US Brackets India's Modi With Murderous Dictators: Aristide, Kabila, Mugabe and MBS

Speaking about the US decision to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that it was “not the first time” that the US government has designated immunity to foreign leaders and listed four cases. “Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993; President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001; Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014; and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” he said. 

BJP HIndutva Leaders Modi, Yogi and Shah

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India was barred from entering the United States from 2005 to 2014 for his involvement in the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.  In 2015, a US judge dismissed a lawsuit against Modi after the US government argued that he is immune to accusations as a sitting head of government. While Modi has denied any involvement in the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom, he has never even expressed any regret over the killings in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister of the Indian state. 

While Modi has refused to accept any responsibility for the massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, his party BJP's leaders have not shied away from claiming "credit" for it. Just yesterday, Modi's right-hand man and current Home Minister Amit Shah said Muslims were "taught a lesson" in 2002. He said that "after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence". 

In 2002 when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, hundreds of young Muslim girls were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.  These rapes were condoned by the ruling BJP, whose refusal to intervene lead to the rape and killing of thousands and displacement of 200,000 Muslims.

In 2012, a former Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Shankersinh Vaghela accused Modi's state government of having blood on its hand: "2002 me jo katl-e-aam hua uspe wo sarkar bani hai. Iske baad encounter hui, uske upar ye sarkar bani thi. Sarkar banti hai, lekin ye jo conspiracy karke sarkar banana hai, ye Gujarat aur desh ki janata jaanti hai aur aaj wo repeat nah o, iske liye hum janata ko request karte hain (The foundation of this (Modi) government rests on the 2002 carnage. Governments are made, but not on conspiracies. And the people of Gujarat know this, and that's why we are requesting the people for a change)," Mr Vaghela said.

Since his election to India's top elected office, Modi has elevated fellow right-wing Hindu extremists to positions of power in India. Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked in 2016 by Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Adiyanath's supporters brag about digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them. In a video uploaded in 2014,  he said, “If [Muslims] take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls. If they kill one Hindu, we’ll kill 100 Muslims.”

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

Madhav S. Golwalkar, considered among the founders of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

In his book We, MS Golwalkar wrote the following in praise of what Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did to Jews as a model for what Hindus should do to Muslims in India: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Paul Richard Brass, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has spent many years researching communal riots in India. He has debunked all the action-reaction theories promoted by Hindu Nationalists like Modi. He believes these are not spontaneous but planned and staged as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth.

Here's an excerpt of Professor Brass's work:

"Events labelled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and town in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally. At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them."

"In India, all this takes place within a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility that denies the deliberate and purposive character of the violence by attributing it to the spontaneous reactions of ordinary Hindus and Muslims, locked in a web of mutual antagonisms said to have a long history. In the meantime, in post-Independence India, what are labelled Hindu-Muslim riots have more often than not been turned into pogroms and massacres of Muslims, in which few Hindus are killed. In fact, in sites of endemic rioting, there exist what I have called “institutionalized riot systems,” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. Further, in these sites, persons can be identified, who play specific roles in the preparation, enactment, and explanation of riots after the fact. Especially important are what I call the “fire tenders,” who keep Hindu-Muslim tensions alive through various inflammatory and inciting acts; “conversion specialists,” who lead and address mobs of potential rioters and give a signal to indicate if and when violence should commence; criminals and the poorest elements in society, recruited and rewarded for enacting the violence; and politicians and the vernacular media who, during the violence, and in its aftermath, draw attention away from the perpetrators of the violence by attributing it to the actions."

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 31, 2023 at 8:49pm

Derek J. Grossman
@DerekJGrossman
The US and India are putting pedal to the metal on decoupling from China. Doubt it will work, but I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.

https://twitter.com/DerekJGrossman/status/1620557287671869440?s=20&...

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U.S. Pursues India as a Supply-Chain Alternative to China
Biden administration turns to New Delhi as it seeks to steer critical technologies away from Beijing


https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-pursues-india-as-a-supply-chain-al...

