Saturday, February 4th, 2023 00:28:18

India’s Geostrategic Problems And Opportunities In The 21st Century

Updated: May 2, 2015 4:05 pm

The Modi government faces immense challenges to reform Indian governance practices, to break the cycle of poverty, to promote national economic and social development, and to form a robust national security capacity that can withstand the test of crises in a nasty strategic neighbourhood. While the challenges are immense, there are also opportunities to develop India’s position as an important contributor for a stable balance of power in Asia

India’s strategic problems took shape in past centuries and Indian history reveals two recurring patterns. First, foreign powers will not leave India alone and they have the tools to keep Indian power and influence in check, and to keep its leaders on the defensive in strategic and economic affairs. India’s debilitated strategic situation is the result of recurring and successful foreign interventions—by European colonisers after the ascendency of the Mughals, and following India’s independence by Pakistan, USA and China. Secondly, Nehru’s confused reading of the international situation after 1947 and his self-serving and selective diplomatic orientation, and the neglect of India’s defence machinery and military preparations facilitated foreign interventions in the absence of a push back towards these countries. That is, the made by Pakistan, USA and China problems were exacerbated by Nehru’s and Congress party’s diplomatic and strategic orientation that ignored the necessity of developing Indian strength to develop India’s place in the Asian balance of power; in other words, India’s strategic problems are in part foreign made and in part made in India. The challenge for the Modi government is to break the cycle of foreign interventions – and the mindset that seeks expansionism without impunity into Indian core interest areas, and to replace the cycle of Indian defensiveness and reactivity with a confidence and willingness to question the policies of the intervening states and to project Indian influence within the South Asian region and various parts of Asia. This is the centre of gravity where Indian diplomatic and military initiatives have the potential for breakthroughs and a potential to achieve multiplier effects in trilateral and regional relations.


The Modi government faces immense challenges to reform Indian governance practices, to break the cycle of poverty, to promote national economic and social development, and to form a robust national security capacity that can withstand the test of crises in a nasty strategic neighbourhood. While the challenges are immense, there are also opportunities to develop India’s position as an important contributor for a stable balance of power in Asia. Indian governmental and academic practitioners must be clear that Nehruvian diplomatic prescription to reform the world order and to seek world peace by preaching harmony is not an option any longer. The alternative to a balance of power is an imperial system and in the present world setting China is the only candidate or an aspirant for an imperial role in Asia. But China’s neighbours including India are not willing to accept this option. My assumption is that despite China’s rapid rise its rise as Asia’s foremost power is not inevitable, nor is it desirable given its imperial record and the expansionist tendencies of its current leadership. So the choice for Indian practitioners is either to continue to exist in an unstable balance of power with Pakistan, China and Pakistan as the sources of instability in the region or to take measures to form policies which stabilise the Asian balance. This is the first choice which faces the practitioners.

India’s second choice is to decide whether it wishes to be seen as a pacifist country without political, economic and military muscle as a status quo country which is the co-equal of Pakistan in the region or whether it seeks to be a status quo power where its soft and hard power has a reach beyond its borders and it has the capacity to impact the calculations of foreign powers. This book favours India’s development as a strong status quo power in Asia.


The third choice concerns language and style. Will India continue to mask its actions in the form of nonalignment, world peace and strategic autonomy or will it discard the Congress party/ Nehruvian slogans in favour of actions that demonstrate a close link between Indian values and national interests? This book favours the assertion of a new style and diplomatic language and preliminary signs are that the Modi government particularly the prime minister and the foreign minister, have adopted a forthright style. Language and style are important tools which reveal the thought processes of the Indian leaders and as well they have an impact on foreign leaders who are looking for signs of new initiatives.

