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Modi’s progress at home essential for global leadership: Burns

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william burnsWashington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s progress at home is an essential prerequisite for him to shoulder global responsibility and strengthen bilateral ties between India and the US, a top former American diplomat has said.

“I was struck by his (Modi) sustained determination and optimism, despite the inevitable headwinds to reform,” said William Burns, former US Deputy Secretary of State.

“For Prime Minister Modi, progress at home is the most essential prerequisite for shouldering the responsibility of global partnership and leadership and the most essential prerequisite for strengthening the ties that bind Americans and Indians,” Burns wrote in an e-book to analyse the one year of the Modi government.

As the Deputy Secretary of State, Burns was the first senior Obama administration official to meet Modi after he assumed office last May.

“Prime Minister Modi made it very clear that his eyes were fixed firmly on the future of his country. His determination to realise India’s promise and to make tangible the slogan of strategic partnership with the United States, was palpable,” Burns, who was in New Delhi early this week, wrote.

Burns said that after reciprocal head-of-state visits and high-level strategic dialogues, it was clearer than ever that American and Indian interests increasingly converge in the Pacific Century unfolding now.

“Translating those common interests into practical achievements and a shared future is the task facing both leaders and both societies. I cannot think of a more important long-term strategic investment,” he said.

It has been an eventful “Year One” with clear gains on stabilising the macro economy, injecting new energy into India’s foreign presence and clearing the cobwebs of outdated (or downright counterproductive) policies, said Milan Vaishnav, a scholar at the Carnegie.

The Modi government has been active, perhaps even hyperactive, when it comes to announcing new policy initiatives, Vaishnav wrote.

From Make in India to Act East, the government has embarked on policy forays across a diverse array of both domestic and international domains.

“However, sloganeering should not take the place of getting implementation and execution right, and in several instances, the rhetoric emerging from the government has far outpaced the rate of change on the ground,” Vaishnav said.

He said a major challenge going forward will be India’s weak state capacity.

The government has taken steps to improve the quality of governance, with Modi referring to himself not as prime minister but as India’s “prime servant”. Yet wide-ranging, systematic administrative reform has so far not been a hallmark of this government, he added.


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