India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, led New Delhi’s delegation this week in meetings with Mr. Sullivan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other officials.

The meetings underscore a broader U.S. effort to meet challenges from China through alliances with other countries. The Biden administration has given priority to Washington’s relationship with what is known as the Quad—an alliance between India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. that has focused on countering Beijing.

“President Biden really believes that no successful and enduring effort to address any of the major challenges in the world today…is going to be effective without a close U.S.-India partnership at its heart,” a senior administration official said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 1, 2023 at 5:03pm

#Hindu mobs, enraged by conversions, attack #Christians in #India. "Christians are in the minority, and they get beat up, and the #Hindutva fundamentalists have state support". #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia #Hate https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/01/31/india-chhattisgarh-...

NARAYANPUR, India — Over two decades of practicing and proselytizing Christianity, Badinath Salam had been kicked out of his home several times and often harassed. But in December, he recalled, the vitriol turned virulent.

Leaders in his Indigenous Indian village beat drums to summon all 100 households to a clearing, he said. There, gathered villagers pummeled their Christian neighbors, who made up one-fifth of their village, and left Salam hospitalized for three days.

When the drumbeats began again a week later, on Jan. 9, Salam ran for his life. In this part of central India, he wasn’t the only Christian forced to flee.

Since December, Hindu vigilantes in Chhattisgarh state in eastern India, enraged by the spread of Christianity and rallied by local political leaders, have assaulted and displaced hundreds of Christian converts in dozens of villages and left a trail of damaged churches, according to interviews with local Christians and activists and as seen during a recent trip to the area.

That visit to the remote region — a day’s drive from the nearest airport — revealed the extent of the chaos and its uneasy aftermath. In villages, bruised and beaten Christian converts picked through the rubble of churches destroyed by mobs wielding sledgehammers. In dusty townships, Hindu nationalist leaders led impassioned rallies promising more action against Christian conversions. In an empty government gym of the dusty township of Narayanpur, evicted families including Salam’s sought refuge, sleeping on mats next to a few sacks of spare clothes and grain.

The violence played out in one of the most culturally unique parts of India, a stretch of forested hills where missionaries from different religions and even Maoist guerrillas have long vied for the hearts and souls of Indigenous tribes. But the episode also illustrated a broader truth about India today: that antipathy toward the Abrahamic religions of Islam and Christianity — often portrayed as alien religions brought to India by its historical invaders — can be wielded as an effective mobilizing force for political ends.

Across India, reports of violence against Muslims often increase in the run-up to elections, a phenomenon that some political scientists have attributed to attempts by Hindu parties to energize their base. In the region of southern Chhattisgarh known as Bastar, the boogeyman has been the Christian.

The violence that roiled Bastar began in December and eventually affected about 100 villages, local activists said.

On Jan. 2, members of a local Hindu group known as the Janjati Suraksha Manch stormed a Catholic church in Narayanpur town, where they destroyed statues and threw rocks through stained-glass windows. On Jan. 12, more than 200 men in Chimmdi village climbed onto the roof of the small church built by Jai Singh Potai and tore it down. Around the corner, they smashed another church and wrote on a blackboard: “If you don’t leave Christianity then the same will happen again.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 17, 2023 at 5:23pm

#India is continuing on its path to majoritarian #chauvinism. Narendra #Modi will do everything to ensure a third term in office. #Hindutva #Fascism #Islamophobia #BJP
https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2022/11/18/india-is-conti...

Varanasi, INDIA - MARCH 04: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets crowds of supporters during a roadshow in support of state elections on March 04, 2022 in Varanasi, India. India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, is holding state elections in seven phases, as the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Modi looks to defend its majority in its "cow belt" heartlands. The election is expected to be a barometer for the national political mood amid deepening sectarian divisions

Narendra modi had a better 2022 than most world leaders. India’s prime minister was projected to end the year as leader of the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth close to 7%, in spite of multiple global crises.