If the aim is to secure India’s place as a contributor to the making of a stable balance of power in Asia, a cool headed, not sentimental, analysis of the international situation is necessary. The world system now is in turmoil. On India’s west, the Middle East is practically ungovernable; with a moral and a military void in the region, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and armed militias along with the Taliban and AI Qaeda means that the system of states with elements of humanitarian and international law and UN norms is under severe strain and a way has to be found to seal India’s borders from expansionist Jihadi influence in the Kashmir and the border region. This is a doable aim given that the fence in the LoC is effective in curbing infiltration. But at the same time a new diplomatic strategy towards Pakistan is needed. Under Congress party India was seeking a negotiated solution after the Simla agreement (1972) but as a previous chapter indicates it is not in the interest of Pakistani elites – military as well as civilian to settle with India short of the surrender of the Kashmir valley to Pakistan. Various measures—bilateral diplomatic negotiations and Track II diplomacy have failed because the interest of the stakeholders is to keep the talks going and keep their stake in the process. The NGOs and Track II participants are like IAEA. The record shows that often they are not able to find conclusive evidence of a violation or compliance because—to take a cynical view – if a UN agency was able to reach a definitive conclusion, it would be out of business! So would the NGOs and Track II players. If the Indo-Pakistan border is sealed effectively a choice -is to maintain normal diplomatic contact but not to negotiate on Kashmir and terrorism issues which have the prospect follow or nil returns from the Pakistani, American and the Chinese sides vis-a-vis India.

On India’s north and east, China’s capabilities and military pressures and public rhetoric has grown to act with impunity in northern Kashmir, to challenge India’s position in Arunachal Pradesh, and to expand China’s sphere of geopolitical operation in the Himalayan zone, among India’s South Asian neighbours, in the South China Sea and in the Indian Ocean. India’s eastern region and the Indian Ocean is fast emerging as an area of naval and political competition, and maritime security is important for commercial and strategic reasons for USA, Japan, India and Southeast Asian nations.

In one sense the domestic context favours reform of India’s diplomatic and military strategy. With a majority government India is rid of the debilitating effect of a coalition government which made foreign policy and military strategy according to the dictates of a core group led by UPA 1 and 2 rather than core national interests. Major powers have core strategic interests but India has had a core group whose deliberations subordinated policy making to bargaining among alliance partners. Consensus building is a fine and a necessary element in a democracy but if it leads to policy paralysis and a lack of accountability by the coalition members then surely the system needs reform. Another major contextual change is that the Indian electorate rejected the Nehruvian baggage by electing a government which had declared its intention to end J&K’s special status in the Indian Union and which put Pakistan and China on notice about their support of terrorism and their expansionist tendencies.

But on another respect the international context remains unchanged. Pakistan is an obvious enemy because of its promotion of Jihad in Kashmir and in parts of India since the 1980s. It has expanded its military pressure and intervention in India and by forming its terror oriented links in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Today the Pakistan military establishment is the state and it has moved from its earlier position as the state within the state. The distinction between elected civilians in Pakistan and the lSI/military establishment is no longer relevant in Pakistan’s approach to India. Furthermore, as its military, commercial and diplomatic ties with China have grown in depth and width the Sino-Pakistan axis is a permanent element in the subcontinent’s landscape. China on the other hand is both a rival and a partner with India. It has heightened its rivalry with India because it has expanded its commercial and military presence in the vital Gilgit­ Baltistan area and its intrusions into the undemarcated Ladakh border continue. As well it has sharpened its claim to Arunachal Pradesh calling it South Tibet. While it continues to maintain political links with the Indian government its dual policy—to maintain its commitment to tranquillity and peace on the LoC and border, and to keep the military pressure by its frequent intrusions – makes it half a strategic partner and half a rival. To maintain the balance in China’s policy it is incumbent on the Indian government to continuously upgrade its military positions in the Himalayan region and show its capacity for an offensive defence policy in a contingency. The assumption is that India is alone in its rivalry with China in the Himalayan zone because the US government has avoided taking a position on the border issue because a shift from its policy of calculated ambiguity would strain Washington’s relations with China. The Obama administration has veered away from its earlier moral support to the Dalai Lama, and the US government has never accepted the Indian view of Indian territorial unity and sovereignty; both Kashmir and the Sino-India border areas are considered disputed territories. On the other hand Washington accepts the idea of one China with the caveat that its disagreements with Taiwan and territories in the South China Sea and in East Asia must be settled by peaceful negotiations. Americans calculated ambiguity in relation to the claims of Japan and SE Asia states which China disputes has its uses because of their alliance ties with the USA. India does not have a similar protection. Furthermore, the US argues that China ought not to take unilateral action and the US for instance accepts that the disputed islands (Senkaku) has been under Japan’s administrative control. If the operative norm is that possession is 9/10th of the law would it be logical for Washington to accept India’s ‘administrative control’ over Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh as the basis of Sino-Indian relations in the border areas? There is no sign of such a gesture by Washington to Delhi. China’s dual policy makes it a temporary friend of India in commercial affairs and a long term rival in strategic and international diplomatic affairs where China exerts a shadowy influence in undermining India’s credibility in regional and international level multilateral issues. When it does cooperate with India on an issue like climate change, this is a low cost cooperation which is negated by the more significant cooperation with Pakistan in the nuclear and missile area which seeks to degrade India’s military capability.

