A long standing strong relationship has further been strengthened with the meeting between Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe. Barely two weeks later, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India to reset its ties. The idea: improve strategic relationships with the two nations, promote economic growth and maintain peace.
Abe floors Modi!
Modi has invited Japan to manufacture in India, a low cost hub with the 3D advantage: democracy, demography and demand. He has promised a conducive environment to firms to invest in India.
Modi visited a 136-year old school as a student to understand the working of the educational system in Japan and to try and implement a similar system in India. He looks to blend the three key ingredients, modernisation, moral education and discipline into Indian schools.
Modi’s plans of bringing bullet trains into India saw its first traction with Japan agreeing to provide financial, technical and operational support. The first train will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at a maximum speed of 300kmph.
Japan will invest about $33.58 billion (3.5 trillion yen) in India over the next five years. At double the current investment, this money will fund infrastructure and help build smart cities. Japan has also agreed to double the number of Japanese firms operating in India. Modi has promised hassle-free clearances to Japanese firms investing in India, particularly for infrastructure and clean energy sectors. These include single-window clearances, non-discriminatory and speedy decision making and clearing of red tapism in investments.
Defence and security
China’s aggressive defence activities are a concern for both India and Japan. The countries have agreed to strengthen and upgrade their defence co-operation through a Memorandum of Cooperation and Exchanges in the fields of defence, focussing on peace, defence technology and equipment and maritime security.
Culture and heritage
Modi visited Kyoto to understand the mechanism of developing heritage cities. Modi signed a pact to begin the drive by developing Varanasi into a ‘Smart City’ on the lines of Kyoto.
Indi-Chini bhai bhai
The Chinese visit and its consequences have been less dramatic. Modi welcomed Xi Jinping for a riverside dinner in Ahmedabad and a visit to Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram. These were followed by business talks.
India and China have agreed upon a new Bangladesh-Myanmar-India-China (BMIC) Corridor to enhance trade relations. As of now, the trade balance is heavily in China’s favour. Xi has targeted a $150 million annual bilateral trade with South Asia over the next 5 years.
Modi emphasised on the ongoing infiltration by Chinese troops. Xi was keen on clarifying the Actual Line of Control. Modi is keen on border settlement with China at the earliest, although no deadline has been specified.
Xi has pledged $30 billion investments in Asia over five years which include $20 billion in India. The investment will include industrial parks and infrastructure including railways.
The approach of Modi’s visit to Japan and Xi’s visit to India saw similar agendas and similar approaches. The strategic and progressive meetings not only look to strengthen ties, but also focus on economic development of India. This is the first step to what could turn out to be an example to improve ties with many more countries in the future.