Tag Archives: modi

P. N. Panicker – Father of Library Movement in Kerala

P.N. Panicker is known as the Father of the Library Movement in the Indian state of Kerala. The activities of the Kerala Grandhasala Sanghom that he initiated triggered a popular cultural movement in Kerala which produced universal literacy in the state in the 1990s.

The State Government of Kerala has announced 19th June (day of his death) as the PN Panicker Reading Day (Vaayanadinam) and June as the Reading Month.

The PN Panicker Foundation together with a number of Government agencies, private sector entities and civil society organisations, is leading an initiative of reading. Their target is to reach 300 million under-privileged people by 2022. The main objective of this mission is to promote reading as a means to grow and prosper.




Obama in India: Symbolism and Substance

Source: http://www.insightsonindia.com/2015/01/27/lok-sabha-tv-insights-obama-in-india-symbolism-and-substance/

US President Barack Obama recently concluded his 3 day visit to India, which saw unprecedented engagement between the two countries. It was the first time that an incumbent President visited India twice, first time as the chief guest for Republic Day, and also for the first time a US President visited India, without going to Pakistan. In past our relation with US was more often defined in comparison to Pakistan’s, but finally India has broken free of Pakistan based analogy. World over, this engagement is being sold as – coming together of world’s largest and most powerful democracies and fortunately, there are many takers of this symbolism.

Indian PM and US President share very warm personal relations. There is hotline established between both on security issues which will enable both leaders to talk directly, instead of through secretariat. This is important in the sense that quite often progress gets halted because of bureaucratic lethargy at lower levels. This is an exceptional development in diplomacy.

In the past we have seen that personal chemistry has worked or failed to work depending upon the character of relation between two countries. Former US President Ronald Reagan and British PM Margaret Thatcher shared similar relations. Later Ms. Thatcher was accused of being pliant to sermons of US, for which her party suffered heavy political loss. In contrast, former Indian PM I.K. Gujral and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had exceptional personal relations, but this doesn’t help both countries to resolve their differences. However, In this case US and India deeply share biggest value of democracy and also face biggest threat of terror. Their economies are significantly dependent upon each other. India’s lucrative IT industry basically caters to requirements of US corporate giants. Also, it is among biggest destination of our non IT exports. On other hand, USA needs access to markets of India. At above of it, the fact that the US and Indian economies are the only big economies having positive outlook in near future, makes this engagement even sweeter. President Obama also highlighted that Indian investment in US has created about 81,000 jobs. Indian investments in US now stand above $9 billion, which increased by about 30 times in last few years.

As already said Pakistan is no more a defining factor in India-US relations and same is the case with China. Notwithstanding this, engagement of the two giants will certainly give message to China that if it pursues expansionist policies further, it will end up alienating its neighbours in favor of U.S. Joint statement issued, highlighted concerns about sea lanes of communication passing through South China Sea, in which China has disproportionate claims. China responded by asserting that neighbours need not be apprehensive on this issue.

In a breakthrough for civil nuclear cooperation, US has implicitly accepted the controversial Nuclear Liability Law. In return, Indian government agreed to create an Insurance pool of Rs 1500 Crore. Perhaps it is first step in forthcoming developments in this area.

On climate change issue, India has successfully resisted pressure to give some China-like commitments on curtailing emissions. Instead PM has ensured US that renewable energy will be promoted vigorously for sustainable development.

Further, Indian tri-forces have backlog of demands of various weapons and all major suppliers are competing to get share of this demand. US have already surpassed Russia as major arms supplier to India. Fortunately, India has plenty of options for its defense needs. In old times it had to buy expensive equipment from a particular country due to denial regime. But now, India has emerged as credible and responsible power and denials have faded away. As a result, we’ll able to source best ‘value for money’ equipment.

India is starving for investments in its Infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and overall economy. Government dream of creating enough jobs so as to utilize demographic dividend will depend upon investments in economy. For this efforts like Make in India are underway. Recently, new ministry has been created for skill development. Government is working for easing up of bureaucratic and legal hassles and red tape. PM has expressed his target to bring India’s ease of doing business rank in 50’s. This is must if we want demographic dividend be utilized.

India and US are smoothly cooperating in about 40 different fields such as skill development, energy efficiency, civil nuclear, wind and solar energy, terrorism. There are strong reasons to believe that with this visit, engagement and benefit to India will increase overtime. Moreover, cooperation is getting more refined and streamlines. For e.g. joint statement for the first time mentioned name of terrorist groups and even D company, which means US is willing to work at ground level.

