Our national ambition is Bharat’s rise as a strong and respected world power
The Bharatiya Janata Party takes great pride in the significant new strides the foreign policy of our country has made under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Modi in the last ten months. The Prime Minister has pursued a bold, proactive and innovative foreign policy that is aligned with our Government’s primary goal of accelerating national economic development; and to fulfil Bharat’s global responsibilities as the world’s most populous youth nation and largest democracy.
Samman – dignity and honour; Samvad – greater engagement and dialogue; Samriddhi – shared prosperity; Suraksha – regional and global security; and Sanskriti evam Sabhyata – cultural and civilizational linkages; these five themes have become the Panchamrit – new pillars of our foreign policy.
The Government has moved with speed and resolve on a scale rarely seen in our external engagement, to restore Bharat’s position in international affairs, rebuild partnerships across the board and cross new frontiers in our foreign relations. Our global aspirations have been matched by greater global engagement with countries of all regions ignoring power-bloc politics. We have rendered irrelevant geo-politics of hyphenation while boosting bilateral relationships without being influenced by any third country. We have successfully deepened our engagement with all major powers and with countries in every region of the world. Our engagement has been characterised by independence of thought and action, and self confidence that comes from our heritage and draws strength from it.
In just ten short months our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister together have engaged with 94 countries from every part of the world adding a new dimension to our global mission of peace, partnership and prosperity.
We have successfully blended our foreign policy with national economic development goals with a new level of emphasis on improving Bharat’s access to capital, technology, resources, energy and skills. There is unprecedented global interest and confidence in Bharat, particularly through Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative designed to create jobs for our youth. There is optimism about Bharat’s emergence as an anchor of the global economy and as a leader in advancing peace and prosperity across the world.
Our economic development needs a secure environment, a peaceful neighbourhood and an open and stable global trading system. Bharat has emerged as an important player on regional and global security while displaying its firm conviction and capability in protecting its own sovereign interests. Even as we reached out to our neighbours and the world, we have shown our will to speak clearly on our security interests and defend them robustly.
Our foreign policy today reflects Bharat’s age-old cherished cultural and civilizational values in a more significant and profound manner than ever before. While our approach is determined by the imperatives of the globalised world, it is also rooted in our inheritance of a timeless tradition of intellectual and economic engagement through peaceful co-existence. Prime Minister has restored pride in Bharat’s civilizational identity and cultural traditions and drawn global attention to it in a manner that befits this oldest civilisation of the world.
Bharat enjoys an enhanced international stature today. There is not a single important global forum where our country’s stirring civilizational message has not reached and echoed. Prime Minister’s first speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in Hindi revived the memory of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee and energised the great national pride that all the countrymen feel, whether living in Bharat or any other part of the world. His call for accelerating reforms of the United Nations Security Council has imparted urgency to our efforts. His perceptive suggestion that the United Nations should become G-ALL has encouraged the world community, now divided into countless power blocs, to sit up and think.
His call for declaration of International Day of Yoga in the United Nations was adopted with record co-sponsorship and within record time. Inspired by the new atmosphere of dynamic leadership our diplomatic corps including our special mission at the UN have worked hard to secure unprecedented support to Prime Minister’s proposal. In just 75 days more than 177 member countries of the UN have supported and adopted the resolution to celebrate 21 June as the International Yoga Day.
We have also projected Bharat’s leadership on global challenges like climate change rooted in our traditions and a strong commitment to the future of our planet. Reflecting Bharat’s civilizational virtue of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the entire world as one family – we reached out to many countries across the globe with sovereign equality as the guiding principle. We provided strong leadership and new vision to East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN+India Summit, G 20 Summit, BRICS Summit and SAARC Summit, each of which is crucial to our region, Asia and the world. At the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Prime Minister placed the spotlight on the need for collective international action against black money, a vital national commitment in the pursuit of honesty, transparency and freedom from corruption. At ASEAN he underscored the necessity of keeping all sea routes including the South China Sea peaceful, open and safe.
Engaging with island nations in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions marked a new thrust in our foreign policy. For the first time our Prime Minister invited the leaders of the bloc of 14, small but significant, South Pacific Island nations at Suva in Fiji in September last year. Similarly for the first time, a new thrust has been added in our maritime neighbourhood in the Indian Ocean region, which is critical to our security. The visit of our Prime Minister to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka in February this year enhanced the stability and prosperity of littoral states in our region.
It is a great tribute to Bharat’s unequivocal commitment to democratic values that our Prime Minister was invited to address several Parliaments, including in Bhutan, Nepal, Australia, Fiji, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Bharat has emerged as the Pole Star – Dhruv Tara – of the democratic world.The Prime Minister filled a long gap in many bilateral relations with visits to – Nepal after 17 years, Sri Lanka after 28 years, Australia after 28 years, Fiji after 33 years and Seychelles after 34 years.
