China discovered Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi far ahead of the rest of the international community. It seems Modi has been to China three or four times already. Curiously, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s allergy to the Yellow Peril didn’t put off China. Nor did it dampen Modi’s enthusiasm to get acquainted with socialism with Chinese characteristics.
China is consistent in such situations. The priorities are clear. The irksome Bhagwatian nitpicks wouldn’t deter Beijing when purposive agenda presents itself. But then, according to media reports, Modi’s China dalliance isn’t dispiriting Bhagwat, either.
Again, Britain characteristically broke ranks with the Western world once Modi began to be discussed seriously as a national figure in Indian politics. The British ambassador paid a high-profile visit to Ahmedabad just before the Gujarat election to pay respects to get acquainted.
He knew it might ultimately pay that he broke loose from the herd in Chanakyapuri. Now, when Britain takes the lead, can other european countries desist? Britain is, after all, insightful about tidings in Indian politics.
But self-confidence was lacking among the Old and New Europeans to take the plunge and, perhaps, finally opted for a Kumbh Mela – an EU (vegetarian) lunch for Modi.
That leaves out the Russians and the Americans. (Moscow wastefully hosted Gadkari, though.) Do they know something the Chinese and the Brits are unaware regarding the inscrutable Indian peasant voter whom Modi is yet to connect with?
The Russians, of course, are enormously experienced in ‘transitions’ in the nick of time — switch from Indira Gandhi to Morarji Desai (as dusk was falling) was simply breathtaking.
On the contrary, Americans may have a problem. Like secularist opinion makers in India, Americans also pursue a ‘value-based’ foreign policy and how they reconcile the past antipathy toward Modi will be fun to watch.
All that can be said with certainty is that reconcile the Americans will, for sure, once they truly estimate that Modi has a fighting chance to become India’s boss. Maybe, we are nearing that point. Maybe, contacts are already established. It all depends on whether the Americans go by Xinhua reports.
The ‘unknown unknown’ in all this is what Modi himself thinks of them all — the world of today and tomorrow. He has spoken very little, if at all, on foreign affairs. Does he have a worldview?
Of course, there are self-appointed cheer leaders of Modi, some of whom write occasionally with passion on the bomb, Tibet, et al. But the extent to which time servers could be voicing Modi’s views we do not know and have no means of knowing.
Some Indian think tank could take the lead and invite Modi to speak on the foreign policy. Ideally, the IDSA could have invited him to deliver the keynote address at next week’s Asian Security Conference. We from the audience could have asked Modi: ‘Sir, what do you think of the US’s ‘rebalancing’ in Asia …. the Arab Spring … Taliban’s homecoming?’ ‘Sir, what can India really do to help the Sri Lankan Tamil? ‘Sir, do you have a secret plan for Hafeez Saeed — or, Sir, for the Dalai Lama?’
– February 8, 2013