Russia’s war in Ukraine plunged Europe into an energy crisis and strained relations among Western allies. In India, by contrast, it facilitated the purchase of cheap Russian oil and lifted Mr Modi’s international standing. As Western countries jostled to gain India’s support, the prime minister succeeded in styling himself as an ostensibly neutral advocate of resolving the conflict peacefully, managing to scold Vladimir Putin while simultaneously resisting Western entreaties to join the anti-Russia coalition for good.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 18, 2023 at 8:39am

#Modi is the World’s Most Popular Leader. It's an emerging personality cult and an authoritarian streak that is dragging #India backward. Some argue it is a Jim Crow #Hindu nationalism that marginalizes #Muslims. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #BJP #bigotry https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/18/opinion/modi-india.html?smid=tw-...


All over the Indian capital these days loom posters of Narendra Modi, presenting him as the great modernizing prime minister pulling India forward. But those posters also hint at the opposite: an emerging personality cult and an authoritarian streak that is dragging India backward.

In immediate political terms, the personality cult perhaps succeeds. With approval ratings at home of about 78 percent, Modi is far and away the most popular major leader in the world today, according to Morning Consult.

With the opposition in disarray, Modi is expected to win a third term as prime minister in next year’s elections.

While Modi polls extremely well, many worldly Indians are aghast that he has made India less secular and tolerant, creating what some argue is a Jim Crow Hindu nationalism that marginalizes religious minorities, particularly Muslims. And it’s not just marginalization: Muslims are periodically accused of slaughtering cows, which are sacred to Hindus, and lynched. In a typical case this month, a mob in Bihar state accused a Muslim of carrying beef and beat him to death.

Modi has presided over a crackdown on news organizations, and Indians have been repeatedly arrested for their tweets. Sweden’s V-Dem Institute, in a new report, listed India not as a democracy but as an “electoral autocracy” ranking 108th among 179 countries in its electoral democracy index.

“It’s very scary what’s happening,” said Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College, one of India’s most celebrated rural development initiatives. “I think we’re going into authoritarianism.”

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Pakistan was founded by a not particularly observant Muslim, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who drank alcohol and appointed a member of the (now persecuted) Ahmadi religious minority to be the country’s first foreign minister. But then in 1977, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq seized power and engineered a wave of conservative Muslim nationalism that still tears Pakistan apart.

That would be my nightmare for India, because the fires of religious extremism and grievance are easier to ignite than extinguish. But I honestly don’t think India will tumble that far. I agree with Urmi Basu, a civil society leader from Kolkata, that Indian democracy will get through this, just as it survived a retreat from democracy under Indira Gandhi. India still has a federal system that gives power to the states, and that constrains Modi.

-----------

Modi is now to all of India what he was for many years as the boss of the state of Gujarat. There he was a pro-business leader who oversaw strong economic growth, but his record was badly damaged by a pogrom against Muslims on his watch in 2002 — there is disagreement about his degree of complicity, but he certainly mismanaged it. He also undermined pillars of civil society like the Self-Employed Women’s Association.

Looking ahead, what I fear is that the authoritarian, Hindu nationalist Modi is eclipsing the economy-boosting, toilet-building Modi. To imagine a worst case, just look next door at the sad shambles of today’s Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2023 at 9:39pm

US gives a 'free pass' to India as worry over China rivalry deepens

https://www.livemint.com/news/world/us-gives-a-free-pass-to-india-a...

“India is getting this free pass on account of China," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi who has advised previous Indian administrations on national security issues. “The only country in Asia, in terms of size and potential, that can balance China is India."

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The Biden administration has decided to remain publicly quiet on India’s democratic backsliding, according to senior US officials, as the US intensifies efforts to keep New Delhi on its side in the rivalry with China.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pressure on religious minorities and the media is troubling, as is his party’s targeting of opposition lawmakers, said the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. But the decision to largely refrain from criticizing Modi comes as growing concerns about China make India increasingly crucial to US geopolitical and economic goals in the Indo-Pacific.

