The Indian media seems to be gleefully lapping up every mention about controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. This time a comment by former Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy has drawn all the attention.
Comment Bound to Raise Eyebrows
Speaking at a recent event at the University of Melbourne about the foreign policy challenges of the new government in Australia, McCarthy mentioned that "Narendra Modi could give India a new sense of direction." His comment is bound to raise eyebrows as Modi's fan base abroad is steadily increasing.
The Indian media was quick to read McCarthy's statement with the recent invite Modi received from the current High Commissioner to India Patrick Suckling to visit Australia. Earlier, British MPs has invited Modi speak to at Westminster on his vision for India's future.
McCarthy mention about Modi was made at an Australia India Institute event where he spoke on 'Australia, Asia and Beyond - Some Thoughts for a New Government.' He address focused on the foreign policy issues and challenges of the new government in Australia.
Mid-way into his address he dealt with Australia's challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and spoke about Australia's relation with India.
Astute Diplomat Who Knows India Well
An astute diplomat that he is, McCarthy was clear that the elections in India next year "will probably" result in a new team "whichever party or parties come out on top." He did not mean that he expected Modi's Hindu right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would assume power in India. And in case it did, he said, the controversial but effective opposition figure Narendra Modi "could" give India a new sense of direction.
An accomplished diplomat and an expert on India, McCarthy who severed in India for five years till he stepped down in 2009, is only too aware of the unpredictably of Indian politics.
McCarthy pointed out that the "degree to which political power in India has become more diffuse in recent years, it is not assured that India will quickly regain the momentum it enjoyed in the first decade of the century."
No Going Backward for India
However, importantly he said that there was no going "backwards" for India and "it would be a serious mistake for Australia to dilute the efforts it has put into the relationship over the past decade."
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