Modi’s diplomatic ‘conquests’ are history and India’s foreign relations resemble a train-wreck. Here’s how government’s missteps have broken its own momentum.

India’s external and strategic environment is looking like a train-wreck and it isn’t just to do with the American humiliation of “postponing” the vaunted “two-plus-two” dialogue for the third time.

The picture today has no resemblance to what we saw until about a year earlier. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then hopping from one capital to another, hugging heads of states. India was a rising power and Modi, its powerful, extroverted, energetic new leader, a star. He wowed the world with his decisive, and positive intervention on the Paris climate deal, for example.

A picture of Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of ThePrint

Much of this has unravelled over the past six months. India’s decline from global consciousness has been as rude as its rise was steady and smooth.

Modi supporters will protest. But, while political partisans can be delusional, a nation, with pretensions of great power status, can’t duck reality. We need to examine why a great forward march has fizzled out of gas. Some factors are beyond India’s control, such as a Black Swan event like the rise of Donald Trump. At the same time, recent pro-active blunders have made India’s external relations a man-made disaster.

Leaders bring their preferred approach to diplomacy. The Modi enthusiasts in South Block celebrate the fact that his style of diplomacy is transactional. This is also endorsed in the BJP and sections of the strategic community friendly to it, which is nearly all of it today barring the odd, brave sceptic. As a consequence, we spent the first three years of his government celebrating one “great diplomatic victory” after another. India was admitted to three global missile-nuclear technology groupings as a responsible power. The American policy in the subcontinent was fully dehyphenated. A strategic relationship looked a reality. India’s external environment had been improving since Bill Clinton’s second term. Policy continuity, fuelled by 15 years of economic growth, had set the direction. Modi, with his energy, personal style and a full majority accelerated it nicely. What threw the train off the rails?

Two external negatives were not the Modi government’s fault: The rise of Trump and a new Chinese assertion. Trump’s actions, particularly the change in Iran policy directly led to rising oil prices, destabilising India’s domestic economy and politics. The Chinese push for CPEC, unmindful of Indian concerns, and its moves in Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bangladesh showed that China is no longer willing to leave the subcontinent as a zone of India’s pre-eminence. The days when a George W. Bush could speak to Hu Jintao on the phone to get India an NSG waiver are over. Xi won’t listen, but more importantly, Trump won’t do it. Because, if Modi is transactional, Trump is more so.

The Modi government’s greatest blunder is to exploit sensitive external relations in its domestic politics. The first essential attribute of successful leaders in history is strategic patience. They move firmly, but never get so committed publicly as to deny themselves room for manoeuvre, front, back, sideways. In building strategic relations, the best leaders bat like Sunil Gavaskar, not Virender Sehwag. Modi has left himself no such room.

In all major state election campaigns he made his foreign policy “conquests” the centre-piece, and it worked. But there are perils in declaring victory too soon. It narrows your strategic space. Instead of keeping quiet as the past governments did, it made one set of local, tactical and limited “surgical” raids into a feat rivalling the securing of Siachen in the spring of 1984. Indira Gandhi never even whispered about it. And she wasn’t stupid or apolitical.

If you use tactical actions for immediate political benefit, you close your options going ahead. Worse, your enemies know that. Encouraged by the popular response in the Uttar Pradesh elections, it led to much irresponsible loose talk around the establishment that some such action, albeit on a much larger scale later in 2018, could swing national elections. A short, sharp skirmish you could end by declaring victory. With Doklam, and subsequent moves, an alarmed China made it clear that it won’t let India flex its military muscle beyond a point. It’s left no doubt that Pakistan is under its protection now.

Similar misjudgements were made on trade. Radical controls on prices of medical devices especially stents were made a part of election discourse. It closed your options when Trump, even more transactional, reacted. His fight for lower duties over Harley Davidson bikes is hilarious. But a handful of large engine bikes are sold in India and no Indian manufacturer is threatened by these imports. You could have given the man-child of White House this little victory, brought in direct subsidies for the poor on stents instead of sweeping price controls and salvaged the situation. You can’t do it when you make economic nationalism central to your politics. Definitely not when India’s economy has slowed, unable to recover from demonetisation. India has squandered the clout a decade of near-8 per cent growth had given it.

The most poorly kept secret in diplomatic circles is the terrible meeting Modi and Trump had in Manila on 13 November 2017. Not only did Trump’s behaviour and body language lack his earlier warmth, his conduct bordered on being disrespectful. This came on top of his leaked videos mocking Modi’s manner of speaking. Then Trump hit India on trade. It coincided with British action on visas. It hurts when you’ve been hailing the rising respect for the Indian passport as your big achievement.

It is risky to keep punching above your weight, as India has been lately. You have to be cautious, not reckless, egged on by a Boswellian media, commentariat and unquestioning think tanks. Self-congratulation is a most tempting trap you set for yourself. For four years India has been celebrating becoming a “natural strategic ally” of the US, but has let its military decline. You can’t plan high strategy while your military remains tactical, border defence oriented.

