States Play Diplomacy

After the NDA government assumed office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been successful in pursuing foreign policy and consistent in engaging with other nations. From USA lifting Modi’s visa ban to US president’s Republic Day visit to Yemen evacuation, Modi has proven his mettle in making his external affairs team proactive in framing foreign policy. Now, it is first time that the Prime Minister urges states to actively participate in foreign engagement.

21st century is going to manifest aggressive globalisation be it political or economic globalisation. Therefore it is evident that

Business will eventually be on foreign policy agenda of a country like India.

If we dwell upon the history, it is S.M.Krishna, former Chief Minister of Karnataka and Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh who actively engaged with foreign nations in promoting business and trade. Both worked hard in placing India at the top of Information Technology exports. Hence, Bengaluru and Hyderabad witnessed rapid progress in terms of infrastructure and economic activity. Following them, Narendra Modi while serving as Chief Minister of Gujarat actively visited foreign countries to attract investments and is known as pioneer of Global business summits. ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, the first of its kind global business gathering is now followed by such meetings being organised by states like Rajasthan, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh. Some states including Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are set to hold such meetings this year. Modi having felt that states have more potential in attracting foreign investments, urged states in that regard.

Countries like Canada, China have been successful in making their provinces play a pivotal role in foreign policy, Government of India too is trying hard to work with states in promoting diplomatic relations. Sending a delegation led by Chandrababu Naidu, CM-AP on China visit is a welcome step. During this visit, the Chief Minister not only promoted his state and its opportunities but also held fruitful meetings with governors of Guizhou and Sichuan provinces promoting bilateral and sister state relations. This tour was planned by the Ministry Of External Affairs upon the request from Chinese side ahead of Prime Minister’s China visit next month. In a great fillip to Government’s Smart Cities project , interested parties like Singapore, Japan have been directly engaging with state governments in building them.

What is still missing in action is the “proper roadmap” to make states active in playing diplomacy in keeping national interests above everything. This becomes delicate while dealing with Border States of Tamil Nadu, Jammu Kashmir, and West Bengal because there are some unresolved issues like that of Tamil fishermen-Sri Lanka, Kashmir-Pakistan. Now, Narendra Modi Government which is aspiring for the empowerment of States for a larger role keeping larger interests, it is time to lay down perfect framework to consistently pursue the matter with states. Keeping politics aside, there should be friendly relations between the Minister of External Affairs and State Governments. Knowing ‘Diplomacy’, a central subject, it would be better if external affairs body is created for every state with local government officials playing definitive role to help states attract direct Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). More leaders like S.M. Krishna, Chandrababu Naidu are key to define pivotal role of states in playing diplomacy.

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