Thursday, Dec 14, 2017 | Last Update : 03:13 PM IST

Did Modi go too far to keep US happy?

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Nov 15, 2017, 12:39 am IST
Updated : Nov 15, 2017, 12:40 am IST

The PM also told the US President that India would endeavour to “rise to US expectations”. This was grovelling conduct.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds bilateral talks with US President Donald Trump in Manila, Philippines, on Monday. (Photo: PIB | Twitter)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds bilateral talks with US President Donald Trump in Manila, Philippines, on Monday. (Photo: PIB | Twitter)

When India’s economy has gone into sleep mode, and the public mood is being kept artificially buoyed up by a politically greedy cast of characters who cleverly assure us that enduring pain today will yield benefits in the long run, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently made some observations in Manila in the company of US President Donald Trump that can only make us gasp for air.

In the past three days in the Philippines capital, Mr Modi has attended the Asean and East Asia summit meetings, and held a bilateral session with President Trump. In addition, at the senior bureaucratic level, India has been a part of the “Quadrilateral” conclave along with Japan, the United States and Australia, besides itself. This is pitched as a concert of democracies working to keep China’s abrasiveness in check, for Beijing has been bullying nations in the Indo-Pacific region of late.

There has therefore been a lot of activity. But ultimately, it seems to have boiled down to an extensive effort on India’s part to please the US, and to justify its billing as America’s “major defence partner”.  On Monday, the US and India resolved that “two of the world’s great democracies would also have the world’s greatest militaries”.

This primarily means India is going on an arms shopping spree with the Americans. But will India also patrol the Indo-Pacific till the Straits of Malacca along with the US Navy? The US is going out of its way to flatter India by coining the term “Indo-Pacific”.

More, will the US foreign policy and military establishment be sensitive to Indian concerns to the west of India, meaning Pakistan and the Gulf, not just in the east, where America’s traditional Asean allies, and Japan, want it to do more to stand by them when the Chinese are showing muscle.

Two factors must be considered. What has India brought to the Asean table in trade and security in the two decades it has been associated with the regional bloc, and how much potential does it really have? The picture here isn’t quite as rosy as the rhetoric might suggest.

Two, Mr Trump’s America has withdrawn from the vision of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the “pivot to Asia” (transferring 60 per cent of the US fleet to the Pacific theatre) in favour of “America First”, which is a way not to spend overseas in order to keep allies satisfied, but try to urge others to step up to the plate. Is India, then, being coaxed into participating in a military alliance? If so, the Narendra Modi government must do a reality check in Parliament.

The PM also told the US President that India would endeavour to “rise to US expectations”. This was grovelling conduct.

Tags: prime minister narendra modi, donald trump, asean