But challenges at home could be counterproductive
As India observes its 70th Independence Day on August 15, it will project its image as a nation whose time has arrived to be on the centre of the world stage and that the 21st Century belongs to it.
The impetus for India’s global ascendance has orchestrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crafty and astute leadership for more than two years.
On the eve of the 70th anniversary of India’s independence (on August 14), the world will listen how Mr Modi projects India’s image and its plans for accelerating the country’s development on all fronts and its increasing role on the international scene. Mr Modi’s address at the majestic Red Fort in New Delhi, is expected to be high-octane.
Soon after he took oath of office on May 26, 2014, he began giving shape to his vision for India, and how the country and the world looked at each other; and his measures to eradicate corruption at all levels and improve transparency and public administration.
The above posture has been helped externally because of Narendra Modi’s flamboyant personality and true to his form and substance, he has been a trailblazer in making state visits to far and distance corners of the world.
Mr Modi has been describing India’s growing stature as an economic power house and how it is positioning itself as a politico-military counter-weight to its rival China.
Mr Modi’s government has showed its muscular approach where it was due, more to make countries realise that his country cannot be taken for granted. An example of this polite-yet-firm and no-nonsense attitude is ‘the aggressive posture’ shown in expanding its maritime capabilities.
However, neither Mr Modi nor his admirers and adversaries are unaware of the enormous work that is yet to be done if India has to capitalise on its improving image by strengthening its foreign services and developing its soft power abroad through Free Trade Agreements.
While India has asserted its posture of expanded economic horizon internally through initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and attracting foreign investments in an effort to stimulate India’s economic growth, there are still blockades to progress.
Editor’s Note: These are discussed in our Leader under Viewlink.
In the last two years, despite global economic slowdown, India has done well because of the initiatives taken to reboot the economy from the root-level. The next phase of economic reforms is expected to provide a more investor-friendly environment to encourage increased foreign direct investments.
Diplomatic and administrative maneuvering will help both Mr Modi and India to ensure a more favourable position internationally.
On that front, the expectation in New Delhi is that Mr Modi’s speech on the eve of India’s Independence will pitch for the country’s candidature as a Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council.
Political observers say that India has to make tough diplomatic calls and increase its cooperation militarily in Asia Pacific along with like-minded countries such as New Zealand, especially in the wake of the International Court judgment on China’s claim in the South China Sea.
Mr Modi must also deal with the evolving politics which has become more divisive in his country. It is still some way to get close to a matured parliamentary democracy in which issues related to policy alone and not personality and character are being discussed in political forums.
A lack of internal, institutional immaturity means that externally there exists constraints for India to showcase itself as a stable economic, military and diplomatic partner.
Balaji Chandramohan is our Correspondent based in New Delhi. Please read our Leader, ‘At 70, India exudes youthful exuberance’ under Viewlink.
Narendra Modi’s speeches draw mass attention