Four years have effectively seen four defence ministers, the current one being an ineffectual photo-op caricature. Our military pensions budget will exceed the salary budget in two years and both are already way above the capital budget. This is a baroque, bulky, outdated military power, not a nifty, punchy, strategic one. You can celebrate the Americans declaring the Asia-Pacific as Indo-Pacific, but you won’t carry strategic weight merely by sending a couple of ships to a fancy allied navies’ exercise. The Chinese make three warships per year. We struggle to make one in three and still take a couple more to fit missiles and sensors on it. After much noise over Make in India and private sector, our achievement is a big cipher. You can throw stuff at me for saying this, but the world knows it. It won’t stop laughing.

Declining military might is compounded by economic slowdown. You can fool your people by changing how you calculate your GDP. It becomes dangerous when you start believing it. There has been breathless talk of the rise of India, of how the world looks up to us for wisdom and direction, that Yoga Day has now become a global celebration of Indian soft power and spirituality to rival Christmas. Watch that speech by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (at the Pranab Mukherjee event) where he triumphantly declared India is on its way to becoming a Vishwaguru (teacher of the world).

Why then is our relationship with our “best, all-weather friend” America on decline, all neighbours in the Chinese embrace, and, barring Bangladesh, hostile and suspicious? How can Trump dare to be boorish with the prime minister of this Vishwaguru? How can Nikki Haley, who’s really not such a somebody in the Trump administration, come to India and order it to change its Iran policy? And check how Modi’s body language has changed in his engagement with Xi. How long has it been since Indian leaders stopped protesting that CPEC is passing through Indian territory in PoK?

It’s time to stop breathless celebration. It will be wiser to take a deep breath, make a reality check, and introspect.

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  1. One is entitled to their views, particularly when a pronounced bias is evident. Diplomacy is not a zero sum game. There have been setbacks but to rubbish the entire foreign policy is an exaggeration. In a fast changing environment, India has to be quick footed without tripping. Our relationships with the Middle East have improved considerably, similarly with ASEAN & Japan. Our African engagements have enhanced too. As for our US relations, one is curious to know, which country has improved it’s relationship with Trump?. Even US’ closest allies have been brushed aside by the temperamental Trump. Finally China. India would do well to be pragmatic, considering the inequality between the two nations. China is bigger, stronger and richer.
    Hence, one would expect a mature and balanced analysis from a senior journalist, or is it asking for too much?

    • Considered a fair comment on Shekhar Gupta’s somewhat biased article. People expect balanced opinions from leading journalists.

    • What mature and balanced analysis? Like your BJP can do no wrong baloney? This is the best part of supporters of the ruling party. That they are deluded and think everything is hunky dory when its not. Whether its the economy or foreign relations, you think everything is good and rosy because you are in a cocoon. A reality check is coming and you will be deeply disappointed next year.

  2. All the Indian politicians are not doing anything for the country . Modi is all concerned about only remaining in power and keeps attaking the opposition – Congress. In rallies all he does is keep saying what the congress did. All the other leaders of the BJP are only concerned about praising Modi all the time and the others who don’t do it just keep quiet. Nobody can object to Modi . Seems like a dictatorial attitude . Everyone knows that. Anyway there is no other leader in the BJP. The entire BJP party of India and its prospects solely set on only and only Modi. So they all keep glorifying him . Only the Siv Sena Uddhav Thakkray speaks against him and the party.
    About the Congrrss they don’t have any programme except speaking against Modi and his works. They should devise a strong strategy about what needs to be done or what they are going to do and not keep shouting about Modi. A parties objectives should not be dictated by the opposition leader. You should set your own goals and proceed .

  3. My thoughts on this article –

    1. Donald Trump is mercurial and transactional as noted by the author. Also he is racist, misogynistic and sexist and lacks the ability to think strategically in the long run. The most important think Trump cares about his personal wealth evident from the fact that he was talking about having beautiful buildings erected on the coast of North Korea right after the Singapore summit. Therefore basing your opinion that the foreign policy is in tatters based on the cold response towards Modi in Manila doesn’t really give you a strong platform to make that argument. Let’s put it out there that Trump is self serving, reality TV president and a horrible human being. Furthermore the US being a democracy means that the country will outlast the unstable, freewheeling, immoral president in power and therefore one should hope post 2020 India’s relationship will the US will be back on track.
    (What the author fails to address here is the humiliating treatment of Trudeau, Macron, Merkel who are leaders of the strongest allies of the United States by Trump. It’s rather a failure on Trump’s part to get along with the world)

    2. Let’s not stroke outrage porn by questioning who Nikki Haley is to ask India to reconsider India’s policy towards Iran or Modi’s body language with Xi Jinping. (China’s GDP is almost 5 times that of India and would be wrong for one to assume India to be on par with China on any front. Also let’s not forget Xi Jingping is an authoritarian leader who’s not really answerable to his people in terms of elections every 5 years nationally and almost every quarter in his provinces. Further he’s not subject to constant criticism which is sometimes called for from his opponents every single day. He can peacefully take up strategic plans such as Made in China 2025 and longer term plans such as that of taking China to higher properity by 2050 etc)

    3. I couldn’t agree more with the author as far as using the surgical raids as a tool to gain political mileage or missteps as far as duties on Harley Davidsons or price capping of stents are concerned. I’m sure these concessions to the US will not severely affect India consumers or business houses significantly and furthermore give the transitional US president who’s engaged in dimplotainment the small victory that his petty mind seeks every now and then.

