When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the elections in India critics of the soon to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out his lack of foreign policy and experience. However looking closer at the history of Modi his critics may have it wrong. In fact, Modi has publicly stated his dersire to work with certain govenments and acknowledged that this is the 21st century and that you can’t hide yourself away like it is the 18th century.
Modi has expressed his admiration for Israel, a state no sitting Indian prime minister has ever been to, but which he visited in 2006 for a bilateral summit on agricultural cooperation. Modi often speaks of India learning from Israeli best practices in modernizing its massive agricultural sector. He has also discussed cooperation with Israeli diplomats on areas including renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, and water use, among others.
India-Israel cooperation also includes military exercises, sharing of intelligence, and joint academic research. Most Indian politicians still prefer not to be seen too close to Israel from fear of alienating their Muslim voters. Modi is different,” Yediot Ahronot claimed after his historic victory.
Now, Israel is jubilant, expecting Modi to expand the relations between the countries not just on a state level but on the national level. I think of India as being like Israel. We’re surrounded by countries that are our enemies. We have Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Sri Lanka - we need a strong man who is not afraid to stand up for this country.''
Under Mr. Modi’s leadership over 2000 farmers from the state of Gujarat visit Israel annually to get trained in advance farming techniques – at their own expense.
He has called on Israeli companies to enter into water management and water recycling sector in around 50 cities of Gujarat. Israeli private sector companies are playing an active role in Gujarat’s economy. Israel has proposed setting up a corpus fund for promoting joint ventures between Gujarat state and Israel in fields of research and industrial development. India-Israel bilateral trade has risen from $200 million in 2001, to a staggering $6 billion in 2013.
Modi has delivered at least three speeches dedicated to international affairs and security since having been anointed his party's prime ministerial candidate in September, and discussed the subject in several interviews. He has repeatedly stated that foreign policy begins at home. National security, he said in his first speech in September requires a "strong, patriotic government in Delhi," while instability arises from "a lack of our capacity to understand and accept the viewpoint of the other. He has described "stagnancy" as the biggest problem facing the country. "I believe a strong economy is the driver of an effective foreign policy...we have to put our own house in order so that the world is attracted to us."
For Modi commercial interests now are important shapers of India's foreign policy. On several occasions, both in prepared remarks and in off-the-cuff responses, Modi has stated that "India can offer a lot to the world." In particular, he has referred to India's historical ability to create "institutions and intellectual property," recalling ancient centers of learning such as Nalanda and Takshashila.
He has criticized some of the previous Indian government's economic policies that have adversely influenced relations with Washington, and described as a "breach of trust" New Delhi's retroactive tax on Vodafone. "It's not as if people from other countries don't like India, that they don't want to invest here," he said in April. But if "the constant policy changes by the government" could be stabilized, that would increase confidence.
When speaking about Pakistan, Modi has said that it is "better to keep good relations," while adding that to hold talks with Islamabad, "the blasts and gunfire first have to stop." In 2013, he called on India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to wage war on "poverty, illiteracy, and superstition," and urged Pakistan to "abandon its anti-India politics and become a friendly country."
Modi succeeds Manmohan Singh, whose Congress party suffered its worst-ever defeat in the recent general elections. President Pranab Mukherjee will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Modi on May 26,
Modi vowed to increase efforts to eradicate poverty, create employment opportunities for the country's young workers and provide a safer environment for women.
Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 82, leaves the office with a divided legacy. While his performance as finance minister in the 1990s has been praised for opening up India's economy, his recent years as Prime Minister were pockmarked by a spate of high-profile corruption scandals involving his Congress Party, as well as stalled reforms and a drop in growth.
Under Modi’s leadership Gujarat, which contains 60 million people, has seen China-like rates of growth in recent years, which the rest of the country has eyed enviously. The "Gujarat model" of development means a focus on infrastructure, urbanization and eradicating red tape.
In 2002, Gujarat state was wracked with anti-Muslim violence, in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. Modi, the state's chief minister, was criticized for not doing enough to halt the violence, but a Supreme Court-ordered investigation absolved him of blame last year.
The United States denied Modi a visa in 2005 over the anti-Muslim violence, but President Barack Obama has since called Modi to congratulate him on winning the election and to invite him to Washington, according to the White House.