The Modi Doctrine

In the last article we saw India’s relation with key countries like USA, South Asia etc. In this article we will continue from where we left and will see our relations with other part of the world, prominent among them will be Middle East and Israel.

India & Middle East

One of the biggest achievement of previous government is to strengthen the ties with all the middle -east nations, be it UAE, Bahrain, Oman or The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This region is extremely important for India, as more than 80% of India’s oil and gas is imported from this region, also the region provides employment to a large section of our Diaspora. More than seven million Indians work in this region, remitting $ 35 billion every year.

Hence to strengthen it a lot of political capital was invested from both the sides and frequent bilateral visits were made leading to signing of plethora of MOU’s, prominent among them are development of world’s biggest oil refinery in Gujrat by Reliance in partnership with Saudi’s Aramco, storing of oil in strategic oil reserve in India, creation of a $75 billion fund by UAE to make infrastructural investments in India, development of special economic zone at Duqm port in Oman by India.

In the recent years to express their respect for India, several regional countries like KSA, UAE, Oman etc have awarded their highest civilian award to the Indian Prime Minister

The special aspect of this strong relation is evident from the fact that it is not affected by the inter-regional rivalry especially with Israel and Iran.

India & Israel

One of the biggest moment in the Indian foreign policy history was when Indian Prime Minister set foot on the Jewish land in 2017. Even though India officially recognized the Israel back in 1950’s and set up an embassy in 1992, still no Indian Prime Minister set foot in Israel, partially because of the fear that it might agonize the Muslim world.

But a strong Indian leadership and a proactive foreign policy showed the world that India’s relation with Israel stands on its own merits and are not affected by inter-regional tension.

Israel has been a strong ally of India and also helped India secretly in many of our battles despite US sanction. This relations was always under a wrap as far as India is concerned, but the previous government brought it to the forefront with the famous bear hug between Modi and Bibi.

Israel being the prominent innovators in the field of agricultural science opened various agricultural research institutions and provided India with the modern technologies to increase the productivity of Indian agriculture like the Drip irrigation  which not only saves the scarce water resource but also increase the production.

Not only agriculture, many Israeli companies are working in India in the field of water conversation and replenishment technologies.

But the biggest highlight of this relation is the strong defense collaboration between the two nations, Israel provides India with sophisticated attacking Drones, missiles like HAROP and Heron attack drones, Barak 8 missiles, which other countries are hesitant to provide.

All this has led to Israel being the third biggest defense partner of India after Russia and US.

Hallmark of this relation is that it doesn’t get affected by the India’s stand of supporting the Palestine at the UN also because of India’s traditional support to Iran.

India, Iran and Afghanistan

India historically has a strong ties with the Persian nation since ancient times due to bilateral trade and cultural similarities. In recent years the relationship has become even stronger.

India recently invested $ 8 billion to develop the Chabahar port and also persuaded other countries like Japan to make investment. Post US sanctions against Iran, India reached a Rupee-Rial agreement for purchasing oil, also India obtained special waiver from the sanctions to invest in Iran. India also entered into an agreement with Iran to fill up the strategic oil reserves in India.

In the eyes of Afghans, India is their foremost friend and rightly so as we have been helping them in their development, by building developmental projects like the Zeranj-Delaram highway, which will not only reduce the cost of trade between India and Afghanistan but will also provide Afghanistan a huge market for its product.

India has also gifted the parliament building to Afghan people along with several other developmental projects like Salma dam. India is also helping the redevelopment of the nation via soft loans, transfer of technology. Not only this, even Afghanistan cricket team has a home base in India.

Due to these all these efforts Modi was recently accorded the highest civilian award of Afghanistan  The Amir Amanullah Khan Award, which signifies the trust we were able to build with our Afghan counterparts

India & Japan

India and Japanese relations dates back thousands of years, but it has not been as strong as it is now, it is because of the personal touch the leadership in both the countries has given to cultivate the relation and this relation has become so strong that Japan is our partner of choice for getting investments and technology into our economy

Japan has been an instrumental in providing infrastructural funding to India, be it for development of Delhi Metro or extending ODA loans worth Rs 4,000 Cr at a concessional rate of interest of approx. 1.4% to fund highway project in the seven sisters or the recent bullet train project, thereby benefiting the people immensely.

Not only India, but the world at large has benefited due to strong ties between India and Japan. Both the countries are collaborating with each other for development projects around the globe like the recent Asia-Africa growth corridor or development of ports of Sri Lanka.