  4. Shekhar: The most sensible piece on our external relations in four years. No hagiography, no lullaby, no call to arms. Anand Sahay

    • When one does not have anything of substance to say, he resorts to use of bad language. Your language depicts you as a foulmouthed badly bred good for nothing. Speaks volumes of your background Bukkake.

  5. This is not foreign policy analysis. This is psycho analysis without any facts (Modi’s body language, India stopped protesting CPEC). Where is the basis for these nonsensical utterances Gupta? Stick to politics Gupta, you are not a foreign policy analyst. NO ONE in China thinks they won in Doklam, only in Indian left wing media sphere is this a talking point.

  6. Brutal, but in no way wrong. The diplomatic corps in MEA and our embassies abroad represents a fine body of knowledge, experience, expertise. Unclear how candidly they tender advice and how seriously it is taken. High visibility global diplomacy and thoughtful formulation of foreign policy are two entirely different exercises. We have observed China intently as a political and military adversary almost since birth but have been caught by surprise how its economic magnetic field – which can be felt globally – has overwhelmed our influence in South Asia. A reset is required, not just with China.

    • How can we expect any thing better from a third rate lowly educated man, who is publicity crazy to accept candid advice from highly intelligent and experienced hands. Let one not forget that on the other side, he is surrounded by a set of sycophants who repeatedly eulogise him and say he is the best Prime Minister which India has ever had, not realising that they are doing it for their own benefit like the Ambanis, Adanis , Nirad Modi and Mallaya have done, in order to take forward their own self interest.

      • Who says PM Modi does not accept advise from the civil service ? This is patently ignorant and untrue considering even a UPA era civil servant has become a Cabinet minister under NDA and UPA era US Ambassador has become a Foreign Policy adviser to the PM . And on the other hand Modi has no “sycophants” – no ministers or CEOs visit the PMO and Finance ministry like your UPA govt where even low level journalists could get private appointments with ministers. Today even CMs can’t get appointments with the PM or cabinet ministers -forget about Adani or Ambani or any other corporate leader or CEO. Even the media that is partial to PM Modi has no direct contact or interaction to him. Mallya has shown how it was the Gandhi family clan that was close to him and Nirav Modi is busy running from one country to another as the walls and his business are closing down one by one . Unlike the Gandhi residence even today, there is no long line of cars outside the PMO with various corporate leaders and celebrities visiting. This is the first Prime Minister in decades who has reinstalled the iron curtain of separation between government and special interests and lobbyists and NGOs.

        And it is these media posers, small time corporate fixers, NGO lobby and the so-called “intellectuals” who can’t come to terms with being rejected and left like beggars.

      • Prestitutes like you can never think out of the box. You expect heaven in 5 years of Modi rule, however you were just ok with 50 years of Hell of Congress. Afterall, you were well paid by Congress to praise their policy. Even now, you will not leave a change to prove Rahul as masiha and not Pappu.
        Was China, Pakistan, Maldives or for that matter SriLanka then most favorable nations of India prior to Modi, when Rajapaksa of SriLanka was president, Modi was just a CM of Gujarat. During this tenure, China was able to gain huge access to Hambantota port. Further, it was during Modi’s rule that current leader of SriLanka rejected China’s request for military access for Hambantota port.
        Was Pakistan best friend of India prior to Modi? NO. However now a days, we don’t hear bomb blasts my Pak millitants in Indian cities. How was Modi able to achieve this? JUST STATUE QUO DOESNT WORK. one need to take action to change status quo. And that is what Modi is doing. Acting. Things may work or may not, but starting to do is half done. If all Indians support him, success will surely be achieved. Surly criticize him if he is wrong, but just don’t abuse him for nothing.

        • Are you part of Jay Shah deal. You both being Jains ? Can’t you see Modi is taking India down the drain with just Bullet Train ?

  7. This article is so petty. Trump has said that he will impose sanctions on both china and India and any country who deals with Iran. Trump is dealing like that with all countries, not only India (Nikki Haley is just re-iterating what Trump said). Also, If trump behaved boorishly with Modi so did he with many other global leaders, that’s the nature of trump & the difference between him and previous US presidents.

    China is far ahead of india on military might, everybody knows that we have a long way to go and it is going to take time. So is the case with manufacturing also. In 2-3 years of “Make in India” miracles are not going to happen, this probably requires sustained work to up our military might or manufacturing might (minimum 15-20 years). NDA may or may not be right in highlighting the “surgical strike”, different people have different views. Some people are ok with it and some people like you don’t think it is correct.

