The Business Times

A new chapter in Indo-US relations

The Modi-Obama joint statement is a good start, but it must be followed by viable policy agenda and other initiatives

Published Wed, Oct 1, 2014 · 09:50 PM
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IT was perhaps fitting that India's newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be asked to define his approach to global and strategic issues during his maiden appearance at the United Nations and, later, during his first meeting with US President Barack Obama. Following that meeting, the two men drafted a joint statement in the form of an op-ed. The agenda for cooperation that they have spelled out is hardly modest: It seeks to address issues ranging from countering climate change to terrorism. Until now, Mr Modi's focus has been on domestic issues and regional problems. India's global role and strategic ambitions ultimately depend on his ability to deliver at home.

During his election campaign, he infrequently raised foreign policy issues. These were mostly confined to regional security and ongoing issues involving India's neighbours, Bangladesh, the People's Republic of China and Pakistan. On Bangladesh, he highlighted illegal immigration; on the PRC he decried the country's "expansionist attitude"; and on Pakistan he raised the familiar matter of its support for terror. Beyond these concerns, he offered a speech extolling Japan's economic success and the need to attract Japanese investment to India.

The bulk of his campaign rhetoric instead focused on placing India on a path to economic growth and prosperity. Fulfilling that promise requires a robust foreign policy.

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