Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, and former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, joined us for an IDFC-U roundtable on "A Year Of Modi: India’s Global Ambitions”. During this off-the-record exchange, the group considered aspects including what it meant for India to be more confident about its role in the world, whether India would promote new ideals of democracy, and how India’s aspirations to be a “leading” power, rather than a “balancing” power, would play out.
It was observed that many of the previous UPA government’s foreign policies were similar to those of the current NDA government’s, but Modi had been more successful in implementing them, especially in Bangladesh. Both the economic and security benefits of the Land Boundary Agreement being worked on with Bangladesh were noted. The opposition Congress party’s refrain from disrupting progress on the Bangladesh relationship was lauded.
Modi’s policies were also perceived as being pragmatic and geared towards driving domestic economic development. Many thought Modi had fared well on foreign policy, though tax issues faced by foreign companies marred efforts to improve ease of doing business in India. It was observed that the US would want to reach a point of convergence with India on clean energy and climate change.
The difficulties of the US-Pakistan relationship were recognised, and the bureaucratic structure in the US State Department, wherein different offices manage relationships with different countries in the region, was seen as an impediment.
Watch our video interview with Dr. Ayres below: