One of the highlights of the brief tenure in which Narendra Modi has adorned the position of India’s prime minister is that he has shown himself as someone who is not here to walk the path often taken. For starters he invited all the heads of state of the immediate neighbors of India when he was taking the oath to become India’s new PM.
FDI in railways, defence are revolutionary steps
One of the hallmarks of the reign of UPA was that it focused on building relations with countries such as the US, the UK and so on and so forth. While these gave India a firm footing in global politics and diplomacy India missed out on the chance to strengthen its relations with countries close by such as Nepal, which during Modi’s recent visit even complained of being overlooked during the UPA regime, and Bhutan. This showed that he had the mind to understand the necessity of good relations with the immediate neighbours. The results of his efforts were evident when on the eve of India’s Independence Day Sri Lanka decided to return arrested fishermen.
He has also been the one to introduce revolutionary economic changes like increasing the limit for foreign direct investment in the insurance sector and bringing about FDI in key areas like railways – with a view to making it more modern and more efficient – and defence – with the aim of making India self-sufficient in this regard. Even more importantly, he has not yet let the Hindutva ideology of the RSS, which is thought to be the parent party of the BJP, affect or influence his work so far. That is perhaps some degree of relief for people who were expecting a wave of communal disturbances with his rise to the most important political position in India.
No sign of any major relief coming for common people
However, it would be a mistake to assume that it has all been rosy so far. The budget has been viewed as disappointment by certain sections of thinkers, analysts and people considering the fact that it has not had much in terms of benefits for the economically depressed classes. His decision to scrap the Planning Commission that has for so long been an integral part of the national economy has also been on the receiving end of much criticism from certain corners.
Some analysts are also of the opinion that Modi’s budget has played it safe – there were no groundbreaking or earth shattering changes or reforms as had been announced by Modi before he became the Prime Minister of India. These analysts also feel that by taking a safety-first approach, instead of showing the decisiveness that got him to his present position, Modi may be disappointing the people who voted for him in the first place. He had been supported because he had conveyed an image that he was hell bent on changing the country for better. While he has made the start, one feels that in this world of unforgiving media glare and popular expectations he needs to act quicker so that he is able to carry on with the reforms that he thinks are essential for the country.
Over the years, Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the major bones of contention between India and Pakistan. In fact, there is a certain area in Kashmir that is under Pakistani occupation and it has been claimed that if a plebiscite were to be taken in the troubled State there would be a fair number of people who would want to go to Pakistan. Pakistan has also stated that it is worried about human rights violations are being perpetrated by Indian soldiers against the people of Kashmir. India, on its part, has accused Pakistan of meddling in its affairs stating that it has been sending militants from its own territory in order to help the insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir.
India needs to take affirmative action on issues with Pak
Very recently Narendra Modi, while visiting Jammu and Kashmir, had stated that Pakistan was resorting to a proxy war since it did not have the wherewithal to engage India one on one. On the other hand, there is the example of Pakistan returning a captured BSF soldier to India in fine health. Considering the nature of relations as well as military exchanges between both the countries such an event should be regarded as a rare one.
However, it is also true that of late there have been repeated incursions along the border from the Pakistan side and in spite of India’s requests the authorities in Pakistan have been unable to stop these. Given the fact that both Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi are supposed to meet in the days to come it is perhaps imperative that these issues are dealt with as soon as possible. In fact, if the general consensus in India is to be believed Pakistan is doing all this so that the border issue can be kept alive.
It is being stated that most of the attacks are taking place in the plains areas as media has better access over here and also because the amount of civilians, who are worryingly being regarded as easy targets these days by anyone willing to create trouble, living in the vicinity of the border is greater than what one would get in the mountainous locations. The logic here is that the terrorists are thinking that if the civilians can be made the soft target then it would create some adverse impact on the government and show the world that the entire area is troubled indeed.
It is perhaps required that instead of making accusations the Indian government takes more affirmative steps and communicate to Pakistan in a stern way that such actions have to stop if peace talks are to go ahead and if they are to have a meaningful conclusion. In case this is being orchestrated from another source or even from secessionist forces within the country itself then too some hard steps need to be taken in order to ensure that a proper solution can be reached as soon as possible. Mutual cooperation can work wonders for both the countries. However, for that to happen, the peace process needs to be provided an enabling environment.