Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, used to serve as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from October 2001 to May 2014.
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In 2014, he defeated the Indian National Congress in the Indian general election and was elected as the 14th Indian Prime Minister.
He was re-elected in 2019. Modi’s political actions and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s political powers are quite different from that of the Congress and some significant progress has been made. I call this “Modi strategy”.
After winning the Indian election, Modi showed some remarkable political qualities. Although China has made several efforts, he still decided not to participate in the Belt and Road Forum in May 2017. He claimed lack of experience in Chinese organisations and his unexpected move caused much discussions and grabbed the attention of many media in the world. Later in July of the same year, there was a China–India border standoff at the boundary of Sikkim, where a small Indian army entered the disputed area for unarmed confrontation. This incident was apparently under the control of Modi.
As for India’s internal affairs, Modi’s performance is also very different from the Congress.
He initiated the 2016 Indian banknote demonetisation. If tax evaders voluntarily paid taxes and accepted a fine of 45 percent of the tax, they could be exempted from criminal charges.
Modi intended to use this measure to target certain money launderers and make them lose their properties, because corrupt officials and tax evaders often did not dare to register themselves to change the banknotes.
The demonetisation measure caused some social unrest, death, violence and agricultural losses. Even so, as of now one can conclude that this financial adventure has at least partially succeeded.
Modi is very keen on the so-called Chinese model. He also proposed a huge-scale infrastructure plan in an attempt to change the old and backward infrastructure in India and stimulate the country’s economic growth.
Because the United States promoted the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy, Modi has also become a strong supporter of the Trump administration in the United States, and he has won a certain degree of international status.
Looking at the support he received in India, Modi’s government will still exist as a strong political force in the future, contrary to the predictions of some Chinese.
BJP under Modi has carried out several major reforms. Its grassroots organisations have been strengthened, enabling the party to win considerable successes and support in Indian society. Therefore, it is expected that the Congress may not pose a major challenge to Modi in the long run.
Under such circumstances, it is very important to understand and grasp Modi and his strategy.
Using information analysis tools and methods, with geopolitics as the basic framework, the basic components of Modi’s strategy have gradually emerged. The evaluation of Modi’s strategy mainly includes the following aspects that are worthy of attention.
- Modi’s strategy inherited certain aspects of the original Indian foreign policy. His strategy itself is the realistic further expansion of such policy. Modi does not blindly engage in geopolitical innovations. Instead he cleverly chooses parts and bits of India’s foreign policy legacy and appropriates the efforts of Congress.
- Modi’s strategy is based on “real benefit”. This “real benefit” includes territorial, energy, stability, law, finance, defence, and “Made in India” markets. The focus of Modi’s strategy is on India’s overall expansions and proactive measures. In this regard, Modi is a pragmatist. He knows that the Indian economy is the lifeblood of BJP’s politics. Without economic benefits, Modi will not do what he is doing.
- The realisation of Modi’s strategy depends on the use of defence relations, which is also its key link. As is known to all, governments of the Indian Ocean countries have changed frequently, yet the defence relationship is far more stable than the governments. Therefore, the Modi government puts the emphasis on defence relations and does not avoid to use them in building a regional cooperation framework. It can be seen that Modi is familiar with geopolitics. He surely deserves to be a first-class graduate of a Master of Arts degree in political science.
- On India-US relations, Modi does much more than the non-aligned Congress. However, Modi’s strategy has its own principles. It is by no means a full integration into the Indo-Pacific strategy. Modi is actually using the Indo-Pacific strategy as much as possible to let the US work for India. From time to time, he will use the US to frighten India’s neighbours, especially India’s “huge neighbour”.
- From the perspective of geopolitics and geostrategy, one of the supporting points of Modi’s strategy is to make full use of the good relationship between India’s official and private economy, to export influence to India, enhance its international status and enhance its economic growth. By focusing on both India’s domestic and foreign rights, Modi has laid down a long-term foundation.
- One of the key points of Modi’s strategy is to develop the market for “Made in India”, so Modi now emphasises “freedom and fairness” and inevitably he will continue to do so in the future. As an exporting country, if there is no “free and fair” treatment, the outcome may be the same as “Made in China” in the United States. Modi’s strategy clearly understands this so, in his strategy, this is part of the core principles.
- In terms of implementation, Modi’s strategy began with a variety of loose relationships, treaties, plans and projects, then gradually integrating into a geo-strategic regional alliance order. The effect of this is obvious: It requires less cost and can produce faster results and clearly visible returns on strategic benefits.
- Modi’s strategy takes full advantage of India’s abundant human resources. This is obviously the key to winning world capital support. With the continuous flow of world capital support, it is equivalent to the support of Modi’s strategy. Otherwise, this will be like a vote against it, which would result in the inevitable, ultimate failure of this geostrategy.
- Modi’s strategy exploits the relationship between the Arab world and develops new levers in an attempt to stabilise the Muslim challenge within India from the outside and achieve relative stability of the country. This is certainly a trial, but the lack of effective political organisation within Indian Muslims does not pose a major challenge to Modi.
- The influence of Modi’s strategy on China is mainly to restrict the Belt and Road Initiative and to achieve the goal of containing China while simultaneously expanding the Indian market and influence by creating a common interest circle with India. This of course will also create competition and challenges for “Made in China”.
- In Modi’s strategy, the axis of relations between India with Israel and the United States is a key point. As the world’s geopolitical common sense in the past 10 years, the US-Israel political axis is a reality. Modi gives up the non-alignment and stresses the need to strengthen various relations with Israel. It is clear that he hopes to penetrate the US-Israel axis and stabilise the future of India-US relations. Modi is even considering making Israel a lever for India-US relations.
Overall, Modi’s strategy is based on the “complete optimism” of India’s future. This is an important feature and foundation of Modi’s strategy. Therefore, it may be said that the weakness of Modi’s strategy is that India’s economic development cannot always be smooth. If there is an unexpected and significant decline in India’s economic growth in the future, this shortcoming of Modi’s strategy will be revealed and it might even subsequently shake the political status of the Modi government. If this happens, India’s regional influence will naturally face major crises.
Chen Gong founded Anbound Think Tank in 1993. He is now chief researcher. Chen is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of his outstanding academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy