What a third term for India’s Modi means for the rest of the world

Time Of Info By TOI Desk Report   June 5, 2024   Update on : June 5, 2024

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Sscreengrab

India has played an increasingly bigger role on the global stage under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but a third term will see the Hindu nationalist leader playing an even larger part.

Modi portrays India as a Global South leader, with himself a chief spokesman, and another five years in the office gives him more credibility and seniority among the world’s most powerful, despite his reduced majority in the parliament, reports AFP.

The 73-year-old third-time prime minister is pushing for the world’s most populous country and fastest-growing major economy to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Harsh V Pant, professor of international relations at King’s College London, said Modi would become one of the most senior leaders on the global circuit and has major ambitions for himself and India. It is unlikely that he would compromise on the legacy he has set.

Analysts say India has interests rather than allies and Modi has been courted by both the US and EU countries as a counter to China, despite warnings of rising authoritarianism.

Using India’s growing global footprint, Modi bolsters his domestic standing and burnishes his image abroad using India’s holding of the G20 presidency.

India is part of the Quad grouping with the US, Japan, and Australia which positions itself against China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific.

Biden hosted Modi last year and has termed Washington’s ties with New Delhi the “defining partnership of the 21st century”.

Washington, in February, approved a $4 billion sale of state-of-the-art drones to India, as a counterbalancing act against its northern neighbour.

That widening ties have come despite rights groups warning about threats to India’s democracy and discrimination towards the over 200 million Muslim minority.

India also has growing relations with Europe and hopes to expand multi-billion-dollar defence deals with France, through the sale of Rafale fighter jets, and Scorpene-class submarines.

Beijing and New Delhi are both members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forum, along with Moscow and others.

However, bilateral ties between two of Asia’s largest economies faltered in 2020 following a deadly high-altitude skirmish along their 2,200-mile (3,500-km) border.

But despite their rivalry, China is India’s second-largest trade partner.

A senior former Indian ambassador Jayant Prasad said he expected “adversarial relations” to continue.

India, with the help of its friends, will try to rein in China’s assertiveness, he said.

Modi this week termed New Delhi “a strong and important voice of the Global South”.

Last year, India hosted two “Voice of the Global South” summits in an attempt to strengthen its role as a representative of Asian, African, and South American countries.

India is also a founder member of the BRICS club, a bloc of emerging economies.

Ties with Moscow date back to the Cold War and Russia remains by far India’s biggest arms supplier.

New Delhi shied away from explicit condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and abstained from the UN resolutions censuring Moscow. Meanwhile, it snapped up cut-price Russian crude oil supplies, amid sanctions.

Modi-led government has refused to engage with historic rival Pakistan and accused Islamabad of cross-border terrorism.

The two countries fought three wars and numerous skirmishes since the 1947 Partition. Control of contested Kashmir territory was at the centre of tensions.

Modi made a rare visit to Lahore in 2015, but relations plummeted in 2019.

In March, Modi congratulated Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif after his return as premier — a rare expression of goodwill between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.


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