Modi Government is Transforming India into a “Force for Global Good”

-Anushka Saraswat

In increasingly challenging times, Prime Minister  Shri Narendra Modi has transformed India into a “Force for Global Good” in the world with an exceptional evolution of her foreign policy and national security. The mass social and political support for PM Modi, and the international community’s admiration for his dynamic leadership, have led India to rise to its rightful place. India’s foreign policy has developed a strategic culture in the past few years, demonstrating civilizational values, national consciousness, a security-first approach, and a commitment to responding to global issues like cross-border terrorism, pandemics, climate change, and economic recessions. PM Modi’s intelligence and high risk-taking capacity have induced renewed energy in India’s diplomacy instrumental for asserting domestic priorities like Atamnirbhar Bharat and Make in India. India’s G20 Presidency was a one-of-a-kind event to display Indian-ness that underpins peace, harmony, and development for all. Withstanding the U.S.-China Rivalry, India has projected a culture of strategic autonomy and alignment based on its national interests. Undoubtedly, accountability to 1.4 billion Indians and their welfare is the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy under the experiential leadership of PM Modi.

Cultural Identity at the Forefront

Modi’s India is a spiritual democracy with “unbroken civilizational continuity for 5000 years”, whose struggle for freedom was cultural and civilizational as written by renowned Journalist, Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy. The book titled Random Thoughts 2021- Emerging Paradigm Shift in the Changing Global, Political and Economic Order (published by Vivekananda International Foundation in 2021) accounts for India’s historical values and their compatibility with the democratic model of governance. India’s civilizational dimension has several manifestations including religion and philosophy. In the book titled Communicating India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood (published by Palgrave Macmillan Series in 2013), celebrated author, Daya Kishan Thussu captures the essence of Indic civilization and the formations of four of the biggest religions in the world- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Today, India’s coalescent religious discourse is at the forefront of its associations with the world, particularly South Asia, Southeast Asia, Eurasia, and Africa. As an aspirational nation, India accepts all religions as true and commits itself to the concept of Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava enshrined in its Constitution and social life. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Red Fort, “India’s diversity, which others once thought was a burden to India, is proving to be a priceless power of India. A strong testimony of its power.”

During the early days of his Prime Ministership, Modi accentuated India’s cultural identity as a soft power tool that is ingrained in her institutions, bureaucracy, and governance. India’s motto of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning the world is a family reflects her ancient past and worldview. To serve the world for the global good is the central aphorism and mission of India’s foreign policy under the Modi government.

A Pragmatic Foreign Policy Posture

Modi government has drastically altered the vision and direction of India’s foreign policy establishment making it pragmatic, realist, muscular, and strategically independent. Until 2014, India’s foreign policy posture failed to respond to national security threats emanating from China’s expansionism and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Additionally, India continued to be viewed as a soft state excessively concerned about international opinion, particularly of the West. Modi’s confident and strategic approach to external affairs has helped India develop a foreign policy culture closely aligned with India’s military, political, and economic interests. At a time when power blocs are emerging in the world order, with the rivalry between the United States and China, the Modi government has not only advocated for India’s national interests and independent foreign policy on the global forums but also voiced concerns about Global South countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

India’s rise to a developed economy, pushing back against colonialism, reform of the global institutions like the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, and multilateralism that addresses transnational threats like pandemics, terrorism, and climate change are the Modi government’s foreign policy priorities. During adverse episodes like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and Cross-strait tensions between Taiwan and China, India has displayed strategic autonomy and interests-based alignment.

Modi has catalyzed coordination between India’s foreign policy establishment and the Armed forces to effectively respond to national security challenges threatening national sovereignty and territorial integrity without any political restraint. In the book titled Crunch Time- Narendra Modi’s National Security Crises (published by Rupa Publications India in 2022), renowned political and social scientist, Professor Dr Sreeram Chaulia has given a detailed account of Modi’s visionary leadership during India’s diplomatic and military response to disastrous national security crises in the episodes of Surgical Strikes, Doklam, Balakot, and Ladakh. Inarguably, Modi has revolutionized India’s strategic culture and thinking. Additionally, the Modi government has transformed India’s defense diplomacy by introducing new initiatives such as the Defense Acquisition Policy, the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the establishment of the Department of Military Affairs, and focusing on Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat Program. Today, India is not only emerging as the prime security provider in the Asian region but also assisting friendly countries in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Maritime Diplomacy and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

In the 21st century, maritime security and diplomacy have become key areas of convergence with economic development. Unfortunately, the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and maritime interests have long been underemphasized in India’s foreign policy priorities. Only in recent years, has the Modi government attributed importance to India’s maritime neighborhood and recognized India’s ancient maritime traditions. Today, India’s maritime neighborhood extends to islands in the Indo-Pacific region, ASEAN countries, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and Gulf countries.

