Narendra Modi’s historic speech at the Red Fort on Independence Day set the tone for global media coverage this past week with expectations for Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Japan building up. The chemistry between Modi and Abe was the focus of much conversation as the global media also took a critical view of the Indo-US relations following up on a visit to India by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.
India-Japan Ties take Centrestage
Yoichi Funabashi of the Japan Times says that Narendra Modi being both a nationalist and reformist is much like Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe and has a similar outlook with regard to China. The author however mentions that the Chinese factor need not be the incentive for every Indo-Japan initiative. He writes:
“It is not necessary, however, to look for the China factor in every new initiative in Indo-Japanese relations. India and Japan should exercise restraint and take a stance of “quiet deterrence” to avoid provoking China…”
At the press conference announcing the visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said
“Through this opportunity, Japan hopes to further strengthen its strategic global partnership with India.”
The ones taking maximum advantage of this furthering partnership are Japanese businesses. As per James Tapper’s report in NBC News,
“In 2012, India issued a total of 26,869 business visas from its consulates in Japan. In the first ten months of 2013 (the most recent available stats) the number had jumped to 40,960, an 80 percent annualized increase.”
While the west is still wary about investing in India, Japan along with Korea has cast aside inhibitions long ago. By the end of 2013 India had granted 20,985 business visas to South Korea, a 40 per cent increase from 2012. According to Tapper:
“Many Asian companies are involved in infrastructure developments between Delhi and Mumbai. Nomura predicted that if Modi is successful in cutting red tape, investment could rise by up to 15 percent.”
…And Why the West should follow
The west’s new found enthusiasm for India, whether it is in economical or political terms, has yet to morph into action. As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visits India, Robert M Hathway ina report for CNN makes the case for why the Obama administration need to pair dialogue with action. Remarking on Obama’s reworking on America’s Asia –Pacific policy he says,
“To create the basis for a long-term Indo-American partnership, but also for reasons having nothing to do with bilateral US-India ties, the administration needs to flesh out how the world’s second most populous country fits into the rebalance.”
A mutual stake in fighting terrorism, India’s market for energy sources, defense requirements are all areas where greater cooperation can be achieved but the greater question that Hathway asks is whether India even figures in America’s Asia Pacific map.
The Pakistan Dilemma
Frederic Gare in his op-ed for the Carnegie endowment for International Peace discusses the future of the Indian-Pakistani relationship and the debates it is centered on- Kashmir, Afganistan and the MFN status. He writes:
“Despite Pakistan’s assurances that it is ready to seek an agreement with Modi, as it did under the last BJP government, the consensus between civilian and military is only superficial. It would, however, be a mistake to assume that the military is resolutely opposed to all kinds of rapprochement with India.”
The author concludes that:
“There is little chance of a major conflict, but the worsening of the security situation on both countries’ fringes in Afghanistan and Kashmir could revive the risk of terrorism, possibly in connection with violent extremism.”
Debate on AFSPA
The Peruvian Times published an op-ed by Ritu Menon on the continuing use of AFSPA in disturbed or insurgent- prone areas of India. While a debate on the controversial policy and its effectiveness/usefulness is welcome, to say that “It is unlikely that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s muscular government will strike it from the statute book,” is slyly insinuating that not only is the Modi administration indifferent to Indian women’s rights and safety but that it is also not welcoming of opinions and changes in spite of evidence. Both of which could not be further from the truth.
Concluding this round up on a positive note we focus on Fareed Zakaria’s piece for Tuscon.com where he sounded upbeat about India’s prospects post the historic mandate in Elections 2014. The author writes of Modi’s development driven politics:
“If Modi can maintain that focus, eschew the Hindu nationalist agenda, and make difficult decisions on cutting subsidies and encouraging economic competition, he will likely return India to a path of high growth, thus lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.