Despite romantic sloganeering, Bharat’s neighbourhood policy has largely remained lacklustre in the past decade. Our excessive tilt in one direction left many countries in the neighbourhood apprehensive. The fact that we face innumerable problems with almost all our neighbours is evidence that we had not engaged with the neighbourhood properly in the past.
The previous NDA regime led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had initiated a marked positive shift in our neighbourhood policy when we tried to improve relations with Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. That shift has now been furthered strengthened with a purposeful focus on the neighbourhood.
Prime Minister Modi’s strong belief in the shared future of our neighbourhood – ‘Together we grow’ – has resulted in several concrete measures that renewed that promise. The invitation to leaders of SAARC nations and Mauritius for the swearing in ceremony of the new government was the first move, which was enthusiastically reciprocated by the governments of all the neighbouring countries. Prime Minister’s decision to make Bhutan as his first foreign destination signalled this new neighbourhood policy. He has also visited Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka on bilateral or multilateral assignments and the Foreign Minister visited all the SAARC countries except Pakistan. Our relations with all these neighbours have seen marked improvement in the last ten short months.
Bharat’s Sri Lanka policy has suffered several ups and downs in the last three decades. A short-sighted approach by the previous government, guided by domestic political ambitions, damaged our bilateral relations leading to strategic problems in the immediate Indian Ocean neighbourhood. Prime Minister Modi’s determined effort at repairing these relations with this important neighbour has resulted in a flurry of activity on both sides. The visit of the newly elected President of Sri Lanka to Bharat immediately after the election is a major diplomatic victory for us. Our Government has rebuilt relations with all sections of the Sri Lankan society. Our Prime Minister became the first Prime Minister of Bharat to visit Jaffna. He invoked his idea of cooperative federalism and stressed upon the 13th Amendment and beyond.
Prime Minister’s two visits to Nepal in ten months opened a new chapter in our relations with this most important Himalayan neighbour. Our Prime Minister reiterated his vision of shared prosperity in South Asia at the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014. He articulated Bharat’s determination to lead the efforts, as the hub nation, towards greater cooperation and integration in South Asia, both through SAARC and outside it. The Prime Minister’s vision and initiatives for the region have sparked a new wave of optimism in our South Asian partners.
With Nepal, we have entered a new era of cooperation that has eluded us for decades. Nearly two decades after signing the Mahakali Treaty with Nepal, we have finally constituted the Pancheshwar Development Authority for the 5600 MW multipurpose Pancheshwar Project, which will provide power, water and flood control benefits. In addition, we have entered into several new agreements in hydropower, travel and tourism etc.
We have laid out a clear policy for building peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan, predicated on an end to terrorism. There can be no compromise with terrorism. There can’t be any duplicity towards a problem that has become a regional crisis and is fast becoming an international nightmare. We have responded firmly and appropriately to provocations on the border/Line of Control and threats of infiltration and terrorism. Our Prime Minister’s message to his counterpart on the occasion of the Pakistan Day this year was unambiguous: “All outstanding issues with Pakistan can be resolved through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence”. Visit of our Foreign Secretary to Pakistan as part of the SAARC Yatra is a clear message to our neighbour that Bharat will engage with it only on such terms that reflect its national security and strategic interests.
Bharat and Bangladesh have traditionally maintained good neighbourhood relations. Our Foreign Minister chose Bangladesh as first foreign destination for her stand-alone visit thereby underscoring the importance we attach to the relationship.
Translating a hesitant Look East Policy into a proactive Act East Policy is a major achievement of our government in maritime neighbourhood policy. Addressing the National Assembly of Mauritius in February our Prime Minister outlined his vision for our maritime neighbourhood in the following words: “Bharat is also highly dependent on the seas. We are seeking to develop our marine economy and discover new possibilities. We are doing this in a sustainable manner that preserves the delicate ecosystem of our oceans. Indeed, the oceans hold vast potential to advance our prosperity and meet the challenges of the world. That is why I consider the blue chakra in our national flag as a symbol of Blue Revolution; just as saffron represents energy revolution, white the milk revolution and, green the Agriculture revolution.”
This new policy thrust in our maritime neighbourhood is critical to our economy and security; and, for stability and prosperity of Asia. This was the central focus of our Prime Minister’s visits to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.
Major World Powers:
Bharat’s relations with major global powers like United States, Japan, Russia and China have received a tremendous boost in last ten months. Prime Minister Modi’s personal rapport with leaders of most of these big powers has helped catapult Bharat to a significant role in the big power orbit. The depth and range of talks have created a new resonance in the elimination of differences, acceptance of Bharat’s position on bilateral and multilateral issues, and the consequent resolve to work together towards solutions.