In an address at the virtual seminar on Connectivity Cooperation for Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific (March 2018), The former Foreign Secretary of India, Mr Harsh Vardhan Shringla mentioned, “Robust connectivity with countries of the region, near or far, is deep-rooted in Indian civilizational history. Indian culture has been enriched by ancient linkages with the rest of the world, just as the light of Indian culture has shone in lands connected across land and seas by emissaries and merchants” to revive the story of India’s rich maritime past. India’s ancient past had naval powers like Sri Vijaya and Chola empires. Additionally, Gujarat had been the epicenter for India’s maritime trade with West Asia and Eastern Africa in the medieval age (works of K.M. Panikkar).

India’s maritime policies are aimed at securing its maritime borders, curtailing any country’s hegemonic influence, and leveraging the sea lanes to promote blue economy initiatives. In the last few years, India’s multilateral engagement with countries in the IOR has been strategic and reflective of its ancient past.

Under the Modi government, India has advocated for an open, free, rule-based Indo-Pacific region that respects the sovereignty of states and the rule of law. Referring to the speeches of PM Modi, the work of Vivekananda International Foundation titled Talking Points on Foreign Policy (published in 2022) mentions, “The ancient Indian tradition, the Vedas, mention India as an oceanic entity (उत्तरों यत समुद्रस्य meaning, the land which lies to the north of the seas) and the Indo-Pacific is a way to reclaim that legacy. India’s Indo-Pacific extends from Eastern Africa to the Western Pacific. “We are inheritors of Vedanta philosophy that believes in the essential oneness of all, and celebrates unity in diversity एकम सत्यम, विप्राः बहुदावदंति (Truth is one, the learned speak of it in many ways). That is the foundation of our civilizational ethos – of pluralism, co-existence, openness, and dialogue. The ideals of democracy that define us as a nation also shape the way we engage the world.”

India’s policy in the Indo-Pacific has five elements namely, Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samruddhi (prosperity). India’s engagement in multilateral forums such as Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is guided by mutual respect and shared future.

International Organisations and Global Issues

PM Modi’s approach to international organizations emerges from the need for new multilateralism, the decline of the West-led liberal order, and its institutions’ inability to respond to critical transnational challenges, be it the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, or the Russia-Ukraine conflict. At present, the Bretton Woods institutions are ravaged by the US-China rivalry, inadequate representation of third-world countries, and disproportionate share of votes against the share of the GDP.

Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India’s worldview is distinct from power rivalries and localized interests. It reiterates equality, fairness, and empowerment of disadvantaged and underdeveloped communities coming from the Global South countries. Modi government made India’s G20 presidency a uniquely “Indian and Global South” multilateral event in recent history with over 200 meetings at about 56 venues. Pressing issues like global economic recessions, public health and pandemics, global terrorism, food shortages, environment and climate change, future of work, and gender equality among other themes of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were addressed that inadvertently affect countries from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and small island developing states.

Modi government has displayed a commitment to multilateralism and global issues on regional and international levels. The reform of the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) remains a top priority of India’s foreign policy in international organizations. Additionally, India has advocated for inclusivity and openness in global financial institutions like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). From time to time, India has advocated for the Global South countries and questioned the biases of these organizations.

Under the leadership of PM Modi, India has taken key initiatives to assist countries across the world including Vaccine Maitri, supplying food grains to neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan and establishing global forums like the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to address the grave international security challenges like the climate change. Additionally, India has emerged as the net security provider through its healthcare diplomacy and disaster relief initiatives. PM Modi has transformed India into a force for global good.

Conclusion

The two consecutive terms of the Modi government have revolutionized India’s foreign policy culture. With confident leadership, and a strong political will, India’s emergence as a world power is consequential. Today, India’s foreign policy not only serves its core national security interests but also reflects India’s rich civilizational heritage. Under the experiential leadership of PM Modi, India is poised to rise to its rightful place in the world order.


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