    Shekhar – you are capable of writing much better articles and people are capable of understanding better as to what is maybe good or bad foreign policies.

  8. Your view will never be endorsed by all who are in touch with latest situation. Your ability of playing like gavaskar can be true for test match and not a onedayer. He failed miserably. International relations are not test match but one day match.

  9. Well written. When action precedes thought and there is self confidence without self awareness some of this is likely to happen.

  10. Why jump to the conclusion so fast? Iran sanctions and oil embargo is still 4 months far. American defence experts already realized the folly of hurting India for Russian defence buys or Iran oil purchase. PM Modi actually played great by befriending China – just showing to US that India can go with China – thus also opening huge investment in India opportunity for China. Looks like that in the whole process, only US is going to get isolated. Today’s picture is actually in making of the later output. In process. But even ‘The Print’ is known to be blindly anti=Modi.

  11. Lol. U say Trump election was out of Modi’s control and yet most of your article talks about Modi and Trump. There are ebbs and flows in every relation. India US is no different. Also diplomatic relations doesnt mean you back down on strategic positions and Indira very widely advertised her stratrgic victory, just that Social Media didnt exist then.

  12. Mr shekar gupta arun shourie believes in superior thinking beyond realities prevailing in eco systm…the world is full of crooked leadership and india did not surrender its core values till date and it wont as long as bjp runs the country..post 26/11 attack india was not even allowed lifting toy gun at pak….modi demobstrated firmness if surgical strike doklam grip to world

  13. You yourself admitted that Modi supporters won’t like this write-up. The article has inaccuracies. You say India spoiled its relations with USA. Question is who is in good relation with Trump? Not Trump himself! Foreign Minister and PM have visited more countries compared to any previous Govt to improve bilateral relations and meet diaspora that remained ignored. Economy, you say is not doing well. We have one of the highest growth rates of GDP in the world and good growth in infrastructure, Autos, Agriculture etc. No signs of poor economic growth. FDIs are robust. Corruption has decreased. Cleanliness, sanitation, infrastructure and standard of living of poorest of poor has definitely gone up during last four years.

  14. Modi has proved that he is not a statesman who understands how diplomacy works in international relations. Shekhar has rightly analysed that Modi had always been eager to exploit every international event or relation for the domestic political use.
    He didn’t hesitate even in exploiting the Army mission in POK and turning the same into a political mission to gain political mileage. But it is really against the military objectives and diplomatically very incorrect.

    At present America is twisting our arms. China is openly with Pakistan. All our neighborhood countries are aligned with China. We are being pressurised by US to stop our trade with the other two big nations of the world , that are- Russia and Iran. Modi must maintain India’s sovereignty. No excuses on this count.

  15. What exactly did Shekar Gupta wants to say is completely lost in this verbal diarrhoea! May be that’s what it is! He has nothing new to say!

  16. Left pseudo-liberal secular tendencies in Shekhar Gupta seems to have overtaken his concern for national interests and his balanced approach!! The events that he mentions are facts but instead of train derailing, it is actually chugging alone quite fine. There are obvious limitations as to what Modi can do. China is too big and too determined to have its foot prints all over the world and particularly in South Asia. Trump and USA will do what they want to do. Modi has managed to raise India’s stature and get the best for India in-spite of adverse and beyond-control external forces and internal structural problems like poorly low defense expenditure, lack of modernization, etc.. One blame which Modi must squarely accept is his failure to get a proper and capable Defense Minister during the last 4 years. (the same can said of Finance Minister too). But then, his cabinet is anyway of poor quality barring a few bright boys. Being transactional in foriegn policy is fine and that’s way one should get national interest served and not rely just on principles and ideologies. Other countries are not going to do your bidding all the time in any case, just as we will not do it for anyone unless it is not going to harm our national interest. It is fine that Shekhar dislikes Modi for whatever reasons, but that is no reason to paint him in bad light on foreign policy. In fact, one of his bright spots in the last 4 years is the conduct of his foreign policy. Modi has definitely done well to protect and further national interests.

  17. There are no permanent friends or enemies in international diplomacy. But some loyalties stand the test of time.

    India should not succumb to US pressure and stop importing oil from Iran. Iran is an old, trusted friend of India. Indira Gandhi would have never entertained someone like Nikki Haley threatening India with sanctions in lieu of withdrawing support to Iran.

    I respect Sushma Ji but she’s not competent enough to deal with such dicey international games. You need someone like Shashi Tharoor at the helm to manage crises situations such as these.

    Of course, India needs the US today as much as they need India. US is India’s biggest trading partner. Millions of jobs in India, particularly in IT sector, depend on good relations with the US. But that’s not reason enough to succumb to Trump’s or Nikki Haley’s blackmail.