The decision on handling India is an example of how President Joe Biden’s emphasis on human rights — and his framing of a global conflict between democracies and autocracies — has run up against the strategic realities of a world where rivals such as China and Russia are vying for greater control.

So while New Delhi’s strong defense ties with Russia and its vast purchases of Russian crude have drawn scrutiny from US lawmakers after the invasion of Ukraine, the administration believes it needs India to buy that oil to keep prices low. And rising concerns about China’s growing assertiveness under Xi Jinping have helped drive the US and India even closer together, these people said.

“India is getting this free pass on account of China," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi who has advised previous Indian administrations on national security issues. “The only country in Asia, in terms of size and potential, that can balance China is India."

In a sign of the close ties, Biden is set to host Modi for a state dinner in Washington this summer. While Biden might press Modi to take a more explicit stance on Ukraine, one US official said it’s doubtful New Delhi would publicly rebuke Russia, given their close defense ties.

‘Regularly Engage’
Asked whether the administration is reluctant to criticize Modi, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement, “As we do with other nations around the world, we regularly engage with Indian government officials at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief."

US officials also have frequently pointed to India’s shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as Modi’s comments to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not one for war."

India’s foreign ministry declined to comment. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has made no secret of his country’s decision not to pick sides regardless of what others may want, echoing India’s Cold War leadership of what was called the “non-aligned movement."

“Whether it is the United States, Europe, Russia or Japan, we are trying to ensure that all ties, all these ties, advance without seeking exclusivity," Jaishankar said during a visit to the Dominican Republic last month.

As India eclipses China as the world’s most populous country with more than 1.4 billion people, the Biden administration believes it’s impossible to solve pressing global challenges such as climate change without New Delhi, one official said, and the country remains a central part of the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

That’s led to the relative silence on issues that the US would normally speak out about publicly, and loudly.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2023 at 9:40pm

US gives a 'free pass' to India as worry over China rivalry deepens

https://www.livemint.com/news/world/us-gives-a-free-pass-to-india-a...

Most recently, India’s government banned a critical documentary about Modi released by the BBC and sent federal tax authorities to raid the British news organization’s Delhi office.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party also won a defamation case against the main political opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, that has seen him kicked out of parliament. Modi’s government has also choked local and international nongovernmental organizations of foreign funding.

Russian Arms
Other Indian moves also run against a greater strategic alignment with Washington: In recent months, India pledged closer defense ties with Russia. Although India has sought to scale back purchases of some Russian weapons, its military has more than 250 Russian-designed fighter jets, seven Russian submarines and hundreds of Russian tanks. It has also received Russian S-400 missile defense systems despite US efforts to keep those purchases from going forward.

“President Biden would be remiss if he doesn’t raise the Russia issue and restate the importance of supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and explain why that is important for the Indo-Pacific region," said Lisa Curtis, who was the National Security Council senior director for South and Central Asia under former President Donald Trump.

“It’s no use pretending we don’t have serious differences on such a crucial issue," said Curtis, who directs the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Oil Politics
The US has also moved on from concerns about India’s vast purchases of Russian crude oil even as the country rejects a Group of Seven initiative to put a cap on the price for which it’s sold.

At one meeting in Delhi between US and Indian officials following the invasion of Ukraine, a US diplomat told a senior Indian official that if their refiners weren’t buying Russian crude and putting it back on global markets, oil prices might have soared to about $180 a barrel, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

Indian officials always viewed Western criticism of their oil purchases as hypocritical, given that Indian refiners do simply put the product on global markets — in many cases for US and European buyers.

Jaishankar, the foreign minister, has often invoked broader sentiment in the so-called Global South as he defended his country’s position on Ukraine amid soaring food and energy prices that have put immense pressure on poor countries. He has waved off US concerns about India’s human rights record, saying “people are entitled to have views about us."

