Modi 3.0: India to be Vishwa Guru & Vishwa Bandhu, ties with major powers will grow

By Shweta Aggarwal

If Narendra Modi becomes the prime minister of India for the third term in June 2024, India will cement its position as “Vishwa Bandhu” a friend to the world, and expand its relations with major powers, including the US and Russia, said eminent diplomats and experts.

“Russia will continue to be an important partner for India. There will be a summit meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin in 2024,” Kanwal Sibal, India’s former ambassador to Russia and a former foreign secretary, told the conference. The last annual summit between the leaders of India and Russia was held in New Delhi in December 2021.

The National Symposium on “Modi 3.0: New Directions in India’s Foreign Policy” focused on mapping the contours of India’s foreign policy under a potential Modi 3.0 government/the next government in India.

Prominent experts, who participated in the conference predicted a rise in India’s international order, the growth in GDP to $7 trillion and greater recognition of the country’s soft power as key goals of the potential Modi 3.0 government.

“Russia has begun to value partnership with India in a much bigger way than it used to be the case before. Earlier, there was a sense that it is India, which needs Russia more,” said Sibal, also a former foreign secretary.

“There is a genuine desire on the part of both India and Russia to increase trade and investment ties,” underscored Sibal, Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Going forward, Mr Sibal said while India’s relations with Russia will grow in the next five years, India might begin to push back the US’ tendency to lecture, as was seen in critical remarks by US officials on the state of religious freedom in India.

Arun K. Singh, a former ambassador of India to the US, said that “the positive momentum” in India-US relations will continue under the next government in India regardless of whether Joe Biden or Trump wins the USA elections. He cited the China factor as one of the main reasons for the convergence between the interests of India and the United States.

“India’s election debate rarely touches on foreign policy, but Modi has been an exception. His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has emphasised Modi’s catchphrase of presenting India as a global leader, or “vishwaguru,” in the lead-up to the election,” said Bhaswati Mukherjee, a former ambassador to the Netherlands and the first female president of India Habitat Centre.

“Relations with three major poles of the world – US, Russia and Europe – will continue to expand on separate trajectories,” said Manish Chand, CEO, Centre for Global India Insights, the organizer of the conference. “Looking ahead, India’s foreign policy, under Modi 3.0, will be driven and animated by the overarching goal of making India a great power that can hold its own amid competitive geopolitical rivalries,” said Mr Chand.

Amitabh Mattoo, Dean, School of International Studies, JNU, stressed on the emphasis in the BJP’s manifesto on making India a global power and “Vishwa Bandhu.” The main message of the BJP manifesto is making India “Vishwa Bandhu,” he said.

Diplomats and experts also advised that India should not waste its “political capital” on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan, which they called as “flawed” for not including Russia. “Indian shouldn’t mediate in Russia-Ukraine conflict till both the parties are present. India shouldn’t waste its political capital on this peace proposal,” remarked Ms Bhaswati Mukherjee.

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