Indian media praise PM Modi's diplomacy at Brics summit

PM Narendra Modi (C) with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (R) at the 6th BRICS summit in Brasilia July 16, 2014Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Brics summit was Narendra Modi's first international conference as India's PM

Media in India are praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's performance at the Brics summit in Brazil amid calls for better ties with China.

The Brics group, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, on Tuesday announced the creation of a new $100bn (£58.3bn) development bank and emergency reserve fund.

The Brics summit was Mr Modi's first international conference since assuming office in May.

Papers feel the PM's "debut on the world stage" has put India "squarely on the path of pragmatic internationalism".

"Taking advantage of the unique international stage offered by the Brics summit, Mr Modi has begun to put his own stamp on India's foreign policy. The PM has matched his imaginative first diplomatic steps towards the subcontinent by outlining a practical approach to global issues and India's important bilateral ties with Russia and China," The Indian Express says in an editorial.

Papers have also welcomed Mr Modi's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Brazil, saying it will provide a "fresh start" to bilateral ties.

"Transforming the India-China relationship can yield big prizes for the region and indeed shake the world. Mr Modi should not lose this opportunity," The Times of India says.

The Asian Age echoes similar sentiments, saying the meeting "appears to underscore the interest in both countries to upgrade mutual relations".

Improvements in India-China ties will also be significant for regional stability, given Beijing's "strong influence" on Pakistan, it adds.

The Pioneer says the "successful" meeting shows the possibility of a "strong relationship based on cooperation" even when "two competing nations don't see eye to eye on several crucial issues".

Gaza situation

In international news, papers are prominently reporting the government's "unwillingness" to hold a parliamentary debate on the situation in Gaza.

Israel launched a military operation on 8 July with the stated objective of halting Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. However, the UN says that most of those killed in Gaza have been civilians.

Israel accuses Gaza-based Hamas group of hiding its military infrastructure within the civilian population.

The issue was scheduled for a short discussion in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of parliament) on Wednesday, but the government refused, leading to protests by the opposition, reported the DNA newspaper.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave a clarification, saying India did not want to use "harsh words" against either side involved in the conflict, it added.

"We have diplomatic ties with both nations. Any discourteous reference to any friendly country can impact our relations with them," the paper quoted her as saying.

And finally, a UN report says that one-third of the world's extremely poor population lives in India, reports The Asian Age.

According to the UN Millennium Development Goals report, India also has the highest number of deaths of children under the age of five, it adds.

Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, who released the report, said poverty was the "biggest challenge", but expressed confidence that India would make improvements in this field.

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