Despite enjoying a clear-cut majority in parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party government has been able to make only limited progress with its domestic political agenda. The reasons for its failures are fairly straightforward. The Congress, the principal Opposition party, though a minority in the lower house still enjoys a plurality in the upper house.
Unable to proffer viable alternatives it has nevertheless proven to be a successful force for obstruction. Apart from the Congress’ intransigence, the ruling party has also not displayed much legislative dexterity. These two factors in tandem have prevented the government from implementing a substantial, domestic agenda.
On the foreign policy front, however, it is not similarly hamstrung. Consequently, the government has been able to pursue a far more expansive agenda and has had its share of successes. That said, it has also displayed a surprising degree of naivete on a host of fronts, has stumbled in its efforts on others and remains to follow up on some promising initiatives.
What are its principal successes? There is little question that the prime minister displayed the right instincts immediately upon assuming office. In a hitherto unprecedented move, he invited every principal elected representative of the states of South Asia to his inauguration. This was obviously a grand, symbolic gesture. However, it nevertheless signaled his apparent desire to seek good relations with India’s immediate neighbors including Pakistan. Not long after, he successfully managed to settle a long-standing territorial dispute with Bangladesh even though it required a constitutional amendment…