Weaving diplomatic ties
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Palestine, Oman and UAE comes at a crucial time carrying implications for boosting India’s diplomacy and economy
Since the Narendra Modi Government assumed power at the Centre in 2014, the global visibility of India has significantly improved. PM Modi's marathon abroad visits and skilful diplomacy in international affairs has brought India in the rank of one of the leading powers of the globe; one indicator of this emerging trend is the nature of attention that India is receiving today in the various capitals of the world, particularly in the west.
Three features underlie PM Modi's diplomacy in global affairs: First, heralding the principle of "India First" in conducting bilateral or multilateral relationships in the arena of international politics. Second, generating hope in the international community, particularly in the west, about India's leading role and commitment towards upholding a democratic global order, especially at a time when China is being increasingly seen as a patch of threat to the democratic international order. Third, upholding and promoting a multipolar vision of the global order. It is on the basis of these principles that the Modi Government has been successful in promoting India as a safe destination for global investment while also bringing India at the forefront of fighting global terrorism. In this perspective, the most successful diplomacy of the Modi Government can be witnessed in its dynamic relationship with the countries of West Asia.
PM Modi's upcoming visit to Palestine, UAE and Oman is a very thoughtful and desirable step, which will provide a new plunge to India's West Asia policy. The PM will be on the three-nation tour for four days, from February 9-12. The external affairs ministry said that PM Modi will hold detailed discussions "on matters of mutual interest" with the leaders of these nations. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that the effort during this visit will be to "broad-base" India's engagement with these countries and focus on more strategic spheres such as defence, security, trade and investment.
The significance of this visit lies in the fact that it comes right after Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a six-day visit to India between January 14-19, as the two countries marked the completion of 25 years of the establishment of successful diplomatic relations. At the same time, India has also recently opposed the Trump administration's sudden declaration of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Ramallah. Also, this visit can be seen as a "replication" of his visit to Tel Aviv, last year. In fact, this move can be seen as an attempt to strike a balance between India's policies on both these countries in conflict, as the Indian government has fine-tuned its foreign policy postures in accordance with the rule of realist power-politics, less focused on ideological and symbolic actions. It clearly indicates to the world that India is aligning with all countries alike and independently.
Second, this will be PM Modi's second visit to UAE where he will attend the Sixth World Government Summit in which he has been accorded the "Guest of Honour" status. The prime minister will speak on the topic of "Technology for Development" and the government's vision in efficiently utilising technology for fostering development. The focus of his visit will also be to accrue further investments for India which can play a crucial role in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and can also strengthen our country's position vis-à-vis Pakistan, an old ally of the UAE. Third, this will be the PM's first visit to Oman where he will address the Indian diasporic community at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. The diaspora has become an important feature of Modi's foreign policy, especially in West Asia, which has helped in attracting global investment, aids and technology for India.
Indians contribute to around 20 per cent of the Oman population. The focus will be on strengthening cooperation in key sectors such as trade and defence. Oman is extremely important for India as it contributes remittance which is critical for the stability of India's economy—another need of the hour.
(The author is Assistant Professor, Amity Institute of Social Sciences, Amity University. The views expressed are strictly personal.)