Engaging with neighbours

Published By : Admin | May 26, 2015 | 15:02 IST

SAARC is a very important aspect of India’s foreign policy. India, apart from being the largest Nation in the SAARC region, is also economically very significant. From Day 1 itself Prime Minister Narendra Modi has illustrated how better relations with SAARC Nations is at the core of his foreign policy.

Shri Modi decided to invite all SAARC leaders for his swearing-in ceremony on 26th May 2014. Thus, when Shri Narendra Modi took over as PM, President Hamid Karzai (Afghanistan), Speaker Sharmin Chaudhary (Bangladesh) (PM Sheikh Hasina was on a pre-scheduled visit to Japan), PM Tshering Tobgay (Bhutan), President Abdulla Yameen (Maldives), PM Sushil Koirala (Nepal), PM Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan) and President Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka) were all present for the event. The next day he had very fruitful bilateral meetings with the leaders. Each of these meetings indicated a new beginning and the rise of an era of optimism and record progress in SAARC relations.

The Prime Minister chose Bhutan as the first place for his overseas visit. He landed there on 15thJune 2014 amidst a very warm welcome and several key agreements were inked during the visit. The Prime Minister also addressed the Parliament of Bhutan during this visit.

When PM Narendra Modi landed in Kathmandu in 2014, it marked the beginning of the first standalone bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 17 years. In Nepal too, key agreements were signed and the deliberations between the PM and the leadership of Nepal marked the start of a historic period in India-Nepal ties. Shri Modi again went to Nepal for the SAARC Summit in November 2014, where he met top SAARC leaders.

In February 2015 the newly elected Sri Lankan President Sirisena came to India, making India his first destination for a foreign visit after he assumed office in January 2015. In March 2015 the Prime Minister went to Sri Lanka, making this the first standalone visit by an Indian Prime Minister in several years. During the visit the agreements inked and the Prime Minister addressed the Sri Lankan Parliament and visited Jaffna, making him the first ever Indian PM and the 2nd world leader to visit Jaffna. In Jaffna he handed over houses as a part of a housing projectwhere the Government of India is providing assistance and laid the foundation stone of the Jaffna Cultural Centre.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan visited India in May 2015 and the two Nations agreed to work together for enhanced ties.

History was created in May 2015 when the Indian Parliament unanimously passed the India Bangladesh Border Agreement, which has been described as a watershed moment in India-Bangladesh ties. PM Shri Modi lauded the role of all political parties and CMs and good wishes also came from PM Sheikh Hasina. The Prime Minister is expected to visit Bangladesh very soon to further cement ties.

Thus, from bilateral meetings, key agreement and lot more, Shri Narendra Modi is doing everything possible to strengthen bonds with SAARC nations.

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At the World Stage
May 26, 2015

Ever since assuming office on 26th May 2014, the Government of India has pursued a foreign policy that has believed in actively engaging with the world and at the same time inviting the world to  come and invest in India. Under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, India has strengthened the bonds of friendship with existing friends and created newer avenues of cooperation with many other nations.

On May 26th 2014 as Prime Minister Modi and the Council of Ministers was taking oath, seated in the audience were all the SAARC heads of State. This included President Karzai (Afghanistan), PM Tobgay (Bhutan), President Yameen (Maldives), PM Koirala (Nepal), PM Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan) and President Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka). PM Sheikh Hasina was already on a pre-decided tour of Japan, which is why the Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament represented Bangladesh. The next day the Prime Minister held extensive bilateral talks with these leaders.

Shri Modi's vision and commitment for a strong SAARC has been seen repeatedly. His first ever visit to outside India after taking over as PM was to Bhutan, where he addressed the Bhutanese Parliament and several agreements were inked to strengthen India-Bhutan cooperation. He became the first PM to go to Nepal on a standalone bilateral visit in 2014, where again key progress was made on strengthening India-Nepal ties. The Prime Minister visited Sri Lanka in March 2015 to cement India-SL ties. This came a month after President Maithripala Sirisena visited India, his first visit after taking charge as the President of Sri Lanka in January 2015. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has also visited India in September 2015.

A historical feat was achieved in India’s ties with Bangladesh during PM Narendra Modi’s visit in June 2015 when the Land Boundary Agreement was ratified by the two nations. Bus services between two nations, that would deepen connectivity were also flagged off. In April 2016 the Prime Minister welcomed President Yameen to India and the two leaders held extensive talks on India-Maldives.

The Prime Minister has attended several key summits ever since he took office. In July 2014, the PM joined the BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (Brazil), where he met the BRICS leaders to chalk out the roadmap ahead for the BRICS Nations. In a major development, the BRICS Bank was formed and India was given the first Presidentship of the bank.