And this relation is not limited to investments but has extended to other areas like holding annual joint naval exercise Malabar etc.

Due to all these reasons the relations between us has been upgraded to Special strategic and Global partnership  

India & World

Not only bilateral relations, the government has given equal weightage to multilateral relations as well.

Shining examples of such multilateral engagement is the Paris climate deal, in which the Modi government took the front stage and announced the ambitious target of producing 175GW of energy from renewable resources by 2022, which motivated other countries as well to focus on green energy and not only this Modi along with then French President Franco Holland announced the initiative of International solar alliance head-quartered in Gurgaon, whose focus will be to develop and fund various solar projects in countries lying between the two tropics. This initiate will not only boost energy generation from solar technology but has also increased India’s standing around the globe as the leader in renewable energy sector

Recognition of 21st June as World Yoga Day by the UN was a proud moment for us Indians and this became possible due to untiring efforts of the Modi government, it not only increased the respect for ancient practice of Yoga around the globe, but also proved that India still believes in the philosophy of Vasudev Kutumbkam (World is one family) as it wants to share the age old practice with the world so that whole world can benefit from this science.

 Also due to this proactive foreign policy initiatives more weight is now been given to Indian voice in all the multilateral forum like at the UN, G20 summit etc

As foreign affairs is a very dynamic and a delicate topic so there are bound to be some setbacks and India is no different as we also faced some setbacks in the last five years, prominent among those are the downward trend in relations with Pakistan, Russia and uncertainty in the relation with the Dragon.

In the last leg of this series we will analyse the misses of our foreign policy and how this Modi government 2.0 remediate these mistakes and move forward to make India the next Super-power.

The rise of an Ideology : Trumponomics

One of the most watched drama in 2016 was the election of the world’s oldest democracy – The United States of America and as dramatic the race was, equally surprising was its result in which a Real Estate magnet won against a seasonal diplomat by a whisker and became the 45th President of the world’s most powerful country.

This phenomenon which took the whole world by surprise was – Donald John Trump

From there the era of Trumponomics started and the world is still copping up with this new geo-political reality.

Trumponomics: The Philosophy

Trumponomics is a philosophy initiated by Donald Trump, as per which the interest of America is of utmost priority, even at the cost of its closest allies. Interest of USA should be achieved by using all the weapons in the arsenal, like applying economic pressure, flexing diplomatic muscles or by threatening with sophisticated military weapons.

This thought process doesn’t differentiate between allies and opponents, what matters is only selfish interest.

Though this era has started recently, still it has been so strong that it has swept the world like a tsunami.

Economic Pressure and its impact

Trade Deal with “Worst Abuser” – China

Trade has been the biggest factor driving relations between these two economic giants. Biggest factor in the rise of China is its export oriented industry with USA being its largest market. So much so that China currently has over $350 billion of trade surplus with America.

Correct way to reduce this deficit would be to align on a trade deal which will be beneficial for both the countries, though this new economic philosophy also had the same intentions, but its implementation has been faulty to say the least some of the examples are raising duties and taxes on the current imports of goods from China, in a hope to muscle its way into a favorable trade deal, insulting the proud China by calling them “WORST ABUSERS” and “CURRENCY MANIPULATORS”, restricting access to latest technologies like Google has restricted Huwaii to use its software.

This has not only worsened their relations, lead to huge losses to the businesses in both the countries also causing losses to investors and also to common people around the world due to erratic movement in stock market but not only that it also affected the poor farmers of US on whom retaliatory tariff was employed by China.

Not only China, but its closest allies also felt the fire, as US has also increased tariffs on imports of various products like taxes were imposed on products like steel and automobiles which impacted countries like Japan, Canada, Mexico and Germany the most.

This economic pressure has not only lead to losses around the world but also impacted the common US citizens as they have to pay a lot higher price then what they are supposed to pay.

Also due to retaliatory tariff being imposed by the world, the cost of doing business has risen all around the world and because of which only the common person has to suffer.

Not only the economic pressure, Trumponomics also believes in flexing its diplomatic muscles to have its way, even at the cost of isolating itself from the world.

Flexing of Diplomatic Muscle

The Paris Climate Change Agreement

Climate change has been a worry for all countries around the globe, so the whole world gathered in 2014 and signed an ultimate agreement to reduce the carbon foot print. Which we know as the Paris climate agreement.
But shifting to clean energy resources like solar energy is detrimental to the mining sector and the miners (which tends to be one of the biggest voter base) therefore the US under Trumponomics claimed that climate change is a hoax and pulled out of the deal, despite it being the biggest polluter in the world.


