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Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a mission to win friends all round. Indian diplomacy has taken a leap forward. Modi parleyed with leaders of the US and Japan on the margins of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires and following that with China and Russia. It seems his costly never ending global Odyssey may be bearing fruit. From bilateralism, Indian foreign policy has sprung to tri-lateralism. Tri-lateralism between India, Japan and the US has reached a new high. He met President XI Jinping and President Vladimir Putin. Whether such a summit is an extension of the policy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam remains to be seen. However, the talks mark a departure from India’s past paranoiac attitude about the US and Japan. In the 21st century New Delhi has moved in the direction of cozying up with these countries. Australia has also come into the loop. India had been committed to non-alignment since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru which graduated to Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai and Hindi-Russi Bhai Bhai. The switch to quadrilateral diplomacy started under Manmohan Singh but it has become a roller coaster ride.

Even in the 21st century India had wavered in extending friendship to the West. Critics have attacked a long face-off with China and being over friendly with the US. Modi has however been trying to have faith in dynamic neutrality and disregard antipathies between the powers he treats as allies. The thorn in the flesh seems to be Pakistan. Pakistan’s friend appears to be India’s enemy. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s seemingly friendly overtures are treated with suspicion. India boycotting SAARC in Islamabad is not consistent with its policy with other countries. Perhaps what India has to do better in is in improving ties with its immediate neighbours. Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, The Maldives et al continue to see India as the overbearing Big Brother. Nepal is turning to China for assistance. Sri Lanka appears to be doing pretty much the same. India of course refused to interfere in Sri Lanka’s internal political shenanigans which are understandable. Bangladesh is our immediate neighbour and a strategic trading partner and an outlet for the North Eastern states through Chittagong port. It is important for India to pursue this friendship in the interest of operationalising the Act East Policy. India’s policy towards Myanmar too needs to be further crystallized to enable not just political and commercial but socio-cultural exchanges as well.

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