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Modi gives little to friendly US but wants a lot in return. No wonder Trump isn’t amused

Folly of Modi’s foreign policy is he launches trade war with Trump’s America, a stalwart ally, but treats the Chinese, who walked into Doklam, with deference.

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What is more overpowering, fear or love? You should be asking a psychologist. What a political columnist can do, on the other hand, is to collect hard facts, sift them from fantasy and propaganda, and provoke an important debate. Trolling, we take in our stride.

Earlier this week, China delivered a nasty kick to India’s shin by blocking Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.

Not only did China block it for the fourth time, much inspired commentary in Chinese state or party-controlled media held out admonitions for India. The rudest was a commentator in the Communist Party-owned Global Times who, with pictures of angry BJP workers in the background, accused Narendra Modi of exploiting the situation for his election campaign, and concluding with a final insult: China is India’s friend, not a hostage to its nationalism.

With this, China redefined the ‘Wuhan Spirit’ to mean that if my troops aren’t squatting on your territory in the run-up to your elections, I have kept my part of the deal. For the rest, old rules apply.

Two reactions to this Chinese arrogance stand out, for their tone and emphasis. India has been ridiculously guarded, not daring to even name China and expressing just “disappointment” with “a nation”. The Americans, on the contrary, had no such hesitations. They named China in a statement enormously more severe than India’s pusillanimous one.

The Modi government hasn’t lost its muscularity. It is just applied more selectively now, though not particularly with an application of mind. Modi’s India of March 2019, weeks before elections, treats a hostile China with nervous deference, but launches an all-out Swadeshi trade war on Trump’s friendly America. We suck up to those who harm and humiliate us because we fear them. We fight with those who speak for us because we love them.

Also read: India-Pakistan face-off over Pulwama is Narendra Modi’s biggest foreign policy challenge

Here are the five follies of what we might call the ‘Modi Foreign Policy Doctrine’ that got us here.

1) Inability to appreciate that strategic alliances need a big heart: Strategically, America has been, to use a familiar Americanism, a stalwart ally. Yet, at the top levels of the US Administration, beginning with Trump, a wary fatigue has developed about India. It is tempting to dismiss Trump as a petulant child. But can you afford to do so? You might laugh at his fixation with Indian duties on Harley-Davidson motorbikes, but he can also similarly call your ‘Swadeshinomic’ approach to trade nutty and insincere. Slashing prices of imported medications and medical aids is a good moral and political idea. But must you implement it with sudden price controls and import restraints? The Americans must be bemused to see India declaring war on their Amazon and Walmart while it heartily welcomes Chinese investments in Indian e-commerce and digital financial services.

While the way America has stood by India after Pulwama is creditable, there are strains in the relationship and personal chemistry between Modi and Trump. A bilateral hasn’t happened since November 2017 and attempts to set one up at the recent G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018 failed. Trump isn’t the kind to invest time in photo-ops and platitudes when his favourite peeves are not addressed. A little “give” on trade wouldn’t hurt India.

Trump isn’t asking for something as difficult as troops in Afghanistan or to not buy those Russian S-400s or to shut the Chabahar port in Iran. All he wants is a little concession on some tariffs and business as usual on the rest. Smart leaders pick their fights, especially with friends, carefully. Modi has erred in opening a Swadeshi trade front with Trump, who also has a domestic political constituency.

2) Miscalculation that unilateral appeasement works with arrogant big powers: See it this way. India has locked horns on trade with the US where it enjoys a $60 billion trade surplus, but is giving unfettered access to China where it has an equal, $60 billion, deficit. The idea behind opening our markets so widely to Chinese goods and investments may have been to give them an economic stake to moderate their strategic policy towards India.

Nothing of the sort has happened. Two years ago, the Chinese walked into Doklam. Now, the message from them seems to be, if we are not in Doklam or Chumar again, as you head for elections, send us a thank-you note. Likely on a Chinese phone, network, and operating system. Just as the Modi government has demanded all “give” with America, it is all “take” with China.

3) Obsession with personalised foreign policy: Modi has stature and charisma. But it doesn’t substitute the preparation and follow-up of professional diplomacy, and the need to refine policies through internal debate and discussion. Also, individual styles and approaches of other leaders vary.

Also read: Hold the outrage over Modi hugging MBS, check these facts first

The Saudi Crown Prince might love a copious hug and take decisions on the spot, but a Xi Jinping may be irritated or misread it as fawning. Besides, although the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng, he doesn’t have the personal power in Beijing that a Mohammed bin Salman or Modi does in Riyadh or New Delhi. Xi works with a structured and empowered “system” that functions a lot more effectively than the Modi cabinet. It is now evident that Modi’s first charm-filled approach with Xi was counter-productive, and this continued later through Xian, Wuhan and elsewhere. The misstep of a Republic Day invite to Trump and the failed hugging outreach with Nawaz Sharif showed inadequate homework.

4) The price of predictability: From politics, diplomacy, to warfare, sport and gambling, predictability is a liability. Modi has made that error. Foreign leaders know his personalised style, need for publicity, photo-ops, praise, all of which they understand he needs for his domestic audiences. The Chinese know very well by now that Modi is wary of another intrusion in the months leading up to the polls. The Chinese also would have known that much as Modi might like a little skirmish with Pakistan which he could quickly end claiming victory, there is no way he could start and end anything with China like that. Predictability makes it easy for others to guess your responses. The Chinese have been the first to do this.

The Pakistanis must have taken note of a few things too. They know that Modi is now publicly committed to a quick retaliation in case of major terror attacks. It gives them the power of orchestrating a crisis and drawing the world to the subcontinent at will. All they need is to tell the ISI to unleash another incident. Great leaders do not allow themselves to be ‘gamed’.

5) Perils of mixing foreign policy with domestic politics: Modi has often used his foreign policy initiatives and summits for domestic image-building. The Chinese were the first to exploit it. They knew Indian fears of another intrusion in election season and offered reassurance at Wuhan, but on their terms. Chinese trade dominance has increased, their view on Arunachal and Pakistan is harder, and India is reduced to protesting meekly on Masood Azhar, without daring to name them. Do note that since Wuhan, India has not raised the issue of Nuclear Suppliers Group membership with China. If India’s demand is now the banning of Masood Azhar, it does two things: Diminish India in its bilateral equation with China, and enable it to hyphenate its own India policy with Pakistan. China, therefore, has India just where it wants, triangulated with Pakistan.