Centres of Gravity of Indian Strategic Actions

By expanding its strategic footprint in Asia, and through this avenue in the world, Indian practitioners could dilute the ill-effects of past policies of China and America vis-a-vis India and negate as well the pernicious influences of Nehru and his legacy in Indian strategic affairs. The Government ought to be clear about the geostrategic targets of its actions and base them on Assessments of Threats, (T), Opportunities and Options (O) available and Potential Means (M) and the Situation at hand or as it is likely to develop (S). TOMS ought to be the standard way to approach the issues. The mantra should be to effectively engage the external environment to India’s advantage rather than to project moralistic and legalistic prescriptions. The aim should be to position/ reposition India in ways which increases her manoeuvrability in international relations. Two metrics are relevant. 1. That the other side is disabused from acting with impunity against India as it has in the past. 2. The other side pays attention to Indian security requirements and perceptions. NATO—’no action, talk only’ became the derisive characterisation of Indian diplomacy during the UPA rule; this method should be shunned as a form of Indian action because talk is cheap, it does not convey a credible commitment to the other side and it is neither a form of intervention against enemies nor an action to develop strategic partnerships.

What follows is a summary of the prevailing situation as it affects India—negatively if India follows the NATO playbook of the Nehruvian/ Congress party style, and positively if actions are taken to build India’s internal strength and diplomatic manoeuvrability in the following categories of states: among non-Pakistani neighbours—Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan and Maldives; with Pakistan, China and the USA—the historical nemesis of Indian diplomacy and military strategy; and among a new set of diplomatic partners—Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and SE Asian nations.

In the first category the aim is to stabilise the regional neighbourhood by military measures, and to build confidence with non-Pakistani neighbours by personal and official diplomacy that fosters a sense of psychological security and trust among them by creating relations which are mutually beneficial and respectful. India has soft power in South and SE Asia because of cultural and historical links and memories but it becomes a bond if the links are pursued in a respectful and not a patronising manner and if it is employed along with measures to expand commercial and military ties.

In the second category the targets are the American and the Chinese mindsets and their approach to India. Controversies on policy issues are supposedly dealt with by experts and officials with ministerial direction but this task belongs to the realm of routine inter-state diplomacy. Without the existence of controversies officials and experts would be redundant and highly trained Indian officials are quite capable to find solutions to advance national interests. As well there is a background for the conduct of proactive Indian diplomacy. India already possesses immense soft power in America because of the presence of a large and influence Indo-American Diaspora in America’s economic, technological, medical, cultural and political spheres. There is both breath and width in Indo-American interactions in the non-official and official spheres because of the hospitality which Americans have extended to Indian immigrants. But here the contrast with China is a sharp one because Sino-Indian interactions are limited to the official discourse which is mired in the border controversy and extensive interactions between Chinese and Indian peoples do not exist outside the governmental sphere as they do with Americans. America and India share common political values as two democracies but it has been difficult to translate the democratic theme into convergent strategic interests. There are insurmountable challenges because American policy thus far has been to check India’s strategic rise despite the rhetoric, to maintain American levers of intervention vis-a-vis Indian targets, to seek commercial and political advantage in commercial and defence arrangements and generally to make India adopt the American commercial and strategic playbook. Until India gains counter-leverage against the US, the latter is unlikely to alter its basic approach to India – which is to look at India through the lens of Pakistan and China in strategic (including nuclear) affairs, and through the lens of corporate America in commercial bilateral relations. Indian academic and governmental practitioners need to thoroughly investigate the proposition that there is nothing natural about Indo-American relations, and indeed the natural alignment is between USA, Pakistan and China because the three share a common aim, i.e. to check the rise of India as a regional hegemon that is outside their control. Efforts to develop transactional linkages between India and USA or between India and China imply an emphasis on opportunism rather than strategic principles, and this is a game of manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres in controversial issues like the reform of WTO, agreement on climate change, terrorism, nuclear commerce, conditional military technology transfers to India. With Obama’s preoccupations in the Middle East and in internal politics, the remaining two years of the Obama presidency are unlikely to provide opportunities for a breakthrough.

