Indian media: 'Delicate diplomacy'

Media say Mr Modi will try to improve relations with India's neighbours Image copyright AFP
Image caption Media say Mr Modi will try to improve relations with India's neighbours

Media in India hail the decision by the new PM-elect Narendra Modi to invite the leaders of the country's neighbours to his swearing-in ceremony later on Monday as the beginning of a "big and bold" foreign policy.

They focus most of their attention on one guest, Pakistan's premier Nawaz Sharif, and express hope that the traditionally tense relations between Delhi and Islamabad can improve. The two countries have fought three wars in the past 60 years.

"By reaching out to Pakistan, Modi has made a remarkable initiative. Nawaz Sharif, by accepting the invite has responded admirably. Astute and sagacious leadership and statecraft now calls for building and deepening this opening," urges Wajahat Qazi in an article on the Firstpost website.

He argues that the two leaders should use the opportunity to discuss the disputed region of Kashmir. "This calls for delicate diplomacy between the two nations and a well crafted strategy to win over and convince the hardliners on both sides of the divide for a salubrious relationship between the two estranged neighbours," advises Qazi.

The Times of India is also hoping for improved relations with Islamabad. "While there are enormous difficulties in the India-Pakistan relationship - of which the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat is only the latest instance - personal rapport between leaders can help tide them over," the paper says.

It sees the move as an indication that "Modi is passionate about resetting Indian foreign policy" in general and points to the fact that he has invited to his swearing-in ceremony leaders from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). "Let the unconventional invite to neighbours herald a big and bold foreign policy," writes the paper.

"It is with the other neighbours that Modi has the opportunity to transact much economic and political business in his five-year tenure as prime minister of India," C Raja Mohan points out in The Indian Express.

He doubts the prospect of better relations with Islamabad, warning that "major breakthroughs are unlikely amid the current political flux within Pakistan and Sharif's deteriorating relations with the all-powerful army".

"There have been doubts in India's diplomatic establishment of Sharif's ability to deliver on his promise of peace in the face of resistance from the country's military," writes The New Indian Express.

'Minimum government'

The BJP is likely to have less number of ministers compared to the outgoing United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, reports say.

On the eve of the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Modi's secretariat released a note saying his cabinet will be guided by the principle of "minimum government and maximum governance", announces Hindustan Times.

"Lean is in. The Modi government will be almost half the size of the United Progressive Alliance-2 with ministries bunched and 45-50 'bright, focused and clean' leaders making up the council of ministers, averaging 55 years of age," says another report in Hindustan Times.

Newspapers, however, highlight the challenges ahead for Mr Modi's team.

"The economic legacy handed down to him by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is a troubled one and Mr Modi may find himself diverting all his energies to first steady the ship before he attempts to change its course," columnist Raghuvir Srinivasan writes in The Hindu.

He points out that the new government must "slay the inflation monster" and resume stalled infrastructure projects.

The Tribune agrees that Mr Modi's government will have to improve the economy.

"Mr Modi will have with him a hand-picked team, and together they face daunting challenges. Primary among them will be to improve the economy, which has picked up from the time his victory was announced," the paper says.

And finally, a 13-year-old Indian girl has become the youngest to climb the world's highest peak, the Mount Everest, the Indian Express reports. Malavath Poorna was accompanied by 16-year-old Anand Sharma in the climb, the paper says.

"Poorna and Anand were selected out of a group of 110 students from 300 welfare schools to be sent to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute by the state government under a social welfare department scheme called 'Op-Everest'," the daily adds.

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