To conclude, this isn’t a foreign policy balance sheet of the five Modi years. It is a listing of what we see as his most significant flaws and their consequences.

Also read: Two steps Narendra Modi govt can take to give Pakistan and China a tough message on Pulwama

This article was originally published on 16 March 2019

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  1. The re-publication of this article, which was published last March, gave rise to 2 comments from readers. The other 57 comments were published between March 16th and 24th. What emerges from each other’s observations is in the image of what the country’s foreign policy is, not to mention its defense policy. Because an external policy is articulated around a policy of defense After more than 70 years of independence, we have neither external policy nor defense policy. But we know how to tinker and prepare to hurry. But is that enough to define a country’s foreign policy and defense policy? Pragmatism is certainly necessary in the conduct of these policies. It also requires experienced men and women. On this side, it must be said that it is the most complete vacuum. We would be unable to quote a name that would have marked the conduct of foreign affairs or defense since 1947. We do not have a GROMYKO, a TCHOU -EN-LAI, a KiSSINGER, or of course a Mac NAMARA. This can be understood because these policies have been taken over by the chief executive and the bureaucrats around him. When talking about Tashkent one thinks of Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Simla is related to Indira Gandhi. We have great talented bureaucrats, certainly at the head of foreign affairs or the steering of national security. But is that enough to make sense a vision a doctrine for these 2 policies essential to the sovereignty of a state like India. The question remains unanswered since 1947. We have been looking for content for these two policies for a very long time. So we go around in circles. And yet, in 1947, we wrote a new page on the promising international scene. But we quickly closed it and today in a very unstable world we run either to the Indo-Pacific, or to the Shanghai Pact. We want to be a great power. We may be a military power, but our feet are fragile. We should meditate on the fate of the USSR which was a great military power We must perhaps begin by existing in this geographical space of ours and ask ourselves why we are not loved in this space. Perhaps we could see more clearly in the role that should be ours in the world. We should not forget that we are a civilization whose origins go back a long way. Our big northern neighbor, who gives us so much trouble has not forgotten it!!!!

  2. What do you mean?Modi has kept US Dollars 138 Billion in US Treasuries denying many sections of India,their due.With NRI’s US 130 Billion FCNB fetching higher interest India is losing more than Rs 50000 Crores per annum,by arbitrage.He has added Gold to BoE,BIS tally which now stands at 312 MT.THESE TWO ARE VERY HUGE FAVOURS TO THE USA, AND The Bankers..Keeping ones wealth outside is foolish.Actually odi is NT getting anything in return but MORE orders,deamnds NOT to buy from Russia etc while the USA imports Crude and buys Rockets from Russia!!Modi’s US Policy is a failure.

  3. Shekarji, I do appreciate you deep insights into the thought process of building international relationships between India and big powers. Hope you also understand that your liking of US more than China need to be the framework for India’s policy decisions cannot as easy as it sounds to be. China offers solutions at lower cost and American support is high strategy level. Need for balancing act. I would give credit Modi for his no nonsense approach than mood based Trump or control based Xi. Modi is not like Nehru, who brought Chinese to show our ordinance factory got bashed by Chinese, paying heavy price of loosing territory or Indira Gandhi literally selling country to KGBs just in the name antogonising Americans. Policy decisions cannot be decided on the dictums of journalists.

  4. RSS and swadeshi jagran manch Demon possessed Modi is playing socialist games to satisfy his demons.

  5. In the four months since this column appeared, the government’s mandate has been renewed and reaffirmed, political capital has been recharged. MEA is headed by a lifelong diplomat who has served in China and the US. 2. In the normal course, PM Imran Khan’s visit to the White House ought to have been a bilateral issue between Pakistan and America. However, given how India – Pakistan relations have shaped up, it is almost one relationship at the cost of the other. The statement relating to mediation has touched a raw nerve. MEA will have to untangle issues that arise from President Trump’s style of diplomacy from deeper, structural issues that are showing the bilateral relationship to be considerably frayed. From a blunt US perspective, India is not living up to its promise, not a natural foil to China. Difficult to see Indian diplomacy moving up to the next level till our domestic achievements are more impressive.

  6. Well it’s the other way around. India has given too much to the U.S. even our relations as well as interests have been compromised vis a vis Iran and Russia. Trump is showing greater interest in Pakistan because he needs an ally like Pakistan so as to counter (escalate) Iran. Another reason of Trump’s courting of Pakistan is his interest in Afghanistan. Now Modi needs to balance our traditional allies with the U.S. I’m not anti-American, but Trump’s “unpredictability” has damaged even traditional allies of the U.S.

    • You are 100% correct!
      Shekar Gupta can barely hide his vicious anti Modi bias. He tries to camouflage now and then but barely.
      The plain truth is Americans are as usual unprincipled hypocritical bullies. There isn’t much more India could have done.

      This issue has nothing to do with BJP or Congress and who is in power.

  7. Mr. Modi’s successes have changed the goal posts. What was an impossible dream before the Modi-era is now considered merely a failure. India needs time to handle a still rising China but India already has templates to handle the US and Pakistan. Criticism and analyses are important but is is a fact that Mr. Modi has been an unexpected but unmitigated blessing for India. India needs Mr. Modi for another ten years as PM

    • I like alternate view and logical critique of govt and policy. A good critique is more helpful for making a person, organisation or govt. better compared to sycophants.

      Good article. You can agree to disagree with article but u cannot take away the merit and logic Mr. Gupta is providing.

  8. Today I commend Shekhar Gupta for his analysis.Really a introspective calculation.Narendra Modi played such tricks that Congress fall to his trap.Rahul Gandhi was made Party President.He doesn’t know nitty gritty of Indian politics.Rather the party should have Sonia Gandhi as INC President and Rahul Gandhi should have been VP.Rahul Gandhi was given supreme power in congress although he doesnot know the minds of people.Modi made him gullible.He think himself as wise man of world.But he is a fool idiot buffoon and mad.
    Congress Mukt Bharat will be reality after 2019 poll results come.Most of senior leaders will drop congress like hot potato.

