The Foreign Policy of Narendra Modi

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By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - Within two months the newly elected Prime Minister of India has had summit meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister, the President of China and the President of the USA. India, Japan and China are the Asian giants while the US remains the sole global super power. Thus the evolving relationships amongst them have special significance. It has become a cliché today to describe all friendly bilateral relations as “strategic partnerships” but obviously some relations are more “strategic” than others.

In the halcyon period of Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership of Indian foreign policy good relations with China was a cornerstone governed by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or Pancha Shila embodied in the Sino-Indian Treaty of April 29, 1954. The Sino-Indian war of 1962 blighted that relationship and although some normalcy has been restored, especially in terms of trade and other economic ties, bilateral relations have never been the same. India’s dramatic economic development and the election of a strong leader in Narendra Modi has created a new climate for reaching out to Asia and the world after the symbolic first steps towards South Asian neighbours were taken with the problem of Pakistan shelved for the moment.

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Indian Army’s Modernisation Needs Huge Investment

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By Arun Sahgal* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN | IDSA) - The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government – headed by Prime Minister Narenda Modi – has identified defence reforms and building a self sustaining defence industrial base as a priority reform sector. To transform this into reality, it is not so much of the government commitment but its ability to take policy decisions and put processes in place by spurring public and private sector investments through higher indigenisation, transfer of technology, simplifying procedures, etc.

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India-Japan Link Amid Concern Over China

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By Harsh V. Pant* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN | Yale Global) - Asia’s leading nations have been slowly coming together to face the challenge of an assertive China. To the chagrin of Beijing, US, Indian and Japanese naval vessels gathered for a joint exercise in the Pacific ostensibly against piracy and terrorism. The rise of nationalist leaders in Japan and India, combined with growing US concern about aggressive Chinese policy, have created new dynamics in the region.

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Geopolitics of Sino-Vietnamese Mail-Order Brides

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By Valentina Gasbarri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ROME (IDN) - The past 10 years have witnessed a rapid increase in the intra-Asia flow of cross-border marriage migration. While increasing neo-liberal globalisation, the opening of borders and the improvement of transport infrastructure between nations, have brought some gains through increasing trade, these have also facilitated an inhuman form of population movement, heightened the demand for cheap labour and exacerbated people smuggling and women and child trafficking, not only in the least developed countries.

Unauthorized entry and trans-national marriages in Sino-Vietnamese border areas represents a unique example as there are many natural and convenient ways for border crossing and for the development of sophisticated and insidious business involving the most vulnerable population groups, such as women and children from rural areas.

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Japan Remains Committed to Non-Nuclear Principles

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By Isamu Ueda* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

TOKYO (IDN) - In recent years, Japan has found itself it in a rapidly changing security environment. The global balance of power has shifted and various new threats have emerged within the region, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems that may soon be capable of delivering them.

These changes have sparked serious debate within Japan about how best to meet the changing security needs of the people of Japan and to protect their lives and livelihoods.

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A Buddhist Nun Becomes A Role Model for Women Empowerment

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

SINGAPORE (IDN) - By ordaining women into the Sangha (order of Buddha’s disciples), Gautama Buddha 2500 years ago has placed women on an equal footing with men in India. But today in most Asian Buddhist countries nuns are fighting an uphill battle to be recognized as credible teachers of the Dhamma (Buddha’s teachings).  One Nepali woman may be unwittingly changing this perception by virtually singing the Dhamma.

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How Power Centres Pressured India’s Diplomacy

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By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepthNewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - India’s conduct of foreign affairs is increasingly perceived as being at the behest of power centres other than the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Recent events and developments – though not all of these can or need be recalled here – tend to buttress this perception.

Such a perception casts doubts over the earnestness of the Government of India’s action and the way issues are handled; and raises questions about the MEA’s functioning, especially its ability to exercise its prerogatives. In fact, the MEA appears to be losing primacy on its own turf to not only the Prime Minister’s office above but also the state chief ministers ‘below’.

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The Bayonet Trumps The Ballot in Thailand

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By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - On May 22 this year the military in Thailand announced that it had taken over the country, suspended the Constitution and ousted the democratically-elected but controversial Government of Yingluck Shinawatra – sister of the exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thus ended a period of political gridlock as the supporters and opponents of Yingluck conducted their months long struggle for supremacy on the streets of Bangkok imperiling the economic stability of the country and its reputation as a booming tourist capital of the world.

For some this came as a welcome relief. For others it is viewed cynically as more of the same in Thailand’s chequered history after 1932 when a constitutional monarchy was established, leading to a fragile democracy with a vibrant “Tiger” economy enjoying Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) status within the pro-US ASEAN regional group. That is because military dictatorships rather than elected democratic governance has been the predominant pattern in this country – approximately eight times the size of Sri Lanka and a 65 million population – with its centuries old Theravada Buddhist tradition and enjoying the unique advantage of never having been under colonial rule.

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India’s Foreign Minister Wins Hearts and Minds

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By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – If there is one leading light of the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who struck the right notes, made the right moves and generally impressed observers and her audiences, it is, without doubt, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

She hit the ground running as it were: From keeping up the momentum in relations with the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations, following their leaders' visits for Prime Minister Modi's swearing in, the first foreign visit to Bhutan, to the fraught situation in Iraq and the evolving situation in Afghanistan, Swaraj has been on the go from Day One.

In addition, she presided over conclaves of Indian envoys in neighbouring countries to an agenda ably scripted by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and managed a goodwill visit to Bangladesh in the course of which she charmed both Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

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Thailand: Towards A Better Model of Democracy?

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - For the past six months thousands of people under the banner of the Peoples’ Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) led by a former Deputy Prime Minister have been rallying across Bangkok calling for the overthrow of the “corrupt Thaksin regime” while the police and military stood by, even sometimes clearing the way for their marches. PDRC sabotaged the February elections called by a government under siege and later succeeded in getting the Elections Commission to nullify the results.

The demonstrators have been calling for the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Yinluck Shinawatra to be replaced by an unelected Peoples’ Council to redraw the constitution to stamp out money-politics in the Thai electoral system. Finally the military seem to have come to their aid, and put democracy to the test.

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The Modi Tsunami – The Patel Legacy vs. Nehru’s Legacy

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By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - At a time when faith in genuine people-based democracy is waning globally, an electoral exercise of gigantic proportions has just been concluded in the world’s largest democracy - India. A record 66.8 % voted over nine phases and the nationalist Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP), with 63 year old Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate, has won an overwhelming majority to rule by itself and, with its coalition allies in the National Democratic Alliance many of them representing regional interests, falling just short of a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha.

The “Modi wave”, accurately presaged by the opinion and exit polls, has turned out to be a Modi Tsunami reducing the venerable Congress Party of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to a state where it may not even qualify to take the post of Leader of the Opposition.

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