Tag Archives: diplomacy

27 and counting: Modi “Looks West” with UAE

19 Aug
All that glitters is Modi.

All that glitters is Modi.

Just like everything else he does, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has elevated the Socratic dictum of “Let him who would move the world first move himself” into a practical paisa vasool policy. Discarding the ancient philosopher’s ho-hum peroration about ‘bettering oneself before bettering the world’, our Man of Action went second base by first moving himself all around the world.

In under thirteen months, Modi notched up 27 foreign trips with 9 more waiting to be quickly crossed off from his Filofax. But does he look wearied? Not on your life. With blazing eyes, glowing cheeks, and a 56-inch giving-Putin-a-complex chest, the Determined One (DO) is indefatigable in his quest to win over the world to his winsome ways. Who cares if his junkets, nay, “partnership building visits” are costing the exchequer, at the last count, Rs. 317 crore ($3.17 billion)! What he gets in return are loads of goodwill and yes, deals in billions. But can the mere mortals of South Block keep pace with the DO-gooder? Given the shotgun deals from ‘Neighbourhood First’, ‘Look East’ and now, ‘Look West Asia’, with their mountains of paperwork and the continuous pressure to follow-up, one might worry about the babudom not bucking up. Worry not. The DO’s yoga sessions would soon whip the South Block into shape.

So, how should we score his recent run in Abu Dhabi? Just kidding. It is obviously A+. He got a joint statement out on counter-terrorism cooperation. That’s a groundbreaking deal in security cooperation. Those who view it with scepticism by citing other deals with the UAE like the 1999 extradition deal, the 2002 MoU on Defence Cooperation or the 2011 Agreement on Security Cooperation and Transfer of Sentenced Persons not being worth the ink they were written with, are simply naysayers who should crawl back into the dark hole they came from and eat worms. Okay, even Saudi Arabia gave us Syed Ansari connected with the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in 2012 while the UAE didn’t extradite Anees Ibrahim connected with the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts- not in 1996, not in 1999, not in 2002, not in…oh stuff it! Now the UAE will DO it!  It was not for nothing that the UAE’s crown prince with his five princey brothers greeted the DO.

Coming to the one word that makes the likes of Tata, Reliance, Wipro, NTPC, Larsen & Toubro, Dodsals, Punj Lloyd, Emaar, Ethihad, Nakheel, and DP World go round: Moolah! The DO did much better than what he had done with the US ( investment of $ 41 billion in 3 years), Japan ($ 34 billion investment over the coming years),  China ($ 22 billion worth of deals), France (€ 2 billion investment over the coming years) and 21 others…he got the UAE to promise $75 billion in investment and boost bilateral trade by 60 percent in the next five years. He said so in his speech to an ecstatic crowd of expats in Dubai. And he is a man of words…that is, a man of his word.  The UAE  is our every-weather economic friend, being our third largest trading partner after the US and China. It does help that India is its second largest trading partner with our non-oil trade amounting to more than $39 billion. If things continue as they are, the UAE might just pole vault from the eleventh to the top position as our largest FDI source. But let’s not get tangled up in numbers as much as these might make our businessmen go teary-eyed with happiness. There are joyful tidings for our oil guzzlers as well, with strategic oil reserves in the pipeline.

The man with the big chest, I mean, heart was also there for the more than 2.65 million expats. Remaining true to the word, he started the MADAD (meaning “help” in Hindi), an online platform, to help migrants. On a side note, India is the largest receiver of remittances in the world mostly due to the $12-15 billion remittance the country gets from its expats in the UAE. But this is not what guided the DO, it was all about helping the Bharatwasis.

For those worried about the spiritual salvation of Hindus in a Muslim land, relax, do anulom vilom; the DO has done the walk on the Ganges by getting the sheikhs to agree to a temple in their piece of earth.

So, the 27th trip of the DO was an “unexpected”, “pathbreaking”, “landmark”, “great”, “monumental” success according to our bashful media just as the 26th was, just as the 25th was, just as the 24th was ,just as the 23rd was, just as the 22nd was, just as the 21st was… … …

Well, the DO has moved the world and how. But if I may make one small point here: beyond the purple prose of joint statements, is the fine print, and beyond the fine print is the capability and intention to act. As Lacon said of the Minister in John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier,Spy: “… he’ll only believe what can be written on a postcard”. Beyond the grand gestures and stump speeches, are the deals that are brokered in secrecy, and it is these that may make or break diplomatic relations. But if we are to believe our experts in the media, and blessed be their flock, Mr. Modi has just created a new idiom of diplomacy where all that glitters is actually gold. Though India might see less of that gold.

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