India is set to rise and shine under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ leadership in 2015.
2014 will be marked as ‘The Year of Narendra Modi,’ who was elected as the Prime Minister on May 16 following the general elections. Since then, he has conquered the hearts of the international audience, especially the Indian Diaspora, if the massive crowds that were present at the meetings he addressed in New York (USA), Sydney (Australia) and Suva (Fiji) are any indication.
Millions of people in these countries were spell bound by his charisma, energy and vision.
The respect for India as a nation was restored during his overseas visits last year.
Mr Modi’s vision includes a ‘Clean India,’ encouraging international investments, and the ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign. He has given a blue print for further economic reforms in India with the establishment of ‘Niti Aayog,’ closing down the long-running, socialistic Planning Commission.
The new body will give policy directions to both Central and State governments.
However, Mr Modi faces challenges both at home and abroad.
The first and foremost challenge is to secure cooperation and support from Non-BJP governments in several States, follow-up of directives by officials and most importantly from various communities and religious groupings.
Secondly, India should push itself forward on the strategic and politico-military levels, if it has to play a major role in international affairs. Mr Modi has made several references to this issue at meetings with leaders in various countries.
The Agreements that were signed with Australia during his visit to that country in November 2014 is a case in point. Fiji is also getting closer as a beneficiary of $70 million loan and $5 million grant announced during Mr Modi’s visit on November 19. (Indian Newslink, December 1, 2014). Smaller countries such as Bhutan and Nepal will also receive development assistance.
South Pacific Forum
The highlight of New Delhi’s vigorous outreach of diplomacy will be displayed at the proposed first India-Pacific Islands Cooperation Meeting in India this year.
If the substance was tasteful so was the style, whether it was playing drums in Japan, addressing the Indian Diaspora in New York and Sydney or bringing all the countries in the South Pacific Islands under one umbrella. Mr Modi has proved that he has the style and substance to do well at the highest echelons of power.
China & USA
The third challenge for Mr Modi is to steer relationship in the right direction between Beijing and Washington. It is a simple geo-political understanding that India can opt for closer economic ties with the former and a more robust strategic partnership with the latter.
The above aspect may be played out in full light when President Barack Obama attends the Republic Day Celebrations in Delhi as the Chief Guest on January 26, 2015. Such an honour is the first for an American President and Mr Obama would also have the distinction of having visited India twice while in office.
The greatest challenge facing Mr Modi and his government relate to internal social cohesion and the exit of the International Security Assistance Troops from Afghanistan.
During his election campaign and in speeches at home and abroad, Mr Modi has vowed that India will never compromise on its internal peaceful social fabric and will be proactive to any provocations from the neighbouring Pakistan.
There are a few left out issues such as a Free Trade Agreement with India. It remains to be seen if 2015 would provide a fillip but thus far, there are no indications.
Balaji Chandramohan is our Correspondent based in New Delhi.