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A nation must think before it acts.
June 16, 2015
Last Tuesday, India launched a punitive raid into Myanmar. Seventy commandos from the Indian 21 Para (Special Forces) Battalion crossed India’s eastern border to strike two militant bases. The commandos quickly overran the bases and killed between 20 and 40 militants. The raid was prompted by the ambush of an Indian army patrol about 110 km south of Imphal five days earlier. Eighteen Indian soldiers were killed and another 11 were wounded in what was the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in decades. According to some Indian officials, Myanmar’s government consented to the raid, though Naypyidaw later claimed that the raid occurred on the Indian side of the border.
Whatever the case, the raid was remarkable. It reflected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s willingness to not only use military force, but also take decisive action. As soon as the ambush on the Indian army patrol occurred, Modi directed National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to coordinate an Indian response. Within five days, India successfully planned, resourced, and executed the two cross-border missions. That required not only military, but also diplomatic coordination, if India really discussed the matter with Myanmar.
Modi is surely a different kind of prime minister than India has had in the past. He demonstrated that when he visited China in May 2015. He directly communicated to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang “the need for China to reconsider its approach” on issues that hold back their relationship, particularly the territorial disputes between their two countries. Modi’s predecessors had consistently shied away from such frank discussion, typically sticking “to uninterrupted pledges of friendship and good relations.” While Modi’s visit to China yielded no breakthroughs on the border issue, it was clear that China should take note.
Modi has also embarked on active diplomacy around the world. Toning down India’s traditional adherence to non-alignment, he has edged close to Australia, Japan, and the United States. He is clearly interested in having India play a greater role not only in South Asia, but also beyond it. His ability to act decisively will make that a more likely prospect.
 Benjamin Haas, “India’s Modi tells China to ‘reconsider’ approach,” Agence France-Presse, May 15, 2015.