Bhutan, Nepal, Japan, Australia... India's China policy in view now?

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PM Modi's China policy takes shape
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put a special emphasis on India's foreign policy, especially in relation to the two hostile nehighbours, namely, Pakistan and China. He rolled out a red carpet to Pakistan even before taking oath as the prime minister by inviting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in ceremony and did not fumble to cancel ministerial talks after the Pakistani high commissioner invited Kashmiri separatists for talks on the territory. The straight approach convinced many quarters, the political reasoning notwithstanding.

Alliance required to deal with China

When it came to China, the other threat that India has in its foreign policy domain, Modi took a longer route for obvious reasons. China, unlike Pakistan, is a better opponent and has a more global presence. India is a distant second to China in terms of the economic and military might and none can deny that the presence of the China is always a concern for the other members. Getting the first presidency of the BRICS despite the fact that its headquarters will be based in Shanghai is a diplomatic gain for New Delhi for it can set the agenda for the body which is ambitious to set a new direction in international economy.

After BRICS, Modi put the nationalist cap on and began with Bhutan & Nepal

But Modi was always clear on his foreign policy priorities. Soon after returning to the Asian theatre from the world platform, the Indian prime minister put his 'nationalist' cap on and embarked on a different mission. He first visited Bhutan and Nepal, the two Himalayan countries which form an important part of India's border with China. The idea was basic but has been ignored by New Delhi for long.

While the PM took care of the more important countries, Swaraj attended others

The new prime minister paid his first and second bilateral trips to the two small states to show that they are not at all insignificant in India's scheme of things. Modi's addressing the parliaments of these two countries was a deliberate signal to the Chinese that India, the world's largest democracy, values democratic political culture and hence honours the newly found democracy in the two former monarchical systems. The idea is to make the Chinese feel that India, being a democracy itself, is in a more advantageous position to win over the hearts of both the Himalayan states.

Next is Japan

Modi, in the next stage, embarked on a trip to Japan, the other biggest rival that China has in Asia. The Indian prime minister even raised the point of aggression on this tour to convey a tougher message to Beijing that while democracy binds New Delhi and Tokyo, the presence of a common enemy in Beijing cements that tie even stronger. The diplomatic muscle-flexing forced some reaction out of the Chinese quarters, much to the Indian establishment's success.

Then came Australian PM to India

A day after Modi's return, the Australian prime minister visited India [Read...]. Australia is one of the biggest allies of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, something which doesn't impress China. According to observers, the growing competition between the US and China to gain dominance in the region will challenge Canberra's position and India can play a key role in this situation by strengthening ties with Australia to help it gain confidence against the Chinese presence.

India-Japan-Australia-US against China?

Such a diplomatic arrangement will mean a club of India, Japan, Australia and US vis-a-vis the Dragon in Asia. Modi is also set to meet US President Barack Obama at the end of this month in the US and one feels the two leaders will have China in their agenda. If Beijing has initiated a containment strategy against India in South Asia, India has made counter-move to create challenges for Beijing in the Asia Pacific. A tit for tat, indeed.

Sushma Swaraj took care of other states in the region

Prime Minister Modi, however, has not left all the work to himself. The foreign minister of his government, Sushma Swaraj, has also been making frequent visits to countries of South-East Asia besides Bangladesh in the Indian subcontinent over the last few months. She has already visited Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and met representatives from East Asia Summit grouping and Asean Regional Forum to cover the diplomatic grounds apart from the prime minister.

Indian foreign policy looks compact and with a definite purpose now.

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