30.07.2023 Author: Vladimir Terehov

On some aspects of recent overseas trips of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

On some aspects of recent overseas trips of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

The two recent overseas trips by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, which took place two weeks apart between the second half of June and mid-July, is a glaring example of the rising foreign policy activity of the nation’s head of state, who is increasingly asserting himself as one of the key players in the current stage of the “Big World Game.” The nations visited are a reflection of the issues and difficulties that India is now working to resolve, especially by fostering relationships with other major powers.

During the first of the aforementioned trips, Narendra Modi stopped in the United States and then in Egypt on his way back (June 19–23). The second tour, which took place from July 13–15, was largely spent on his trip to France. However, on his way back from Paris, the India’s Prime Minister stopped at the United Arab Emirates. And it cannot be said that the second parts of both of these foreign trips were of a sort of “supplementary and sidetrack” nature in relation to the first parts. For without exception, all leading world players are involved in the complex processes that are unfolding in the Greater Middle East (GME) region. And in a sense it is getting more competitive. India is also vying for its share of influence in the Greater Middle East.

It should be noted that grouping the two primary visiting nations, the United States and France, as one global political faction still known as the West is getting increasingly difficult. The methods used in Washington, Paris, and several other European capitals to discover solutions to the world’s current problems are diverging more and more. Despite the fact that signatures on behalf of both continue to coexist under acts that are adopted, for example, as part of the G7 configuration. Therefore, Narendra Modi’s visits to each of these countries are interesting in their own right.

The search for an appropriate strategy of behavior in relation to its giant neighbor, China, is increasingly defining India’s main foreign policy dilemma. We emphasize this regardless of whether or not New Delhi’s ruling elite will change parties in the approaching general elections next year. In addition, all of the recent foreign policy initiatives of the Bharatiya Janata Party government, which has been in power for two terms in a row, have been motivated by the aggravation of the domestic political situation in view of the elections, which is anyway almost always in a state of varying degrees of turmoil for all sorts of reasons.

The Prime Minister’s key external component, Chinese influence, has accompanied him silently on both of his recent travels overseas. The same component is evident in the documents adopted at the conclusion of the negotiations, although it is not explicitly stated.

Once again, let us emphasize that there are no unnecessary statements, phrases or even individual words in this kind of documents. While every section of the Joint Statement signed by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of India is significant, the author of this article has paid particular attention to paragraphs 5, 13, 26, 29, 34, 37, 41, 54, and 57. Let’s discuss a few of them, starting with the last one.

The text’s penultimate paragraph (57) refers to the Indian Prime Minister’s anticipation of the US President’s journey to New Delhi for the future G20 conference in September of 2023. It should be emphasized that India is hosting and organizing this international event this year. This summit’s relevance is one that is always rising. It will be the US president’s third meeting with the Indian prime minister in less than six months if nothing prevents him from traveling to New Delhi. The first meeting took place in Hiroshima in May of this year, on the sidelines of the G7 summit. We guess that the sheer fact that the leaders of India and the United States will have met three times in a year (which is still going on) says a lot about the current state and prospects of these nations’ relations.

In paragraph 34, they express their willingness to “strengthen long-term cooperation” within the scope of the arrangement, which is abbreviated I2U2 after the repeating first letters of the four participants: India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, United States. Formed in late 2021, it is often referred to as the Second Quad (QUAD-2). To distinguish it from the First, which was established a year earlier and includes Japan, Australia, India, and the United States.

Each of the four member nations’ foreign policies as well as the evolution of the situation in the Greater Middle East as a whole were significantly impacted by the founding of I2U2. It appears deliberate that Nadendra Modi’s visit to the UAE, which occurred on his way back from a trip to France, was highlighted by the Hindustan Times as one of the important events of his trip.

The desire of India and the United States to develop collaboration in the crucial field of modern technical growth related to the production of new semiconductors is mentioned in paragraph 5 of the document under consideration. It is important to point out that the US intends to replace China in essential international supply chains. The same line specifically references Micron Technology, Inc.’s desire, which has been subject to some constraints in the PRC, to organize the production of its products in India.

The entry in paragraph 54 on enhancing cooperation in combating the creation and distribution of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl is also notable. This entry is anonymous and general in character, but the topic of “Chinese involvement” in Mexican drug gangs, particularly those producing fentanyl, has recently gained a major place in Washington’s propaganda attacks on Beijing.

In general, media appraisals of the Indian Prime Minister’s tour to the United States are dominated by emotionally charged turns of phrase, with frequent usage of the word “historical.”

The same emotions are present in the comments on Nadandra Modi’s trip to France. It was accompanied by a spectacular action combining representatives from all three services of the Indian Armed Forces in a military parade commemorating France’s national celebration, Bastille Day. The brave soldiers of the Punjab Regiment were parading along the Champs-Élysées while four Rafale fighter jets provided to India by French Dassault Aviation flew over. Along with ecstatic Parisians, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Nadendra Modi observed all of this action close to each other on the podium.

According to the comments on the results of Nadendra Modi’s visit to Paris, one of the main items on the agenda was the possible purchase of 26 Rafale fighter jets, made in deck version and designed to equip (or rather replace) a group of MiG-29M fighters on the recently commissioned INS Vikrant indigenous aircraft carrier in service with the Indian Navy. It is also reported that India is currently completing comparative tests of French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale M and American Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters. And it appears that the customer prefers the “French option” in handling this problem.

During an earlier visit to the United States, the two sides agreed however to make every effort to assist Boeing’s operations in the Indian arms market. In this light, it is interesting to find out how the “allies’” conflict over this particular order will play out (supposedly by the year’s end). In addition, the “issue price” is quite appealing, with estimates reaching $8 billion.

A succinct “Joint Communiqué” that summarizes the key outcomes of the discussions held in Paris on the broadest range of bilateral relations problems may be found here. In the comments on the document made to journalists by both state leaders, among the set of issues discussed, Nadendra Modi paid special attention to the “defense” component, while Emmanuel Macron focused more on the “humanitarian” aspect.

Finally, let us make a generalized remark about the fact that India has its own vision of the situation in Indo Pacific Region and its own approaches to solving the problems arising here. And everyone else involved in the game that is unfolding in this key region of the world must take this into account.


Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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