Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (June 15) wished Chinese President Xi Jinping on his 64th birthday on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of the Twitter, with utmost humility.
This greeting comes at a time when Beijing is seriously trying to stop New Delhi's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers group (NSG), something which will have serious ramifications on the nuclear stability in South Asia. It may raise a few eyebrows, but therein lies Modi's pragmatic vision---the new driving force of India's foreign policy.
In 2014, Xi Jinping visited India during Modi's birthday
In 2014, Jinping had visited Ahmedabad with the Chinese First Lady in an official visit and it coincided with the 65th birthday of Modi (September 17). The unique visit to a city outside the National Capital and the PM hosting the Chinese president over a private dinner on the banks of the Sabarmati River was seen as a welcome departure from the otherwise stiff mould of the India-China relations that had taken a nosedive after the 1962 war.
Just like the Chinese first couple's visit to Ahmedabad, Modi visited Xi's home town Xian during his 2015 visit
Modi also chose Xian, the hometown of Jinping, as the first stop of his three-day visit to China in May 2015 as a mark of reciprocity. Jinping hosted the Indian PM over a private dinner after accompanying him to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, built to commemorate 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk Xuan Zhang's journey to India. That visit by Modi to China had also received a wide coverage.
Informality & intimacy: Modi's foreign policy strategy; ask Obama, Xi or Sharif
Modi's foreign policy has a primary focus on political informality and personal intimacy and irerspective of what is at stake, the forme never loses sight of those two factors when engaging with any foreign power, particularly the US (Barack Obama), China (Xi Jinping) or Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif).
NSG or not, China is not India's enemy
One will be mistaken to see the India-China equation as one between two enemies. Modi, thanks to his previous tenure as the chief minister of one of India's most business-friendly state Gujarat, has an experience in understanding the pulse of international affairs which is primarily determined by trade and commerce and not military adventures.
That relieves the man of ideological and diplomatic baggage and gives him the flexibility of engaging with the other side and get the work done through building personal chemistry and bringing all focus on trade and transactions.
This is an age of frenemies so don't waste energy on conflicts
Modi's foreign policy has identified the basic tenet of today's international relations and it is about building on the goodwill and not wasting time in generating negative energy.
While India's NSG bid is to gain strategic advantage, it doesn't mean that India is willing to take the fight out to China as well. Under Modi, India is not seeing the world affairs through a typical black-and-money prism anymore and neither it is carrying a mental blockade vis-a-vis China. In fact, Modi is imitating the Chinese while dealing with them.
China, despite the odds with Japan and US, enjoys massive trade with them
China, despite its fierce military clashes with Japan and the US, enjoy a massive trade with those two countries. Beijing has its share of odds with Tokyo and Washington at the political and strategic fronts, but that hasn't meant that it has given up a pragmatic economic cooperation with either of them.
New Delhi in the Modi era is also trying something similar. While it is working towards bettering its ties with the US which it had kept at a distance for a long period, it is also pursuing its policy on China with a blend of competition and cooperation.
Days of Nehruvian ideology are over
This will help India maintain a stability in its neighbourhood and also benefit from it. It will be afterall foolish to conduct a one-eyed policy in today's situation which is far more complicated than the Nehruvian days.