However, there are two geostrategic centres of gravity where opportunities exist to form a trilateral India- Japan-US relationship. These opportunities arise because Obama is building his pivot towards Asia to check China’s expansionist tendencies and without naming China as the enemy India can play a role in joining in activities which stabilise the balance of power in the area south of China. Thus, the setting is driven by China’s rise and the pressure it creates to balance it, by Obama’s sense that pivoting is necessary and by India’s recognition that the northeast merits serious development to ensure that the loyalty of the locals remain tied to India and not to China. Development of India’s northeast was neglected by successive Indian governments and joint action with USA and Japan to form an economic corridor has a strategic fallout because the area touches China, Myanmar, Tibet and there are both economic and a political imperatives to develop the region and to harness the industrial and economic prowess of Japan and USA to build this corridor and to curtain Chinese activities in a region with porous borders and divided ethnic loyalties of the peoples in the area.

The second trilateral arena concerns the common interest of USA, India and Japan and other nations to maintain peace and tranquillity in the sealanes in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans and to keep the South China seas safe for global commerce, and to resist unilateral measures by China to alter the status quo. Naval exercises between American, Indian and Japanese navies and political declarations are clear signs of their commitment to maintain the integrity of this vital maritime corridor. A related opportunity is to enlist the cooperation of Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand to keep the region free of the domineering influence of any foreign power.

In sum, America is likely to remain pro-Pakistan in dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan affairs. This means that it will stay ambivalent about J&K affairs and Sino-Indian border issues because it cannot take the strain of weakening its links with Pakistan by shifting from its traditional position on Kashmir and by taking India’s side on the question. Furthermore, because of America’s economic interdependence with China and China’s insistence that America respect its core interests with respect to her territorial sovereignty, it is unlikely to help India on her problems with China in the Himalayan areas. But America will cooperate with India in issues relating to her northeast development and in the Indian Ocean by forming a trilateral relationship with Japan and India.

Japan, the country long neglected by Nehru and the Congress party because of his fixation with China, Pakistan and the USA, has now emerged as a major potential strategic partner of India in both economic and strategic areas but this potential has to be cultivated to make it deep, wide and sustainable in the long run. Japan under Prime Minister Abe has amended its defence policy by a decision to expand Japan’s defence ties beyond the ‘areas surrounding Japan’, by a declaration and action to make India a major Asian partner and by a posture of pro-active pacifism. Japan has no territorial claims on India, it shares similar political values in favour of democracy, and both have a common interest in maritime security and in curbing China’s expansionist tendencies. The recently announced (September 2014) US-Japan military guidelines encourage and accept Japan’s right to operate anywhere in the world in cooperation with America. The old guidelines limited US-Japan military cooperation in the ‘area surrounding Japan’ which practically meant the Sea of Japan, the Taiwan Straits and in the direction of Guam. The old guidelines were developed with North Korea as the primary threat to Japan but the new guidelines focus sharply on the China question along with the North Korean one. The former is likely to gain in importance because North Korea has begun the process to restore ties with South Korea and with Japan, and the Western dependence on Beijing’s mediatory role with North Korea has declined in importance because Beijing has not delivered any tangible result as a result of its declarations in the six nations nuclear talks.