  18. The article is nothing but a propaganda material against the present Government. Unfortunate it hasn’t examined the current foreign policy equations. The author hasn’t bothered to inform the readers that the GDP rates are revised regularly. Disappointed by the author, who is a senior journalist.

  19. An excellent expository article. The hand picked Modi deity worshipers began to handle all the portfolios having no knowledge in what they were doing ! The religious radicalism called ” the Hindutva” began to blow the wind nationwide, the blind followers began to torment the minorities and the Dalits. It is now known to the people of India and the foreign leaders that Modi and his party’s agenda was to transform the democratic and secular India to a theocracy which has terribly slapped upon the regime in front of the world.

    In the restless foreign tours of Modi, how much FDI was landed in India? Even though PM Modi got dire warning from many sources about his blind eyes towards the minority persecution, especially the Christians, he and his comrades have fully ignored that due to their blind overconfidence.

    What a cruel act it was in a country where 1/3 of the population (400 million) are included in the list of the poorest people of the world (1.2 billion) earning $ 1.25 /day or less, the Government blocking the funding of thousands of NGOs telling the false excuse that religious conversion is taking place. The tears of the crying young and old will be falling upon this Government as a severe judgment from above.

    India under the acha din world roaming miracle worker PM Modi went backward in everything, mainly in social harmony and economy. How many State owned Banks are going to fall apart through the well-planned looting? How many jobs were created? How jobs can be created without capital? The economic crisis faced with India is far severe and serious than we all think, it was the deliberate creation of the current administration; and its ramifications are far-reaching.

  20. I think Shekhar Gupta is spot-on on this issue.

    I have always this impression that Modiji launches into many grandiose adventures more with short term election calculations than as an astute administrator seeking long lasting impact for the benefit of nation and countrymen. Though entirely an example from domestic stage, unlike what Shekhar Gupta has broached here, I am reminded that early in his tenure he launched that famous give-up campaign for reducing subsidy on domestic gas cylinders and spent so much advertising it that the expenses seemed to outweigh the benefit, a simple executive diktat denying subsidy based on income criterion would have been so much simpler and beneficial.

    A disturbing attitude indeed.

  21. Finally has the media realized that the Modi government was using them to posture themselves. It is not just tatters it more like kitchen rags and foot mats. His foreign trips were choreographed by the media and the RSS to show acceptance. Not in one of his foreign trips did the Indian media show the protests against the Indians and India. It was there but the media chose not to report it. The foreign media showed it and that is how we know.

  22. I am taking a double deep breath. I never read Shekhar Gupta before and now I vow I would always do so. These are the analyses I dreamed of doing and Mr. Gupta’s short, incisive and effectively comprehensive article is a must read. Bangladesh has been mentioned twice – though one would have thought that the small states in India’s periphery were of only peripheral importance. China’s renewed attention and quiet interactions with these states wounded by India ‘s impertinence and lack of generosity that certainly could be shown at a very small cost , have been exemplary. Mr. Narendra Modi ‘s spectacular rise and now the great fall, are somewhat linked to the early hopes and now the moans and groans , of the neighbours smarting over the last seven years or so. Mr. Modi is anchored too deep with his soul in RSS and forgot images need to be built on solid support of the neighbours, become Bharat Guru before announcing her own anointment as Viswaguru. !

  23. Sekhar Gupta ji seems to find fault with everything about Modi sarkar. I know his writings for about 20 years. He never found anything wrong with the sarkar of Gandhis, directly or indirectly. He writes with some preconceived notions, which ate not fully supported by his logic.

  24. Objectively analysed, the problem is how to communicate it to the nation. We are running out of time while the Dragon is building up its fire and will soon our leaders reduced to being Maria Theresa of Austria to Peter the great of Russia… she kept on weeping but kept on taking…

  25. Absolutely right view.always running to forigm trip spending million without any proper plan ,there is nothing achieved.indua loosing old friends.

  26. The country has become small in more ways than one. The foreign policy, as you rightly observe, is a reflection of the ‘thought culture’ of the ruling party. When all actions are about winning the next election – panchayat, state or national, what else can we expect? When intellect is derided by those who are short of it, don’t expect any better.

  27. This website is run by the American propaganda machine. Americans can’t just order PM Modi around as to how our relationship with our old ally Iran should be. India believes in strategic autonomy which the prime minister has followed to the teeth and will no serve as puppet of American interest in the region.

  28. Dear Shekhar

    Nice way of compiling sequence of our nation’s foreign relations. But why are we ignoring change in world order after US under Trump regime. Name a country where US had not changed its position except Israel. India had least confrontation with US when compared to EU, China, UK not even sparing some NATO allies. We are in peculiar transition world order where change is imminent unless we think and act wisely. Yes politicising army is not good for a nation to progress.But we have to recognize our mistakes proceed cautiously for rising neighbor like China. As far as other rivalries concerned they just need someone to piggy bag their hatred.

