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Powered by UP Mandate, Modi Goes For Global Outreach

India has also cited the economics of OBOR, especially unviable debt financing, as a reason for staying away.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:May 29, 2017, 2:26 PM IST
Powered by UP Mandate, Modi Goes For Global Outreach
File photo of Prime Minister Modi (Photo: Reuters)

New Delhi: Over the next two months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s travel schedule includes at least five foreign tours, with a visit to Germany, France, Spain and Russia starting on Monday.

According to commentators, after BJP’s landslide victory in the Uttar Pradesh elections, Modi government is likely to pursue a more aggressive strategy to woo foreign investment in India.

Recent Cabinet decisions to abolish the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and indigenise defence production further bolster these claims.

Are the visits to foreign state capitals aligned with the government’s recent moves?

Consider the Prime Minister’s destinations — Germany is the largest economy of the European Union, its biggest creditor nation and the engine that powers the grouping. France is one of the largest military powers in Europe. In Germany, Modi will meet two of the most powerful leaders in Europe: Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Scauble, and also attend the fourth India-Germany Inter-governmental Consultations.

In Russia, Modi will attend the annual India-Russia summit. In the first week of June, the PM will attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meet in Kazhakstan and the G20 summit in Germany in July.

Intrinsic to all these visits is the economic and trade aspect, said Delhi-based commentator Ashok Malik. “India needs to modernize its economy and society and they key to doing it is attracting foreign investment,” Malik told News18 in a telephone interview. “India needs all these countries for that purpose,” Malik added.

Germany and France are the technology and financial leaders of Europe, while Spain has a lot of companies specializing in transportation, which India is looking at to modernize its rail and road networks. Russia is an important defence partner.

Prime Minister Modi will also visit Israel, another country of significance to India. Israel is known for its defence firms and technology ecosystem, which India is keen to share. The Middle Eastern nation also has advanced agricultural and water harvesting technology to offer, something that India will be interested in for boosting farmers’ incomes back home.

Another aspect of Modi’s foreign visits would be to explain India’s position on China’s One Belt One Road project. China’s massive infrastructure project, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has rattled India, which refused to participate in Beijing’s belt and road forum, citing sovereignty concerns about the CPEC cutting through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

“Part of the conversation will be to explain India’s position on OBOR,” Malik said, adding that India’s own connectivity projects in the Indian Ocean region would find backers in France and Germany. India may also find a sympathetic ear in Germany, which has reportedly told China that its firms would refuse to participate in OBOR if it didn’t guarantee open and transparent bidding for projects.

India has also cited the economics of OBOR, especially unviable debt financing, as a reason for staying away.

Team Modi would try to convince foreign defence firms to partner with Indian companies to transfer technology and manufacture in India. Though this is a long-term plan, visits to Russia and Israel may help in convincing defence contractors in these nations to make in India, thus cutting India’s import bill and indigenizing defence production.

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| Edited by: Swati Sharma
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