There have been four such meetings between heads of these two countries in last 4 months. It is hoped that there is much to come. Cooperation should be mutually beneficial and sustainable too. US companies investing in India will provide jobs, industrial infrastructure and efficient services, and numerous other benefits are inevitable. When such companies come, public governance will also become more responsible and overall standards will be lifted. In all this it is obvious that US companies will derive back profits. But if our economy performs well these investments will stay back in perpetuity. Indians are believed to have highest entrepreneurial spirit. Indians if provided better opportunities here will certainly be able to perform at par with American counterparts. But, we need to guard ourselves against so called ‘American Exceptionalism’, which refers to the tendency of US government to demand special treatment and stand apart from others.

Modi-Obama Joint Radio Address to Indians

Transcript of the special episode of ”Mann ki Baat”: PM Shri Narendra Modi and US President Shri Barack Obama share their thoughts on Radio

January 27, 2015

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Today, Shri Barack Obama, President of the United States, joins us in a special programme of Mann Ki Baat. For the last few months, I have been sharing my “Mann Ki Baat” with you. But today, people from various parts of the country have asked questions.

But most of the questions are connected to politics, foreign policy, economic policy. However, some questions touch the heart. And I believe if we touch those questions today, we shall be able to reach out to the common man in different parts of the country. And therefore, the questions asked in press conferences, or discussed in meetings – instead of those – if we discuss what comes from the heart, and repeat it, hum it, we get a new energy. And therefore, in my opinion, those questions are more important. Some people wonder, what does “Barack” mean? I was searching for the meaning of Barack. In Swahili language, which is spoken in parts of Africa, Barack means, one who is blessed. I believe, along with a name, his family gave him a big gift.

African countries have lived by the ancient idea of ‘Ubuntu’, which alludes to the ‘oneness in humanity’. They say – “I am, because we are”. Despite the gap in centuries and borders, there is the same spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which speak of in India. This is the great shared heritage of humanity. This unites us. When we discuss Mahatma Gandhi, we remember Henry Thoreau, from whom Mahatma Gandhi learnt disobedience. When we talk about Martin Luther King or Obama, we hear from their lips, respect for Mahatma Gandhi. These are the things that unite the world.

Today, Barack Obama is with us. I will first request him to share his thoughts. Then, I and Barack will both answer the questions that have been addressed to us.

I request President Barack Obama to say a few words……..#

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Namaste! Thank you Prime Minister Modi for your kind words and for the incredible hospitality you have shown me and my wife Michelle on this visit and let me say to the people of India how honoured I am to be the first American President to join you for Republic Day; and I’m told that this is also the first ever Radio address by an Indian Prime Minister and an American President together, so we’re making a lot of history in a short time. Now to the people of India listening all across this great nation. It’s wonderful to be able to speak you directly. We just come from discussions in which we affirmed that India and the United States are natural partners, because we have so much in common. We are two great democracies, two innovative economies, two diverse societies dedicated to empowering individuals. We are linked together by millions of proud Indian Americans who still have family and carry on traditions from India. And I want to say to the Prime Minister how much I appreciate your strong personal commitment to strengthening the relationship between these two countries.

People are very excited in the United States about the energy that Prime Minister Modi is bringing to efforts in this country to reduce extreme poverty and lift people up, to empower women, to provide access to electricity, and clean energy and invest in infrastructure, and the education system. And on all these issues, we want to be partners. Because many of the efforts that I am promoting inside the United States to make sure that the young people get the best education possible, to make sure that the ordinary people are properly compensated for their labour, and paid fair wages, and have job security and health care. These are the same kinds of issues that Prime Minister Modi, I know cares so deeply about here. And I think there’s a common theme in these issues. It gives us a chance to reaffirm what Gandhi ji reminded us, should be a central aim of our lives. And that is, we should endeavour to seek God through service of humanity because God is in everyone. So these shared values, these convictions, are a large part of why I am so committed to this relationship. I believe that if the United States and India join together on the world stage around these values, then not only will our peoples be better off, but I think the world will be more prosperous and more peaceful and more secure for the future. So thank you so much Mr. Prime Minister, for giving me this opportunity to be with you here today.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi): Barack the first question comes from Raj from Mumbai

His question is, the whole world knows about your love for your daughters. How will you tell your daughters about youre experience of India? Do you plan to do some shopping for them?