With Japan our relations have been elevated to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership.
Under two new leaders Bharat – China relations have acquired more depth and strength. In a bold yet pragmatic move, our Prime Minister has given a go-by to the practise of freezing issues of conflict by bringing more focus on all outstanding issues with China including the border violations and trade deficit concerns. The highly successful visit of President Xi Jinping to Delhi marked the opening of a new chapter in our bilateral relations. His visit to Gujarat and the warm reception accorded to him by our Prime Minister in his home state has given rise to great hopes that the two leaders can establish a strong working relationship and take bilateral relations to newer heights.
The first round of Special Representatives’ talks after the new Government in India assumed office was held recently. We emphasized that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas was a pre-requisite for continued growth of bilateral relations. With China, we will follow the policy of engagement and pragmatic cooperation, but at the same time continue to devise strategies to deal with its growing economic and military strength.
Russia is a time tested friend and our Government values the contributions it has made in India’s development and fulfilling our defence needs. President Putin paid a successful visit in December 2014. Prime Minister Modi and President Putin agreed to the Druzhba-Dosti Vision for strengthening our ties over the next decade. We believe that a strong bilateral strategic partnership will promote our national interest and contribute to peace and stability in the region and the world.
We have restored momentum in our strategic partnership with the United States. Once described by Prime Minister Vajpayee as ‘natural allies’, the two countries had lapsed into a considerably slowed down relationship in the last ten years. Our Prime Minister’s initiatives, coupled with President Obama’s positive overtures have led to a new energy in Bharat-US relations. Our Prime Minister’s commitment to ‘Nation First Diplomacy’ and focus on piecing together the relationship with a vigour has prompted President Obama to praise him as a ‘Man of Action’. The highly successful visit of President Obama to Delhi as the Chief Guest at our Republic Day parade was a signature event heralding a new stage in bilateral relationship. Incidentally President Obama became the first U.S. President to be the Chief Guest at our Republic Day and the first U.S. President to visit Bharat twice in his tenure.
Our Prime Minister’s active involvement in multilateral diplomacy promises us significant benefits. The ten-nation ASEAN constitutes one of the world’s largest economies. There is a new level of enthusiasm and optimism between Bharat and our ASEAN partners for a deeper partnership in the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in our region.
At multilateral events our Prime Minister’s depth of understanding and commitment to common good has earned him not only accolades but many friends too. At the East Asia Summit in Myanmar our Prime Minister echoed the concerns of other countries in the Indo-Pacific region when he highlighted the issues ranging from South China Sea in the East to the ISIS menace in the Middle East.
“For peace and stability in South China Sea, everyone should follow international norms and law”, he cautioned the participating nations. He also threw his support behind the East Asia Summit declaration on the illegitimate and dangerous ISIS, stating: “We support the East Asia Summit Declaration on the Islamic State. At the same time, comprehensive response against terrorism requires a genuinely international partnership against all terrorism. Those who believe in humanity must come together.”
Whether at the BRICS summit in Brazil or at the G 20 meet at Brisbane our Prime Minister’s multilateral diplomacy was in full flow earning rich dividends to our country.Bharat is organizing India – African Union Summit in October this year. Heads of all the 54 African nations are invited to this Summit.
GCC countries occupy an important place in our foreign policy. Seven million Bharatiya people are working in these countries. These countries significantly supplement our energy needs. Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have engaged with all the GCC countries in the last 10 months.
The nearly 30 million strong diaspora of Bharatwasis – both the NRIs and the PIOs – had largely been a neglected lot all these years. Although a majority of them continue to cherish their bonds with the motherland there was rarely any recognition or appreciation of the diaspora as a source of strength of our country. Members of the diaspora have been facing problems even over simple issues like a visa to Bharat.
For the first time a concerted effort has been made to attend to the grievances and requirements of millions of diaspora Bharatwasis. Wherever our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister went, they reached out to the community specifically and interacted with them. Whether in big countries like US and Australia, or in small island nations like Seychelles and Mauritius people of Bharatiya origin came out in large numbers to meet and greet and listen to our Prime Minister. The excitement, energy and confidence in the Bharatiya community abroad about Bharat mirror the national mood in Bharat after the last general election.
Our decisions on merger of PIO and OCI have been widely welcomed by the Bharatiya community abroad. Services at our Missions abroad have been visibly improved. Visa on arrival facilities have also made it easier for foreign citizens of Bharat origin to travel to Bharat.
The greatest achievement of this reach-out program has been the unity within the community. The focus of our Prime Minister’s outreach has been to bring together entire community in each country and inspire and motivate them to serve their motherland as well. The Bharatiya community today not only feels more connected to Bharat, but has responded enthusiastically to his call to become stakeholders in Bharat’s new transformation campaign. This was the theme of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to Bharat from South Africa.
