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India’s Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party have another five years in power. What does it mean for the world?


Narendra Modi has raised India’s stature on the global stage like no other recent leader of the world’s most populous country.

The prime minister – who secured a rare third term in office this week – has positioned India and its fast-growing economy as a crucial player in global issues like climate change and development, while cementing New Delhi as a key security partner for the United States and an aspiring leader of the Global South.

Modi’s victory will give the 73-year-old leader and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) another five years to raise India’s global stature – and to manage its contentious relationships and contested borders with nuclear-armed neighbors China and Pakistan.
But the election results also place Modi in a radically different position from the one he enjoyed during his first decade in power.

The larger-than-life leader and his BJP fell well short of an expected outright majority and must rely on coalition partners to form a government.

That has widely been seen as a shock setback for the leader and his party, who have been accused by critics of fueling Islamophobia and religious violence in India, while rolling back civil liberties and failing to solve livelihood issues like soaring youth unemployment.

Now, Modi will need to “devote a lot of time to (domestic affairs to) keep the government intact with a coalition with different agendas,” said T.V. Paul, author of “The Unfinished Quest: India’s Search for Major Power Status from Nehru to Modi.”

“This idea of India pushing its weight around may be much less feasible for the time being, given that foreign policy issues did not impact the (election) decision as much as people had thought.”

Power politics
One aspect of India’s international ambitions that’s unlikely to shift in Modi’s new term is New Delhi’s relationship with Washington – a connection that has helped burnish the prime minister’s profile as a power player.

India has emerged as a key security partner for the US, a pillar of its Quad security grouping alongside Japan and Australia, and expanding cooperation on high tech and defense in the face of shared concern about an increasingly assertive and powerful China.

In a congratulatory message to Modi on his win earlier this week, US President Joe Biden hailed the US-India friendship as “only growing as we unlock a shared future of unlimited potential.”
That relationship is only likely to strengthen in the near term, according to analysts.

“The two countries have shared concerns over regional stability and are overseeing a burgeoning defense cooperation,” said Farwa Aamer, director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York.
“We can expect a more assertive India aligning closely with US interests in the Indo-Pacific and expanding tech cooperation.”

Ties between New Delhi and Washington have warmed in recent years even as Modi has firmly pursued India’s policy of strategic autonomy to push for a global order not purely dominated by the US or the US-China rivalry – another goal expected to remain unchanged by the election. For example, New Delhi has refused to give up its close relations with Russia, despite US pressure for its partners to cut ties with the warring country.

But one question is how Modi’s third term will affect percolating concerns in American policy circles about a widely documented backsliding of civil liberties in India under his right-wing leadership – as well as accusations the BJP aims to marginalize the country’s Muslim minority of more than 200 million.

India has also faced significant allegations of extraterritorial overreach, which raise questions about the risks of the country’s growing confidence, assertiveness – and commitment to international
norms – under Modi. Source :cnn


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