Why does Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy look attractive? The reason is: Modi has kept it simple and made what is a specialised domain into something the common man easily understands.
When Times Now's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami asked the PM about his government's foreign policy as the first question of the interview, the latter decided to take things head on. There was no beating around the bush or theoretical or abstract explanations but explanations that were lucid and remained aligned with the reality.
For us, that is one of the biggest tenets of the Modi Doctrine---its simplicity.
The rules of the bipolar world applies no more
PM Modi laid out the basics when he said the world today is no more a bipolar world as it had existed once. He called it more "interdependent" and "interconnected" where just government-to-government dealings are not enough. People-to-people contacts are equally important.
He also mentioned that India realised it late. This viewpoint makes it very easy for even a layman to understand how international politics functions today---in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. Modi gave hints at a departure from the Non-Alignment days when India tried to maintain an equidistance from the two superpowers---the US and the erstwhile USSR. [When PM Modi erred in calling himself the "head of state"]
"Today I talk as closely as to Saudi Arabia and to Iran and to US and to Russia," he said, emphasising how India has now shed the baggage of making calculations while engaging with countries that are known to be rivals. The days of ideology are over. It is now about the realpolitik, Modi asserted.
Political stability and leadership are key
This is another basic tenet of the foreign policy which Modi stressed on during the interview. He mentioned how the decisive mandate that the general election of 2014 delivered helped the world to see India differently. "These things matter," he said. [The two Modis Arnab Goswami interviewed in 2014 & 2016]
He also mentioned that for the world, it was important to know who the face of the country was. He said that going by the media's feedback on him, the world might have been left baffled and that would not have helped India's interests. Just like what a brilliant politician would do, PM Modi externalised the riot-tainted Modi and said that he had to reach out to the world and speak to the leaders openly to convince them.
It was a well-executed step by the prime minister to bury the 'Modi of 2002' and bring to the fore the 'Modi since 2014' who is ready to give everything for the well-being of the country.
From the perspective of a student of International Relations, Modi's emphasis on the twin factors of political stability and leadership for the sake of the country's development is worth to remember.
Emphasis on smaller countries
Modi also made a necessary point when he said that the smaller countries of the world should not be overlooked unlike in the past. He pointed out to India's initiatives in setting up a forum of the Pacific island nations and the platform like the International Solar Alliance.
This initiative of regional integration of small countries serves India's interest by two ways. First, it makes those countries get a collective security system against issues like terrorism or climate change and second, through felicitating these fora, India gains trust of an entire bloc which in turn, gets reflected when India turns to promoting its own interests vis-a-vis big powers.
As a medium power, it lies in India's interests to back smaller nations against possible adversities. Here, Modi gives yet another insight into the basics of conducting the foreign policy.
Continuity in policy on Pakistan and China
PM Modi's reply to Goswami on the latter's questions on China and Pakistan, two of India's biggest concerns in the international world, had a consistency. Modi did not take any harsh stand on either of the two countries and made them look as frenemies at best instead of hardline adversaries. He said talks with China should continue and also backed his continuous pursuit of talks with the Pakistanis.
He separated the talks with the terror threat (as terrorists launched an attack in January this year soon after his government engaged intensely with Islamabad between October and December last year) saying the work on the table has nothing to do with the responsibility of the soldiers at the borders. "They have been given a free hand to retaliate," Modi said.
Here again, the prime minister easily detached the two aspects of engagement and terrorism, something which the media of this country often confuses and ends up creating a jingoist uproar.
On the Chinese, too, Modi didn't take a rigid stand and asserted that only dialogues can help the two sides iron out their differences. It is important to find a common meeting point and not try to change the other's mindset, Modi said, proving how pragmatically his government is handling it and not painting it in black and white to create obstacles for itself.
Foreign policy is a team work
This is another reality which Modi pointed out. This is no more the era of a just one charismatic face steering the country forward. Today, the issues in foreign affairs are so complex and intertwined that it is virtually impossible for even the best of the demagogues to have control on the entire scheme of things.
What is now required is a robust teamwork and the Modi government has been doing it with ease. Be it the Ministry of External Affairs, Prime Minister's Office or other relevant ministries---Narendra Modi's foreign policy is not just a one-man affair. Even President Pranab Mukherjee has played his part in helping India consolidate its position abroad.
"The impact that we are witnessing today is not just because of Modi. It's a team work," the PM said.