  9. Great insight Guptaji ! However, 2 points come to mind. 1. Chinese goods keep inflation low, same as in America here. 2. Chinese companies not Brokerage firms are investing in India !
    See, unlike Japanese or Koreans people, Chinese are not afraid to invest in a foreign country. Haven’t we tried time and again to get small and medium Japanese or Korean companies to invest in India ? Or, for that matter how many German or Italian or American small and medium companies invest their factories in India ?
    You have to see what we have seen in the last 40 years from our viewpoint in the US. Thousands of companies have gone running to Taiwan, Japan, Korea. Latest to China. And, those that went to Taiwan, Korea and Japan made a beeline to China too.
    Modi and Piyush Goyal’s brilliant strategy. Get those now ‘Chinese’ companies start pumping their factories, know how and expertise into India!

    • Nobody wants to invest in manufacturing in India, not even indian companies.
      It is combination of 1) poor productivity 2) poor work culture and 3) not being able to get rid of workers with poor productivity and poor work culture. Service industry is slightly better simply because you do not invest too much capital, and get away will little loss of capital

  10. Dear Shekar,Your Article is very nice brings one national challenge of doctrine theory a New perspective,With your experience your seeing solutions with the spectacle of theory which was dealt in your years of solution which national leaders have given be it Jnehru,Indira Gandhi or PV narsimha rao , Modi is new age leader he needs time to digest the facts that fata fat solution is not the end of the lane , i am listing below my view which i feel you should respond to,:
    1)Mr Modi was elected before trump was hence his right to share the Make in india was coined before trump could realise of his failure of his country to make America strong again,since Trump is asking for some concessions on imports or rather imposing duties on indian exports to America,Commerce Industry has already clarified that sizable exports to America is not a point to fend laws or revisit thro Diplomatic talks,A cost imposed was always waiting in Modinomics when is coined Make in India Program,,,,The Man is moving fast he wants no America Involvement in solving the J&K issue,he has sought after solutions in troubled matters, the mandate in J&K has added to the problem,The undoing of congress wrong notions is taking time to tackle the proper solution,First this first : He moved the existing non performing weak govt to come down,Army revamped in Areas of strategic locations to avoid indulgence by Pak,Improve relations with other neighbors to strengthen the domestic issues of voilence against a common man.
    The Way is on the way solution will come he is strong politically aligned to the common goal lets wait and see.
    2) A relation is not defined in a HUG, when the other parts of the world civilisation started we as a country used to wear silk wear to show our culture to the world…Lets see the Hug in unwanted situations will give a low meaning to relations,he is not diluted the basic ground rules of his operations, his sangh pracharak rules are still strong,he has the ability to predict things and utter words to make the People at both sides understand that if anything goes wrong with your state i am not responsible, being predictable is the way of life for a leader to evolve from sights of opaque approach which you (shekar Gupta) has seen from the yester years..change your spectacle..
    3) the Balance sheet of Modi requires one more look by Journo Team, he has made india strong as of now there is still a contingent liability head which needs to be dealt with which any other prime minister dare to touch because of accumulated rust of his predecessors,Raj dharma requires one more term to get to the roots of the problems.Chinese are always selfish, If not doklam or wahan they will start blocking your memebership, block global terrorist lists or make economy plunder for money,Diplomatically they are to dealt and most of the Economy is having a farely good back up. Now US has started resisting the continuance of chinese domination in US making hence some where between the lines Chinese needs to be dealt with proper iron hand, Modi is waiting for a chance to strike back. from his armoury and stage is set for elections lets give Modi doctrine another thrust to start giveing results.

    Wishing you most and more
    Awaiting your reply

    If time permits pl go thro infinitheism website and also interview pl

    • What is BJP govt’s policy towards America and China is unclear. Modi govt. has failed to invite Trump to India or have any bilateral summit. On the other hand Modi flies to China at the drop of the hat without securing any concession on trade deficit, NSG membership or Pakistani terrorists.

      As regards to J&K it’s an old stand of India to not accept any third party into it. Blaming the previous governments to hide one’s own failure is immature. No one expects an overnight solution to a long pending issue but how the issue is being tackled, what policies are being followed give some indication towards future. In fact, BJP government has not demonstrated any concrete policy in last 5 years.

      I failed to understand why Modi Bhakts become defensive if some critical view is presented about the government. This is the second full term of BJP government and this time with a massive majority and yet a clear and effective policy on foreign and economic affairs is missing. I hope to see more similar balanced articles from The Print covering issues of export and economic slowdown, farmers and employment crises, dilutions of constitutional institutions etc.

  11. China’s stand on Masood is not a surprise. Everyone expected that they would block it again. Shekhar sir has accused Modi of being predictable but I would argue that Chinese policy is also equally predictable.

    The support that India got from other P5 countries like US and especially France is a shining example that Modi’s style has generally worked. We can’t logically expect it to work with every nation specially with China and Pakistan because it takes two to tango & those two countries have set policies towards India which is not going to change no matter how hard India tries.

    So instead of wasting our diplomatic energy on Pakistan and China, we must focus on dealing with our problems all by ourselves. People like Masood are our problem and we should deal with them decisively by covertly eliminating them without worrying too much about consequences.

  12. Office arm chair and ac environment bound self proclaimed expert Shekhar Gupta needs to build his narrative from last 70 years and not present far fetched prejudiced left version of ground realities …he needs to look into what we are getting and not what he think in his high head we should get …Nehru attachments wont give him Rajya Sabha Seat at least for next few years ,so he be more truthful to himself if not for nation…the situational interest of all nations are important to them ,the guiding principle is why bend your back for momentary gains …the economies look for greater strategic gains mutually but do independently make tactical decisions to win battles …in spite of differences if various groups are pressurizing China to give up support to Pakistanis ,Gupta,s favorites ,he should accede this is a victory may be however small ….Shekar Saheb the reality of managing the real world is outside the domain of cocktail circuits…. suggest you to start writing fictions …it will pay you handsomely ,you have the knack of exploiting superficiality of your knowledge to weave a story ….