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well first of all they very much wanted to come. They are fascinated by India, Unfortunately each time that I have taken a trip here, they had school and they couldn’t leave school. And in fact, Malia, my older daughter, had exams just recently. They are fascinated by the culture, and the history of India, in part because of my influence I think, they are deeply moved by India’s movement to Independence, and the role that Gandhi played, in not only the non-violent strategies here in India, but how those ended up influencing the non-violent Civil Rights Movement in the United States. So when I go back I am going to tell them that India is as magnificent as they imagined. And I am quite sure that they are going to insist that I bring them back the next time I visit. It may not be during my Presidency, but afterwards they will definitely want to come and visit.

And I will definitely do some shopping for them. Although I can’t go to the stores myself, so I have to have my team do the shopping for me. And I’ll get some advice from Michelle, because she probably has a better sense of what they would like.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Barack said he will come with his daughters. I extend an invitation to you. Whether you come as President, or thereafter, India looks forward to welcoming you and your daughters.

Sanika Diwan from Pune, Maharashtra has asked me a question. She asks me, whether I have sought assistance from President Obama for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Mission

Sanika you have asked a good question. There is a lot of worry because of the sex ratio in India. For every 1000 boys, the number of girls is less. And the main reason for this is that, there is a defect in our attitudes towards boys and girls.

Whether or not I seek help from President Obama, his life is in itself an inspiration. The way he has brought up his two daughters, the way he is proud of his two daughters.

In our country too, I meet many families who have only daughters. And they bring up their daughters with such pride, give them such respect, that is the biggest inspiration. I believe that inspiration is our strength. And in response to your question, I would like to say, to save the girl child, to educate the girl child, this is our social duty, cultural duty, and humanitarian responsibility. We should honour it.

Barack, there is a question for you. The second question for President Obama comes through e-mail: Dr. Kamlesh Upadhyay, a Doctor based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – Your wife is doing extensive work on tackling modern health challenges like obesity and diabetes. These are increasingly being faced in India as well. Would you and the First Lady like to return to India to work on these issues after your Presidency, just like Bill and Melinda Gates?

(Hon’ble Barack Obama):

Well, we very much look forward to partnering with organizations, and the government and non-governmental organizations here in India, around broader Public Health issues including the issue of obesity. I am very proud of the work that Michelle has done on this issue. We’re seeing a world-wide epidemic of obesity, in many cases starting at a very young age. And a part of it has to do with increase in processed foods, not naturally prepared. Part of it is a lack of activity for too many children. And once they are on this path, it can lead to a life time of health challenges. This is an issue that we would like to work on internationally, including here in India. And it is a part of a broader set of issues around global health that we need to address. The Prime Minister and I have discussed, for example, how we can do a better job in dealing with issues like pandemic. And making sure that we have good alert systems so that if a disease like Ebola, or a deadly flu virus, or Polio appears, it is detected quickly and then treated quickly so that it doesn’t spread. The public health infrastructure around the world needs to be improved. I think the Prime Minister is doing a great job in focusing on these issues here in India. And India has a lot to teach many other countries who may not be advancing as rapidly in improving this public health sector. But it has an impact on everything, because if children are sick they can’t concentrate in school and they fall behind. It has a huge economic impact on the countries involved and so we think that there is a lot of progress to be made here and I am very excited about the possibilities of considering this work even after I leave office.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Mr. Arjun asks me a question. An interesting question. He says he has seen an old photo of me as a tourist outside the White House. He asks me what touched me when I went there last September.

It is true that when I first went to America, I was not lucky enough to visit the White House. There is an iron fence far from the White House. We stood outside the fence and took a photograph. White House is visible in the background. Now that I have become Prime Minister, that photo too has become popular. But at that time, I had never thought that sometime in my life, I would get a chance to visit the White House. But when I visited the White House, one thing touched my heart. I can never forget that. Barack gave me a book, a book that he had located after considerable effort. That book had become famous in 1894. Swami Vivekananda, the inspiration of my life, had gone to Chicago to participate in the World Religions Conference. And this book was a compilation of the speeches delivered at the World Religions Conference. That touched my heart. And not just this. He turned the pages of the book, and showed me what was written there. He had gone through the entire book! And he told me with pride, I come from the Chicago where Swami Vivekananda had come. These words touched my heart a lot. And I will treasure this throughout my life. So once, standing far from the White House and taking a photo, and then, to visit the White House, and to receive a book on someone whom I respect. You can imagine, how it would have touched my heart.

