US - INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW

W alter Andersen, former senior State Department offi- cial, and until recently head of South Asia Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), is a leading American expert on India, and author of an upcoming book on the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh being released by Penguin, Aug. 7, entitled, "RSS: A View To The Inside." In an exclu- sive interview with U.S.-India Global Review Andersen outlined how India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi grew from an RSS pracharak into his role as a world statesman. P rime Minister Narendra Modi has led India on the world stage for the last four years. Now in the last year of his term, how to you assess his achievements and the trajectory of his foreign policy? Andersen: Like most national foreign policies which have con- straints, India's foreign policy has been evolving. There wasn't a sudden break when Modi came into power. He built on what was done by previous Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and those after him. However, Modi definitely has an "Look/Act East" approach to for- eign policy that has long been the orientation of Hindu nationalists - where the East has been the region of compatibility and the West a source of invasion, colo- nialism etc. This orientation goes back some time, including for example a favorability toward Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905—and the choice of Japan and Japanese universities as havens in the first decades after 1900. This orientation first had its formal shape in the administration of Narasimha Rao and his finance minister (and later prime minister) Manmohan Singh. Modi took it a bit further by developing a close relationship with Japan and the countries of Southeast Asia. At the same time, he oversaw a deepening of economic ties with China, which he visited several times as chief minister of Gujarat Modi's World:A View From Abroad ANALYSIS 12 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2018 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right, wearing turban) greets school children after addressing the nation from the historic Red Fort during Independence Day celebrations in Delhi, India. Photo: Reuters

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