New Delhi: Narendra Modi’s hat-trick in the assembly polls could be a cue for many Western countries, who had kept their doors shut to the Gujarat politician since the 2002 riots, to rethink strategy.
For the past decade, Modi has been something of a pariah in the Western world — with a visa ban by the US, the UK and Europe — for more than a decade. It has meant that while Western business interests have been free to come to Gujarat, Modi himself has been barred from traveling to these countries.
Banned by the West, he adopted a Look-East policy, linking his growing ties with Japan, China and Israel to develop Gujarat’s economy. Japan was the first G-8 country to open its doors to Modi, and both have not looked back since. The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) — 40 percent of which runs through Gujarat — promises to see a plethora of Japanese investment in the manufacturing sector.
Modi attracted Chinese investment with an enviable degree of success, and on his visit to China, even managed to chastise them for their links with Pakistan. Israel, as one of Modi’s early friends, is collaborating with the Chief Minister to set up an agriculture research and hi-tech training institute for the farm sector in Gujarat.
The first sign of a thaw from the West came from the UK, when its High Commissioner to India was dispatched by the foreign office in October, 2012, to Gujarat and open lines of communication with him.
The US, however, remains the big question: will America revoke its visa strictures against Modi? Analysts said the ban on Modi in the US is linked to a domestic law — a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that targets foreign government officials, “who have committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
That law is still in force, and hence, it might be a while before he gets to travel to the US.
Chief Minister Modi has visited several countries, including China, Singapore and Japan. In 2005, Modi was denied a diplomatic visa to the US. US also revoked his already granted B-1/B-2 visa for alleged rights violations. He visited China in 2007 to invite investors. In November 200,1 after his second trip to the country, Beijing freed 13 diamond traders jailed by customs For 10 years after the 2002 riots, the UK refused to deal with Modi, but changed policy this October.