Modi in America

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Prime Minister Modi has once again proven he is the ultimate showman politician. In US on the occasion of the 70th session of UN General Assembly, Modi was on a charm offensive.  Following a stop in New York City, he headed to Silicon Valley, where he visited Tesla and attended a dinner with tech honchos like Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft  Modi also attended a town hall discussion with Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. He mingled with entrepreneurs and addressed a sold-out arena of 18,000 people in San Jose, California. Lights flashed and chants of Modi, Modi filled the sports arena as PM took the stage for the final event of his Silicon Valley tour which was also marked by sporadic protests over his human rights record.

Following this whirlwind trip to West Coast and visits to some of the world’s biggest technology companies, Modi met Obama in New York. He also met British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande, all of whom supported India’s bid for the permanent membership of UN’s all-powerful Security Council. However, the already uncertain meeting between Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not materialize, which means that the prospects of an early engagement between the neighbours are pushed further out into the future.

If anything, Modi’s US visit has once again been a showcase of India’s rising profile in the world affairs. True, Modi through his showmanship might have created a far bigger perception of India’s clout than is the reality, but this hardly detracts from India’s growing global influence. We are witnessing a world that is going through a profound geo-political shift. Old alliances and equations are loosening and the new are taking shape. Where China’s ideological model and its recently slowing economy are making it less of a global favourite, India’s perceived democratic and secular credentials and its huge market is making the country attractive to the west. 

There is also the other profound re-alignment that is taking shape; China and Pakistan have further cemented their relationship through a 46 billion dollar Economic Corridor project. Russia has also cosied up to China and there has been some tentative engagement between Kremlin and Islamabad too. This is creating a scenario where India and Pakistan are liable to diverge further from each other. That is, unless the leaders of the two countries, more particularly Modi, decide to reach out to each other and thus bridge the growing divide.  But as things stand, it seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. Following meltdown of the recent NSA level talks over Pakistan’s invite to Hurriyat, the contact between the two countries has become more or less basic in nature. Modi has exhibited little interest in pushing a meaningful engagement with Islamabad. The attempts so far, for all their apparent seriousness, have been in the nature of pursuing a dialogue on India’s terms. 

Where does this leave us in Kashmir? Stranded as always. Separatist response to the changing state of affairs has been along predictable lines. They betray a singular lack of understanding of the changing regional and regional dynamics. Separatist politics in the state, as always, remains parochial and localized, driven by the small day to day issues. There is no big picture vision or agenda. Their discourse remains stuck while the world has moved on and the new realities have redrawn the geo-political priorities. It is, therefore, high time for them to introspect and recalibrate their strategies, not the goal. Not doing so, will only further deepen the long-standing status quo.

 

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