India has been a pluralist country in the true sense since ancient times. It is a Hindu majority nation, which drives by the Sanatan belief system, but at the same time happily accommodates all major religions of the world such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, and many more. Every religion has its own value system and religious text which offers its followers a guide to what is right and wrong.
However, on the other hand, the Indian polity has been observing an inter-religious hostility since before the nation’s independence. This hostility has caused immense damage to the nation, we have seen sectarian violence, arson, brutalities, and even the partition of the nation and the society.
We have seen how specific religious groups have tried to maintain their own identities, and they never shied away from organizing militant movements, resentments, and other movements that have international repercussions as well.
This multiplicity leads to inter-religious strife, but when it was coupled with political power, it created an explosive social and political situation. That is where vote bank politics started in India, where political parties started obeying the demands of a specific religious group to fortify their vote bank, but in the process, they thwarted the international politics and relations of India.
It was the vote bank politics that led India to have a close relationship with Palestine while restraining it from having cordial relations with Israel. It was the Islamic influence that forced Indian politicians to toe the line of Islamic nations while ignoring the interests of their own countries.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon harmed the nation in the long term, but the recent change in the Indian leadership has transformed this policy that was way too much influenced due to internal vote bank politics.
The External Affairs Minister of India, Mr. S Jaishankar, who is known for his maverick diplomatic acumen and flawless communication skills, has recently said that the days of vote bank politics dominating foreign policies are gone. He was citing India’s present stand on Israel as evidence of a change in the stance.
While talking on India-Israel relations, the EAM targeted the previous governments at the Center which denied better relations with Israel due to vote bank politics. The EAM said that Modi was the first PM who went to Israel. He added that India restrained itself from having good relations with Israel, due to the vote bank politics of the previous governments.
It is to be recalled that it was Prime Minister Modi who visited Israel for the first time in 2017. He was warmly welcomed at the airport by the then-Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. The relationship was only fortified when the Israeli PM made a return visit to India in January 2018.
The reason why no Indian PM ever visited Israel before 2017 was the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. India houses a sizeable Muslim population and the country’s dependence on oil imports from Arab countries and Iran was the primary reason why India refrained to have an open relationship with Israel.
However, the situation has changed since 2014, now India is the only country where Israel has the position of Water Attaché to help share Israeli best practices and technologies for advancements in India’s water management sector. The external affairs minister also lauded the Narendra Modi government, saying that it was “a great strength” to hold the post at this time.
“I will envy the person who is the Foreign Minister in 2047, but I will tell you one thing, to be the Foreign Minister of Narendra Modi government is also a great strength. There are core beliefs, confidence, and attitude, and the world is recognizing it,” he further added.
Well, this is a welcome change in India’s foreign relations. The way India is going ahead with some decisions without thinking of the impact of internal vote bank politics has started giving massive dividends to India. Now India has become the only nation in the world, which enjoys cordial relationships with the USA, Israel, Arab nations, OPEC nations, Iran, and Russia. This is an unthinkable situation a few years back, and it is helping India to address its energy and other concerns.