News / Asia

South Asian Leaders to Attend Indian Swearing-In Ceremony

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, who will be the next prime minister of India, addresses Gujarat state lawmakers and party workers during the appointment of the state's new chief minister in Gandhinagar, May 21, 2014.
Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, who will be the next prime minister of India, addresses Gujarat state lawmakers and party workers during the appointment of the state's new chief minister in Gandhinagar, May 21, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
Leaders of South Asian countries are due in the Indian capital to attend the swearing-in ceremony of India’s prime minister elect, Narendra Modi. The unprecedented invitations are being seen as a signal that the new Indian leader will focus on improving ties with neighboring countries including rival Pakistan.
 
The sprawling forecourt of the presidential palace in New Delhi has been spruced up and tight security put in place for the ceremony in which Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi will take the oath as India’s prime minister Monday evening.
 
The event will be more high profile than ever before. Among the audience will be the presidents of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives, and the prime ministers of Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Mauritius. Bangladesh, whose prime minister is travelling to Japan, will be represented by its speaker of parliament. 

BJP spokesman Siddharth Nath Singh said the invites - the first of their kind by an Indian prime minister - signaled the next government’s intentions.  
“It’s a good gesture that in the subcontinent India is ready to work with everybody. Certainly it adds to the strength of each other if the neighborhood is strong,” he said.
 
The outreach to South Asian leaders, including Pakistan, took many aback. Modi has a reputation as a hardliner.  His tough campaign rhetoric reinforced fears that he is hawkish.
 
South Asia expert Sukh Deo Muni, at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis in New Delhi, said Modi’s bold move in reaching out to India’s neighbors even before he formally took charge was meant to allay such concerns. Muni said it showed that when in power, Modi would be pragmatic.  
 
And although most attention was focused on the “olive branch” extended to Pakistan, Muni said the initiative is not limited to Islamabad.
 
“In the course of election campaign there were some harsh words said about some of the neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular.  There were also fears that because of the BJP’s alliance in Tamil Nadu with two of the extremist groups on Tamil ethnic issues, there may be problems and questions marks in Sri Lanka. To that extent this initiative actually tries to smoothen that feeling. I don’t think this is Pakistani-specific,” said Muni.
 
Modi takes power at a time when India’s ties with its neighbors have not always been smooth.  Besides troubled relations with Pakistan, there is conflict over issues such as immigration and river sharing with Bangladesh.  Concerns of regional Tamil parties over the alleged treatment of the ethnic Tamil minority have held back New Delhi’s relations with Sri Lanka.
 
But analysts said that for a leader bent upon boosting economics and trade, closer engagement in South Asia was crucial.
 
The move has also won praise by many who feel India has let China make inroads into the region by not doing enough to address the concerns of its neighbors.  Known as “big brother,” India is the biggest country in the region.
 
Unlike previous governments, Modi’s strong mandate will give him the space to forge his own path, unhampered by regional allies or even factions within his own party.
 
Hardliners in the BJP have advocated a tough stance against Islamabad. However, analyst Muni said the Pakistani prime minister’s decision to come to New Delhi would give the Indian leader a freer hand in attempting progress on peace with Islamabad.
 
“Modi can also stand up against some of his extremist factions in his political constituency or even within India. There are security agencies which may not have much interest in resolving issues with Pakistan and certainly there are extremist Hindu groups. All these factions will be snubbed once Nawaz Sharif comes,“ said Muni.

For the time being, Modi has won praise for signaling that building peace and trust in South Asia will be a priority. But analysts said his gesture would have to be backed up in the days to come with more substantive measures.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Cris thorn from: USA
May 26, 2014 2:56 PM
Indian's show off characteristics s world famous.

by: kanaikaal irumporai
May 25, 2014 7:30 PM
In deed Mr. Ramamurthy, the surface seem that way for reasons that the corporate film-makers' want, but the truth is a different matter if you come out of your so called Bollywood movie wells. The films are of dream-nature, you can't live in dreams alone, try to see the reality. Even in the same dream-world of movies, produced in TamilNadu, the issue Genocide of their kiths and kins just accross the Palk-strait is potrayed vividly. If your so called multicultural India is true,then why are the Kannadans ademently refuse Kaveri-water to TamilNadu and the Keralans are helbent on demolishing Mullaiperiyaar dam, defying the same-old Indian multicultural judicial-system? If the thinking is One-India, then why do the adjacent states of TamilNadu want the Tamil farmers of suffer without water?, after all, anything cultivated inside India would feed the mouths of the so called Bollywood-multi-cultural India. The thing is as simple as the second in command of BJP once said; "The Sinhalese are the people of Rama and the Tamils are the people of Ravana, therefore we should help the Sinhalese at all costs". This is the mindset of current Indian leadership. Manipulation of poltics according to religious texts is dangerous, be it in Egypt or India.

by: kanaikaal irumporai
May 25, 2014 12:36 PM
By totally rejecting the BJP-alliance, even when some of the allies were very much sympathetic to Genocide-affected fellow Tamils in the neighboring island of Ceylon, the Tamil-Nadu voters have shown that they do not trust any of the Delhi-based parties that have been assisting the Genocidal Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalist state in Sri Lanka, that enjoys the cordial relations of both the West and the East due to Geopolitical reasons. It's should be seen as shameful for Mr. Modi, who claims to have won the election in so called "tsunami", couldn't get the support of an entire state, and now he's again entertaining the same Genocide-perpetrator with red-carpet welcome to his "coronation". The fact that TamilNadu is boycotting and going to protest during the event, although some of his allies are taking part in order to gain favours from BJP, is a clear indication of a division of the Indian-Union. It will be a matter of time when other regions of the Union to follow, making a new Soviet-style end.
In Response

by: Ramamurthy from: Manglore
May 25, 2014 5:42 PM
Are you still in Tamilnadu? India is far more multicultural now. Watch some Bollywood movie.

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