India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi is not wasting any time toward improving the economic situation in his country. The West (which previously shunned Modi) is not hesitating to embrace Modi as he seeks to make India a lucrative place to do business and for foreign investment.
Earlier this month, top British leaders met with Modi and his Foreign Minister and Indian business leaders in Mumbai for two days as they discussed expanding bilateral trade (already up to $15.8 million) and foreign investment from Britain into India. The talks included the sale of arms as India, already the world’s biggest arm importer seeks to build up its defense.
The United States announced Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel travel to India in late July-early August to discuss expanding India and the US’s bilateral relationship.
The relationship between the world’s largest democracies has been testy at best under the Obama Administration after being strong during the Clinton and Bush Administrations. Frank Wisner, the US ambassador to India under Clinton told the Express Tribune that as Obama has focused on China’s rise, India has trouble seeing where it fits in to Obama’s policy. As Modi is likely to be in power for foreseeable future, the time to cultivate a viable US-India relationship is now. Especially if Modi succeeds in replicating the economic success he oversaw in Gujarat, in the rest of India.
But India is not just looking to the West for alliances.
Despite tensions over border clashes, Modi met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping earlier this week in Brazil, days ahead of the BRICS summit. Modi wants to resolve conflicts with China, emphasizing their shared similarities in an attempt to invite Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure. In turn Xi Jinping invited Modi to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November.
If these former rivals could manage to put aside their differences for a mutually beneficial partnership, it would be an amazing example in international politics. More than that India and China make up 40% of the world’s population on the continent to where power is shifting. India seeks for the world to take it seriously and China seeks to undermine US hegemony in Asia. India and China working together could prove consequential for the world.
So far Modi appears to be pragmatic, and it’s working.