However, with these changes in Japan’s external environment, Indian practitioners need to focus more on Japan and to take advantage of the opportunities because Japan has a vocal and divisive domestic debate on defence issues. Two lines of thinking now shape the internal debate. The first, reflecting the views of pro-US Japanese conservatives is to make Japan an effective US ally by increasing Japanese military capabilities and responsibilities and by changing the scope of her pacifism and diluting the limitations of Article 9 of the Constitution. The second line of thinking, which is now of growing importance in Japan reflects the theme of anti-clientalism. This is a nuanced new element in Japanese politics where the argument is that the US-Japan alliance is still important, it remains the anchor of Japan’s security and regional peace but it is not sufficient to deal with grey zone conflicts such as a Chinese invasion in the Senkaku island by hundreds of fishing boats which is a form of military pressure but it is not a declaration of war by China against Japan or the US. With China economic and military rise, with Obama’s hesitant decision-making style and reluctance to fight and his priority to stay involved with the Chinese leaders despite their provocative actions, the new element in the debate, in the second view, is that Japan needs to reduce its dependence on American protection and guidance. This is a debate, taking the two camps in perspective, between the view that Japan should maintain its Western orientation, and on the other hand, the view is that Japan should take steps to build policies of pro-Asianism. India now fits into the latter camp in the Japanese debate and this opportunity should not be lost by proverbial Indian lethargy and business as usual attitude.

The discussion points to the rise of narrow windows of opportunities for Indian economic and strategic planners in the non-traditional areas of Indian economic and military security. But the importance of disruptive shadowy and insidious influences must not be ignored. Obama in particular remains a shadowy and negative influence in India’s recently nuclear deals with Australia and Canada, and his influence is a negative one in Indo-Japanese nuclear conversations. His administration seeks to impose conditions on nuclear trade between India and these countries which go beyond current norms. The implementation of the 2008 Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, a landmark in Indo-US relations, is stymied by American opposition to India’s nuclear liability law and by the concerns of giant American corporations—GE and Westinghouse—which define America’s playbook in Obama’s dealings with India on the question. Policy controversies can be dealt with by constructive inter-governmental negotiations but to do so there must be a cultural adjustment in the American approach which is to treat the Indo-US nuclear deal as a commercial rather than a strategic deal, and in the insistence that it is up to India to adjust its policies to meet American standards and expectations about intellectual property rights, about nuclear liability, about local manufacturing in defence contracts and about WTO among other contentious items. The cultural revolution in American thinking requires a break of its historical expectation that a country like India (US client? Banana republic?) should expect to grant the sole superpower both commercial and political advantages. It is however upto a country like India to draw the line and adopt a strategy which says, ‘enough is enough’, and commerce should be tied to profit, not to profit and political advantage as in the days of the East India Company in India. As such Indian practitioners too need to have a cultural revolution along this line.

The Himalayan zone will likely remain an area which is dominated by a frozen strategic conflict between China, Pakistan and India. China has the military advantage because Tibet’s geography offers a flat surface which facilitates military communications, and it has taken full advantage of Nehru’s peaceful co-existence approach to build its infrastructure while India ignored it on the Indian side. Even after the 1962 war experience Indian practitioners have been slow to strengthen border defences, and build a capacity to wage war in Ladakh and the northern Kashmir area and Arunachal Pradesh. One should consider also the possibility of a growing instability in the Tibetan and Xinjiang provinces and one should be mindful that when the Soviet Union collapsed, it happened quickly because of ethnic and political differences between the Baltic and the Central Asian areas despite the overwhelming presence of the Soviet military, party and intelligence networks. Building economic and military options, building a process of flexible diplomatic positions and manoeuvrability in a fluid and dangerous international environment, entering caveats into old and mostly redundant Nehruvian diplomatic poses, building strategic links with new partners in East and Southeast Asia, (and military suppliers in Scandinavian countries) and strengthening ties with reliable partners like Israel, Germany, France and the UK should form the hub of Indian diplomatic and strategic activity which could effectively deal with India’s traditional strategic problems.

