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Interrogating Coherence, Finesse, Efficacy

'Modified' Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested much political capital in his foreign policy initiatives. Behind the spectacle of the pomp and show, the real test of foreign policy and strategy lies in coherence of design, finesse in execution, and efficacy of outcomes. The first of our new column on Strategic Affairs takes a preliminary stab at assessing whether New Delhi has been able to translate its desires into tangible outcomes.

During his eight months in power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expended considerable energy and time on foreign affairs. The prime ministerial stamp on the foreign policy of this government is unmistakable. And, this is not just because the foreign minister’s role has been circumscribed. Rather, every foreign trip and summit meeting has been an occasion to project the towering presence and sole leadership of the prime minister. Modi has been the object of adulation by overseas Indians: the curious epithet of “rock star” is routinely used to describe his impact abroad. His meetings with world leaders have been equally impressive events. To be sure, much of this owes to Modi’s ability to present a compelling narrative of his approach to this or that country – and do so in an effortless manner.

Yet, storylines and stage props can only get us so far in international politics. The real test of foreign policy and strategy lies in coherence of design, finesse in execution, and efficacy of outcomes. It is to these standards that any serious audit of foreign policy under the new government must be benchmarked. As the glitter around the United States’ president’s visit settles down and fades, it may be useful to take a preliminary stab at understanding the current trajectory of Indian foreign and strategic policy.

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