May 29, 2016

On Modi Led BJP Govt’s Foreign Policy

CP Bhambhri

NARENDRA Modi, the chief executive of Indian democracy has been riding on the back of three horses’ – the globalised monopoly capitalist classes of India, the transnational monopoly capitalism and the Hindu Sangh Parivar of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and every important agenda of the Modi government is guided and determined by the interests and goals of these three driving forces which have guided prime minister Modi in decisions from 2014 to 2016.

If on one hand, every basic economic policy followed by the Modi government during its two years of rule has been openly supportive of monopoly capitalists like Adanis, Ambanis, Mittals, Birlas et al, on the other, the Modi led government has aggressively pursued pro-imperialist policies and strengthened the linkages between domestic monopoly capitalism and monopolists of imperialist countries. The leadership of imperialist finance capital of transnational corporations is in the hands of the most powerful military and economic power wielded by the United States of America. Narendra Modi has gone out of his way to curry favour with the Americans. The ideological and political supporters of pro-American Modi are shouting from rooftop that in these two years (2014-2016), Modi is the only prime minister who has established deep personal relationship with US president Barack Obama and the evidence provided by Modi’s supporters in support of their claim is that Modi has visited America five times in a short period of two years of his prime ministership. Modi in latest proposed visit on June 4, 2016 to meet Barack Obama and address both the houses of American congress has been applauded by Modi supporters including mass media, old and new, in spite of the fact that Obama, in June 2016 is a ‘lame duck’ president and he does not carry much weight in foreign policy affairs of the United States.

Barack Obama in the previous visit to India in the early winters of 2016 was acclaimed as a great success personally for Modi, who had claimed to have established a great personal rapport and warmth with the American president. The BJP led central government’s pro-imperialist foreign policy has a long history because the Jan Sangh leadership had never accepted India’s foreign policy of non-alignment as it was a committed anti-communist and anti-Soviet Union force and on the basis of its ideological beliefs it had always opposed independent foreign policy of non-alignment. Ideological opposition to communism made the erstwhile Jan Sangh leadership very close to the American capitalist imperialist bloc of power. Narendra Modi is a trained RSS pracharak, an organiser, and a product of RSS’ ideology of opposition to communism and a product of pro-Americanism and true to its ideology, he feels very comfortable with the American foreign policy establishment. Hence, Modi’s pro-Americanism is rooted in his class association with Indian monopoly capital and in the belief that American monopoly transnational corporations are ‘natural’ allies of India. Hence, pro-Americanism of Modi is not just tactical foreign policy adjustment with the existing global realities of power among the nations, his commitment to America is born out of his deep ideological conviction which is shared by Hindu Sangh Parivar and the Indian monopoly capitalist classes.

How has this blind ‘pro-Americanism’ of the Modi government impacted India’s relationship with China? The Chinese suspect and not without reason that India under Narendra Modi is gradually becoming a part of anti-China bloc of America, Japan, India and Asia-Pacific region countries. It should not be forgotten that Modi has not moved an inch forward in winning over the confidence of China during the two years between 2014-2016 and the result is China, on the basis of its suspicion of Indian policies, has been getting close to Pakistan, another area of bi-lateral conflict in this South Asian region. On the eve of President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to China for four days beginning with May 24, 2016, China has openly rejected India’s demand for membership of United Nations Security Council and India’ membership in Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Why has China snubbed India on the eve of President Mukherjee’s visit to that country? The Chinese, who are vary of American and Japanese designs, suspect, on the basis of our actions, that India is part of “axis” of hostile countries. Modi’s foreign policy towards two neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China has not moved in a positive manner and proper atmosphere for bi-lateral dialogue has not been created. Modi has not recognised a basic fact that ‘neighbours’ cannot be wished away and normalcy with neighbours, howsoever difficult to achieve, has to be a priority for foreign policy purposes. China and Japan have historically inherited conflicts and India should maintain ‘equidistance’ from these two countries on issues which are purely their own disputes and bridge relationship both with China and Japan on the basis of its own national interests. The basic interest of India will be better served if China can be persuaded not to take those steps which complicate India-Pakistan bilateral relationships. India and China’s relationship should be guided solely on the basis of ‘bilateralism’ and walls of suspicion which exist between these two countries should be broken.

Modi’s foreign policy priorities are wrong because instead of balancing the ‘globe’ with the ‘neighbours’ while taking foreign policy initiatives, Modi has on one hand sown the seeds of suspicion in the Chinese by deepening its relationship with America and Japan. On the other, Modi’s every effort to persuade America to declare Pakistan, as a factory producing ‘terrorists’ has completely failed in spite of the fact that Modi claims to be the closest friend of President Barack Obama. The only foreign policy option for any independent country of the size and strength of India in the 21st century is to maintain its ‘strategic autonomy’ which is another form of policy of non-alignment of the cold war phase of post Second World War which collapsed in 1989-90, with the collapse of Berlin wall.

It must be mentioned here that Manmohan Singh, a two term Prime Minister from 2004-2014 inspite of being pro-American was sagacious enough not to give any reason to China to suspect India’s intentions towards its neighbour. It is one thing to recognise that India-China bilateral problems deserve a resolution, it is another thing to widen the gulf between these two neighbours and Modi, unlike Manmohan, has unnecessarily sown the seeds of suspicion in the Chinese. It is to Modi’s credit that during these two years, he has not moved an inch forward to normalise relations with Pakistan and the Modi government has not thought it fit to open ‘informal’ channels at diplomatic level to bring the two countries to the negotiating table.

If Modi is taking great credit for his foreign policy acumen on the basis of his close personal rapport with US President Obama, he should be held solely responsible for his failure in laying down the foundations for some meaningful dialogue with neighbours to resolve mutual disputes. It can be stated unambiguously that Modi has spent more time in advertisement than in achieving any substantial thing in foreign policy because addressing diaspora can be good personal projection but having negotiations with China and Pakistan for the improvement of bilateral relationships is a task which Modi has not undertaken because for him foreign policy is publicity and not finding solutions to problems.