Why, externally & internally, May 26 was Narendra Modi's moment

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May 26, 2014, will go down as a memorable day in the history of Indian politics. On this day, Narendra Modi took over as the prime minister of the country and he ascended the throne as the second BJP leader after Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he scripted a significant foreward to his journey ahead.

Modi took two very important steps on the day of his swearing-in. First, he turned the occasion into an informal gathering of the heads of states of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The gesture to invite the democratically elected heads of states from South Asia proved at once that Modi is not a man with a natural instinct of aggression vis-à-vis neighbours like Pakistan as it had been perceived often in the past.

Narendra Modi's soft diplomacy vis-a-vis SAARC nations

The soft diplomacy even before he took oath as the prime minister of the biggest country of the SAARC emphasised that Modi doesn't want unnecessary political tension in India's vicinity. Rather, being an administrator who has always underscored development, Modi wants to cultivate a long-term relation with the neighbours so that the entire South Asian community can gain from cooperation, particularly economic.

In Modi's foreign policy, we might see a more perfect version of Gujral Doctrine

The softness shown at the very beginning has established in a way an unwritten Modi doctrine which looks forward to establishing a peaceful South Asia but it might not be a replication of the Gujral Doctrine of the past whereby India pledged to maintain a good relation with its neighbours irrespective of the reciprocity.

Will 'be soft but firm' Modi's doctrine in foreign affairs?

Modi's stress is more to help India build a strong sense of self-dignity which doesn't allow anybody to hurt it at will (read anti-Indianism and terror). The dual focus on India as a strong nation and its strong association with the neighbours is the actual story of Modi's May 26 diplomacy.

Internal significance

The second factor which made May 26 a memorable one is about the dynamics of internal politics. India, after a long time, is set to see a government the formation of which has defied the established norms.

No place for gerontocracy or divisive criterion in govt formation

For example, there is no place for old faces and nor were the ministers chosen on the basis of narrow and divisive features like caste or religion. The representation by women is high and the ministerial structure is made in a manner to cater to long-term goals. There is no chaos and confusion over picking ministers for Modi's own party has majority but the new prime minister has brought into effect the ideas of super ministers and performance-oriented position holders.

India is back to single authority and hence there will be no confusion

This slim and sharp thinking is something India has not seen in the last one decade. In fact, the people were confused as to who held the real authority in the affairs of the government. Modi's small government bears the stamp of a decisive authority.

The decisiveness is also reflected by the fact that the new government neither cared to accommodate old faces nor gave in before parochial sentiments.

No compromises, either on age or national interest

Ignoring veterans like LK Advani and MM Joshi while deciding the ministers and going ahead to invite the Sri Lankan president despite objections raised by its Tamil allies, formal or informal, make it clear that Modi isn't ready to compromise on his government's functioning, both internally and externally. It also sends a strong signal to all those quarters that aim to challenge the new regime.

These are welcome changes. India looks forward to them.

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