As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to visit Nepal on August, diplomatic moves have started to role. As Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is arriving in Nepal on Friday for three day visit, India’s noted journalist and foreign policy analyst C. Raja Mohan attended the lecture in the edition of Voices gave a talk on Modi’s Diplomacy: Neighborhood First.
Indian Journalist C. Raja Mohan said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit will be significant. As he began his talk C. Raja Mohan shared, “First of all, I need to make this clear that I am an individual sharing my ideas here and I do not represent any government bodies of India.”
He added, “India over the last fifteen years has seen tremendous change in the way it shared its foreign policy and the way it shared its foreign relations with the neighboring countries. When there is a change in the world, you have to adapt accordingly. This is exactly what I believe Modi government is trying to do.”
Raja Mohan elaborated how Modi’s initiative of inviting all the head of the states of the neighboring countries in his swearing-in ceremony, before taking charge of his office, was a new leap in the Indian politics to strengthen the neighborhood ties.
He explained, “This initiative did not come from the government or from the BJP but from within himself. Many in the BJP would not have thought that Modi would be sharing conversation with the head of Pakistan just the day he was swearing in. This was a bit of a gambling played safely. After his swearing-in ceremony, Modi immediately visited Bhutan, the External Affairs Minister traveled to Bangladesh and now they are planning their visit to Nepal. This explains how the new government is trying to reach out to all its South Asian neighbors to build the connectivity and progress the South Asian ties.”
C. Raja Mohan enunciated further, “I am more optimistic with the foreign policies of the ruling government because it is rather focusing on stronger political engagements with its neighbors than limiting itself to bureaucratic approaches like the Congress so far did.”
He highlighted that the challenge now the government of Modi has is how they make a significant change with India’s internal politics, which will ultimately determine India’s foreign policies with its neighboring countries.
“With India’s significant growth in trade and economic cooperation with its neighboring countries in the last decade, it will be interesting to see how Modi will utilize his visions and his strong control over bureaucratic relations to further enhance India’s positive relation is South Asia,” he said.
He highlighted, “Unlike Congress, BJP has special interest in Nepal. BJP is interested in how we will develop the border region in Nepal further to make it a boon to both India and Nepal and how we develop the trade and transport cooperation to mutually benefit. BJP is also trying to address its border and visa issues with Pakistan, is trying to expand trade relations with Bangladesh, address ethnic issues with Sri Lanka and strengthen economic cooperation with China.”
To conclude, C. Raja Mohan said, “Considering the moves made by Modi so far, I can say that this government is going to open multiple avenues for South Asian countries to work together and benefit from each other. As pragmatic leaders, BJP will be more open on India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working together. I sense that he will initiate an idea for India’s neighbors that will state – you decide you national strategy in which the world can fit.”
The event concluded with C. Raja Mohan interacting with his audience on various issues between India and Nepal such as hydropower, trade, religion and more.