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Personal equations matter in world of flux

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If India is to preserve its strategic autonomy and be a leading power, it must maintain a degree of balance in its relations with big powers such as the US, Russia and China. It need not, and cannot, have the same level of relationship with all three because the nature and content of ties with each of them is different. Modi is calibrating India’s policies accordingly. Our closest relationship today is with the US, though it is not trouble-free. America’s reflexes as the dominant global power are often not congenial. Its policies towards Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Russia are problematic for us. We have differences over trade issues, though it is our biggest trade (in goods and services), investment and technology partner. Defence ties are growing rapidly, with the China dimension prominent in the Indo-Pacific project. The people-to-people, cultural and educational ties are the most dense. Modi has to make the best of this relationship, leveraging the positives (the Houston event) and shielding India against the negatives (Trump’s mediation talk on Kashmir and trade deficit with India).

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