MODI 2.0: FOREIGN POLICY CHALLENGES

PM Narendra Modi

With his massive electoral victory for the second consecutive tenure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government will now face fresh challenges. Modi’s leadership and diplomatic skills will be

With his massive electoral victory for the second consecutive tenure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government will now face fresh challenges. Modi’s leadership and diplomatic skills will be put to test with rising agendas on the foreign policy front. Throughout his first term, Modi led his governance with a focus on India’s stature on the global front. Despite his lack of experience in foreign policies, Modi took risks and managed to sell Brand India on international platforms. Not only that, while encouraging diplomatic involvement of Indian states, Modi also successfully developed personal equations with world leaders, resulting in substantial gains for India.

Trump, China, and Modi

Now, with the second term already in motion, Modi will find hardly any time to rest on his achievements. Global and regional realities are evolving at a pace which traditional diplomacy is finding difficult to grasp. At the global level, the developed world continues with its self-indulgence, which would have been unthinkable just a few years back. Challenging economic globalization, Trump Administration’s trade and technology conflict with China is threatening the global economy with detrimental consequences. For India, this is a big challenge for a stable global economic order, which is imperative for its global rise. Modi will thus have to strategize to resolve tensions with Trump Administration, which may get uncompromising before the next election. The role of Iran and Russia in the Indo-US bilateral matrix will also need addressing.

Meanwhile, China’s growing global footprint and a continued reluctance to acknowledge India’s global rise is constraining India’s options significantly. Despite Modi’s China outreach in Wuhan, the unresolved bilateral disputes are impacting India’s engagement in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. A preference for China’s intent among India’s neighbours further makes New Delhi’s outreach challenging. Growing Sino-Pak relations add another dimension to the existing Pakistan problem which seems unlikely to subside soon.

The Middle East Situation

India may soon face a challenge to find a place for itself in the unfolding peace process in Afghanistan. Modi will have to find a way to remake the case of India’s relevance in Afghanistan’s evolving dynamic. Rising conflicts in the Middle East between Iran and the US will also demand Modi’s immediate attention. A stable Middle East is essential for India’s energy security; Modi will have to work towards India’s image and improved profile in the region.

While multiple infrastructure initiatives like China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are emerging, India’s place in this network remains as of yet undefined. Engaging with like-minded powers in the Indo-Pacific will remain a priority and the Quadrilateral grouping’s agenda too requires serious recalibration. Finally, re-defining the parameters of Indo-Russia ties will have to be a priority as Moscow gets closer to Beijing and ceases to act as a defence for protecting Indian interests.

Conclusion: The Way Forward

In his first term, Modi had succeeded in formulating a global role for India as a leading player. He conveyed that India was not just a spectator in the international system. In his second term, he should be focusing more on how to operationalise this idea into concrete policy outcomes. This will involve building an institutional framework which can engage in long-term strategic thinking more effectively than in the past as well as strengthening the economic and military building blocks of India’s comprehensive national power.

Recent Content