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PM Narendra Modi extends veiled support to Russia at BRICS meet

True businessman that he is, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making full use of the BRICS platform to gain diplomatic proximity to the leftists. Will the US soon be upset with this shift in behaviour?

BT Online Bureau | July 12, 2015 | Updated 10:46 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they walk for a meeting at the BRICS Summit in Ufa

It's always been tough for Indian Prime Ministers to balance diplomacy with Russia and US, and this time it's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at center stage. As the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit kicked off in Ufa in Russia earlier this week, with a clear signal of a China-Russia bond, Modi tried to make the best of the situation by extending a veiled support to Russia.
Here are five reasons that show the prime minister is going soft on the Leftists:
1. Modi in his speech at the BRICS Business Council meet attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma talked of unfair unilateral sanctions that continue to hurt the global economy. Although he did not elaborate, his comments were seen as a veiled attack on the West, including the US, which has imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
2. The prime minister also pointed out that BRICS countries together form 44 per cent of the world population, contributing 40 per cent to the global GDP and 18 per cent to the world trade. India for sometime now has been looking for viable economic leadership platform amongst the cooperative groups and hasn't had too much economic benefit from groups like SAARC. BRICS may just be the platform, even though China and Russia are equally strong players. Additionally, with eminent banker KV Kamath as the first chief of the BRICS' National Development Bank, India is at a strong advantage to dominate the group. To top it, India made a whopping $18 billion contribution to the $100 BRICS fund.
4. What may not impress the US yet again is Modi's proximity call to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The two met on Thursday on the sidelines of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits and discussed issues of bilateral and mutual interests.
5.  Spreading its fangs to possible Asian territorial economic groups, an announcement with regard to India's membership of the six-nation grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is expected during the SCO summit on Thursday-Friday. A top Russian official had earlier this week said the process of India's membership will be completed by next year, along with that of Pakistan, to make the group an eight-member body. As of now, India has observer status in the 19-year-old grouping whose focus is on boosting connectivity, counter-terrorism cooperation, bolstering cooperation in energy sector, enhancing trade and dealing with drug trafficking
5. China and Russia have showed a clear intent to pose a blockage to the economic aspirations of US, which tries to subdue them. Although it is less likely that Modi will encourage any direct support to both these nations, India has been very vocal against the economically-swayed bullying tactics of US and gave a befitting reply when it refused to agree to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement terms and conditions. China had also supported India during the same.
However, given the businessman Modi is and the promising foreign policy skills he has shown since he became the prime minister, most of these moves are likely to strengthen India's footprint on the Asian and developing nations' economic scene. Any offence to US at this stage may just be collateral damage and nothing more.

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