Disruptionist diplomacy is the guerilla art of reshaping reality with ingenious moves and coups. A political heavyweight, reputed for laying modern roads and creating massive ports, is asked by PM Narendra Modi to visit an island famous for sun, sand and baccarat. A corporate whiz-turned-politician is seemingly directed to visit a country, which has hardly any commerce with India. Another leader, who is in his early 60s, is told to take a flight to a cricket-loving city known for hosting the World Cup. A minister, who has hardly any love for bikinis or burkinis, is sent to explore a country whose landscape is marked by pristine beaches and dense forests.
The PM has decided that his global outreach will have a different touch of class and mass. While other global leaders prefer to influence small nations by remote control, using military muscle, economic temptation and subversive politics, Modi has chosen his mantris to visit countries, which have hardly seen the carbon footprints of any of his predecessors or their important ministers. Perhaps he doesn’t want to be known as the only globetrotter connecting India to the rest of the world.
According to reports, the PM has directed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to establish contacts with all the 190-odd members of the UN by early next year. He believes even a nation with a population of less than 50,000 is as important as the US. If Modi is able to accomplish his goal, India will be the only country to establish meaningful political-level contacts with all UN members. For Modi’s ministers, such jaunts won’t be pleasure trips, but will involve striking sweet deals with their hosts with an element of surprise thrown in.
So, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari hasn’t picked a country known for the best roads and waterways. According to sources, he is bound for Nicaragua, a nation of just six million set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. He will also hop over to Panama, one of the best romantic holiday destinations of the world, boasting of a turquoise sea, coffee farms and the cloud forests of Chiriquí. It is also the favourite rendezvous for Bollywood stars as well as monarchs from around the world, who come for fun and frolic in their private jets. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will be soon packing for Bosnia, not to learn more about the modernisation of trains but to strike a personal rapport with its leadership. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will fly to Latvia and Estonia, not looking for ways to ensure a harmonious relationship between the executive and the judiciary but to bring the local government closer to Modivision of the World. Interestingly, a minister has been told to visit St. Kitts, home to offshore accounts of global fat cats. Outsiders have more bank accounts there than its 48,000 residents. Its esteemed visitor next month will be Minister of State S Y Naik. He holds independent charge of the ministry of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy, which the natives of the tiny Caribbean island would never have even heard about.
Gadkari, Naik, Prabhu and Prasad are the new torchbearers of Modi’s message. Many more denizens of the Cabinet will be added to the travellers’ list with the express purpose of helping Swaraj to redefine Modi as the world’s most visible leader. While US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese Premier Li Keqiang have acquired global clout through the economic and military power of the countries they lead, Modi has chosen the personal connectivity route. Jawaharlal Nehru and later Indira Gandhi acquired the status of international political captains by promoting a coalition of countries named the Non-Aligned Movement. But PM Modi is not floating any such organisation. He is trying to bring marginalised nations together on a platform by using the powers of persuasion.
There appears to be a mission behind the method. Modi has been vocal about terror at global forums. For the past few months, he has not let an opportunity go by without illuminating how terror has become the biggest challenge to peace and development. He has visited over 54 countries and spent 117 days abroad. Yet none of the top leaders have taken any concrete measures to exorcise the spectre of terrorism haunting West Asia and India, aided by Pakistan. Modi’s ultimate objective is to make terrorism the UN’s priority concern. He also knows he will not succeed unless India acquires a bigger role in the policy-making process of the world body.
This can happen only if India becomes a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which currently has five permanent members—the US, UK, France, China and Russia. Ten others representing various regions are elected every year by rotation. India has been fighting for its legitimate due for the past few decades. It is only recently that almost all the five nations have extended their support to its demand. None of them, however, have taken any step to reform the structure of the council because each one enjoys a veto, which is used to checkmate any growing geopolitical influence of any of the other members. Moreover, China and the US have never collaborated to defeat jihadi violence in various parts of the world. In addition to India, Japan, Brazil and Germany are also powerful contenders for a permanent seat in the council. Modi’s objective is to prepare the ground for a special meeting of the UN General Assembly to amend its Charter.
According to Article 108 of the UN Charter, amendments to the Charter shall come into force for all members when they have been adopted by a vote of two-thirds of its members, including the permanent ones. Since 80 other countries have rallied behind India, Modi is busy collecting others’ support through direct contact to force the G-5 members to walk the talk.
There is yet another hidden agenda behind his direct diplomacy. By acquiring a decisive role at the UN, Modi will use the organisation’s influence to neutralise Pakistan and repel its threats to involve the international body over Kashmir. While the Indian Parliament continues to deal with separatists, Modi and his ministers are on an expedition to rally the world behind him on terror, and capture the UN and later use its intervention to liberate all of J&K—which includes PoK—from fanatics who are bribing Kashmiri ‘nationalism’ by using blood and bullets as the currency of death.
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