  13. Humbly, sir, you have missed the following points,
    1. India and Myanmar took a joint operation in Myanmar to destroy KACHIN army supported by CHINA, in this context the moderated response in the MASOOD AZHAR issue can clearly be understood.
    2. With regards to America, closer cooperation in myriads of the field shows India has deep cooperation. For eg, recently agreed to factor in 6 nuclear plants in a trade deal with America.
    3. Support coming from America against the backdrop of PULWAMA attack is also left in your article.
    4. Over looming danger on Pakistan in spite of support from China to be blacklisted under FATF.
    5. Global narrative against China as a country supporter of terrorist has been built. And open the pandora box for the viability of the CPEC project
    6.. In the strategic turf war against China and America, India needs a room for strategic manoeuvrability, so govt is right in dealing with the current situation.
    7 “swadeshi” as a policy was not stated by govt, then how could you believe it is MODI’s foreign policy. The natural outcome of mak in India
    is SWADESI, and as a democratic country, Indian citizens have all the right to be a part of any movement which they believe is right.

    In conclusion, sir, I would request you to please analyse things taking all the dimension otherwise you may end up with attributional errors emanating from your political views.

  14. Having some diplomatic work experience myself, I must say that this article has very well articulated the follies. Whilst personalities and chemistry between leaders do matter, International relations requires a long term strategy based on a deep understanding of core interests of each Nation. This Govt. has sadly concentrated on ” event/headline management” followed by poor implementation on account poor planning.

  15. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab)

    The column is NATIONAL INTEREST !

    Ironically, for NaMo neither nation nor its interests have any meaning at all !

    His only and only interests are insatiable lust for power, megalomania, bragging, boasting and exaggerations !

    Shekhar Sahib, are we not groping in the dark when one who is at the helm of affairs of the nation almost all these five years not at all ready
    to admit the blunders and bitter experiences bent upon not learning from the past ? You asserted five fatal follies of Modi doctrine paved
    way for India’s humiliation at the hands of China, does any one in the ruling party ready to buy your thoughts on the issue in question ?
    NaMo and his bandwagon of BJP and sister organisations tend to cover up the follies- lapses whether fatal or otherwise to sustain in power !

    NaMo during his regime has not given his ministers any free hand just to hog the lime light himself not at all utilising-believing the capability of his ministers ! He grabbed the position of Finance Minister declaring Demonetisation himself , Defence Minister while renegotiating and altering Rafale Fighter Aircraft Deal himself and Foreign Affairs not allowing liberty to Mrs.Sushma Swaraj to improve foreign relations as well as India’s foreign policy and what not ? That is why there is a flip- flop in India foreign policy, in the long run facing the music ?

    Did anyone raise any fingers at the disastrous DEMONETISATION and flawed GST !

    On the sensitive Rafale Fighter Aircraft Deal saga, NaMo and BJP are putting forth lame excuses and defence relying on plain lies even in the Honorable Apex Court too !

    It is very evident so far that NaMo is fond of ” Heads I win, tales you loose” – a self-adulatory style ! Amazingly, NaMo does not believe in reducing confrontations and hostilities but multiplying these at home and abroad too !

    Masood Azhar and his Jaish-e-Mohammed are not something new and surprising stark realities !

    Why to fritter away energies and time on Masood Azhar, Pakistan, UNSC , terrorist camps in Pakistan ? The real challenge before India is to learn the art of defending its borders and territory strongly, smartly and stoutly without playing any politics over NATIONAL SECURITY issue !

    If Masood Azhar is designated a GLOBAL TERRORIST does it imply that it is the ultimate solution of the problem ?

    I really pity UNSC, world and super world powers ! Why are these unduly glorifying Masood Azhar-its Jaish-e-Mohammed even by mentioning names ! A non-issue did find undue prominence and significance on United Nations Security Council meeting agenda four times and blocked everytime by China !

    The UN and other nations of the world are indeed non-plussed and at their wits end fanning importance to a non-issue for the past many years
    meaninglessly !

    Now NaMo and his army is cursing Masood Azhar and his Jaish-e-Mohammed whereas it was NDA government led by Late Mr. Atal Bihari
    Vajpayee let a prize catch lodged in India’s prison go scot free !

    Then it is very bizarre and mind boggling that even after more than a month’s period (Pulwama Suicide Terror Attack February , 14 ) NaMo has
    not been able to tell the nation how the lone suicide car bomb attacker could throw dust into eyes of Jammu and Kashmir intelligence and security forces to successfully complete his mission uninterrupted ? Why no responsibility for this lapse has so far been fixed on anyone for the failure to check/curb/ forbid the suicide car bomb attacker even when there is Centre’s Rule ? Why CVC , CBI and ED so smart and sharp( if not intelligence agencies) agencies not swung into action by now ? Balakot strategic aerial attacks would not be able to cover up this grave lapse on NaMo’s part !

    We Indians must not overlook and ignore all these open secrets and hard-harsh realities !

    It is in the interest of nation to get rid of megalomaniac, authoritarian, totalitarian Modi regime during ensuing Lok Sabha Polls !
    The voters should exercise their right to franchise keeping in view the aforementioned maladies and drawbacks of the Modi regime !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  16. HOW COME “China is India’s friend, not a hostage to its nationalism.” CAN NO LONGER BE SEEN ON YOUTUBE AFTER 87 VIEWS.? WHY AND HOW IT IS REMOVED?

  17. God save India from such utterly useless authors. A country’s foreign affairs policy and every statement is based on many considerations. Modi Govt. has shown the spine and deftness while protecting strategic and economic interests. Who is this Shekhar Gupta? He seem to be a pseudo intellectual.

  18. When looking into world forum is a concern, it will be dangerous to sit with American camp. As world has to slowly polarise again between USA and China, sitting into American camp means, Russia and China will be more happy to accept Pakistani friendship. India not in a position to safeguard its military aspects be it land, sea or sky, , if any such development comes out. All its military equipments that are Russian origin will be breached. Understanding instrumentation as flow of some guarded frequencies, all will become a waste overnight. Pushing Russia into enemy camp means grounding all fields strength and to start with zero. Basically, as when Indian scenario is different. If it still have to shift hand, it need minimum of 10 years of preparation.

