PRIME Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is perfectly playing the leader-role in the Asian neighbourhood -- which came to fore during his summit meeting with leaders of Pacific Island nations at Port Moresby when he appealed to them to consider India as their reliable development partner. Though most of those island nations are small in every which the way, each holds a special place in the global strategic map. That is the core reason why India attaches so much value to the partnership with them. During COVID time, India became a willing pharmacy of the world, and most of the Pacific Island nations took advantage of India’s aid in different forms. At the Port Moresby summit, Mr. Narendra Modi recalled those tough times and reiterated India’s continued partnership for developmental causes with them. The importance of this summit is contextually immense -- which Mr. Modi understands fully well.
This tour of Mr. Modi to Far East came after much internal contemplation and planning and pre-event contacting which is an integral and important part of diplomacy. The narrative the Prime Minister tried to set at the Port Moresby summit, therefore, was heard and watched by the world with much interest. For, what is involved in Indo-Pacific is not just a limited territorial issue that may have been forced upon the world due to continued Chinese overtures in different ways, but also the issue of a rules- based world order in which each nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty are of utmost importance. At the Port Moresby summit, all those issues were underlined directly or indirectly, statedly or unstatedly, thanks to the leader-role India sought to play in the region.
This stand of India’s is fully consistent with its commitment to the purpose and process of the four-nation grouping it has forged with Australia, Japan and the United States, defined as Quad. Though some sections of the global opinion described this Quad as an anti-China grouping, Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar cleared the air by stressing that it was an independent exercise not framed by one-sidedness of purpose. That clarification may or may not have served its real purpose, but it did highlight what India wanted to achieve in Indo-Pacific -- a region with due multi-dimensional respect for every nation, small or big. That purpose was highlighted once again by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s address at the summit.
The Prime Minister’s visit also brought rare and highest honours for him in Papua New Guinea and Fiji Island. Those honours indicated once again the position Mr. Modi has earned for himself and for India in the heads and hearts of countless numbers of countries across the globe. That is so because of the evolution of India’s foreign policy in the past one decade as an approach to issues of growth and development as essential elements in the sense of self-worth of nations. As a geographically big and strategically important nation, India has its own importance in the global scheme of things, But in the past one decade, what has made all the difference is India’s economic growth and the manner in which the Indian leadership has handled various internal and international issues.
The biggest point that has earned much international respect for India is its strong democracy that has given Mr. Narendra Modi two continuous terms as Prime Minister and is about to give him the third as well. This message of political stability has its own importance in international relations -- which Mr. Modi often highlights in his domestic addresses to the people. At Port Moresby summit, statedly or unstatedly, all these issues formed a healthy mix for India as a leader in the Asian and Pacific neighbourhoods.