Prime Minister Narendra Modi's three-day visit to Israel between July 4-6 was more of a festival than a state visit and no matter what India gained at the end of this over-hyped visit, there is no doubt that New Delhi's foreign policy will be facing questions over this in days to come.
PM Modi has ensured from Day 1 that under his leadership, India's foreign policy will see a departure from tradition. He took India closer to the US; refused to abide by China's hegemonic tendencies and then befriended Israel like never before. In some cases, Modi's foreign policy plans have paid off but there are also instances where they have created possibilities of fallout. The Israel trip was one such one.
If India was seeing Israel only as a strategic ally which it looks forward to for arms supply to keep itself militarily ready or inputs in technology and agriculture, it was absolutely fine. But by giving the indication of an excessive love for the Jewish state, India perhaps shut doors for other possibilities in foreign policy while opening one.
Israel benefited more than India during Modi-Netanyahu visit
The bonhomie between Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu has done Tel Aviv more favour than New Delhi. Surrounded by the hostile Arab world, Israel found an opportunity to show to the world that its friends are not limited to the Americas and Europe. By getting as cosy as he did with Modi, the prime minister of the world's largest democracy, Netanyahu's Israel scored a massive diplomatic victory. The absence of Palestine from the scene also gave Israel a massive moral and diplomatic boost.
India's moral image, on the other hand, received a blow. It will no more be seen as a country which takes a neutral stand on Arabian affairs and considered as right-wing a country like Israel. Given the fact that several lakhs of Indians work and live in West Asia and also that India has a difficult problem in Kashmir to handle, this cosiness with Israel will not be an assuring development.
Mahatma Gandhi had used an international event to forge domestic unity
We can use this occasion to remember what another Gujarati, who the current PM claims to admire so much, had done a century or so ago. In the wake of the First World War when the British had humiliated the Khaliph in Turkey, revered by the Muslims world over, Mahatma Gandhi, who was in the middle of a mission to drive out the colonial masters, made a shrewd calculation to link the Khilafat Movement to win back the Muslims' support for the Congress's own non-cooperation movement in the mid 1920s.
The strategy of using an international event to facilitate a domestic struggle had paid of remarkably well. It also gave a blow to those parties that had held the Congress as a Hindu body. Though the Chauri Chaura incident of 1922 had proved to be a blow to the Gandhian movement but that is another story to dig into. As far as using a pan-Islamic reason to bolster the Hindu-Muslim unity in the country is concerned, the Mahatma had given a master stroke.
Modi's foreign policy move could disrupt unity at home
Modi's Israel visit is expected to do the reverse. It is unwise to think that Indian Muslims remain unaware of world events, especially in today's times. Modi-Netanyahu camaraderie will not assure them and one would not be surprised if the Islamic terrorists engage in recruiting more from among disillusioned Muslim youths from the country.
Also on Kashmir, it will give Pakistan an opportunity to mobilise support from the concerned Muslim world. Khamenei, the spiritual leader of Iran, recently voiced concern over Kashmir not once but twice, just when Modi's visit to the US and Israel took place. India's aim to isolate Pakistan by befriending its neighbours like Afganistan and Iran could be jeopardised because of New Delhi's overt gestures of love towards Israel.
India needs Israel's skills and expertise in fields like technology, arms, agriculture and security no doubt. But it would have been great had Modi and the loyal media of this country kept the show-offs under a restriction. Modi is a leader who thrives on publicity but the propaganda about his visit in Israel could backfire in the long run.