At his swearing-in three years ago, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi pulled a coup of sorts by featuring an array of heads of states from South Asian countries, including arch-enemy Pakistan, at an event that rarely has a high-profile foreign contingent. Months later, the Indian prime minister’s bromance with former US president Barack Obama—who even wrote a note in praise of Modi in Time magazine—was the subject of much adulation.
In the first two years of his term, Modi travelled to as many as 36 countries—and all India’s neighbours—in an attempt to establish the world’s fastest-growing major economy as a regional soft power. But in the past year the Modi diplomatic whirlwind has waned. Meanwhile, China—India’s nuclear-armed neighbour—under president Xi Jinping, appears to be making all the right moves in its foreign policy, particularly in Asia, to New Delhi’s increasing consternation.