With the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with more popular votes than what he got in 2014, India now has a leader with the largest popular support among all the leaders in the world. This mass popularity and global image of PM Modi further strengthen his aura in global politics today.
From 2014 onwards, PM Modi has brought a pragmatic touch to India’s foreign policy. Under his leadership, India has shifted from its non-alignment policy (with exception to USSR) to multi-alignment policy. In the last 5 years, due to this multi-alignment push, India has been walking the fine rope to maintain relations with diagonally opposite countries.
In this background, let us try to understand as to why India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as one global leader who can bridge gaps between the two such countries.
USA and Russia
India in recent times has changed its gear to increase its partnership with the USA, without compromising its time-tested friendship with Russia. In 2016, the USA made India a ‘major defence partner’, meaning India will get access to US defence technology at par with USA’s closest allies. This didn’t stop India from signing very significant S-400, the long-range surface to air missile system, deal with Russia despite cautioning by the USA. This shows the increasing global status of India to have good relations with two poles-apart countries.In case of any immediate trigger between USA and Russia, another global power like China will not naturally be trusted by the USA as both USA and China themselves have their own set of problems. And, France and Germany being the members of US-led NATO will not be trusted by Russia. Thus, India remains the best option.
USA and China
Both the USA and China are currently locked into a trade war. The tussle between them is to grow as China is fast emerging as opposition to the USA’s hegemonic position in the world order. India even, in this case, enjoys a common ground between them. India and China, being two neighbours and two great civilisations of the east, have reliability in their relationship more than what China has on the USA or vice-versa. India as a member of both BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and as one of the largest markets for Chinese companies holds a bargaining chip with China. In case of any strategic threats between USA and China, the USA has no other channel than India to play a trouble-shooter before the threat becomes grave.
Apart from USA, China’s rise has threatened countries like Australia, Japan and those located in South China Sea and Indian Ocean, these countries also see India maintaining ‘balance of power’ with China. We have explained this in one of our earlier articles in much detail.
Israel and Palestine
India since its independence has been supporting the cause of Palestinians. Since the 1990s, it has started to befriend Israel too. In recent times, PM Modi has de-hyphenated the Israel Palestine foreign policy of India and further increased the relationship with both the countries. Both countries also have shown great trust in India. The personal gestures of Israel’s Prime Minister to Indian PM Modi and their personal bonhomie don’t require much mention here. Even Palestine has conferred ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’, the highest Palestinian honor for foreign dignitaries, on PM Modi to promote the relations between both nations.
India’s recent much-publicized vote at UN ECOSOC, which was painted as Pro-Israel by many media reports, missed the reasoning behind such a decision.The Palestine NGO (seeking the observer status) against which India voted possibly had links with terror group Hamas. And, India under PM Modi is the leading voice against terror in the world and such a decision is in tune with its policy against terror. As things stand today, India is a nation that both Israel and Palestine trust.
Saudi Arabia And Iran
The animosity between both countries is as much a religious fight as a rivalry for oil-importing clients. Another angle to conflict is USA backing to Saudi Arabia and the USA’s hostility to Iran at the same time. India, however, has walked a fine rope between the two countries. Due to USA’s sanctions, even if India couldn’t continue importing oil from Iran after the initial waiver given to India by USA expired, it has continued to maintain good relations with Tehran as exhibited in their cooperation on the Chabahar port. Interestingly, India’s outreach to Israel has not spoiled its relations with Iran with which Israel is at loggerheads, shows another diplomatic victory of India’s multi-alignment.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, India continues to be it’s one of the largest oil-importing countries. Apart from the commercial interests, Saudi Arabia and India in recent times have taken their bilateral relationship to a greater height. Further, Saudi has conferred its highest civilian award ‘King Abdulaziz Sash’ on PM Modi. India, thus, enjoys a rapport with all leading countries in its extended neighborhood on the western front.
It is not only the above 4 cases, but there are many other areas where India can play a very constructive role. One such area is building consensus on global commons like Arctic region or space. Therefore, in today’s world order, India under PM Modi is in the position that the world leaders look up to.