Amid the raging media war between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s supporters and critics, recent developments are helping to disprove one charge — that India is getting isolated internationally.
From frustrating China’s latest United Nations Security Council (UNSC) move on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to forcing Malaysia to start addressing its growing trade surplus with India, including by importing more Indian sugar, Indian diplomacy has rarely been more robust. It was China that was isolated in the UNSC discussion on J&K.
United States (US) President Donald Trump’s forthcoming visit promises to raise India’s international salience. Building closer cooperation with the US, while shielding India’s longstanding partnership with Russia, has been Modi’s signature foreign policy initiative. The US and India have never been closer than they are today, despite their differences over the Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran challenges.
The showmanship, zeal, and penchant that Modi’s diplomacy displayed in his first years in office have gradually given way to a more down-to-earth approach and greater pragmatism, including seeking to more resourcefully advance the country’s interests. Under Modi, Indian diplomacy has been shedding its conventional methods and shibboleths to help build innovative dynamism. This remains a work in progress.
India is now more willing to be proactive. Consider the imperative to reverse eroding regional clout at a time when China is spreading its influence deep into India’s backyard. In Sri Lanka, no sooner had Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the presidential election, Modi sent his foreign minister to personally invite him to New Delhi.
And then, to follow up on the discussions during Gotabaya’s visit, Modi’s national security adviser was in Colombo recently.