This move was made irrespective of knowing the fact that US will become the only country which has not signed for this agreement and will practically isolate itself form the world on Global warming


Despite the world, even the state government in the US itself advised against this catastrophic move, still the Federal government withdrew from the deal to satisfy the petty interest of Trumponomics.

Irrelevance of international bodies and Multi- lateral agreements

It also believes in following the rules made by international body like WTO till the time these rule satisfies its interest, and if these rule are against the interest then these institutions are being labelled as irrelevant.

Same has been the case with multilateral agreements like NAFTA which is just surviving despite facing numerous threats of being scrapped.
Though Trans Pacific partnership agreement between 10 pacific rim nations was not that lucky and was scrapped in the initial days of this philosophy, as it was believed that other nations like Vietnam are getting all the benefits and no though was given to the potential of an increased trade opportunity that this deal might have created.

The Military angle of the Philosophy

Weapon industry is also one of the major pillar of US economy. It provides jobs to thousands of people and also brings in huge amount of foreign reserves. So it is but natural that it needs to be protected to some extent, but under Trumponomics this protectionism goes to a whole new level.

Trumponomics believes in bullying the world to protect its industry and it follows what it preaches which can be seen in the whole drama around S-400 triumf in Asia.
Nations like India, Turkey (NATO ally) is being threatened against purchasing weapons like S-400 trimph anti-aircraft missiles from Russia, so that sale of THAAD (A US made gun of same nature) can be increased.

Even sale of sophisticated weapons were approved to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because it provided an irresistible deal of $ 110 billion. This was done despite a strong congress resistance

Turmponomics neither cares about allies nor about being isolated, it is an inward looking philosophy which is against globalization and only believes in protectionism.

The Future with Trumponomics

Recently a study by World bank suggested that if the trade war between China and US continues it may reduce the growth rate by .5%.
Think what will happen if we extrapolate this figure to the global level as US under Trumponomics is virtually having a trade war with all the nations of the world.

The World which still has not fully recovered from the after-shocks of 2008 financial crises has started to look at another crises in making due increase in popularity of this hyper protectionism policy and its manifestation can be seen in Brexit, rise of rightist parties around the world like Marine Le-Pen in France.

With more and more followers of this policy being elected around the world, the future of the world doesn’t look so promising.

The Road Ahead

Philosophy like these spreads like wild fire, it is a beast which needs to be tamed at the right time. Forces around the world which believes in free trade should join hands against this minority and stop them before it captures the world.


Some promising examples have been the people of United State who have wholeheartedly opposed this inward looking philosophy and has stated a strife against it, the most prominent example being the State of California, which despite federal government rejecting the Paris deal, made separate deal with different nations of the world to promote clean energy.


Even EU has come out in open opposing g this philosophy which was proved in the elections of France and Germany where the leaders favoring an open economy were elected.

Hence even in these testing time the world has an opportunity to come together as one and save the fundamental philosophy of free trade and open economy so that we can again became a global village as we dream to be.

Iran: Latest piece of US middle-east puzzle.

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Love affair of US and the Middle-east is such that, since the later part of 20th century US has been entangled in the local affairs of the region, be it organizing Camp David for Israeli peace or sending troops to Iraq for fighting Saddam Hussein or recent war with ISIS in Syria and the plans to overthrow the incumbent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Harder the US tries to pull out of this region, the more it gets entangled in the messy affairs of this troubled region, sometime because of its own interest or due to interests of its allies.

Currently the latest piece of this un-solvable puzzle for US is Islamic Republic of Iran

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It’s often said in foreign affairs “There are no permanent friends or enemies, but only interests”

This quote is apt to describe the relations of US and Iran.

Iran under Shah used to be one of the most trusted ally of United State of America. So much so that Iran was said to be the ‘pillar’ of US foreign policy in the Middle East and US had no hesitation in selling it’s F-14 or giving them Nuclear reactor and fuel.

Then the tables turned after the Islamic revolution of 1979 and this turn was so sudden that the erstwhile best of friends became overnight enemy in a blink of an eye and this enmity is so strong that both the countries don’t even have a consulate in each other’s country.

Iran after the revolution, nationalized all its industries and the US whose dream was to create a world hegemony, can’t digest this fact.

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Since 1979, only feature which is constant in their relation is Threat.

Supreme leader of Islamic republic ‘Ayatollah Ruhollah Komeini’ referred America as “Great Satan” and usually chants “Death to America” in his Friday prayers. Similarly Ex- President of USA George W Bush called Iran “Axis of Evil” along with North Korea and Iraq after 9/11.

