By Dr Rahul Kumar
International diplomacy, corporate diplomacy, and economic diplomacy, public diplomacy need special experts who can envision a strong & stable future for a country in the forthcoming centuries. International relationship largely rests on trade & commerce. Cross (2007) argues that diplomacy is a process that individuals engage in. It is a known fact that International diplomacy is quid pro quo, not a carte blanche. In a globalized world, developing or developed nations have to engage in trade & commerce. This relationship is a bilateral relationship and can be nurtured only through long-term goals.
The general populace of India see international diplomacy only through the prism of Indo-Pak relationship but there is a need to evaluate the current situation of India under Modi`s international diplomacy. Some disturbing facts & data show a dismal picture. This article aims to understand the current bilateral relationship of India with the most developed nations & how Indian leadership can salvage the depressing economic situation by adopting some constructive steps for long-term gains.
India has strong consumer market of 130 billion people. Developed countries like the US, UK, China, Russia & Japan focus on India for selling their wide-ranging products. Hundreds of foreign companies have already set up their liaising offices in India to sell their products despite the SWADESHI policy against foreign products by the ruling party and its affiliated Hindu organizations. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat urged Indian citizens to abandon the tendency of buying Chinese goods. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch(SJM), the economic wing of the Sangh Parivar went one step further to stop an ‘invasion of merchandise from overseas’. Parivar pantheon like V.D. Savarkar, Deen Dayal Upadhayay, Golwarkar all favored Swadeshi but Modi is a different kind of person who believes in the FDI policy.
There is denying the fact that China has entered into almost all Indian viable industries.‘India-China Trade Relationship’ 2018 report published by PHD chamber concluded that the first decade of the 21st century, the presence of Chines products in the Indian market has grown profoundly and exponentially. From 2001-20016, India`s imports from China jumped to a whopping 33 times, from USD 1.83 billion to USD 60.48 billion.
China funding of India Start-up is well known since Modi took over the reign of the government. Chinese investors are pumping money into Indian Unicorns such as Ola Cabs, Swiggy, Zomoto, Paytm, Bigbasket, Oyo rooms, and Byju`s. The Chinese investment reached fivefold in 2018 estimated $ 5.6 billion.
There is no doubt that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has enormous state-level administrative & political experience. But Modi has no experience in international diplomacy. He lacks a vision of ‘Value Creation’ in the pursuit of mutual benefits. Integrative negotiations should be the mantra of diplomacy. Bargaining leverage misses the bus in several of the Modi`s diplomatic attempts.
His speech at the United Nation exudes no enthusiasm & earnestness from world global leaders expect the President of America, Donald Trump. Experts in the field of international diplomacy wittily sneer at Modi
s international diplomacy. Had Donald Trump has been serious about Indias huge consumer market his commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, would not have put up many ‘ifs & buts’ to India for a trade agreement, which is still grappling between the two countries. Hugs & red carpet welcome in the USA to Modi stand no chance of getting sustainable business from US President Donald Trump. Trump has succeeded in surging US oil export to India from zero in 2106 to nearly ten million barrels in 2017, to 48 million barrels in 2018. Iran was supplying the oil with less price and without shipping charges & extending credit period to India but Trump exercised his political & economic power to make Modi a complete follower. With this coercion on the part of Donald Trump, Modi has further scuttled the life of a common man. The rise in oil prices has raised the price of essential commodities. It is feared that Donald Trump through Countering America`s Adversaries through Sanctions Act(CAATSA) is going to cause colossal damage to the Indian economy. Modi must understand that Trump is not a friend but a foe of India.
Imran Kahn, Prime Minister of Pakistan has left no stone unturned to garner international support against abrogation of article 370 & 35A in Jammu& Kashmir. Prime Minister of Pakistan is getting world leaders to speak against the misstep of the Modi government in Kashmir. Recently, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, ‘India invaded and occupied Kashmir’ at the UN General Assembly. Similarly, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said, ‘residents of Jammu & Kashmir is ‘virtually under blockade with 8 million people’. The tone of language by both world leaders at the UN General Assembly is definitely obnoxious. Malaysia & Turkey are Islamic countries and Muslims in these two countries & respective Prime Ministers feel that their Muslim brothers & sisters in India are mercilessly killed under the nose of the Modi government. Human Rights Report 2019 illustrates that 36 Muslims are killed between 2015- 2018. Mob violence by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling BJP against minority community especially Muslims continued. Such heinous acts against the members of the religious communities certainly engender hate & anger in the hearts of Muslims. The British government has always sided with Pakistan. From all these intrigues on behalf of the Pakistan government, old and new allies are joining hands with Pakistan against India. The platform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is aggressively used by the world leaders against India.
