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Ten Reasons Why Narendra Modi's Visit to Japan was Hugely Successful
Refreshingly Different from Procrustean Past
Mr Narendra Modi was evidently on a roll and enjoyed every moment of his visit to Japan. It seemed his hosts were not abe to have enough of him. At the outset of his first bilateral visit, outside the sub-continent, after becoming PM earlier this year, Mr Modi struck the right note by putting culture before business, by making the country's cultural capital Kyoto his first port of call. His Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, reciprocated Modi's gesture by flying out to Kyoto to receive him. The two leaders greeted each other with huge cheerful smiles and a warm bear hug, characteristic of two good friends meeting after a long time. The warmth and bonhomie seldom seen on such solemn occasions, marked by formal protocol rigmarole, diplomatic niceties and nitty-grities of the statecraft, were palpable throughout the visit. The five-day visit went off sans a snag to mutual satisfaction and a pronounced yearning for an en core.
Ever the ingenious one to rise up to the right occasion and seize opportunities to make his mark on the issues at hand, Mr.Modi left nobody in doubt about his acumen for showcasing India's wealth of cultural heritage. He presented the Emperor of Japan the sacred book Srimad Bhagavad Gita and PM Abe a set of books on Swami Vivekananda. He found the occasion to visit an elementary school, mingle with the tiny tots, play the flute, tell them about Lord Krishna and invite Japanese teachers to visit India for teaching the Japanese language and introduce the elements of their elementary education system for the benefit of the Indian system. He surprised and exhilarated a mature audience by playing drums along with a team of Japanese percussionists. In short, he pulled all stops to display his penchant for cultural matters and open a window on India's soft power diplomacy, winning hearts and minds in the process.
Personal Bonding with Mr.Shinzo Abe
Together, the two leaders visited two ancient Buddhist pagodas at Toji and Kinkakuji and exchanged notes on the deep-rooted historical and cultural ties that bind their countries, one the cradle of Buddhism and the other, which has imbibed and sustained the faith through the vicissitudes of time notwithstanding the giant strides made by it in the fields of science and technology. Mr Abe surprised Mr Modi by stating that he was visiting the Toji temple for only the second time while Mr.Modi amused the Japanese leader by stating that a lotus attached to a Buddha sculpture in the Toji temple reminded him of his party's symbol! The visit to Kyoto was rounded off by Mr Modi by clinching an MoU between Kyoto and the ancient Indian city of Varanasi, the development of which is a part of his party's avowed aim of creation of a hundred smart cities in India. In this context, development of Varanasi is envisaged on the lines of Kyoto where ancient culture and tradition coexist cheek by jowl with the sleek modern features of an advanced economy which has heavily imbibed from the West the scientific and technological course of development.
Mr.Modi's enthusiastic approach to cooperation in strategic matters, aside from the strengthening of the bonds of economic and commercial ties, had a foudroyant effect on the bilateral relations of the two countries. After their summit meeting, the two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of defence relations between India and Japan in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them. Keeping a wary eye on a rising China, the two leaders agreed to accelerate talks on the possible sale of an amphibious aircraft to India. They also agreed to speed up talks on a so-far elusive deal on nuclear energy cooperation.
Cooperation in Developmental Projects
Japan announced a $35 billion package over a five-year period on India's developmental programmes. In all, the two countries signed five pacts covering defence exchanges, cooperation in clean energy, roads and highways, building of smart cities, cleaning up of Ganga river, healthcare and women, while vowing to take their relationship to a newer level.
Lifting of Ban on Indian Companies
Japan also lifted a ban on six Indian companies including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which had been imposed in the aftermath of the 1998 nuclear tests by India.
InvItation to Invest
Mr.Modi invited Japanese investments, while hard-selling India as a conducive destination for business, particularly for the manufacturing sector. He told the Japanese businessmen that India welcomed their investments with a 'red carpet' and not 'red tape,' as rules and procedures had already been eased by his government.
Big Ticket Infrastructure Project
Mr.Abe also announced that as an example of India-Japan Cooperation, Tokyo would help India in providing financial, technical and operational support to introduce Bullet trains, a project that Mr.Modi has been actively pursuing.
PM Narendra Modi Addresses Business Meet in Japan
Partners of the Century
Mr.Modi gladdened the hearts of both Japanese and Indian people by declaring that the 21st century belonged to Asia and together India and Japan would successfully and fruitfully see it through.
Visit a Watershed with Cascading Effects on Relations with Neighbours
Mr.Modi's visit to Japan was truly a watershed in the bilateral relations of the two countries not just because of the substantial quantum of the package of economic and strategic cooperation offered by Japan but also because of the following reasons:
○ Mr.Modi's assurance that Japanese investments in India would be facilitated without delays by creating a special mechanism which would form part of his office bears a sign of hope and promise for the potential Japanese investors.
○ The coming together of the two countries in matters of strategic partnership is seen by political observers as a bold initiative on the part of India and Japan to redefine the balance of power in the region and counter the ambitious expansionist policy of China.
○ Mr.Modi's Japanese visit would undoubtedly have an impact on the scope of the outcome of the forthcoming visit of the Chinese President to India. If Mr.Modi manages to successfully turn the Chinese high tide to India's advantage, the fall out would have far reaching consequences in the matters of settling the long-standing border dispute between India and China and bringing a downright hostile Pakistan to the negotiating table with a view to resolving the long-festering Kashmir imbroglio.
© 2014 Kalyanaraman Raman