“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception”
Only the bigoted would deny that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has very cleverly impregnated his country’s foreign policy with an unprecedented dynamism and assertiveness. Earlier this year, a study conducted by China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), a think tank affiliated with the Chinese foreign ministry, also affirmed this assertion. The CIIS called ‘Modi Doctrine’ a distinctive and unique strategy for the rise of India as a great power in the new configuration of things and said that India’s foreign policy has been boosted by Modi government’s risk-taking ability.
India’s initiative and risk-taking prowess under ‘Modi Doctrine’ manifested clearly in Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent two-day visit to India. The summit culminated in inking of 8 agreements and MoUs. The most significant, however, was the deal to purchase Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missiles. Another similar instance is that despite severe US-imposed sanctions on Iran coming into force on November 04, India is going to buy 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in the same month.
The principal ‘risk’ involved in this $5.4 billion deal – one of the biggest defence deals between the two countries was inviting the wrath of the US – India’s strategic partner – in the form of sanctions that could be imposed on India through ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)’ as was done recently with China due to a similar defence purchase agreement with Russia. India’s initiative was a depiction of its perceived weight and relevance on the world stage and its successful diplomatic maneouvrability to sell itself as a counterbalancing power against China. While, at the same time, it is enjoying voluminous trade ties with China as well.
Perceiving a divergence between India and Russia, Pakistan was expecting that the current regional and global resetting will offer it an opportunity to get closer with the latter. It was also because India has been putting all its eggs in the US basket, especially against China – Russia’s closest ally – on many an issue including the South China Sea, Tibet and OBOR initiative. Also, India has, of late, been knocking the doors of the West, the US and Israel for defence and security cooperation, curbing its military hardware imports from Russia. While India-USA-Israel strategic partnership and cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy, defence, cybersecurity, counter-terrorism and others, have soared to new heights during the Modi era, the recent Indo-Russian re-engagement seems to have dashed many of Pakistan’s expectations.
Well prioritized, India has placed special focus on its neighbours. Surprisingly, Modi chose Bhutan for his maiden foreign trip. With exception to Pakistan, it would be no exaggeration to say that India has bridged gaps with almost all SAARC nations, and has established its image as a peacemaker and problem-solver state. India has also gained authority over the rest as a leading Indo-Pacific power and a regional hegemon so much so that some SAARC member states, e.g. Afghanistan and Bangladesh, have categorically expressed their unwillingness to work with Pakistan.
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