Barack there is a question for you. Himani from Ludhiana, Punjab. Question is for you ……:

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well the question is “Did you both imagine you would reach the positions that you’ve reached today?”

And it is interesting, Mr. Prime Minister, your talking about the first time you visited White House and being outside that iron fence. The same is true for me. When I first went to the White House, I stood outside that same fence, and looked in, and I certainly did not imagine that I would ever be visiting there, much less living there. You know, I think both of us have been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity, coming from relatively humble beginnings. And when I think about what’s best in America and what’s best in India, the notion that a tea seller or somebody who’s born to a single mother like me, could end up leading our countries, is an extraordinary example of the opportunities that exist within our countries. Now I think, a part of what motivates both you and I, is the belief that there are millions of children out there who have the same potential but may not have the same education, may not be getting exposed to opportunities in the same way, and so a part of our job, a part of government’s job is that young people who have talent, and who have drive and are willing to work for, are able to succeed. And that’s why we are emphasizing school, higher education. Making sure that children are healthy and making sure those opportunities are available to children of all backgrounds, girls and boys, people of all religious faiths and of all races in the United States is so important. Because you never know who might be the next Prime Minister of India, or who might be the next President of United States. They might not always look the part right off the bat. And they might just surprise you if you give them the chance.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Thank you Barack

Himani from Ludhiana has also asked me this question – did I ever imagine I would reach this high office?

No. I never imagined it. Because, as Barack said, I come from a very ordinary family. But for a long time, I have been telling everyone, never dream of becoming something. If you wish to dream, dream of doing something. When we do something, we get satisfaction, and also get inspiration to do something new. If we only dream of becoming something, and cannot fulfil the dream, then we only get disappointed. And therefore, I never dreamt of becoming something. Even today, I have no dream of becoming something. But I do dream of doing something. Serving Mother India, serving 125 crore Indians, there can be no greater dream than this. That is what I have to do. I am thankful to Himani.

There is a question for Barack from Omprakash. Omprakash is studying Sanskrit at JNU. He belongs to Jhunjunu, Rajasthan. Om Prakash is convener of special centre for Sanskrit Studies in JNU.

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well this is a very interesting question. His question is, the youth of the new generation is a global citizen. He is not limited by time or boundaries. In such a situation what should be the approach by our leadership, governments as well as societies at large.

I think this is a very important question. When I look at this generation that is coming up, they are exposed to the world in ways that you and I could hardly imagine. They have the world at their fingertips, literally. They can, using their mobile phone, get information and images from all around the world and that’s extraordinarily powerful. And what that means, I think is that, governments and leaders cannot simply try to govern, or rule, by a top-down strategy. But rather have to reach out to people in an inclusive way, and an open way, and a transparent way. And engage in a dialogue with citizens, about the direction of their country. And one of the great things about India and the United States is that we are both open societies. And we have confidence and faith that when citizens have information, and there is a vigorous debate, that over time even though sometimes democracy is frustrating, the best decisions and the most stable societies emerge and the most prosperous societies emerge. And new ideas are constantly being exchanged. And technology today I think facilitates that, not just within countries, but across countries. And so, I have much greater faith in India and the United States, countries that are open information societies, in being able to succeed and thrive in this New Information Age; than closed societies that try to control the information that citizens receive. Because ultimately that’s no longer possible. Information will flow inevitably, one way or the other, and we want to make sure we are fostering a healthy debate and a good conversation between all peoples.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Omprakash wants me too, to answer the question that has been asked to Barack.

Barack has given a very good answer. It is inspiring. I will only say, that once upon a time, there were people inspired primarily by the Communist ideology. They gave a call: Workers of the world, Unite. This slogan lasted for several decades. I believe, looking at the strength and reach of today’s youth, I would say, Youth, Unite the world. I believe they have the strength and they can do it.

The next question is from CA Pikashoo Mutha from Mumbai, and he asks me, which American leader has inspired you

When I was young, I used to see Kennedy’s pictures in Indian newspapers. His personality was very impressive. But your question is, who has inspired me. I liked reading as a child. And I got an opportunity to read the biography of Benjamin Franklin. He lived in the eighteenth century. And he was not an American President. But his biography is so inspiring – how a person can intelligently try to change his life.

If we feel excessively sleepy, how can we reduce that?

