Since his dramatic swearing-in, in the presence of the leaders of most neighboring countries, India’s Prime Minister Modi has moved smartly ahead with economic initiatives aimed at knitting together one of the least integrated regions in the world, with India’s economy as an engine of growth. India needs to build on this base – and bring Pakistan into the process.
May 13, 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success in winning unanimous parliamentary approval for a constitutional amendment designed to eliminate the vexing anomalies along India’s land boundary with Bangladesh is the latest example of his determination to improve New Delhi’s relations with its smaller South Asian neighbors. The amendment still needs to be ratified by the required one half of the Indian states, and that process may not be complete by the time Modi makes his first visit to Bangladesh as prime minister next month. But the broad support it received in both houses of Parliament and the praise Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, and the Bangladeshi public have given to Modi for his role in pushing it through will significantly help to make that visit another of the successful, high-visibility events that have been the hallmark of his foreign travels.
Read my article in the Brookings U.S.-India Policy Memo, January 20, 2015.
In seven months in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has established himself as a decisive player in his immediate region, willing to turn on the charm but determined to maintain India’s primacy. His summits with the United States, Russia and the large East Asian powers have had a pronounced economic flavor, and Modi is encouraging these countries to compete with one another for India’s favor. He has made himself the central personality in all these relationships.
Modi sees no U.S. role in India-Pakistan relations. President Obama should draw Modi out on how India expects to exercise the leadership role it seeks, especially on the future of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Five new books: Gary Bass on US diplomacy, a “forgotten genocide,” and the birth of Bangladesh; Srinath Raghavan on global diplomacy in the same crisis; Hassan Abbas on Pakistan and and the “Taliban Revival”; Haroon K. Ullah on Pakistan’s Islamic political parties; and Rudra Chaudhuri on US-India relations. Read Teresita Schaffer’s review in Survival.
Narendra Modi’s first official visit to Washington was set up before he had even been sworn in as prime minister, in a personal congratulatory phone call from President Obama. It was scheduled during the U.N. General Assembly, a significant and deliberate exception to the U.S. practice of avoiding Washington summits during General Assembly season. Especially after the 9 year freeze in Washington’s dealings with Modi, this was a good start, made better by the hope and determination both sides brought to the task.
Now, he and his American hosts need to energize their economic relationships on the way to setting some more ambitions strategic goals. Read the rest of our article in the Times of India, September 26, 2014.