MELBOURNE – While economic factors are set to dominate the foreign policy of the new Indian government, it may adopt a ‘muscular’ policy towards Pakistan and bolster defence capabilities against China, according to a think tank here.
A research paper commissioned by Melbourne-based think tank Australia India Institute (AII) on 'Indian Foreign Policy Under (Prime Minister) Modi' pinpointed that economics was central to his thinking about foreign policy and that he was too pragmatic to be bound by ideology. The study is part of AII's 'Fearless Nadia Occasional Papers' focusing on various aspects of the relationship between India and Australia.
Citing that India's foreign policy was changing and becoming federalised, the paper said that Modi was keen to legitimise the new emerging trend of states contributing to foreign policy matters that had been otherwise exclusive to the centre.
The paper highlighted that Prime Minister Modi would build on his past record as the Gujarat chief minister of India's fastest growing state and make India's Look East policy as his priority. However, for neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China, he may adopt more ‘muscular’ approach, it said.
“Modi, a non north Indian, may treat Pakistan differently. He would be less willing to make concessions until and unless there was an end to what he had called cross border terrorism,” the paper said. “Unlike his immediate predecessors, Modi will bolster India's military strength so that it is a credible deterrent to Pakistani adventurism,” the paper said.
He said that under Modi, steps would be taken to improve the inadequate military infrastructure along the Indo-China border. “Under Modi, security and defence will be important components of India's foreign policy. This military's inputs to foreign policy, particularly relating to China and Pakistan, will be given due weight,” the paper said.
“Modi has often said his government will give primary to the modernisation of India's military forces, and that, in turn, will mean more arms, sourced both within India and abroad,” it said. Further arguing that Modi was an unabashed champion of nuclear power and he would want to build more nuclear plants”, the paper said that for this he would need nuclear fuel and thus countries like Australia would play an important role.
It further said that Modi would work on increasing exports, build its future on its strong information technology sector, and garner foreign investments and other business opportunities for India's entrepreneurs. The paper also suggested that Modi who thinks Indian diaspora living overseas was a vast reservoir to articulate India's national interests and affairs globally, would harness this resource to strengthen what he calls brand India.