Charisma or Happenstance?

PM Modi’s much-touted visit to the US, and his address to both houses, marks another watershed moment in the increasing alliance between the US and India, now the largest democracy and a country with the highest census figures.

Several authors have sung the customary paeans on the strength of emerging India. However, there is a not-so-silent murmur about doubts about ideological alignment between India and the West. Equally important are the suspicions that India harbors against the US.

Use and Throw

The West, and especially the US, has adopted a “Use and Throw” policy in shaping and reshaping its political partners on the global stage. Unlike the West, the East, especially India, is less focused on a transactional relationship and more on the substance of an alliance. India is wary of being staged like a stooge and decapitated later when the interests effervesce. Supporting Pakistan (and indirectly the terror outfits) has truly not gone well in the annals of recent Indian memory bylanes.

What does India look for in an alliance partner?

With a resurgence of Indian identity, Indian pride, and Indian legacy, India is looking for independence in its interaction with its partners. Despite being a partner, India does not want to play second fiddle or be overwhelmed with the pressure of alliance in building or maintaining its identity and Asmita (Hindi word with roots in Sanskrit). India’sIndia’s Independent identity and Asmita are key to forging relations with India.

Indian Aspirations and Threats

India can successfully counter the bullying of China. However, other than the border disputes, India has to care for its voracious appetite for essential needs and concurrently face the vagaries of the confluence of challenges emanating from the resources crunch, creating opportunities and innovating itself from strategies to operations across multiple dimensions (governance, regulations, and operating model), and sectors, (agriculture, industry, commerce). It hasn’t lost sight of gaining self-reliance in several sectors. Its quest for ”Make in India.”

PM Modi’s Visit

Not sure if that is a watershed moment, but one thing is for sure, it has nothing to do with Modi’s charisma. There are several charismatic global leaders, and several have not been accorded the type of welcome offered to PM Modi.

Fragmenting Global Order and Restituting Supremacy

Modi arrives at a crucial juncture in international politics. China and Russia are overtly (no more covertly) opposing Western hegemony. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel are fast-changing alliances. A bipolar global order is fast reassembling into a multipolar order. Technological advances are fast challenging the existing order. More so, the pandemic, the Chinese hegemony, and belligerence have prompted an urgent reshaping of the global supply chain and creating multiple manufacturing hubs.

PM Modi’s visit has to be viewed against these complex global dynamics. It’s a coincidence and not charisma. India fits the bill as an alliance partner for the West, and its indomitable leader, the US. India is aware that it is a junior partner in the alliance, but Modi’s astute leadership will articulate its needs, aspirations, and Asmita. If the US can understand the psyche of contemporary India, the partnership will rise high like an Eagle. However, the West and the US will have to invest in removing the suspicion and building confidence for an enduring partnership with India.

Times have changed, and in a flat and multipolar world, the US, too, needs to introspect, retrospect, and reflect. Adopting an ideological change is pertinent and time-sensitive. Will it?

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