This is just one of the several reasons of this 4 decades of enmity, there are other players involved in this geo-political drama which complicates the matter further and don’t provide the room to solve this rivalry.

Israel and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Israel: Small Jewish nation on the coast of Mediterranean Sea, was carved out in the year 1948 from the Palestinian region, but it was never accepted as a country by the Muslim world, hence since then it has fought and won decisively all of its battles against the coalition of Muslim power which surrounds it.

Iran the torch bearer of Shia in the region still didn’t recognize the state of Israel and always swear to eliminate it from the ‘face of earth’

Who can forget the famous STUXNET worm which sabotage the Iran nuclear program, it is said to be an Israel- American conspiracy.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: The richest nation in the gulf region, is seperated from Persia by a small Strait of Hormuz, but both these countries never had a cordial relation with each other as proud Sunni nation can’t be a friend of Shia Iran, due to age long sectarian fight of Shia and Sunni.

They often allege each other as conspirator of terrorist activities in their country.

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Although KSA doesn’t recognize the Jewish state and has fought many battles including the famous 6 day war, still they work together as allies and co-operate behind the curtains when it comes to Iran.

Both these nations are important to the strategic interest of USA as oil rich Saudi provides fuel to run the US economy and also is one of the largest importer of US goods including military equipment and the small Jewish state has the strongest lobby in the US as Jews are one of the richest and most progressive community in the US.

Hence both these nations shape the foreign policy of the lone super-power when it comes to this region.

Hence this simple looking rivalry between US and Iran has many facets, making it one of the most complex geo-political situation of our generation.

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With the current US administration this war mongering has reached it ultimate level in this past month.

US doesn’t want Iran to develop nuclear capabilities even for peaceful purpose, because having such capability is detrimental to the interests of both Israel and KSA, as both these nation fears that Iran might be successful in enriching the uranium to such a level that it can make nuclear missile in guise of peaceful use of nuclear technology.

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But stopping Iran to use the technology for peaceful purpose is against the various nuclear treaties of the world including NTBT(Partial Nuclear Test Ban treaty), CTBT(Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty),

NPT(Treaty on the Non – Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon) to which even the US is a signatory, hence in Obama administration the UN ratified framework which we know as “Joint comprehensive plan of action” was signed between P5+1 and Iran, as per which Iran will eliminate medium enriched uranium and will provide access to its nuclear facility to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and in return Iran will get relief form US, EU and UN based sanctions.

All the parties were following their commitment to JCPOA, but then the leader of world’s oldest democracy changed and a rightist businessman whose only concern is to do business, even at the cost of world peace, took over the reins of US,

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This new US administration unilaterally withdrew from the UN ratified framework, and put sanctions on Iran for superficial reasons. This move was criticized even by the closest allies of the US who still are maintaining status quo as far as JCPOA is concerned.

But who can stop a businessman who doesn’t understand the nitty-gritties of diplomacy and is only concerned about the money flowing from the Saudi’s and strong supportive lobby of the Jews.

Thereby US under the current administration put strict sanctions against the Islamic republic, banning the world at large to purchase oil and gas from this oil rich nation and if that was not enough they started sending additional troops and bombers and even an Air-craft carrier USS Abraham Linclon to this region in guise of defending US assets and its allies. He even approved sale of $8 billion worth of US sophisticated arm and amunition to the Kingdom without taking prior approval from the Congress.

This move has escalated the tension further as it is seen as provocation from Iran’s point of view.

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Even Iran has not minced any of its words and threatened to close off the strategic important Strait of Hormuz and also have given verbal threats to all the three nations involved.

And the biggest issue in this scenario is that the world has only been a mute spectator to this precarious situation.

As Gandiji said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”

India should not remain quite in this vulnerable times.

“As war only lead to loss of lives and property, hence it is the peace that we should all strive for”

India has a direct interest in this conflict as any war or threat of war may lead to rise in the price of fuel oil, which will be detrimental to our domestic growth, also India has invested heavily in Iran, be it in Chabahar port which connects India to Afghanistan or the International north south economic corridors or the huge trade worth more than $23 Billion that we have with Iran, all will get impacted.

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Also war or even a threat of war in the region will be detrimental to the whole region of which India is also a part, as war will increase price of necessities, reduce investment in the region which will directly impact the job creation and thereby leading to a lower growth rate and a waste of demographic dividend.