If we feel like eating too much, how can we work towards eating less?

If people get upset with you that cannot meet them, because of the pressure of work, then how to solve this problem?

He has addressed such issues in his biography. And I tell everyone, we should read Benjamin Franklin’s biography. Even today, it inspires me. And Benjamin Franklin had a multi-dimensional personality. He was a politician, he was a political scientist, he was a social worker, he was a diplomat. And he came from an ordinary family. He could not even complete his education. But till today, his thoughts have an impact on American life. I find his life truly inspiring. And I tell you too, if you read his biography, you will find ways to transform your life too. And he has talked about simple things. So I feel you will be inspired as much as I have been.

There is a question for Barack, from Monika Bhatia.

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well the question is “As leaders of two major economies, what inspires you and makes you smile at the end of a bad day at work?”

And that is a very good question. I say sometimes, that the only problems that come to my desk are the ones that nobody else solves. If they were easy questions, then somebody else would have solved them before they reached me. So there are days when it’s tough and frustrating. And that’s true in Foreign Affairs. That is true in Domestic Affairs. But I tell you what inspires me, and I don’t know Mr. Prime Minister if you share this view – almost every day I meet somebody who tells me, “You made a difference in my life.”

So they’ll say, “The Health-Care law that you passed, saved my child who didn’t have health insurance.” And they were able to get an examination from a Physician, and they caught an early tumour, and now he is doing fine.

Or they will say “You helped me save my home during the economic crisis.”

Or they’ll say, “I couldn’t afford college, and the program you set up has allowed me to go to the university.”

And sometimes they are thanking you for things that you did four or five years ago. Sometimes they are thanking you for things you don’t even remember, or you’re not thinking about that day. But it is a reminder of what you said earlier, which is, if you focus on getting things done as opposed to just occupying an office or maintaining power, then the satisfaction that you get is unmatched. And the good thing about service is that anybody can do it. If you are helping somebody else, the satisfaction that you can get from that, I think, exceeds anything else that you can do. And that’s usually what makes me inspired to do more, and helps get through the challenges and difficulties that we all have. Because obviously we are not the only people with bad days at work. I think everybody knows what it is like to have a bad day at work. You just have to keep on working through it. Eventually you make a difference.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Indeed Barack has spoken words from the heart (Mann Ki Baat). Whatever position we may hold, we are human too. Simple things can inspire us. I also wish to narrate an experience. For many years, I was like an ascetic. I got food at other people’s homes. Whoever invited me, used to feed me as well. Once a family invited me over for a meal, repeatedly. I would not go, because I felt they are too poor, and if I go to eat at their place, I will become a burden on them. But eventually, I had to bow to their request and love. And I went to eat a meal at their home. It was a small hut, where we sat down to eat. They offered me roti made of bajra (millet), and mik. Their young child was looking at the milk. I felt, the child has never even seen milk. So I gave that small bowl of milk to the child. And he drank it within seconds. His family members were angry with him. And I felt that perhaps that child has never had any milk, apart from his mother’s milk. And maybe, they had bought milk so that I could have a good meal. This incident inspired me a lot. A poor person living in a hut could think so much about my well-being. So I should devote my life to their service. So these are the things that serve as inspiration. And Barack has also spoken about what can touch the heart.

I am thankful to Barack, he has given so much time. And I am thankful to my countrymen for listening to Mann Ki Baat. I know radio reaches every home and every lane of India. And this Mann Ki Baat, this special Mann Ki Baat will echo forever.

I have an idea. I share it with you. There should be an e-book made of the talk between Barack and me today. I hope the organizers of Mann Ki Baat will release this e-book. And to you all, who have listened to Mann Ki Baat, I also say, do participate in this. And the best hundred thoughts that emerge out of this, will also be added to this e-book. And I want you to write to us on Twitter, on Facebook, or online, using the hashtag #YesWeCan.

· Eliminate Poverty – #YesWeCan

· Quality Healthcare to All – #YesWeCan

· Youth empowered with Education – #YesWeCan

· Jobs for All – #YesWeCan

· End to Terrorism – #YesWeCan

· Global Peace and Progress – #YesWeCan

I want you to send your thoughts, experiences and feelings after listening to Mann Ki Baat. From them, we will select the best hundred, and we will add them to the book containing the talk that Barack and I have had. And I believe, this will truly become, the Mann Ki Baat of us all.