  19. To begin with, I blame actually Indian psychic, for our weak action during tough time. Be it Kandhar or say recent Balakot battle, India when challenged with ruggedness of truth of a war, we expose our weaknesses. To be very frank we basically bow down. To be very fare, India is at the state of war with Pakistan since at least 1989. If some countries’ parliament is attacked, hotels(citizens) are attacked, army convey is bombed, country is at the state of war. Only difference is, we have accepted it as part of our life. No country deserve world stage unless it can defend its own people and its border well. I applause Pakistan as a nation, that threw away all its main stray fighters at first moment of the battle. That show its audacity. And in a battle of thirty minutes, when it sensed that country is at advantage stage, it opened its diplomatic channel to cease the lead and to change the momentous lead into a permanent drawing. But it does not mean India, for showing mercy, should not reap the blunder made by enemy during wartime. However, when such permanent lead gives a country strength and position at world forum, we should not undermine the time to call for peace. I don’t think final word in the ongoing operation has been written, hopefully battle should continue. Anyhow, our purchase order indicates, we will be at advantage post 2020. And country should follow i equation rather emotion. Author should not forget that purpose of 1961 Indo China war was to assert China strength at world forum which it did and so have a ticket for UNSC. US economy is fundamentally based upon the economics of war. But when it comes to India, we zoom in to specific events and misses the plot at wrong moment of time. Literature author like Arundhati Roy class start guiding nation about the ways nation should surrender. And precious moments get lost. When world forum had denounced that India have not bombed across border but only indicatively, India should have used this privilege rather ironically winning useless argument.

  20. The 56 inch is only with regard to Pakistan. But pusillanimous with regard to China. In other words, it is “hard” on smaller people but “soft” on tough people. This is the policy of a fox who wants to survive in the “jungle”.

  21. Indeed, a very apt analysis of the foreign policy under Modi. However tend to disagree as far lessons of Balakot attack. India is unnecessarily looking towards UN for declaration on Azhar. The Chinese response was predictable, for its predicament of its creation.As far as the vulnerability to another misadventure by Pakistan sponsored groups, the firm response has definitely raised the cost to an exorbitant level, a level which it all weayher friend China can ill afford with huge trade deficit that India has with it.
    Let us all appreciate it that power doesn’t always flow from the barrel of a gun, but as well from the might of a consumer too.

  22. An excellent commentary about Indian foreign policy since last five years. first of all the designated FM of India Mrs. Sushma Swaraj remained a ceremonial entity only while the prime minister for all purposes himsel functioned as FM. the Nepal blockade, Doklam, were all NSA-PMO joint misdemeanors. likewise D-doctrine about Kashmir failed miserably. as author did point out in a previous column by him that bilateralism between Pakistan and India is thing of past now. anything they will intend to discuss will require a big powet intervention which is a major failure of indian foreign policy.

  23. Shekhar has as always spotted the not so obvious and quite clearly brings out certain areas which require deep strategic and long term approach. American Partnership- what’s the way forward, we still behave like a doubtful alliance- to be or not to be. Engaging China on trade and politics is clearly a low for this govt however hard the task may be. Lot of good points here to consider for the government. After all nation first party and individual last…

  24. Should we ban China products or British companies like HUL, Reckitt Benckiser, Cadbury & GSK ???
    From last 60 years CIA and Mi6 supported Pakistan even though all the 4 wars was initiated by pak, 2 million Bangladeshi killed and raped by military in 1971 war. CIA made sure that AQ khan is released from Dutch police when they thought he was into nuclear proliferation. Americans and Brits allowed Chinese economy to grow allowed huweie and Heiar to buy American brands like GE but they made sure they put sanctions on Russia,Iran,Korea. In the 2000 itself being a graduate student i knew Huweie was giving tough competition to Cisco by reverse engg and selling it for low cost why was US quiet? Brits over 200 years of rule have understood that Indians will surpass every other country and may propagate Hinduism therefore as a long term plan Americans and Brits gave Petro money to middle east being aware of the Jihad culture history in Muslim world. To initiate two front conflict one through Pakistan, Kashmir and large Muslim population within India to cause internal turbulence. To make sure that constant funds support is extended to Pakistan and Muslim population in India Americans thwarted any work towards electric car and sabotaged Electric car from GM in 1980. Americans could have taken help of Iranians in WAR against Afghanistan but they want only Pakistan as partner. They put sanctions on Iran to make it look legitimate step for nuclear proliferation but they negotiate with North Korea which can be annihilated with one nuclear missile but Trump puts sanctions on Iran straight away no negotiations. Its an eye wash CIA, MI6 and KGB wants India destroyed should we self destruct for 40 military personnel’s or wait 20 years until we become economically strong military defense technology wise. In 1971 war Russia told India in clear terms that all 91,000 POW should be returned to Pakistan as per Geneva convention not allowing time for India to negotiate Kashmir. One of the reason India did nuclear test in 1974 it understood that India cannot depend completely on Russia. Russia interest was to keep Kashmir issue alive so that it could sell defense technology to India and USA to Pakistan. That is the reason Simla agreement say no third party involvement in Kashmir. Russia and USA never fired a single missile on themselves but look at whom they supplied arms to Cuba,Syria,Iraq,Vietnam etc. India was always non alignment movement but 1971 war forced us to take sides with Russia the reason our socialist economy grew at Hindu rate of growth until 1991 by which we grew very little. But China started to grow by 1980 it had first mover advantage not much competition. India also tried its share of monarchy in 1980 during emergency but irony is we celebrate opposition to emergency and the leaders who opposed it like JP Narayan, Advani, Atal, Sub swamy etc.

    If china is such a problem West could make China squeal their 3 generations could remember the financial hardship. When US could put sanctions on Russia why it is afraid of China ?. China was let to develop to keep India in check and china is doing so but subtle way it does not want war with India. China has trade deficit with Taiwan,Korea,Australia,Brazil,Japan all close allies of USA these countries have to just stop exports to China to crash there economy. Instead they could export to India,Vietnam,Indonesia which have same advantage as China like economy of scale and low cost of labor.

    There is so many aspects where general public even of western countries could not understand why CIA did what it did.