As a regional power which has good relations with all the four engaging parties, it is our moral duty to open back channel for talks and reduce the tension in the region and strive to bring all the parties to table for a peaceful resolution and fulfill our Dharma of PAX INDICA

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As Leo Tolstoy in his book War and Peace said “If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war”.

Hence all the parties to the conflict should fight their own convictions before threatening to finishing off each other. To achieve a peaceful future for the mankind.

The fight for supremacy passes from the ports of Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka, the nation with a population of 21 million and an area of 65 thousand square kilometer has become a latest point of contest between giants running for the throne of Asia.

The modern history of Sri Lanka is marred by the more than 150 years of colonial exploitation which ended in 1972 when the country became republic. But then due to excesses against the minority Tamils by Sinhalese government, LTTE ( Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was born in 1976, which lead to insurgency leading to disruption of growth and prosperity of this island nation for the next three decades. In 2009 LTTE was defeated and people hoped for a better future, but how would they know that a bigger challenge was now knocking their door.

 

Sri Lanka is in the middle of the Indian ocean, having no land borders with any country, still its placement makes this small piece of land, a place of strategic importance for Asian affairs.

Ceylon proximity to the Indian mainland, makes it the pivot to China’s so called String of Pearls.

With control over Sri Lanka, India’s security architecture can be threatened, this China understood long back, which lead to a huge amount investment approx. $1.5 billion flown to a sleepy port of Hambantota on the eastern side of the Island. People who didn’t even have pakka houses, saw ships of concrete coming to the island, to make world class infrastructure and port, and with the blessing of the previous Sri Lankan government, China was able to make a world class ghost port. The intention was never to recover the investment but to grab the land and to set up a base in the Indian ocean and to challenge India in its own backyard, which they were able to achieve to a certain extent, when the land was given on lease to them for 99 years as poor nation of Sri Lanka can never pay back such a huge sum of money.china-vs-india

Motive was not only limited to check India in its own backyard, but to also secure the oil route which passes through the strategic strait of Malacca via Sri Lanka. China was almost successful in achieving both the goals, but autocratic China didn’t completely understand the complex process of democracy, which lead to a temporary halt in their plans. As the new government came into power, the geo-politics of the region also took a U-turn.

 

New government didn’t want to lose the protection of India and couldn’t risk to losing money of China, so they followed the Buddhist philosophy of Madhaya Marg and appeased both China and India, by continuing association with China and approving the Indian plan to operate a Brand New, State of the art GHOST Airport new the GHOST port of Hambantota.

 

How would naïve Sri Lankan know that the geo-political rivalry is not that simple and rivalry in Asia is not limited to two rivals. But soon they realized that third giant is also part of this trilogy. Japan

Althoughsenkaku a peaceful nation after the world war which focused only on its rebuilding, but its proximity to China and tensions over Senkaku island lead to emergence of a impending contest between the two.

 

 

Following the philosophy of “Enemy of my enemy is my friend” Japan jumped into this geo political war alongside India. Japan with its money power started countering the Chinese offers with soft loan of rates as low as .1%. Be it Asia Africa growth corridor to counter China’s one belt one road or its offering its bullet train technology to the Indo0-china region. Japan is matching China’s offer with a better offer.

 

Same story is being repeated in this this ancient Buddhist land.

Now both India and Japan are in talks with the Sri Lankan authority to develop a container terminal in Colombo right next to the terminal built by China as part of one belt one road initiative.

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Though these plans are made by the government to neutralize the dependency of the small island nation on China, but who knows what turn this rivalry will take in future and what all Sri Lanka would have already lost by that time.

 

Sri Lanka has become a classic case of what happens when you get entangled into big boys rivalry. Its only the common people of the nation who suffers the high cost of this geo-political contest for supremacy. Though huge investment are flowing into the country, but do they have the capacity to absorb the same and do they have the financial strength to pay them off on time? Because if not the small island nation has to keep its land on mortgage for a life time which is unfair to the future generation of the nation.

 

Though competition is a desirable thing, but rivalry is not. The world should understand this and try to resolve these financial rivalry at the earliest before it becomes catastrophic like leasing of port of Hambantota for 99 years.

 

Our world has enough problems like hunger, global warming, pollution, we should try and resolve them first and try not to increase it further. This is our duty as the citizen of the world and our obligation to the future generation.

Hopefully the sleeping conscience of the rival nations will awake and they would stop pursuing the superficial dream of supremacy and release the benefit of co-habiting before it’s too late, and hopefully good sense of morality will awake in the world and they would interfere before another Hambantota happens.