TODAY -

Namo Birthday special: India matters globally
- Yoga, Diwali represent Bharat's growing soft power -

Nirendra Dev *



Millions of Indians and Narendra Modi admirers celebrate the PM's birthday on Sept 17th. But this is also an occasion to analyse what he has achieved for India and how he would help the country scale new heights.

In the northeast, there are hopes for peace and faster development. Several militant and tribal outfits in Assam have laid down arms and joined the mainstream. Hopes are on for a new accord with ULFA. All are also awaiting the day when a final peace pact is inked between Naga rebels and the Centre. His admirers wish Modi achieves what no predecessor could - that is - solve the vexed Naga insurgency.

Talking about the Prime Minister's style of functioning and taking tough decisions, veteran Naga leader S C Jamir told this writer in 2021 ---- "Modi has guts, that is an advantage. The Naga issue has its complexities. I have seen many Prime Ministers, but one good quality with him is, he takes decisions and it is very important".

Birthdays truly, come and go. In the era of social media, even for lesser mortals the day would turn into a day of getting accolades and wishes from across the world. For Narendra Modi's birthday Sept 17th -- it is a vital day in the political and national calendar.

At Samarkand, even Russian President Vladimir Putin teased Modi saying he will extend him any advance birthday wishes. Both the leaders met on Sept 16 (Friday) and discussed among other things even the Ukraine conflict. "..... today's era is not of war," Modi told Putin --- maybe such remarks were unthinkable a few decades back.

Who would listen to an Indian Prime Minister lecturing a superpower and all that !!

But eight years and more in office, Modi has changed India's image at the global stage. India has now 'arrived' at the international stage in the comity of nations. Not only India matters in a geo-strategic sense, even Hindu festivals like Diwali represent Bharat's growing soft power.

On other fronts, Modi is today more often described as an economic moderniser or a catalyst of development. He is also a dedicated Hindutva devotee and got two major election promises: a grand Ram Temple at Ayodhya and Art 370 abrogated. He has achieved more. Maitree Vaccine has been a matchwinner.

Bowing to PM Modiís maiden address to the UN General Assembly on Sept 27, 2014, the United Nations had declared June 21 as the International Yoga Day. In the history of the UN it was the highest number of cosponsors ever for any resolution of this nature.

In diplomacy, he could successfully establish a good personal rapport with several leaders. Perhaps posterity would also remember Modi as one of the few who called the then US President Obama by his first name 'Barack'.

Modi's interactions with the US Presidents Jio Biden, Donald Trump and Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian leader Putin, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, leaders from France and Germany, South Korea, Japan and South African President Jacob Zuma, were examples of Modiís ability to punctuate the crucial tactical visions in Indian foreign policy.

Closer home, the Modi-led dispensation(s) in New Delhi did not neglect smaller countries and in fact took up many pro-active diplomatic steps in the neighbourhood. Incumbent External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar is an able hand and has played a key role in boosting the country's image.

His predecessor Late Sushma Swaraj, though often stood overshadowed by the PMO, also traveled extensively especially in the neighbourhood initiating a number of friendly parleys. "Everybody was impressed by Modiji's vision. They feel that investment opportunities have increased in India," Sushma said once on India's ties with ASEAN nations.

The Indo-Bangladesh relationship is very smooth today and Modi shares good rapport with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Look how India matters today. India is the only country among the Quad which has not condemned Russia. But the geo-political standing is such that none can easily condemn India in media or in public.

In 2023, India will host SCO Summit wherein Pakistan and China are key members. All eyes are also on the G-20 Summit to be hosted by India. India will assume the G 20 Presidency on December 1, 2022 from Indonesia. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has set up a five-member panel for coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for hosting G-20 events.

In accordance with the Prime Minister's wish, a series of G-20 related meets would be held in various parts of India. There are plans to hold about 10 meets in Karnataka.

On other fronts, Modi has guided India successfully through the turbulent period of conflicts with China, handled terrorism and aerial dogfights with Pakistan, ordered surgical strikes and brought in smiles for millions of countrymen and women with toilets, electricity, cooking gas and good roads.

On Jan 26, 2001, the grand Republic Day celebrations were marred by a killer quake in the Kutch region of Gujarat. Today that region is a different world. In August 2022, an emotional Modi said that the people here have changed adversity into an opportunity. Kutch is truly an example that India can become a developed nation by 2047.


* Nirendra Dev wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is based in New Delhi and can be reached at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 18 2022 .



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