(Excerpted from “India’s Srategic Problems”; published by Lancer.)


By Rohan Pal


From inking 17 different bilateral agreements to closing the Rafale deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden European tour and with France as a first stop can be seen as a success. The first breakthrough comes with closing the Rafale deal with the French. Modi unveiled plans to purchase 36 French-built Rafale fighter jets, in a deal worth some 5 billion euros ($5.3 billion). India thus becomes the second foreign government, after Egypt, to sign up for the new fighters.
Another advancement comes in the nuclear department with an MoU was signed between Larsen and Tubro and AREVA aimed at cost reduction by increasing localisation, to improve the financial viability of the Jaitapur project in Maharashtra which was halted. The agreement will also enable transfer of technology and development of indigenous nuclear energy industry in India. Pre-engineering agreements were inked between NPCIL and Areva which intend to bring clarity on all technical aspects of the plant so that all parties (AREVA, Alstom and NPCIL) can firm up their price and optimise all provisions for risks still included at this stage in the costs of the project. Narendra Modi also visited Airbus A 380 assembly line facility soon after arriving in Toulouse which is a home of Airbus’ A380 final assembly line. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Airbus executives Tom Enders and Fabrice Brégier accompanied Modi on his tour of the facility. The aviation giant also issued a statement after the tour, reaffirming its “commitment to produce in India,” echoing the chosen theme of Modi’s European tour, where he’s promoting a “Make in India” campaign seeking international outsourcing projects. “India already plays an important role in our international activities and we even want to increase its contribution to our products,” Enders told the press.

Airbus’ comments also pointed to the existing “two engineering centers, one research and technology center in India, employing a total of 400 highly-qualified people.” It said these efforts already represented an investment of $400 million per year, “providing a living to 5,000 staff from 40 companies.” Indian airlines has purchased around 800 Airbus passenger planes since 2005, and a major recent order in November 2014 included 250 of the A320neo model for low-cost carrier Indigo.
A pact was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit for cooperation between Indian Railways and French Railways for a semi-high speed rail project. Under this, French National Railways has agreed to co-finance an execution study for “a semi-high speed project on upgradation of the Delhi-Chandigarh line to 200 kmph.
Ahead of business, Modi also secured his ally’s support to fight against terrorism. India and France have decided to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on counter-terrorism which will meet and formulate the modalities of greater cooperation including sharing of information and intelligence on terror networks and working together to share experiences on dealing with the growing phenomenon of radicalisation. Modi was also successful in reaching an agreement with President Hollande to deepen partnership in the Indian Ocean region with France which is also an Indian Ocean power with a presence in Reunion Islands, Mauritius and Seychelles. This can be also seen as measure to balance China in the Indian Ocean.



As a part of three-nation tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Germany with a mission to sell his dream project—‘Make In India’—to the Germans. The PM met the “movers and shakers” of German economy to attract the much-needed foreign investment and support for his government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. Modi, who reached the northern German city from Paris, held a roundtable meet with German CEOs in Hannover.
Shortly after having a business summit, Modi went to inaugurate the Hannover Messe, world’s largest industrial fair, to which India is the partner country, accompanied with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There he asserted that India is working on a “predictable and transparent” environment to open up investments. “We are creating an environment that is stable, where rules will not be changed frequently and there will be no surprise elements,” he said. His speech listed out India’s efforts to make doing business easier, and that the government is focused on encouraging innovation, research and entrepreneurship. “The entire world is looking at India. Demography, democracy and demand are attracting the world to India,” Modi further added and asserted to the fact that India has a huge potential of becoming a manufacturing hub. “Not only Germany, the whole world is looking at India…Low-cost manufacturing, efficient governance and no-defect manufacturing makes India a global engine in the manufacturing centre,” he said.
German Chancellor was impressed with the Indian Pavilion and said: “India is a country with a lot of young people, people who want jobs, want to see their country developed and evolved…We think India has a future when you consider democracy, innovation capacity and prosperity. Your country (India) is a very good example that this is easily possible.”
If we go with the statistics then Germany is India’s largest trading partner in the European Union and one of the top 10 global trading partners. The overall exchange of goods and services between the two countries was valued at around 15.96 billion euro last year, a drop of 1.14 billion euro from the level of 16.10 billion euro registered in 2013. While India’s exports to Germany rose marginally to 7.03 billion euro in 2014, its German imports dropped to 8.92 billion euro from 9.19 euro in the previous year, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Germany is the 8th largest foreign investor in India. Its foreign direct investments in India during January-November 2014 were valued at around USD 995.7 million. More than 1,600 Indo-German collaborations and around 600 Indo-German joint ventures are in operation.
The Prime Minister also visited a railway station in Berlin amid his government’s agenda of modernising Railways. His visit to Siemens Technical Academy is an indication that he is keen on importing cutting-edge technology from the innovative leaders like Germany. His visit to the Academy can also bring an alternative vocal training structure for his ambitious skill development programme. Modi is enthusiastically complementing ‘Act East’ policy to attract maximum foreign investment and gain a special place in the international arena. (RP)