Pakistan & Nepal international borders are very sensitive in terms of the infiltration of terrorists into India. India
s influence is declining in Nepal since the day The Chinese government has pumped $ 8 billion in investment in Nepal. No doubt, China is aggressively trying to establish economic connectivity with Nepal & Pakistan in the region. Indias huge investment in Afghanistan did not yield the desired results. A recent quadrilateral talks held between the US, Russia, Pakistan & China and no invitation to India has certainly raised eyebrows in the Indian establishment. In this scenario, Pakistan is getting closer to US, China, Russia than India. The efforts by anti-India world leaders to circumvent India seems to gain ground to a larger extent.
India still lags behind the technical advanced nations of the world. Wobbly progress under ‘Make in India’ initiative & marginal hike in 2019 budget allocation for Science & Technology further added woes to making indigenous arms & defense products locally. ‘Make in India’ initiative is to invite the private sector to boost up manufacturing of indigenous defense products. In IDSA occasional Paper No. 48, Captain Vinay Kaushal, a defense expert, tells a depressing story of ‘Make in India’ initiative. Kaushal explains, ‘Ministry of Defense(MoD) accorded acceptance of necessity (AoN) for 145 proposals worth Rs 3,99,800 crore approximately, out of which 103 proposals worth Rs 2,46,400 crore approximately have been approved under “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured [IDDM])”, “Buy (Indian)”, “Buy and Make (Indian)” The policy intent was followed up by the MoD with the requisite action. For example, in the period 2014-15 to 2016-17, 23 “Make” categories of capital acquisition.17 However, the momentum built-up appears to be dissipating because the MoD has not been in a position to sign any major contract with the private sector as the meager budget allocations available are just about enough for paying for the “committed liabilities”.
In the same vein, S. Chandrasekhar states that ‘an analysis of R& D expenditure in India shows that funding for technology in specific sectors is not in consonance with the size of the domestic & global market’. The slow-release of funds for the purpose of scientific projects has further circumscribed the speedy output of the scientists in India. India cannot match the technology superiority unless reforms to promote the scientists are made.
India has been of the world`s top import importers spending billions of dollars annually. According to press reports, arms imports by the Indian government rose to 24 percent in 2013-2017. India is also facing tremendous price escalation in procuring submarines due to red tap-ism, bureaucratic lethargy & indecisiveness. The Scorpene submarines program called Project -75(P-75I) earlier at the cost of Rs. 50,000 crores are running late over five years behind schedule. This delay has escalated additional cost to the tune of Rs 25, 700 crores.
36 Rafale aircraft delivery to India is getting delayed day by day. Rafale is a very sophisticated & costly aircraft and needs a proper hanger. Contractors Builder Association of India (BAI) told that the construction of hangers to house the two squadrons of Rafale aircraft comes to a standstill due to a shortage of funds. Group Captain Vinay Kaushal(Retd) a distinguished fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies, New Delhi raises a question, ‘Are these 36 aircraft enough to sustain two squadrons over 40 years?
For arms & defense equipment producing countries like the US, Russia, Britain & China, India remains a milch cow. A huge budget is earmarked for the procurement of foreign arms and defense products. Inducement is so big in the procurement as not a single government could save skin without blemish. Nehru was always blamed by the so-called nationalists that he could not export arms. Modi speaking at the Aero show on February 2015, he said that defense manufacturing was ‘at the heart of the Make in India in Indian program” and that the country should aim to manufacture 70 percent of military equipment domestically in the next five years. Four years have already passed by talking loudly but no visible progress in indigenous defense manufacturing is seen. Today, the armed forces in India have all imported aircraft, tanks & odd combat vessels. Modi`s philosophical theories are nothing but a vain chimera.
After understanding the worst condition of the economy and missteps taken by the Modi government one can safely conclude that Modi`s leadership in international diplomacy has failed miserably. Modi has the right to dream of making India a $5 trillion economy in 2024. But before the MOON is offered, Modi must focus on two strategies to save further stultification of the country (1) focus on the domestic market (2) reduce maximum import. The sooner he follows the better will be for the economic health of the country.