    1. Why cannot USA take help of Iran instead of Pakistan when Osama Bin laden was found in Pak CIA knew that Pakistanis were helping Tali-ban covertly.
    2. Why does US help Sunni Saudi even though they know Saudi are doing War crimes in Syria,Yemen, Afghanistan & 80 percent of 9/11 were Saudi citizens including Osama.
    3. Recently Rotterdam UK a scandal of sexual abuse of British Teens came to limelight which was going on for last 30 years. The sexual abuse was perpetrated by 80% Pakistani Muslims and 2 Sikhs. And yes Scotland Yard is the best police in the world and MI6 is best intelligence agency thought its a racism issue.
    4. Why did US attack Iraq since no WMD were found and destabilized Iraq lead to ISIS and Arab spring.
    5. Why does US negotiate with N Korea and sanction Iran? NK does not even have a missile which can reach US they can just annihilate NK with one missile.
    6. Why does US does not have a counter plan for China OBOR because west just want to sit on their asses and does not want other underdeveloped countries to grow which might compete with them in future. The percentage of Aid given by west to other countries is .05 % of their GDP except some Nordic countries which account for 2%.
    7. Drug addiction and terrorism in Afghanistan indirectly supported by US. When Russians left AFG opium production was 180 tons when US are leaving on Dec 2018 its 6,500 tons of opium production.
    8. Drug addiction and terrorism in Pakistan indirectly supported by US by giving them military funding around 32 billions USD. Nuclear designs were shared by AQ Khan
    to North Korea and Iran but instead of putting sanctions on Pakistan they are doing it on NK and Iran. Now in 1974 India did its first Nuclear test CIA and MI6 know that once India does test Pakistan for sure will try to be nuclear. Now see this AQ Khan a nuclear scientist from Pakistan is allowed to work in Nuclear Centrifuge in Europe after India has done nuclear test in response to China nuclear test in 1970.CIA stops Duesch authority to arrest AQ Khan when they found suspicious activity by khan.
    9. Burma and Afghanistan are top producers of narcotics in the world and guess who is neighboring country India and China will not be affected since its an autocratic country it can monitor and control both supply and consumption but the real victim if not properly managed through internal security will be India.
    10- Read the link how Brits made sure part of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(Gilgit-Baltistan not the thin POK along Indian Kashmir) was acquired by Pakistan not India
    11. Finally listen what brits did and what US might be doing to India. We should be proud of our intelligence services and Military that we are not disintegrated as planed by Brits.

  25. LOL.
    Another COUPTA Ji CRAP.
    Chowkidar is winning so all nervousness spilling out in form of FLUFF pcs.

  26. Authur’s name doesn’t need to be read but from content only one can say such person must boot licker of Dynasty

  27. Great assessment, even though the use of the word ‘humiliation’ is excessive. Did we expect China to declare Masood a terrorist? NO. As Anil Kaul in his comment states ‘China Is the elephant in the room’ but for whom? For Modi. It is here that Rahul Gandhi’s comment resonates that ‘Modi is scared of China’. It is rare for me (a strict anti-dynast) to agree with any of Gandhi’s comments, but in this particular case, there is substance in it. It conforms to Shekhar Gupta’s observation that Modi is selective. And that firmly places Modi in the category of regular politicians, rather than exceptional leaders such as Indira Gandhi.

    Leaders face great challenges and commit blunders, but after so much Nehru bashing, if our PM is even scared to take China’s name, and thinks that he can sway China by means of diplomacy, then he is living in cockooland. China is now too adept at playing the power game, and even erstwhile superpowers are treading cautiously; India is just a little irritant in its quest for the superpower stature. This was a great opportunity for Modi to cut the noisy clutter of our democracy and call out China for its hypocrisy in public. That could have been a game changer. But right now (in spite of Raj Chengappa’s article on Balakot), it seems that Modi keeps awake because he is too insecure about the 2019 results.

  28. If Modi Govt had favored US you will be the person to blame him first for ignoring Russia and Neighbor China. China’s favor for Pakistan is their expansionist policy which they are not going to undo even if the nation was US. Everything of yours even if accepted Indian position in relation to China in comparison to 2014 is still stronger. When Xi was taking swings with Modi, the Chinese Army was facing Indian Army for far too long and it was forced to withdraw due to straight talk by Modi

  29. The main reason China continues to support Pakistan is its huge investment in the new Silk Roads and CPEC strategy.
    All other nations are with India on the JeM issue so we should applaud the GOI to at least achieving this.
    Re trade deficit with China, this has been so for a long while and GOI should promote development within India
    so as to minimise Chinese imports eg in our housing complex, Indian companies could not deliver bathroon suites
    on time but Chinese company was able to do so. So, India must make ‘Make in India’ a success, irrespective of who
    forms the govt.

  30. Excellent analysis.
    China has for long been the “elephant in the room”. The key to peace in our region, including Kashmir, lies with China. Trade defecit with China has gone on for too long. Previous governments haven’t dealt with this either. Makes me wonder if this is a strategic decision, to allow the Chinese a bigger stake.
    If so, it doesn’t seem to have worked so far.

    • Anil, my analysis and understanding of economics and social policy choices suggests that India has committed a biggest stupidity by letting Indian industry die. I am aware of our WTO obligations, but it does not mean that we allow every low-value adding product (plastic clips included) to come from China. Successive governments have been excited about appreciation of rupee, even when they know that it kills the domestic low-value adding business activity. At the same time, we don’t have Indian entrepreneurs who have the money and the vision that allows them to build manufacturing facilities that Chinese firms have done. At the same time, the Chinese government has invested in its public sector to ensure that they are produce for global markets. Our governments have been killing our public sector to ensure business for private sector (often in the name of efficiency) – a case in point AI and BSNL. Both have been sacrificed for sake for you know who – whos who of Indian big business. Next in the line is the defence firms – HAL being the recent example, where you exclude a public sector firm and let a foreign firm offer business (I am not talking about the politics of friendship as yet) to near bankrupt business firm. We have a deadly combination of self-serving politician and businessmen, ably supported by a bunch of people in our civil service who will sell themselves for nothing. Call themselves great nationalists at the same. You see the Chinese leaders put their country’s interest ahead of everythingelse. That is, why the biggest global firms have invested in China even when they complain about IP protection.