By Nilabh Krishna

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a three-day visit to Canada, asserted that pessimism of the past about India had turned into optimism about the future, after signing an agreement on sale of Uranium by Canada. The Prime Minister’s visit to Canada was second in last 42 years, after Indira Gandhi visited the country in 1973 (Manmohan Singh also visited Canada in 2010, but his visit was clubbed with the G20 summit and therefore, not exactly a stand-alone tour). “During this visit, our two countries will resume commercial cooperation in civil nuclear energy after decades. This will be a defining symbol of our mutual trust and understanding,” Modi wrote in an opinion piece in the Canadian paper The Globe and Mail. Canada will supply uranium to energy starved India, beginning this year over a period of five years. Under an agreement signed after comprehensive talks between PM Modi and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, Cameco Corporation will supply 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium over five years to India at an estimated cost of $254 million. Canada is the third country to supply uranium to India after Russia and Kazakhstan. The supplies will be under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Canada had banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s. However, both countries turned the leaf in their relationship with the signing of the Canada-India Nuclear Agreement, paving the way for the uranium deal.

The Prime Minister held wide- ranging discussions with his counterpart Harper on a host of issues covering threats posed by terrorism besides exploring the huge potential for cooperation in energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and skills, smart cities, agro industries, research and education. “ I have come at a time when the importance of this relationship for our two countries has never been stronger. We are two major democracies with deeply shared values. Few countries in the world can match Canada’s potential to be a partner in India’s economic transformation. And , it exists in a new environment in India, which is open, predictable, stable and easy to do business in,” Modi said. “Equally, the vast scale of India’s transformation, and our rapid economic growth, offers immense opportunities for Canada,” he further said.

Earlier, PM Narendra Modi was formally greeted at the Ottawa airport by a high–powered delegation from the Canadian government, led by the country’s defence minister Jason Kenney, when he arrived in Canada. But a far more enthusiastic welcome was awaiting him at the Fairmont Hotel in Ottawa, as his cavalcade drove down Rideau Street that has been festooned with Indian and Canadian flags to mark the first bilateral visit by an Indian PM to Canada in last three decades. Just as the organisers had advertised, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public interaction with the Indian diaspora at Ricoh Coliseum in Canada had all the trappings of a rockstar concert as Bollywood singer Sukhwinder Singh, Shiamak Davar troupe and other groups set the tone for the evening.

The nearly 10,000-strong audience interrupted Modi repeatedly during his hour-long speech with shouts of “Modi, Modi…” as the prime minister spoke about the changes sweeping India.

Speaking in Hindi in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet colleagues, Modi repeatedly stressed, Sarkar naahi badli, jan manas badla hai dus mahine main (It is not that the government has changed, but it’s people’s thinking that has changed during the last 10 months)”. Modi said the two biggest achievements of his visits to France and Canada were the signing of a deal in France for manufacturing nuclear reactors in India and the supply of uranium from Canada. “These two agreements will help India become a big contributor to clean energy in the world.”

By Ashok Kapur

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