Once again, a big thank you to Barack. And to all of you. Barack’s visit to India on this pious occasion of 26th January, is a matter of pride for me and for the country.

Thank you very much.


Source: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.aspx?get=new&id=K0/DSixj1rQ=

India signed a nuclear and defence deal with Russia during the President Putin’s recent visit to New Delhi. India also concluded agreements with Japan, the US and China in an important display of its traditional diplomacy undergoing nuanced change under Prime Minister Modi.

Since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, India’s foreign policy has gathered some pace. His visits to Australia, Japan and the United States brought the relationships with these countries to new heights with several economic and defence agreements. He had visited the three states proposed by a former Japanese prime minister to form an ‘arc of freedom’ democratic alliance. While the pacts with Australia were mostly socio-economic, the agreements with Japan and the US covered economic and security interests.

Japan pledged economic assistance worth US$35 billion over five years and culminated with the Tokyo Declaration of India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership by which the two sides agreed to enhance their defence and strategic cooperation. Similarly, PM Modi’s visit to the US was a welcome reset in the relations strained by the Devyani Khobragade issue and the reversal on the US ban for Modi for his alleged involvement in Gujarat in 2002. President Obama and PM Modi resolved to broaden their cooperation in various fields including defence, intelligence, and space exploration among others. President Obama was invited to be the Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day, symbolising the mutual regard of the oldest democracy and the largest.

Relations with non-democratic states ::

Nevertheless India’s foreign policy is not confined by the extension of pan-Americanism or democratic values. During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi recently, India and Russia signed important nuclear and defence agreements. PM Modi referred to Russia as the ‘most important defence partner’. During the visit, India agreed to purchase 12 Russian-nuclear reactors to address India’s energy needs. They also agreed to manufacture advanced Russian military helicopters in India, which showed the close security relations between them, despite American displeasure at the timing of the deal.

The close defence relationship between Russia and India reflects India’s reliance on Russia for advanced military weapons for the most part during the Cold War. Even during the recent Crimean crisis, India was one of the first countries that was supportive of Russian annexation of Crimea and ‘understood’ its position.

Similarly, India attempted to court China as a potential investor and market during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi in September. In addition to pledges by China to invest US$20 billion in India in five years to link the ‘world’s factory’ to the ‘world’s back office’, their talks included civil-nuclear cooperation.

India’s traditional foreign policy parameter ::

India’s traditional foreign policy was based on two major pillars: non-alignment and its belief in its potential to be a major power itself. When the Cold War broke out, it led the cause of the non-aligned countries. India brought to the fore both tenets in its foreign policy.

Firstly, India did not want to be ‘aligned’ to either the then Soviet Union or the US. Secondly, India was willing to lead the non-aligned movement, partly because it believed that it was a major power itself. It took a long time to realise the Indian potential, and only since late 1990s India was seen as a ‘potential major power’ in the making.

In this context, India has sought to diversify its security relations, to avoid any dependency on a single nation. It signed a civilian nuclear deal with the US in 2008, and expanded its security and defence relations with other democratic countries such as the US and Japan. Similarly, it has maintained strong security links with Russia. Within the context of an assertive and rising China, with which India fought a war over disputed territory, many Indian analysts believed that a democratic alliance of India-Japan-US-Australia would be the way forward.

However India has not considered ‘aligning’ itself with states holding democratic values. While relations with the democratic countries have improved, this has not come at the cost of relations with China or Russia.

India’s recent foreign policy under Modi shows that it continues to possess major elements of its traditional strategy. It still seeks to maintain an independent and sovereign foreign policy devoid of alignment and sees itself as a major-global power. Its foreign policy, however, is no longer guided by socialistic idealism seen in the early years of independence. India has become an aspiring pragmatic state, believing that it is on the way to gaining global status, if it has not already done so.

A welcome change ::

After being rather passive on the foreign policy front due to various domestic issues, India has finally got a strong government with a charismatic leader in PM Modi. He has pursued foreign policy in a more assertive manner during his short stint, and based his policies on economic pragmatism.

It is also a clear sign that India is not constrained by democratic values or thoughts of alignment. It still has the flavour of its historical guideline but packaged in new ways to meet its challenges ahead.

Those nuanced changes in its external relations reflect India’s aspiration to engage all sides based on pragmatism rather than ideology. The growing confidence of India and its willingness to stand on its own also gives more credence to the notion of the 21st century being an Asian century which it will help to shape.