    Regards
    OmKumar Bapuji

  29. How much money you have taken Sekhar Gupta to write this? Don’t lose your credibility further by assuming.

  30. Well said. India has lost its relevance in the recent times, because of its non long-term vision on foreign policy, especially the US.
    During congress rule , US showed so much eagerness to improve the relation with India a potential economic and military world power, Colin Powell, made six trips in a year,so was Condolisa Rice.
    Indian policy never changed in foreign policy even when govt.changed.
    With trump in US, and with a dynamic Chinese leadership, India is slowly becoming irrelevant in world policy. It no more considered as potential economic power ,the world feared some years back because of certain major economic decision taken by Modi govt.
    The world also watching the internal situation in religious divide , women issues, and legal corruption, internal ideological clash,which will hamper the growth and the economy.

  31. SCO and AIIB Initiatives do indicate as some initiatives,but inefective.CPEC is a big threat and disappointment with DOKLAM is monumnetal.
    Religious Nationalism is a threat ,Technology Nationalism(Made in India) without any back up model as strong plan of action is a disaster .,kind SLoMO (Slogan Modi) will lead to a Slow speed Modi led India ,and Bureaucracy is the biggest non believer of Modi’s Initiatives. Corporate India is highly self centric with only Gujarat and Mumbai led lobby working for their dominance exploiting closeness to Modi ji.
    His muted and silent Think Tank is the biggest problem and they think and fear of megalomaniac ego of PM .This has to change towards an expert opinion gathering from Rank diplomats of deep Boundary power centric Knowledge,Analytical and Strategic Thinking .
    External Affairs Ministers and Diplomats are reduced to simple file Pushers with no Initiative,Drive,Enthusiasm,Engagement and Involvement what so ever.
    No interest in Made in India shown by Corporate India in Electronics /Telecom eqpts /Defence /Power /Solar /Lithium Ion Battery /Optical fiber and Automobile sectors. ..Over all an Eye opening article by Sekhar Gupta.

  32. The article talks more about Modi than foreign policy or relationship. Trump is most unpredictable person. Who knows he will be out from WTO and put whole world in toss. Trump is only concern about business , nothing else. No values, no rules. Hence not only India, entirely world’s countries foreign policies got disturb. This is a charning time for international relationship for entire word. Focusing on Modi is of no use as it dilute the core issue.

  33. This article should have been titled ‘Death of international diplomacy in Trumpian times’ and its focus should have been Trump, NOT Modi.

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

    The write-up” India’ s Foreign relations in tatters …… blame ” is quite topical and convincing in nature !
    It poses many questions of searching and introspecting dimensions ?
    During the past more than four years, if foreign relations happen to be in “tatters “then where the Indian Society or for that matter the Indian Polity finds itself in “fatters” ?

    If those at the helm of affairs of the polity do not have learnt the art as well as spirit to learn from past bitter experiences and blunders
    in the best interests of nation then they do not deserve to be at the steering ! The self-centredness and party interests above the nation’s progress and prosperity indeed are the root causes of the mess in which we find ouselves !

    Ironically, NaMo sans acknowledging his broad day light blunders is again making all out efforts to seek second term in the hot seat !
    Why should not he understand there is a hell of difference between deserving and desiring !

    Mr. Shekhar Gupta has very aptly remarked that Modi government has only itself to blame for India’s foreign relations in tatters !

    I go a step further that this government is blameworthy for many other lapsses and blemishes at home also !
    Taking things for granted like May,2014 Lok Sabha Polls NaMo will again strive to thrive on ploys, rhetorics and gimmicks to lure voters into his trap ! Will masses oblige him for the second time or not, only time will unfold ?

    For want of vision, prudence, serious application of mind,parleys, planning and proper home work on the part of the polity the nation has to face the music whether sound foreign policy or solution to burning and sensitive problems at home are concerned !

    Everyone is perturbed at the non-seriousness with which twin foreign and home affairs have been dealt with by the NaMo led government !

    The problems still staring India in the face include shattering economy, unemployment, corruption, black money, farmers distress,
    poverty, affordable quality education, affordable health care system, traumatic-insurgent Kashmir valley, intolerance and communal disharmony .

    Though the author has picked up many holes in India’s foreign policy yet our Honorable PM Modi has been taking it as a child’s
    play ! The foreign policy of the nation has assumed Herculean task proportions! Does it now not imply,”Easier said than done?”

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

  35. There is not even a single word about National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who has great influence on external affairs policy most of his moves boomeranged and External Affairs minister Sushma who has just become a passport issuing minister . Her role has been cut down like another ministers in the cabinet and we have lost our neighbors to china easily Nepal , Bhutan and Maldives . Recently we lost with Seychalles . All these guys are misleading the govt and acting like Yes Ministers , certain things need to be done silently . Lot of goodwill has been damaged in a short period of time . External Affairs should not be handled like Election Campaigns , it should not be done for publicity and needs to be done in background .

