India must capitalise on ongoing shifts in global order

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James kottoorModi in Europe – Editorial in Times of India, May 30, 2017

(Note: We are all travelling together in a boat. What will happen if our boat is caught in winds and waves? The boat will tilt to one side and capsize if we don’t straighten ourselves to steady the boat to survive. ‘Change yourself to change the world to your advantage,’  is the principle.

Modi is very good at doing this in foreign relations but not that good at balancing himself at home caught now between conflicting forces let loose by enforcing cow slaughter storm by him. He has not even opened his mouth on how he is going to calm the storm at home. That does not speak well of a balanced leader not ready to change and adjust to changing situations at home.

Or does he want to take a distant  view  from Europe how warring factions in India are going to pieces or adjusting themselves without his intervention to please opposing  forces, especially the cow vigilantes. You can’t have conflicting standards, one for foreign countries  and another for one’s own country without being blamed as hypocritical. 

If Brexit and Trump are creating chaos in the world, it is RSS and cow vigilantes doing the same at home.  Figuratively   withdrawal  of US from Paris climate change forced an exemplary leader like Angela Merkel to speak out that Europe must learn to fend for itself. Similarly ban on cow slaughter has created similar stom in India and Modi should do an Angela Merkel act. Save India first, the world next. james kottoor, editor)

Embarking on his latest foreign tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Germany, Spain, Russia and France over the next few days. The tour comes at a time when the global order is undergoing fundamental shifts. Populist sentiment is surging in Western countries, triggering dramatic political change.

This includes Europe, currently dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and a new US administration that wants EU member nations to shoulder greater responsibilities for their defence. In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that Europe could no longer completely depend on others – a reference to the US and UK – and needed to fight for its own destiny.

Such a reordering of Europe and the world presents opportunities as well as threats for India. For example, Brexit opens up the possibility of a mutually beneficial India-UK free trade deal that wouldn’t have happened under the aegis of the old EU. Similarly, Brexit indirectly puts pressure on EU to get its own long-delayed trade agreement with India up and running.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin have a good chance of working out a US-Russia modus vivendi. This would be beneficial for India and Modi must attempt to nudge both powers in this direction. That said, it would also be welcome if the US continues to provide leadership in areas such as climate change.

Trump refused to commit to the 2015 Paris climate accord at the recent G7 summit and may decide to pull America out. American leadership receding here would only see China fill the vacuum – not a very appealing proposition given that climate change must be taken seriously and China mostly works against India at international fora. In short, Indian diplomacy needs to be extremely agile in a world that is being unmade and remade again.

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