2015. He invited nations to join India’s Modi launched Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) at the Climate Summit and invited nations to join India’s initiative.
In line with India’s policies of strengthening renewable energy, Modi gifted $1 million Solar park to the UN. The 193 solar panels representing member states of the UN, installed on the top of the UN office at New York. Commemorating Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, India has planted 150 trees in the Centre Park and recounted his message of peace and non-violence.
At the Leaders Dialogue on Strategic Responses to Terrorist and Violent Extremist Narratives hosted by King of Jordan, French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez, Modi called for “upgradation of regional frameworks” for intelligence sharing. In an indirect reference to China’s decade long blocking of India’s UN resolution on Masood Azhar he urged countries to refrain from politicization of UN listings and FATF. In a departure from the precedent of urging the UN to ensure inclusive growth and combat terrorism Modi evinced India’s interest to play a key role in alleviating global challenges.
True to the fundamental spirit of “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas”, Modi cemented developmental partnership with Pacific Island countries. Attending the India-Pacific Islands Developing States (PSIDS), Modi announced concessional credit of $150 million towards solar, renewable and climate related projects apart from the $12 million grant for high impact development projects ($1 million each) for the 12 Island states. This outreach, an offshoot of the Forum for India Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC) is a huge boost to India’s Act East Policy as well. Modi held first summit with 15-member grouping of CARICOM (The Caribbean Community for Common Market) leaders. With principle focus on climate action, Modi pledged $14 million grant for community development and $150 million credit line for solar, renewable energy and climate related projects. Both Pacific Islands and CARICOM have sizeable chunk of India Diaspora. Invoking the traditional connect, Modi pledged to strengthen political, economic and cultural engagement with these Island nations.
Overcoming characteristic reticence, Modi affirmed assistance to the Island nations grappling with energy and environmental challenges and positioned India as a reliable developmental partner.
Modi’s developmental partnership backed with concessionary credit line is in sharp contrast to China’s predatory loans though hefty plunged nations into a debt trap. Neighbours India and China have been jostling for global elevation. China with five times the Indian economy has been successfully wooing smaller nations with its attractive infrastructure loans under the ambit of the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). India’s immediate neighbourhood baring Bhutan joined the colossal global connectivity program of China. Exuding its political and economic clout, China began promoting socialism with Chinese characteristics. Dominating the internationalism with its soft diplomacy and China has been slowly escaping global censure for blatantly violating international order including unspeakable human rights violations. Notably India is facing Chinese encirclement, frequent incursion threats and surreptitious entry into its backyard.
Striving towards bettering India’s economic progress, Modi has chosen the developmental diplomacy as a key aspect of his foreign policy doctrine. Revving up engagement with the international community, Modi has been silently projecting India has a key global player-responsible, reliable and peaceful. Through proactive advocacy and championing of global causes, Modi is steadily increasing India’s relevance in global context. In his first term Modi pushed for international recognition of Yoga and popularised “Vasudaiva kutumbakam” (World is one family), a cornerstone of India’s cultural ethos. Invoking thousands of years old pearls of wisdom, in his address to UNGA, Modi offered an alternative course to the World marred with turbulence and conflict.
India which can’t take on China financially is building institutions for larger good of international community. With France, India established an alternative energy bloc, International Solar Alliance (ISA) now joined by 122 member countries. Learning from its past mistakes, India is endeavouring to strengthen the multilateral organisations it has started and contributing effectively to organisations it is part of with new enthusiasm. During the formative years, India espoused non-alignment, spurred a movement against western colonialism and rejected apartheid. India which has been a natural leader. But sinking economy took sheen off India’s idealism. Prioritising its developmental agenda, India besides fostering economic engagement with the developed countries is lending assistance in capacity building and other developmental projects for third world countries.
Stepping up global outreach, Modi held bilateral talks with leaders of Germany, Italy, Qatar, Columbia, Namibia, Niger, Maldives, Bhutan, Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Estonia, Armenia, Cyprus, Iran and executive director of UNICEF. Besides focussing on improving bilateral issues, Modi used this opportunity to state that Kashmir is an integral part of India and that revocation of article 370 is an internal issue.
Pitching for a multilateralism, Modi sought to hard-sell India. He invited American business honchos to invest in India reflecting on its democratic credentials, demographic dividend and demand. Deservedly earning “the Global Goalkeeper Award” from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Modi emerged as symbol of change and hope.
Picking from where Modi left, External Affairs Minister, Jaishankar Subramanian met 42 foreign ministers, held 36 bilateral meetings, 8 pull asides, 7 multilaterals and lectured at three think-tanks at New York. In a span of seven days, Prime Minister-EAM duo reached out to their global counterparts. To contemplate that this unprecedented scale of engagement is meant for isolating Pakistan diplomatically will be missing the wood for the trees. In fact, Modi’s unparalleled diplomatic agenda bereft of resolve to indulge with Pakistan points to a larger agenda of elevating India’s global stature. His deliberate omission of any reference to Pakistan in his UNGA address suffice the same.
The sheer intensity of India’s global engagement spearheaded by both the Prime Minister and EAM comes at time when Pakistan has propped up anti-India smear campaign through its lobbyists. While India avoided a collision course with Pakistan at the global platform, war mongering jingoistic rants and nuclear threats issued by Pakistani Prime Minister at the UNGA evidently laid bare Islamabad’s abominable agenda. Though India effectively shredded Pakistani lies exercising right to reply, EAM rightfully chose to re-educate the West about India’s aspirations.
After Prime Minister Modi departed to India from New York, Indian czar of diplomacy, single-handedly demolished false propaganda propped up by Pakistan. In a single day, he made appearance on five morning talk shows. In three-days he delivered talks at five think-tanks in Washington-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Atlantic Council, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, The Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. He also held talks with Secretary for State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper, NSA Robert O’Brien and Acting Home Secretary. In all his engagements, EAM explicitly stated India’s position on Kashmir, countered Pakistan’s mendaciously subverted narrative. Enunciating India’s global aspiration he comprehensively positioned India at a higher pedestal vis-à-vis the epicentre of terror Pakistan.
Presenting shared strategic and economic interests of India, Jaishankar hinted at New Delhi’s preparedness for a larger global role. Open for strategic engagements and developmental partnership, India is now jousting for place at global high table and challenging the rise of Sino-centric Asia as desired by China.
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