India's thrust at the global stage

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi


Modi became the first world leader whom the two warring sides favoured as the peacemaker and responding upfront to this situation, Modi called for immediate cessation of military offensive in Ukraine and return to exploration for a negotiated solution.

A nation's strategic approach is by definition meant to take care of the security and economic interests of the country and it is truly remarkable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policy on international relations has stood its ground amid a festering Ukraine-Russia military conflict, deepening geopolitical alienation between US -led West and the Russia-China camp and the progressively hardening regime of economic sanctions imposed by the US and its allies against Russia.

Never before had India risen so fast on the global stage as an advocate of universal peace, a promoter of economic advancement of the world and a strong voice for renewable energy, environment and poverty elimination – all in the interest of the larger good of the humanity.

India was the first country to show an understanding of Russia's security concerns in a situation where the US-backed NATO had been egging on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to confront Vladimir Putin, in an avoidable replay of the Cold War tussle. In reality, the sensible thing for the West was to work for peaceful coexistence of the East European neighbours with Russia after the USSR had been dismembered and a Unipolar world order had been established.

Significantly, Prime Minister Modi became the first world leader whom the two warring sides favoured as the peacemaker and responding upfront to this situation, Modi called for immediate cessation of military offensive in Ukraine and return to exploration for a negotiated solution.

The strength of Modi's political will was rooted in his belief in doing what was right and this led India to abstain from voting on resolutions moved in the UN Security Council – first by the US and then by Russia – on the Ukraine imbroglio. India has not condemned Russian military action in Ukraine but has also lost no time in demanding immediate stoppage of hostilities and resumption of talks for peace. On his three-nation tour of Europe last week, Modi underscored the Indian view that on the present going, there would be no winner in the Ukraine-Russia armed conflict and – again without taking sides – warned that the entire world would suffer because of the impact of this confrontation on the people in the affected zone and the economic consequences that it would produce globally.

Significantly there is no criticism of India by President Joe Biden of the US – beyond the appeal from his administration for India's support for economic sanctions against Russia. There was in fact an expression of understanding for India's impartial stand on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, from Quad. Prime Minister Modi has kept up India's commitment to this multilateral forum that was meant to safeguard the Indo-Pacific against any aggressive moves by China and at the same time, maintained friendship with Russia for preserving India's enlightened self-interest – all of this was broadly understood by the democratic world.

It is a tribute to Prime Minister Modi's grasp of the current geopolitical situation that all through the turbulence created by Ukraine-Russia military confrontation over the last two months and the threat of escalation held out by both sides, India has steadily worked its way up in building mutual cooperation with other major powers, in the sphere of trade and economy.

From free trade agreement with Australia to long-term economic pacts with UK and Japan and strategic partnership on energy and environment with Germany, all of this was facilitated by the personal cord of friendship struck by Prime Minister Modi with his counterparts in these countries, including Scott Morrison of Australia, Boris Johnson of UK, Fumio Kishida of Japan and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, not to forget Emmanuel Macron, the re-elected President of France.

Prime Minister Modi made a short stoppage at Paris on his way back home to specially congratulate Macron in person and became the first world leader met by the French President on his fresh election. Modi has opened into Nordic region by striking a green alliance with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, at Copenhagen, besides participating in the summit of Nordic countries at the Danish capital. India has thus pushed ahead with consolidating economic ties with Europe – steering clear of the sanctions US had placed on Russia in the wake of the military intrusion in Ukraine.

Following the return of Taliban Emirate in Kabul with active collusion and support of Pakistan, the NSA of India invited his counterparts from Russia, CARs and even Iran to a conference in Delhi where a consensus was reached on the need to counter the danger of spread of radicalisation from Afghanistan. This was a timely initiative that has kept in check the doings of Sino-Pak axis in Afghanistan and thus helped to maintain the security of this region.

If anything, Modi's initiatives have enhanced the stature of India as a counsel for global peace. This strengthens the claim of India on a permanent seat in UN Security Council and certainly establishes India's position as a star of the democratic world that deals with international situations on merit and leads the world towards multi-polarity to avert the return of Cold War.

(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)

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