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India & its neighbors.

Modi's speech in Nepal shows India is paying attention to its neighbors:
NEW DELHI — After 2 decades of aspiring to economic and strategic clout in the Western world, India is now paying attention to those closer to home.

India's newly elected P.M Narendra Modi wants to focus on India's immediate neighborhood. His trip to Nepal, the 1st by an Indian prime minister in 17 years, is an unambiguous shift in New Delhi's diplomatic priorities, long obsessed with wooing the West.The first sign came when Modi pulled a diplomatic coup of sorts by inviting leaders of South Asian nations to his swearing in ceremony after his resounding election victory in May. His 1st foreign trip was to Bhutan. His foreign minister Sushma Swaraj's first visit was to Bangladesh. In Nepal, Modi pledged not to meddle in Nepal's internal affairs, announced $1 billion in credit assistance and performed an elaborate prayer ritual in the 5th century Hindu temple. In return, Modi said, Nepal can help end India's darkness."Nepal can free India of its darkness with its electricity," said Modi referring to Nepal's hydro-power potential. " Just by selling electricity to India.

The metaphoric elephant in the room that no one spoke about was China and its deepening Investment and ties in Nepal during the years that India looked elsewhere."Modi pulls out all the stops for Nepal trip: Is this enough to counter China?" Modi's hardnosed economic pragmatism is behind India's zooming-in on the immediate neighborhood. Modi wants to turn India's "hostile borders benign and ultimately gateways for free Trade and commerce." Modi told lawmakers in Kathmandu that "borders must be bridges not barriers."

India and Nepal: A burgeoning friendship

On the Trade history between the neighbours, data reveals that while India's commodity exports to Nepal have been growing at a fairly robust pace, rising steadily from $2.17 billion in 2010-11 to $3.6 billion in 2013-14, import growth has been lackluster. One big area of cooperation has been hydro power.More so because India is a net importer of energy, importing a significant portion of the oil it consumes. Thus, energy diversification should form an integral part of the country's overall power strategy.

India and China vying for energy resources in Nepal Did two-day trip to Nepal aimed at boosting ties, enough to counter China's growing influence?

The visit to the Himalayan nation was part of Modi's bid to improve India's standing with its neighbors following years of neglect of a region where China already has a strong presence. During the official visit, which started on August 3, Modi addressed the Constituent Assembly - speaking briefly in Nepalese - and offered one billion USD in low-interest development loans to finance projects such as highways and hydropower plants in the energy-starved nation.

India and Nepal have long had fraught relations - particularly issues of mistrust over water sharing plagued the ties. "Until recently improving them had not been a priority for India, especially given that Nepal was afflicted by conflict and instability for many years.This is why the main purpose of Modi's trip was to implement one of his chief foreign policy goals: Deepening engagement with India's neighbors.

During his visit, the Indian leader pledged to help Nepal with its transition to a constitutional republic following the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. Modi also met with his Nepalese counterpart and called for stronger bilateral ties based on the cultural and historical links between the two nations.

One of the key accomplishments of the visit - other than the fact that the trip happened - was that some basic agreements were concluded on water sharing, arguably one of the biggest tension points in India-Nepal relations.

Indian Warship Visiting Vietnam on 'Goodwill Trip':
NEW DELHI—An Indian warship is to take part in exercises with the Vietnamese navy this week in the tense waters of the South China Sea, where maritime disputes between China and its neighbors have intensified.The guided-missile stealth frigate INS Shivalik also made a port visit at Haiphong in northern Vietnam as part of a three-day "goodwill trip" to the Southeast Asian country.In May, India expressed concern over a dispute between China and Vietnam over China's deployment of an oil rig in a disputed area, prompting a curt response from Beijing that Indians "may not worry too much about the current situation in the South China Sea," Trust of India.

Some Indian experts and officials have argued India should build close ties with Vietnam like those China has with India's neighbor and rival, Pakistan. But successive Indian governments have taken a more Measured approach. India and China, which fought a brief 1962 war over their Himalayan border, have in recent years grown increasingly suspicious of the others' activities in waters they consider their own strategic backyards.


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