Modi shows his preferences in matter of foreign policy

The invitation to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand is a continuation of the “neighbourhood first” policy behind Modi’s invite to leaders of South Asia for his 2014 swearing-in ceremony. By not inviting leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Maldives on this occasion, the government is underlining that its regional preferences have shifted from the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) grouping to BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).

Modi is signalling that he does not hold the same optimism in 2019. His moves are indications of India’s “Act East” initiative and outreach to East Asia. The separate invitation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation chairperson indicates India’s commitment to the Central Asian grouping led by China and Russia.

India’s engagement with both BIMSTEC and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), which India joined as an observer in 2005, is at a promising but incipient stage. India sees BIMSTEC as a possible alternative to SAARC. The SCO, which inducted India and Pakistan as full members last year, is yet to demonstrate its utility for India.


It is quite in order for the PM to show his preferences here. This is foreign policy in a nutshell.

India’s Act East Policy must continue to focus on strengthening collaboration with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Partnerships must aim at promoting economic revival through implementation of India-ASEAN FTA in services and investment and strategic cooperation to fight terrorism, freedom of navigation, maritime security and de-fence cooperation. Modi’s use of soft power such as Buddhism, tourism, people-to-people contacts, and cultural ties with the region must also be harnessed. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sect-oral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is projected to not only increase mutual economic productivity but also promote peace and prosperity in the Northeast region. Beyond ASEAN, India must work to strengthen ties with East Asia, particularly Japan and Republic of Korea and Australia, which are both relevant for India’s strategic and economic interests. Technology transfer, civilian nuclear cooperation, de-fence, and innovation are important sectors that need to be targeted.


Foreign policies are determined and should be analysed on needs of the country’s welfare. SAARC’s alternate could be BIMSTEC if it serves more than the former. In recent years, owing to tension and skirmishes on border with Pakistan, India wants to be less engaged in SAARC till a firm and effective resolution to disputes does not come into way. India’s policies of Neighbours First and Look to East are meant to strengthen its regional position and thus providing India a chance to be one of the best economies of the world. Already, Indian markets and trade have become a hub center for a flourishing commerce, which is just a tunnel of getting riches and wealth. India must heed on its importance from ancient time to till date. These were Indian markets which on per se became center of exports as well as imports for British rule and its predecessor East India Company. Now when government is on majority it must take part to legislate laws concerning to trade within and outside.

By not inviting Imran, Pakistan Prime Minister, Modi has sent a clear message that abetting terror is a stumbling block in the friendly relationship of the two neighbors.


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