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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Hindu Editorial : Make The Neighbourhood First Again

mahendra Guru
The Hindu Editorial : Make The Neighbourhood First Again

Title: Make The Neighbourhood First Again

(India is sliding towards a situation where it is neither feared nor loved by other South Asian countries)

Almost four years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his term with a “Neighbourhood First” moment, by inviting leaders of all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to his swearing-in ceremony, India’s neighbourhood policy is clearly adrift. New Delhi’s connect with its South Asian neighbours is weaker than it has been for a very long time.

A perfect storm?

ü  In the Maldives, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has gone out of his way to challenge the Modi government, whether it is on his crackdown on the opposition, invitations to China, or even breaking with New Delhi’s effort to isolate Pakistan at SAARC.

ü  In Nepal, the K.P. Sharma Oli government is certainly not India’s first choice, and Kathmandu’s invitation to the Pakistani Prime Minister this week confirms the chill.

ü  And no matter which party is in power in Pakistan, it is difficult to see Delhi pushing for official dialogue, especially with the military on the ascendant once again.

ü  In other parts of the neighbourhood, where relations have been comparatively better for the past few years, upcoming elections could turn the tables on India.

ü  The next problem is the impact of China’s unprecedented forays into each of these countries.

ü  In Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan, China holds strategic real estate, which could also be fortified militarily in the future. At present, it means China has a stake in the internal politics of those countries.

ü  Beijing is now taking on a role New Delhi should have been in a better position to play, and by refusing to play it Delhi is being shown up as unfeeling, partisan or, worse, ineffective in the bargain.

ü  Mr. Modi’s decision to abruptly cancel his visit to Male in 2015 did not yield the required changes in the government’s treatment of the opposition, and New Delhi’s dire warnings about Mr. Yameen’s emergency in the past month have led to the Maldives cancelling its participation in the Indian Navy’s “Milan” exercises.

ü  While many of these factors are hard to reverse, the fundamental facts of geography and shared cultures in South Asia are also undeniable, and India must focus its efforts to return to a more comfortable peace, and to “Making the Neighbourhood First Again”.

ü  Next, instead of opposing every project by China in the region, the government must attempt a three-pronged approach.

ü  First, where possible, India should collaborate with China in the manner it has over the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor.

ü  Second, when it feels a project is a threat to its interests, India should make a counter-offer to the project, if necessary in collaboration with its Quadrilateral partners, Japan, the U.S. and Australia.

ü  Third, India should coexist with projects that do not necessitate intervention, while formulating a set of South Asian principles for sustainable development assistance that can be used across the region.

Learning from ASEAN

ü  Leaders of SAARC countries meet more often informally, that they interfere less in the internal workings of each other’s governments, and that there be more interaction at every level of government.


  • Swearing (noun) = Oath (शपथ - ग्रहण) 
  • Adrift (adj) = Without purpose (भटकते हुए) 
  • Ascendant (adj) = Rising in power or influence (प्रबल) 
  • Portent (noun) = Warning, alert (चेतावनी) 
  • Pose (verb) = Present a problem 
  • Unprecedented (adj) = Never done or known before (अभूतपूर्व) 
  • Foray (noun) = Attack or assault (आक्रमण) 
  • Array (noun) = An ordered series or arrangement 
  • Mediate (verb) = Intervene in a dispute in order to 
  • bring about an agreement (मध्यस्थता करना) 
  • Unfeeling (adj) = Lacking physical sensation or sensitivity (उदासीन) 
  • Partisan (adj) = Biased (पक्षपातपूर्ण) 
  • Tactic (noun) = An action or strategy (कार्यनीति) 
  • Sway (noun) = Rule, control (बोलबाला) 
  • Infiltration (noun) = Illegal entry (घुसपैठ) 
  • Ire (noun) = Anger (क्रोध) 
  • Collaboration (noun) = Alliance, partnership (सहभागिता) 
  • Chill (noun) = An unpleasant feeling 

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