Why Modi is a big international star
Within a few months of his rule, the PM has created the impression that India as a nation could become a mighty player in the multilateral world order.
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The pioneering visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan, US and Australia in quick succession and a friendly journey to India by President Xi Jinping of China in between, have given a much needed boost to India's standing in the global political and economic ferment. The new prime minister has woken up a nation made somnolent by the earlier regime that was perceived to have followed self-serving pursuits at home and a subservient approach to powers outside. Within a few months of his rule Modi has created the impression that India as a nation - once pushed to its potential - could become a mighty player in the multilateral world order.
Three things have facilitated the uplift of India's image abroad since the advent of Narendra Modi on the national scene on the strength of a decisive majority in Parliament.
One is his declared stand that India as a non-expansionist power wanted world peace but would not tolerate any violation of its borders. This has found appreciation from the international community as can be seen from the latter's response to India's handling of the two "problematic" neighbours - Pakistan and China. The nation consequently is now much better placed in dealing with any adverse bearings of Sino-Pak axis on India. President Obama's prompt acceptance of the invitation from Prime Minister Modi to come to India as the chief guest for the Republic Day Parade has strengthened this position.
Secondly, Modi has been able to assure the world that India is determined to develop into a fountainhead of trained manpower and a hub of manufacture and that for this the country would provide a proper environ for investment. The reputation of the Indian prime minister as a man of probity who is in an honest pursuit of the politics of development at home, created a favourable impression on world leaders as could be seen at the G-20 summit.
It is remarkable how Narendra Modi was able to push through several universally acceptable agenda points like fighting terrorism unitedly without linking the threat with religion, working together to unearth black money that sustained terrorism and drug trafficking, and agreeing to establish a global centre for renewable energy. India now certainly looks like a world leader whose voice commands respect and following in the international community. The image of authenticity and decisiveness that Modi has established around his leadership has worked here.
Last but not the least, Narendra Modi has brought about a transformational shift in the way Indian diaspora would look upon their country of origin with a sense of pride on one hand and willingness to prove their worth in the service of the nation where they were settled, on the other.
Modi's speeches at Madison Square in New York and Allphones Arena in Sydney carried the thrust of nationalism to US and Australia in a manner that energised the Indian community there and gave a new shine to the profile of Indians living abroad. This is an extremely significant development. It would among other things, keep people of Indian origin from any unsavoury attention on grounds of class or colour.
The government of Narendra Modi has done all the right things so far in the areas of foreign policy and international economic cooperation. The challenges of effective governance, domestic politics and internal security, however, lie at home. People expect these to be handled with a strong hand too.
The medical disasters of Chhattisgarh, UP and West Bengal showed that bureaucracy continued with the old habit of not taking responsibility of what was happening on the ground and that ministers also were not caring to monitor the performance of the administrators placed under them - out of either incompetence or negligence. Ruthless punishment is required to act as deterrence as otherwise, the logic of vicarious accountability would unfairly drag in the leadership at the apex, into such failures.
Domestic politics in the post-General Election era still revolves round the majority-minority issues since the emphasis on poverty eradication by the Modi government has taken the wind out of the traditional political game of Left vs Right played in India to define economic initiatives. Direct disbursement of subsidy to the beneficiaries, improvement in the procurement process, and time bound clearances by administration are beginning to show results. The Centre has to find a way of strengthening its oversight on the delivery of development projects by the state governments.
The charter of internal security has expanded a great deal in our times. The new challenge here is that law & order - a state subject - is now a major determinant of internal security which is primarily the responsibility of the Centre. Weak policing made the country vulnerable to the adversary's infiltration attempts on one hand while a lack of order came in the way of investment in industry so badly needed for the country's economic security, on the other.
The Centre, in the constitutional scheme of things, has little say in the handling of the police but in a situation where political parties ruling many states have blatantly misused the police machinery for their vested interest, it is important that this anomaly is set right.
The Centre needs to explore, in consultation with the judiciary, ways and means of acquiring a say in the performance appraisal of All India Services officers who are directly accountable for maintenance of law and order in the states. Internal security being the prime responsibility of the national government it is logical that this shared oversight is established - the new found role of the state police in upholding national security having already been accepted universally.