For the first time, the Government has formally recognised the role of Overseas Bharatiyas in Bharat’s development. This is reflected in the charter of the newly established Niti Ayog.
Evacuation & Relief:
India today has a Government with the capacity and wherewithal to act with promptness and empathy to surmount crisis abroad and to get our fellow citizens home safely to be reunited with their families. We have, in the course of the last 10 months helped in the return of more than 1000 Indian students from Ukraine; evacuated more than 7000 Indian workers from Iraq including 46 nurses who were brought back against all odds from the clutches of their captors; ensured the return of more than 3000 of our citizens from Libya. All the evacuation operations were personally monitored by the Foreign Minister. We are now preparing for the safe homecoming of nearly 4000 of our nationals from Yemen. No number is small for us to reach out to. No location is too far off to offer assistance. Our enduring efforts and unremitting resolve have ignited hope and inspired confidence in millions of our fellow-citizens resident abroad. Our nationals abroad now believe that they finally have a Government that is responsive to their needs.
Alliance for Prosperity – Achievements on the economic front:
Prime Minister Modi’s emphasis on establishing alliances for prosperity across the world has led to our foreign policy becoming an instrument of our drive towards economic regeneration. As our Government prepares to meet the infrastructure gap in Bharat with the next generation resources and technology to develop our manufacturing sector, we have received a commitment from Government of Japan of facilitating public and private funding of 3.5 trillion Yen – or approximately 35 billion U.S. dollars – over the next five years; agreements with China on two industrial parks and intended investments of 20 billion U.S. dollars; and an estimated investment plans of 42 billion U.S. dollars from U.S. companies over the next five years.
There is a strong support in all major industrialised countries for our “Make in Bharat” programme. We have promoted cooperation in clean energy.
With Australia, we have signed the civil nuclear cooperation agreement and other agreements to strengthen our energy security. With the United States, we have moved forward in implementation of the civil nuclear agreement and signed a significant partnership agreement to use renewable energy for rapidly expanding rural access to energy.
At the heart of Prime Minister’s engagements abroad have been the efforts to promote cooperation on skill development; advanced medical research for diseases, like the agreement on research for malaria and TB with the United States; food security, such as our work with Australia on agricultural research for the benefit of our farmers; education, such as the agreement to collaborate with the United States on a new generation Indian Institute of Technology and to bring up to 1000 top university teachers from the United States annually to teach in Bharat. The Kyoto-Varanasi twinning arrangement, Ahmedabad-Guangzhou and Mumbai-Shanghai sister city agreements, or the agreements on developing smart cities will provide strong impetus to our efforts to address the challenges and harness the opportunities of Bharat’s rapid urbanisation.
Achievements on the security front:
Prime Minister’s unequivocal assertion of Bharat’s desire for a stable and peaceful Asia and the surrounding ocean regions, predicated on universal acceptance of international law and norms and peaceful resolution of disputes has resonated well with many countries in the region which now want to see our country in a leadership position. This also includes maritime security. Prime Minister also highlighted the emerging challenges of cyber security and space security.
Prime Minister’s thoughtful assertion that the global challenge of terrorism requires a comprehensive global strategy against all terrorism, without drawing distinction between terrorist groups and their supporters; and his call to isolate sponsors of terrorism and to help nations willing to fight it has been welcomed by all those who believe that humanity must stand together in this existential struggle. Our external engagement has helped deepen security cooperation with key partners. Our Prime Minister’s leadership has reinforced our claim for a permanent seat in the Security Council and found many more supporters than ever before.
Bharat cannot be immune to the toxic fumes of war that have engulfed vast stretches in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Governments have lost control and shadow armies and Jehadists are running amok. This is also a battle between the proponents of faith-supremacy and those committed to faith-pluralism. Bharat cannot be impervious to a crisis that could threaten the promise of the 21st century as an era of peaceful economic growth. We must continue to work in partnership with the democratic and civilised world to eliminate terrorist militias and their sponsors wherever they may be.
Bharat’s foreign policy, during the decade of the UPA tended to weigh the nation down. During this period New Delhi punched substantively below its weight in pushing through its foreign policy objectives, while often appeared side-lined in the international arena.
A cursory glance at the ‘lost decade’ of the UPA, reveals retreat and a loss of direction in engaging with neighbours, ham-handed diplomacy vis-à-vis Pakistan and a blind-spot in our foreign policy to the Indian Ocean island states. The UPA dispensation seemed grossly incapable of moulding Bharat’s foreign policy, national security and economic development imperatives into a composite and coherent policy framework.
Our government has, in a short span of ten months, transformed foreign policy into a major instrument to realize our national ambition of Bharat’s rise as a strong and respected world power.