India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his latest Davos World Economic Forum speech, which he delivered in Hindi and caused surprise and flurry in delegates who had to reach for their translation headsets quickly, defended globalization and attacked the increasing trend of protectionism around the world, especially in United States under President Donald Trump.
Does this mean that Mr. Modi stands for globalization and free foreign trade? To know the answer we must look at his actions rather than words because actions speak louder than words. Since coming to power in 2014 Narendra Modi government has pursued following major policy measures:
- After coming to power Modi immediately launched his “Make in India” campaign. This whole campaign is nothing but an effort to make India self-reliant substituting foreign imports. This is protectionism to its core.
- To artificially support its “Make in India” campaign Modi government recently doubled the import duties on all foreign electronic goods.
- Modi government also imposed import duty on foreign steel to protect local manufacturers. They also imposed anti-dumping duty on steel coming from six different foreign countries.
- Recently the Indian government cancelled a US$ 500 million missiles deal with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. They canceled this deal in order to give the state-run Defense Research and Development Organization an opportunity to design, develop and manufacture its own anti-tank missile.
- There was a big movement in India last year to ban the use of Chinese products! This movement was a direct result of the increasing nationalism of Indians. And this newly found nationalism is a product of Narendra Modi and his government’s nationalist campaigns.
- Modi government is also pursuing a very belligerent foreign policy and trade stance against China, Pakistan, Nepal etc., neighboring countries since coming to power. This belligerent stance belies the whole Indian cultural idea of Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam, which Narendra Modi himself was advocating in his Davos speech!
- Apart from these, Modi government continues to impose heavy import duties, quotas etc., on every imaginable items.
All these measures reflect full blown protectionist policy stance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was accusing Donald Trump of pursuing America First policy, but he himself is guilty of pursuing similar Make in India policy. His belligerent stance against China and Pakistan shows that he doesn’t believe in those ideas that he is preaching to the world. It is high time Mr. Prime Minister corrects these glaring contradictions between his words and deeds and walks his talk by following unilateral free foreign trade and neutral peaceful foreign policies. Will he do this? Do not hold your breath.