By Dr. Anirban Ganguly
That India’s foreign outreach has become resilient, imaginative, pragmatic and bold in the last four years is an undeniable fact. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 70 decades, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to India, its wide ramification and the intense discussions that it generated is a clear example of how India’s external outreach has assumed coherence and direction and is determined to pursue India’s strategic as well as civilisational interest.
For those, who sometime back felt or argued that there was no “Modi Doctrine” in India’s foreign policy, one can only say that a Modi Doctrine in foreign policy is not a linear construct, nor is it a predictable theory or experiment, nor can it be articulated as a settled reaction, narrative or series of action. It is pragmatic, realistic, ever evolving and transmuting, while being driven by a deep and undiluted idealism and a clear sense of India’s place and position in the new global order. In its expressions, if a few steps backward are at times spotted or discerned, it does not mean a battre on retraite, it reflects rather the pursuance of a tactical line, a reasoned back stepping meant for leaping further and more surely without the risk of falling in between two summits.
At the same time, while propounding and pursuing a definitive civilisational agenda for India, India’s foreign policy has, in a sense, displayed grassroots sensitivity and responsiveness. While a certain bunch of elite analysts laugh and sneer at external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s hourly and daily proactiveness on the social media as a response to appeals by ordinary Indians abroad facing difficult situations and tribulations, it only shows that Indian foreign policy under the Narendra Modi dispensation operates at the broad horizon level while also being active and effective at the micro-dimension.
A sense of Indianness, a sense of being of and for India, a consciousness of citizenship is what exercises such activism that sees the foreign minister herself responding to situations, giving direction towards finding ways of out difficult cul de sac situations. Such an activism certainly comes from a firm sense of India’s place and aspirations in the world; it is only a laissez faire and shirking consciousness that evolves a hands-off policy when it comes to one’s citizens, who are either stranded or facing challenging situations abroad.
One of the first things that a nation and civilization does, while trying to evolve a great power narrative, a civilisational matrix, is to actively stand by, protect and promote its legitimate interests and constituents, which may be strategic, physical and emotional-cultural.
India’s Foreign policy, in the last four years has certainly broken the elite, intelligentsia and smart analysts preserve, it has generated wide discussion among people and has exhibited a rare responsiveness not seen in seven decades. This has been one of the major contributions and manifestations of the Narendra Modi led dispensation. The recently concluded visit of the Israeli Prime Minister and the ASEAN participation in the Republic Day celebrations are its latest expressions.