    • This is the FICTION being peddled by the clueless media and the Congress chaprassis like Shekar – they don’t know the ABC of foreign policy or national security yet they given LONG lectures because they have access to a keyboard and somewhere to print their ranting.
      Sushma Swaraj has been an integral part of India’s Foreign policy – the fact that media does not highlight her foreign policy engagements is due to the journalists twisted attempts to create masala. For example – before PM Modi’s visit to Bangladesh- Sushma Swaraj laid the ground work. For most foreign visits it is Sushma Swaraj who deals with building the ground work in relations with a country while PM Modi is present to sign the deals and take the photos. This is also the case with UK where Sushma Swaraj told Modi not to sign the VISA agreement which this clown Shekar is crying about. The same applies with India’s dealing with Pakistan or China which Sushma Swaraj deals with.
      The fiction that we “lost” our neighbors is total nonsense and absurd media fantasy. For example, India’s involvement in Bhutan during the Doklam crisis was a clear example of how close India’s relations are with Bhutan in that Indian soldiers entered into Bhutanese territory and staked a claim for Bhutan! India’s relationship with Bangladesh has improved dramatically with Indian goods now passing through Bangladesh every day while Bangladeshi trucks and goods travel through Indian ports also. With Nepal, despite the initial frictions with Oli during the Madhesi protests, the Nepali PM visits India just as often or more as he visits China and Indian companies are still preffered to chinese companies in many contracts. Despite all the noise about Nepal wanting to move away from India – Nepal and India recently signed an agreement to build their first natural gas pipeline between the two nations. Nepal and India also signed an agreement to increase the number of trade areas from the current number. And PM Modi even visited Nepal and offered prayers in a temple there in the presence of Nepali PM which was protested before !

      The idea that we are “losing” neighbors is nonsense. We have some differences with some neighbors – but even with seychelles, the differences have nothing to do with India or China but rather the fact that the people of Seychelles do not want to take sides or be involved in any military competition. This is not anti-India but the choice of a people of seychelles which rejected even chinese proposals for a base not too long ago. Yet they have sought to work closely with India on securing their waters.

      The purpose of “foreign affairs” is not to gain popularity – but to further our own interests. It is not necessary to please all our neighbors -the only requirement is we satisfy our own interests adequately.

  36. While this article makes some valid criticisms its fundamental premise is utterly absurd. The fact that the US has postponed “one” strategic dialogue with India does NOT diminish India or its foreign policy. There are legitimate reasons for these postponements and it is absurd beyond belief that a nation of 1.3 bilion people , the 5th largest economy in the world would have its Foreign policy in “tatters” simply because of one meeting that has failed to take place is beyond asinine.

    When any article makes the claim that Foreign Policy of a nation can “collapse” in 6 months it is clearly trying to peddle masala journalism and not a factual analysis . The below paragraph is evidence: “Much of this has unravelled over the past six months. India’s decline from global consciousness has been as rude as its rise was steady and smooth.”

    Shekar Gupta has a good reputation as a journalist of record and substance – therefore it is shocking to see how sloppy his current reasoning and analysis has been. The dubious idea that “military strength” somehow equals a nation’s foreign strategic “weight” is a grossly amateurish understanding of strategic affairs. The fact that nations like Japan – which have a tiny military or a nation like Singapore – whose military is very small as well or even Britain whose military has been drastically reduced over the past 2 decades still enjoy strategic “weight” is not because of their formidable military might – but rather because of their inherent political and reputational might . Shekar Gupta seems to have forgotten that. The idea that India’s strategic position has diminished is again a gross misrepresentation of facts belying the massive role India plays in various global fora – be it at the UN or at the Shangri-la Summit or at RIMPAC or in ASEAN. The fantasy that China has “warned” India off Pakistan is yet another fantasy of shekar Gupta that is beyond asinine – considering that China is desperate to get India into the BRI and has been trying desperately to make peace between India and Pakistan so that its BRI doesn’t die on the wine thanks to India’s counter moves . Already the back lash from china’s predatory lending and its corrupt project management has damaged its reputation across Asia and Africa with so-called “Belt and Road” countries eagerly trying to diversify and move away from Chinese loans . This is the same with Vietnam, with Africa and with Sri Lanka . PM Modi also made this explicit in his Shargri-la speech which was remarkable in that it was hailed by both the Chinese and the US and ASEAN as a massive policy step-forward in India’s Act East policy. India’s closeness with the US establishment is also reflected in its continued support by the US administration which sent Niki Haley to build bridges. This wouldn’t have taken place if Trump Administration didn’t value India.

    Its sad the see that in the pursuit of vindicating a partisan political ideology Shekar Gupta has compromised his reputation as a factual journalist and indirectly demeaned India. This is a sad day for Indian Journalism . The recent “spree” of his anti-Modi invective would be excusable as his “election time duties” but slandering India’s reputation in achieving this is truly a sorry state of affairs.

  37. Modi and gang have lost it. Imagine Sushma Swaraj, whose forte is issuing Visas to indigent Pakistanis for medical tourism, and who cannot sort out something as straight forward as the Vikas Mishra case as MEA! And India has just entered Yemen to provide “humanitarian” assistance to the Saudi led US-NATO-Sunni Axis perpetrating war crimes there!