  31. Within your five point context.
    1. President Trump raise the issue against trade imbalance with India in 2018. They belated this issue especially with India but their trade war declaration with other country started from the presidential campaign. This make Modi a little lazy because they raise lately. Talks were limited to media only but officially American have informed their issue very lately.
    Amazon and Walmart are very powerful and very competitive their loyal customer are not going to change. Indian goverment did unfavourable environment but the domestic player are not good fighter. So beating Amazon and Walmart is not easy for Indian domestic players.
    The Chinese investment you are talking about is like this, those e commerce and digital payment company have gone to California for venture/angel/seed/entrepreneurial fund first but their projected not fully accepted by American venture capitalist, then Indian entrepreneur have to find other sources, Chinese investment came but Chinese took risk and that is working.
    American venture capitalist did not invest in this segment because they putted their money in the same kind of business back home and wanted to expand in India and were expecting to come to India so putting in same business and competing with self is not rational.
    2. Chinese products are satisfying the middle class, a larger voter base, but American products are replaceable here in India with cheap goods from China or Indian, But Chinese price range is not replaceable with Indian manufacturer. Chinese pricing is killing. So putting problems to the middle class is risky. out of nationalism people do this kind of stuff but when money goes out of pocket nationalism does not last 4 weeks.
    3. I am agreed with your third point.
    4. Predictability w.r.t Pakistan is al right because Pakistan should know that Modi will come hard. If modi goes harder than the previous attempt then predictability is good. Pakistan is not going to wage a conventional war. Pakistan will all ways avoid direct war. They may send terror plot. In case of china predictability is not god for India. Agreed with this.
    5. The fourth time of bringing Masood Azahar is started by Frances and co sponsored by other country (s). This is France’ own initiated attempt as chair of the UNSC. Yes India’s name is included but Masood Azhar is a security threat not only to India but to this region and so to the world. Its not only India humiliated but also USA,France,UK, Bangladesh ,Australia those were co sponsored the matters.

    China has last listen to the NSG waiver only but after Xi jingping, China has disappointed India in each and every issues, Not a single event resolved. Xi jingping has lunch several macho policy against India. Its not about Modi. It is about India, how Chinese see India as potential future threat. so they are dealing the future threat NOW.

  32. China is our biggest trading partner and imports are about ₹ 5 lac crores seriously denting our ‘Make in India’ campaign. And PM Modi thinks he can leverage this economic relationship to achieve geo strategic goals of which closing the Pak terror tap is an important component. But India has emerged as the biggest geo strategic opponent of PRC since the signing of 2000 Indo-US Vision Statement, the Indo-US Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation, and culminating in the US-India-Vietnam-Japan-Australia strategic cooperation primarily to contain PRC influence in Asia Pacific. Similarly Pak and it’s terror machinery is embraced by PRC to bleed India and keep it off balance while keeping the Pak based terror groups away from Xinjiang. The answer to terror is counter-terror of which the first step should be to withdraw passive and rather defeatist nuclear ‘No First Use’ guarantee which we have given to Pakistan in particular and the world in general. That withdrawal must be done now. Before the election. Let the Opposition take a call on this. A clear message should go to Pakistan and PRC that terror will not be tolerated. The Pak political and military elite must feel the heat of our firm resolve not to accept terror – nuclear or jihadi. Chest thumping over Balakot is a far cry from the requirements of a policy of blood and iron.
    (Posted on India Today on 13.3.19)

  33. This article is spot on for most of your observations. However, India must consider what relationship we want to have with China. Do we see them as an adversary or as a friend? If we see them as an adversary, then, as this article rightly points out, we should take steps to correct our trade imbalance with China. If we see them as a friend, then we have to find out what we can do to support them. Do we acknowledge to them that they are the number one superpower in our neighborhood? Or do we challenge their superpower status?

    Also, China’s friendship with Pakistan is not strategic, it is transactional, just as the US’s friendship with Pakistan during the Cold War was.

  34. It is easy for armchair strategists and tacticians to wax eloquent about “flaws” and “follies”, but a brief look at the Himalayan blunders of an intellectual giant like Nehru shows the problems any leader faces in this world of self-catering, narrow-minded, cynical and short-sighted foreign powers. Be mindful of that Mr Gupta!

  35. Shekhar…u r such a jack ass…. All these articles r paid & sponsered by congress..
    Shame on u..

    • Large hearted – and good natured – enough to let the bouquets and brickbats sail through the windows, which are always open, to allow fresh air and sunlight.

  36. Professional diplomats – including many retired ones, like former NSA Menon – could have been a source of much good advice, for some of our most important foreign policy challenges are almost as old as the Republic. MEA is a vast storehouse of institutional memory, both successes and missteps. They all appear to have been marginalised, starting with EAM. 2. Many view the block on Azhar as China reaffirming its unwavering support for Pakistan. It is possible to discern also very harsh hostility towards the government. Something has really got the dragon’s goat. They are mighty displeased.

  37. Modi is a ‘superficial’ Prime Minister which is reflected in his foreign policy as well. Only a Superficial Prime Minister can believe that hugging and charming can win friends among nations. Domestic policies include fudging statistics, attacking the opposition, spending too much money on advertisements, keeping silence on crucial occurrences, craving for photo ops, etc. He has no grip on the substance of any thing whether it is external matters or domestic.

  38. Your point 4 took too much political debth because I don’t think Mr Modi plays terror attack as a political game, rather he carefully makes moral moves to retaliate and that seems to have worked all the time. I feel he wouldn’t even bend in front of China in taking any military retaliatory action.
    I would also like to point here that USA has always been the country which we haven’t share common interests with untill now but still the government and the people are very sceptical about the Americans. I think it will take some more years for both the countries to come closer to each other as it is said that only time can heal some wounds.

  39. The writer seems to be in task to make India understand the China’s clout and their concerns and ridicule the Modi Govt while ignoring his achievements. It’s very sad and deplorable that these Modi hating brigade even neglects the the national interest. Is there anything to learn from the Chinese media and other national media of the world .