In September 2014 the Prime Minister addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, during which he highlighted the ways in which India can contribute to the world and emphasized on the importance of global peace. He made a clarion call to the world to unite and mark one day as the International Day of Yoga. This took shape in December 2014 when 177 nations came together and passed a resolution that declared 21st June as the International Day of Yoga. 

Under the NDA Government, relations with the G20 group have been strengthened. Shri Modi attended the G20 Summits in Australia (2014) and Turkey (2015). At the G20 Summit in Brisbane, the PM put great emphasis on the repatriation of black money and strongly highlighted the evils that the menace of black money can cause. This intervention was very important during the summit deliberations, also highlighting the importance the Government attaches to the issue.

Attaching high priority to relations with ASEAN, PM Narendra Modi attended ASEAN Summits in Myanmar (2014) and Kuala Lumpur (2015) where he met top Asian leaders. All the leaders he met were very enthusiastic about the Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme.

In November 2015 PM Narendra Modi attended the COP21 Summit in Paris where the top world leaders came together to discuss climate change. Shri Modi emphasised on climate justice and the need to create a cleaner and greener tomorrow. He affirmed that both development and environment can go together and urged the world to rise to the occasion and protect the planet. At the COP21 Summit, PM Modi and President Hollande unveiled the International Solar Alliance, the coming together of several nations blessed with abundant sunlight. The Alliance is a sincere effort to create a greener planet. In March 2016 he joined the Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by President Obama where he shared his thoughts on nuclear security and peace.

Shri Modi has devoted immense focus to every region of the world. His 3-nation tour in March 2015 to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka focused on the Indian Ocean. In Seychelles the PM inaugurated the coastal radar project, which has been set up with India’s help. He also joined the ceremony of the commissioning of the Barracuda, which is another token of India-Mauritius cooperation.

In April 2015 the PM visited France, Germany and Canada. This visit was aimed at better cooperation with European Nations and Canada. In France a record 17 agreements were signed including substantial progress in nuclear energy and defence. In Germany the PM and Chancellor Merkel jointly inaugurated the Hannover Messe and the PM also visited a Railway Station in Berlin to get a first hand view of railway modernization. Skill development was another focus area in Germany. In Canada the focus was on economic ties, energy and even cultural cooperation. His visit to Canada was historic as it was the first standalone visit by an Indian PM to Canada in 42 years.

The Prime Minister has made key efforts to strengthening ties with the Eastern neighbours of India. He made an important visit to Japan in August 2014 during which the two nations agreed to cooperate extensively in areas like industry, technology and the smart cities project of the Government. In May 2015 the PM went to China, where he was accorded a very special welcome in Xi’an, which was for the first time that a world leader had been welcomed outside Beijing. He also went to Mongolia, becoming the first ever Indian PM to visit Mongolia. The other destination he visited was South Korea, where he met leading CEOs, visited a shipyard and made a strong pitch for investors to invest in India.

In July 2015 Shri Narendra Modi travelled to five Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. His central Asia visit marked a paradigm shift in India’s relations with the region. From energy, culturual ties to deeper economic cooperation, the issues that were discussed were very extensive.

The Prime Minister recognises India’s long standing ties with West Asia and has undertaken numerous efforts to enhance them. In March 2016 PM Narendra Modi went to Saudi Arabia. He met top Saudi leaders and businesspersons in a visit aimed at boosting diplomatic and economic relations. In a remarkable gesture, Shri Modi visited the L&T labour camp and shared snacks with those working there. He expressed his admiration for their hardwork and lauded their determination. In August 2015 Shri Modi had embarked on a historical visit to UAE, where many areas of cooperation were talked about.

India has welcomed key world leaders as well. In January 2015 USA President Barack Obama came to India as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day Parade. PM Modi and President Obama jointly addressed Indian and American business leaders and even held wide-ranging talks. PM Tony Abbott visited India in September 2014 and in the same month President Xi Jinping visited India, where PM Modi welcomed him in Gujarat. President Putin of Russia made an important visit to India in December 2014, where nuclear and trade ties were extensively discussed.

Shri Modi has been engaging with the Nations of the Pacific islands as well. During his Fiji visit in November 2014 the PM met leaders of all Pacific Island Nations and the leaders deliberated on various issues to enhance India’s bond with the region. The same year leaders of African Nations graced Delhi for a Summit. In the last one year the PM has met Arab Leaders, discussing ways in which India can cement their ties with the Arab World, a region that has always been a great friend of India’s.

Whenever the PM travels overseas, his schedule is packed with meetings and key visits that are aimed at transforming infrastructure and investment back home. Themes like energy, manufacturing, investment, skill development, and infrastructure have been common threads in every visit and each visit has brought in something new for the people of India to cheer about.