Does Europe count for Modi?

n just four months in office, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has radically transformed Indian foreign policy. But what would we, Europeans expect from the new India?

Since the beginning of his mandate, Modi has given focus and ambition to India’s muffled and ill-defined foreign policy. With the economy under control – India’s stock market has risen by 30%, GDP growth is tracking nearly 6%, and Standard and Poor has recently raised India’s credit outlook to ‘stable’ – Modi is free to indulge in international relations. He has two main foreign policy goals – to consolidate India’s status as regional hegemon in South Asia and to attract the foreign direct investments (FDI) critical for India’s growth.
Modi’s first moves have been directed at increasing New Delhi’s role in the Indian sub-continent. The withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan will leave a major regional power vacuum, which Modi’s India seeks to fill. In an unprecedented move, Modi invited all leaders from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to his swearing-in ceremony and held bilateral talks with each of them on his first day in office. In June, Modi made his first foreign visit to neighbouring Bhutan and in August he went to Nepal. He was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Hindu kingdom of Nepal in 17 years, where he offered a $1 billion line of credit for infrastructure development and energy projects. India knows it must assume the status of a regional power before it can court global rank.For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping flew to Modi’s hometown of Ahmedabad in Gujarat on the occasion of Modi’s 64th birthday on September 17. Xi offered to invest $20 billion in Indian infrastructure and manufacturing sectors – a dramatic rise compared to the $400 million it has invested throughout the past decade. China will also build high-speed rail links and construct two industrial parks in India. A man once barred from entering the US, Modi was welcomed to the White House by President Barack Obama and gave an address at Madison Square Gardens in New York, heralding a new era for Indo-US relations.
But where is Europe? Where are we Europeans in the scope of the new India? Traditionally, due to its colonial past India was considered the “most European”, at least most friendly power in Asia. The regional superpower, that understands us, that is our main partner in the region. But the weakness of Europe in the political sphere and the long standing economic crisi, that made even the strongest European economies overburdened with thje problems of the weaker ones made Europe a much less luring partner than it was in the former decades. So it is not a surprise that European relations are not priority in the dynamic Indian foreign policy. At the same time an overly networked power lacking hard power and the will to use it can expect not be taken seriously in the international community as the European Union’s helplessness against Russian aggression had demonstrated.

Szóljon hozzá ehhez a cikkhez