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India's foreign outlook

Indias foreign outlook

India declared its mandate and gave Narendra Modi a successive term. While lobbies of theorists, poll experts, opposition and common men retrospect, our prime minister hardly has any time to spare. While the swearing-in ceremony and a new council of ministers will take their conventional course, global matters are fizzing around. Modi's first term had that enthusiasm for foreign affairs. In fact, he was the one leading those, biting a large bite of foreign visits and building India's impression as a global presence. His popularity amongst NRIs only validates that. For a prime minister, Modi facilitated international relations. Though he had been criticised for his handling of Pakistan, while not making specific advancements with China either, Modi's foreign tours earned India measurable gains. So if his first term brought us to a driving position on the global front, his second, ideally, should make us cement our position and co-facilitate it with the big guns. From the time of Independent India's first prime minister Nehru's famous speech, "Tryst with Destiny" to Modi's recent address after registering a landslide victory, India has taken strides of success, sometimes gradually, sometimes hastily but only in one direction: towards being a superpower. Now superpower is not merely a position of advancement and massive resources such as that of the US or Russia which India needs to emulate, it is the presence it needs on the global front. While the superpowers are embroiled in an imbroglio, India, as it has since Independence, needs to take significant strides. And, the fact that we have a foreign policy prime minister only makes it better. For many, this, perhaps, can be a silver lining of the massive mandate. There have been global developments since India was busy with its general elections and those are now there for Modi 2.0 to consider, and capitalise. Two most important issues which currently stand out are oil and terror. With the end of waivers on sanctions that America has slapped on Iran due to their bilateral conundrum, India has been stripped of its longstanding friendship with Iran. This raises apprehensions surrounding the famous project of Chabahar Port as well. India's opinion on the potential absence of Iranian crude oil from now on has not been officially formed despite America's demand. Now the time is ripe to act and with Trump calling Modi to congratulate on the victory, curiosity rises if Modi could strike an unprecedented deal with America without severing ties with Iran. Of course, that is an unexpected situation but so was Modi's even larger victory. The strategic partnership that the US promises is too lucrative for India to let go but so is ousting Iran. At the same time, India needs to strike a balance between its bilateral understanding with Russia and the US. China's Belt and Road Initiative naggingly persists in the fray while a repeat of Wuhan seems necessitated considering bilateral disputes remain ashore. India's financial aid to the Maldives to overcome China's debt trap is a gesture the Asian superpowers implicitly acknowledge as a point of distinction. Further, the strategic advances of China in the India Ocean Region are to be analysed and addressed.

The second most important issue is the rise of terror in South Asia. The world was shocked upon learning the involvement of ISIS in the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. While India has witnessed its own set of terror instances, presence of terror lobbyists so close to the nation certainly does not augur well, especially in the wake of their capacity and firepower as witnessed in Sri Lanka. Listing of JeM chief in the UN's sanctions committee was a positive outcome facilitated by the US, UK, and France. An apparent sympathy for India brought three of the permanent five vetos of United Nations Security Council to force China's decision in listing Azhar. This also earmarks a global consensus on counterterrorism which will be invaluable in coming times especially with the advancements terror outfits have made in and around India. Associated to the entire foreign policy situation and terror rise is the perennial threat of or from Pakistan. Pulwama stirred the painful memories of 26/11 and unlike then, India strongly responded with airstrikes in Balakot. This remains a significant incident in Modi's term which can be credited for facilitating such a huge mandate in his favour but also has a bearing on the global image. With Mission Shakti, India has formed a sense of muscular strength which gave a befitting response to terror outfits but has failed to make advances on the peace front with Pakistan. A flurry of foreign issues exists and several more will follow. Modi's renewed time in office has a lot to script and, if willing, reinvigorate India's position on the global front. India would like to see its leader take decisive steps in these desperate times especially after giving him a mandate which perhaps even he did not expect.

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