Can Modi fulfill ambitions in 2nd term?

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/27 18:43:42

Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a second term in office, with his Bharatiya Janata Party taking more seats than the 2014 election. What's the prospect of China-India relations? How will Modi lead India to play in the international arena? Jayadeva Ranade (Ranade), president of New Delhi-based think tank the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, shared his insights with Global Times (GT) reporters Zhao Juecheng and Yan Yunming on the sidelines of the Symposium on China-India Relations: Review and Prospects hosted by China West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan Province on May 24.

GT: What's your expectation for Modi's policies in his second term of office? 

Modi has not been able to fulfill all his ambitions and goals in the last five years. It is very difficult to bring many changes in five years.

So I expect in this term for him to move faster and more aggressively toward the economic goals, and place achieving economic growth and tackling unemployment on top of the agenda. I think we will see more aggressive policies from Modi.

Modi has also done a lot of things which were small but could yield results. He has started tackling agriculture, which is important in India, and I think we will see more of that. And he brought in the public toilets, which is a big thing because it tackles health, civic needs and the safety of women.

All these things he will move may not appear to be very big steps, but are very important. He will - I'm sure - bring in more initiatives.

GT: Will there be any changes in Modi's defense policies?

Modi's focus is on safeguarding our sovereignty and territorial integrity. India does not want to become a major power in this region. It is a "power" because of its size, but India wants its sovereignty and territorial integrity intact.

There are three or four centers emerging in Asia, but I don't see one accepting an overlordship of anyone else. These Asian powers are coexisting. That is what I expect. 

I don't think Modi wants to seize territory. That's not the Indian philosophy. Even with Pakistan, we have no such ambitions. But we will not allow anyone to come and do it to us either. 

To that extent, Modi will develop and build up the armed forces, but only for the purpose of defense and protection. All our acquisitions - purchases of new weaponry, etc. - have been more defensive rather than offensive. That will continue.

GT: What's the prospect of China-India relations in Modi's second term of office? 

There are lessons to be learned from the past few years. Learning the right lessons will be good for the next five years. Particularly, the Doklam standoff made it very clear that neither the Chinese nor Indians want a conflict. The world's attention went beyond the level that both countries wanted. But in the process, we understood each other. To that extent, it was our learning experience. I think it also showed that both sides were responsible enough not to allow things to go beyond the point. Because of this, India-China relations have not been damaged severely. 

Second, the Wuhan summit in April 2018 was a good move because the two leaders met with no agenda, and they were able to discuss a wide range of issues. That is the key: When there is a problem or tension, maybe we don't need a point-wise agenda, but can just sit down and discuss the issue and try to bring things down. 

Modi has won re-election. His focus is good ties with China; he wants better economic relations with China. Of course, some issues need to be addressed, including the trade deficit, and sovereignty and territory. 

Besides, both China and India have pragmatic leaders who are bold and decisive with strong popular support. So the prospects are looking good for a stable relationship between China and India.

GT: China-US trade disputes are now escalating. How will India balance its relations with the two? 

From our point of view, we need good relations with both. The US has a lot of capital, very high technology, and a big market, all of which are what we can utilize. Similarly, China has a huge market and capital.

So for us, good relations will bring mutual benefits and advantages. It's good to have good ties with both.

I think we have not felt any major impact from China-US trade disputes. If anything, I would say that our businessmen should be looking at taking advantage of what's happening and looking at opportunities. Maybe there are areas where China now cannot sell to the US and are looking at new markets, including India. Maybe there are products that China needs which it did not buy from us earlier.

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