    Once any Neta gets into the grips of the fawning, corrupt, incompetent Babus, the Neta begins to believe that it is God’s gift to mankind. Sushma and the BJP are far more foolish that I had anticipated.

    • Again perpetuating ignorance as intellect and outright fiction as facts by the pinko nutjobs.

      The so-called “Vikas Mishra” case was not “sorted out by MEA” – it was “sorted out” by the local Passport Office Head on the instructions of the MEA. Sushma Swaraj is getting the flak because people think she personally transferred this so-called “vikas mishra” , which didnt happen.

      India’s “humanitarian assistance” in Yemen was firstly to rescue Indian citizens trapped there and secondly to the hapless natives of Socotra and other islands that are left to fend for themselves after the collapse of their Govt on the mainland. USA or NATO has nothing to do with the Saudi-UAE alliance against the Houthis in Yemen . As to “war-crimes” – in the real world such accusations require PROOF and substantiation – not simply braying loudly and often to make it true. No court has declared there to be “war crimes” taking place in Yemen.

      To the dim-witted armchair partisan everybody appears “foolish and incompetent” – the difference however lies in the DOERS and the TALKERS, especially those hiding behind their computers .

  38. Brutally honest analysis by Shekar Gupta and am in agreement with the entirety of what he has said, the govt has been creating a smoke screen behind which it is operating and promulgating a feel good factor popularly known as Marketing myopia without realising or accepting that the same could come back and haunt them . God save the country and with the situation the opposition is in it is as the famous saying goes
    Andhon main kaana Raja

  39. Agree with Shekar’s analysis in entirety, pragmatism and practicality notwithstanding he is right when he says that the govt has not left itself a door which it can open if needed, do not think it is biased in anyway

  40. Both Harsh Gupta and Shekhar Gupta aired their two extreme views. Shekhar Gupta as is his wont, always a critique of Modi Government, even on foreign policy. The Foreign-policy was extolled at the beginning of Modi regime now eroded with the variations in other factors of his governance.
    For Harsh Gupta the foreign policy of Modi is all honky dory, it includes the Swadeshi ideology element also! He blames the geopolitical situation with Trump being the president of US and China’s economic might. These are excuses. Geopolitical situations change from time to time, the sagacity of the Indian government lied in dealing with such tricky situations. Had any other party been in place in Government, would Harsh Gupta use such a conciliatory note? Intellectual honesty lies in accepting things as they are. Many say the hugs and chums of our PM, as foreign-policy, didn’t work as expected of. Always comparing with the UPA 1&2 in all issues wouldn’t augur well for the present Government. Tweaking certain policies itself will not give any credit. When the government asks for innovation and entrepreneurship from people, where is it in those aspects, it is answerable.

  41. Shekar Gupta’s article as usual suffers from an inherent bias, clouding out the most effective management on inflation in the past few years and putting a beleaguered economy -pulled down by dubious entrepreneurs-back on track. The author conveniently forgets as it suits him of course, to miss out highlighting the most significant foreign policy achievement of evacuating over 35k overseas Indians stuck in strife torn middle East right in the middle of war ! Sadly the author besotted with anti Modism as a trending narrative, has missed out on this and much more like what is afterall economic nationalism about ?
    Are the results of any long term initiative, visible immediately ? If every rupee has an address following demo exercise, then how can this be a failure ? The stranglehold on inflation whether in real estate or in essential commodities, is entirely following the successful demonitisation exercise. Obviously conventional economists or self styled eco journos, will always miss the wood for the trees and love to keep on arguing on the growth foregone.
    India is a consumption economy and stiffer trade measures will hurt the opposite partners far more than ourselves since our main exports r in services which anyways are beyond conventional trade barriers.
    So what is the point that the author seeks to make ? He is highlighting the Dokhlam flashpoint or the surgical strike hype as foreign policy failures. Someone pls tell this idiot to recall the instance of stapled visas on Arunachal by the Chinese during the MMS led UPA regime with meek surrender. What is the situation now ? The Dalai Lama visits Arunachal and sits at Tawang right under the Chinese noses and yet no press guy has the guts to call this a triumph. There r many other points which the author has missed out like the huge baggage of NPAs left by the UPA, how we r successfully resolving thru the IBC – classic example being sale of Bhushan steel, fight for Binani etc, the successful achievement of a GST run rate of over ₹ 1 lakh crores per month now ….

  42. I like Shekhar Gupta for his decent behaviour on TV but he would not be knowledgeable about everything. Criticism of command structure of army , airforce, navy is pointless verbiage without being a specialist in the domain.

    Problem with the journalists is that they appropriate the role of experts in all fields while skimming on the surface of knowledge. And the bigger problem is that they, arrogantly, believe in their words being truth incarnate. Most of them are annoyed as freebies are no longer easily available to them by this government. I would assume that Shekhar is not into that business, though.

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