  40. Yes, absolutely right. Ever since the first Prime Minister Nehru to Modi, our leaders are more concerned about building their international image. Indira was somewhat exception, who damn cared about her international image. She was more concerned about her domestic image, knowing that votes come from domestic politics. In addition to the blunders sited here, an other mystery is the total irrelevance and absence of Russia in this Pulwama, Balkot and Masoor Azhar cases. Everyone is talking about China’s Veto and support of UK, US and France, among the P+, and all the 10 non-permanent members of UN Security Council for the resolution 1267. But, the silence and total absence of Russia’s name in this scenario is indeed a mystery. More intriguing is the NO mention of Russia, by all stakeholders, both in politics and media. What inference one should draw by the total absence of Russia, our time tested all weather friend?

  41. 1. Harley Davidson – The ones who can afford it will buy it with or without tariffs.
    2. Stents, medicines and medical equipment- Require pricing regulation, given the fact that we are still one of the lowest ranked in Per Capita Income. So let’s give ourselves lots of slack in this area.
    3. China, Pak, USA – This is a matter of Geopolitics. Something that rumbles on for tens of years. No one can see an outcome w.e.f immediately. So time and sustained work is important here.
    4. Masood Azhar and his likes – They come and go. Just like any other human. The question we should be asking is; Do we as a nation have the will to pursue and prosecute?
    5. Once you start No.4 it’s an abyss.

  42. What about the communists and left-leaning people who will always criticise the US and don’t say anything about China? Can you also expose them? In fact much of India’s foreign policy has been anti-US starting from the time of Nehru and and until the Indo-US nuclear deal. All your foreign policy experts and left-liberals wouldn’t stop advocating to keep pleasing Chinese and keep opposing the US. This idea of suggesting China humiliated India is deplorable. They have been humiliating India since 1962 and our weak response to them has been the sole reason. At least Modi did stand up to them and humiliated China in Doklam. Mr. Gupta reserves lots of harsh words for Modi and don’t use strong words while praising him for good things.

  43. Hello,
    Cant agree with you more. I must also add that Foreign policy is not Modi’s forte, ( not that economics is for that matter). He is not in the league of , not even a distant pale shadow of what prime ministers like Nehru, Indira, Vajpayee or Narasimha Rao was. Even the diminutive Lal Bahadur Shastri was a game in diplomacy. Trump may be petulant and impetuous. But he has the leverage and room to be so , being the CEO of the most powerful nation. Modi needs to come down to earth and face the stark realities with the acumen of a statesman and not a kakhi trouser clad RSS storm trooper. But then conceit trumps!

    • Mr Gupta is a ‘secret’ Modi admirer. I can’t understand why people in the comments section keep abusing him. In this article itself, he recognises that Modi has stature and charisma. Modi is, at best, a pretentious man. All the ideas about stature and charisma are manufactured by the media machines that he pays for (including that from the public money). He has copied UPA schemes (many), changed their names and called them their own. He is unthinking and uncaring – DeMon, not investing in agriculture even after 2 consecutive droughts, manipulating petrol price increases/decreases around the election time, spending public money on self-promotion, combining party work with the government work for rallies and then abusing everyone including dead people (political leaders and our ancestors who according to him did nothing). To boot it, the man thinks that he has been ordained by God to do God’s work. I am sure that the God can do his work himself. Given all this, I don not quite understand what Charisma or Stature people keep talking about.

      Modi keeps mum on all the social issues that are not convenient to the ideology that has brought him here. His trolls call everyone anti-nationals. You can neither challenge the man’s policies nor his behaviour without being abused. I have never seen a man who claims to be from humble origins, and abuses all of us the whole day – just to portray himself in good light. His spinners will tell us that the elections promises are not meant to be met – they were just a jumla. how can one be so insincere and carry a stature, Mr Gupta?

      • Fair point.
        Fractionation of the Indian polity / society/ institutions will be Modi’s legacy. The damage to all spheres including foreign policy will take years to repair.
        Having said that, Shekhar’s use of the word ” stature” might be a reflection of the current status the PM enjoys ((notwithstanding the process that got him there)

  44. Sir your article is too much below par.
    No incursion by Chinese troops is regarded as insignificant by you. Chinese opposition in UN is regarded as kick on the chin.
    In what case do you think China would have supported sanction on Masood Azhar.

    Pak expecting a retaliation by India is again considered bad by you.

    You need to introspect on your neutrality.

      • He is a wash out . In every sense.Sustained by imaginary popularity stature and charisma. propped up by people like Gupta

    • China is immediate neighbour with a centralised politburo for 10 years as well as a mighty army and a porous border with an eye on our states, let alone the chinese premier has become supreme leader. Which makes us give them lax as we can’t make what China makes even spending more. We have to keep that in mind, however U.S.A is more concerned about Chinese agression in trade as well as geo politics. So to sum it up it’s for the time being making David more powerful than Goliath instead of balancing them out on trade or foreign policy.

  45. Shekhar seems to have donned usual left liberal pseudo secular cap. It was expected that China would veto on Masood Azhar otherwise they would have lost their leverage on Pakistan and their investments there. What is important for us is that the rest of the world is with us on the issue of terror emanating from Pak. As regards our trade deficit with China, he has a point as we are giving them a long rope. We need to seriously think of this and take appropriate measures to reduce the deficit quickly. Though how quickly we can do it is an issue. About domestic politics and foreign policy etc, it is all usual bakwas. If Balakot or surgical strikes would have been unsuccessful, Modi would have lost his face and would be staring at defeat by now. Give him the credit for taking the risk.

  46. Doesn’t the whole world require resources from China ergo they turn a blind eye to their ‘Salami-slicing policy’? So, doesn’t that mean that even if we apply tariffs on Chinese goods, China can apply pressure on USA to persuade us to back-off?

  47. Your point 5 must be the first. Has external affairs and defence been politicised so much earlier.
    Plus I loved the PM when he had said once before 2014 that he wanted two external affairs portfolios. One two create perception in the world and another for neighborhood. This did not happen

  48. International relTions are now a days momentary except with principled european block..the punjabi acfinity to congress and foreign skins more important to mr shekar to ridicule mr modi….you cannot throw him out

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