My grandmother always says, once an Amdavadi, always an Amdavadi! I was born in Ahmedabad, a city which for me will always be associated with wonderful childhood memories. Even the horrific riots of 2002 cannot erase a fun-filled past in the home of my grandparents. Which is why I felt a sense of quiet satisfaction this morning to see images of Ahmedabad plastered all over the front pages this morning. To see an Indian prime minister and a Chinese president sitting on a jhoola by the Sabarmati riverfront was, well, unprecedented.
This is perhaps the first time that a foreign head of state has been received by an Indian prime minister outside Delhi. In that geographical shift marks a significant political move as well. In May this year, Narendra Modi became the first sitting chief minister to successfully run for prime ministership. It was more evidence of how the balance of power is shifting from Delhi to the state capitals. Modi won the 2014 general elections by projecting a 'Gujarat model': he was a state leader challenging the establishment at the Centre. Now, he is seeking to take that Gujarat-centric model to foreign policy as well, encouraging the Chinese to look beyond the strategic knots that constrain the relationship. Whether the experiment will succeed is uncertain but it's worth the effort. By the way, wonder if the dhokla and khandwi were dipped in Schezwan sauce last night?