It will take a man with a 56-inch chest to turn India’s economy around, Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been fond of saying on the campaign trail. And these strength requirements apparently don’t end at India’s borders—Modi’s advisors are intimating that their man will be strong and assertive foreign matters as well. Reuters:
The advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the BJP’s manifesto is still under wraps, said Modi would move quickly to lay out India’s core security interests in its neighbourhood, replacing what they dismissed as a reactive policy under the Congress party.Topping the list will be an early settlement of the border dispute with China, an assertion of India’s primacy in the Indian Ocean, and a low tolerance of Muslim militancy that India believes is often backed by Pakistan.“You will see a more nationalistic approach on issues relating to terrorism in our neighbourhood. It is a much more hard view of these things,” said one of the advisers.
On the one hand, it’s easy to talk tough when you’re not sitting in power—a lot of this kind of rhetoric is more about posturing for the electorate than anything else. But even vague campaign gestures can have consequences. A new administration might feel it has to demonstrate a degree of follow-through in its early months in office.In a more settled time none this would need remarking on—it’s par for the course in international relations. But given how geopolitics in Asia have been heating up lately, a Modi administration keen on throwing its weight around might just spark off something unwelcome and unexpected if it’s not careful. It’s certainly something to look out for.