The US’s positioning on India reflects a calculation it’s had to make several times in the past, most prominently with Saudi Arabia. After declaring during his presidential campaign that he would declare Saudi Arabia a “pariah," Biden has had to backtrack as he seeks the kingdom’s help countering Iran and keeping oil prices low.

“I can understand governments’ reluctance" to take on Modi," said Shashi Tharoor, a senior lawmaker in the opposition Congress Party. “There’s an overriding strategic interest on the part of the West, and other countries in Southeast Asia, in staying on the right side of India."

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 12, 2023 at 6:46pm

Prashant Bhushan
@pbhushan1
"Indian govt told Twitter to black out farmers protests&tweets by journalists critical of the govt. Threatened to shut Twitter down in India&raid the homes of Twitter employees, which they did. And India is supposed to be a democratic country!": Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter

https://twitter.com/pbhushan1/status/1668351603433168924?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 19, 2023 at 8:13am

Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/india/markey-modi-biden-united-states


If making democratic values the cornerstone of the U.S.-Indian relationship has always been a dubious strategy, today it is clearly doomed—because the very notion of common values has itself come to look fanciful. Ever since Narendra Modi became the Indian prime minister nine years ago, India’s status as a democracy has become increasingly suspect. The “world’s largest democracy” has seen an upsurge in violence directed at its Muslim minority, often whipped up by prominent politicians. It is trying to strip citizenship from millions of Muslim residents. It is muzzling the press and silencing opposition figures. The Biden administration, having cast itself as a vocal champion of democratic ideals, therefore finds itself on shaky ground whenever it characterizes the United States’ partnership with India as one of shared values.

But it continues to do just that. In January, for example, the White House declared that the two states’ joint technology initiatives were “shaped by our shared democratic values and respect for universal human rights.” In June, Modi will visit Washington, D.C., for a formal state dinner meant to affirm “the warm bonds of family and friendship” that link the two countries. In February, however, the Indian government made it difficult for a leading Indian think tank to raise money, a major blow to intellectual freedom. In March, Modi’s party removed one of India’s most prominent opposition politicians from Parliament—explicitly because he insulted the prime minister.

Yet even as the two countries’ shared values have grown weaker, their shared material interests have only gotten stronger. India and the United States now have a clear, common geopolitical foe in China, and each understands that the other can help it win its competition against Beijing. For the United States, India is a massive, pivotal power in Asia that sits astride critical maritime routes and shares a long, contested land border with China. For India, the United States is an attractive source of advanced technology, education, and investment. New Delhi may still have close ties with Moscow, but the uncertain quality and reliability of Russian arms mean that India is more open than ever to buying weapons from the West instead.

To capitalize on these complementary material interests, however, the United States must dispense with the idea that shared values can provide the bedrock of a strong relationship, justifying its high tolerance for New Delhi’s behavior on the basis of a bet on long-term convergence. Rather than considering India an ally in the fight for global democracy, it must see that India is an ally of convenience. This shift will not be easy, given that Washington has spent decades looking at New Delhi through rose-colored glasses. But the pivot will encourage both sides to understand that their relationship is ultimately transactional—and allow them to get down to business.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 4:38pm

India’s Worsening Democracy Makes It an Unreliable Ally

https://time.com/6288505/indias-worsening-democracy-makes-it-an-unr...


by Salil Tripathy

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the United States on 21 June, which is World Yoga Day. Asserting India’s soft power, he will participate in a yoga demonstration at the United Nations headquarters in New York, while the Biden administration will be laying out the red carpet in Washington. On the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Japan last month, Indian media claimed President Joe Biden reportedly quipped to Modi that that his staff was struggling to cope with the demand surge for invitations to the State dinner he will host. Modi will also address a joint session of the Congress.

World leaders visit Washington all the time, but the hyper-nationalist Indian media sees American eagerness in welcoming Modi as a sign of India’s arrival on the international stage. The drum roll began in April, when commerce secretary Gina Raimondo gushed over Modi, anointing him as the world’s most popular leader, calling him “unbelievable” and “visionary.” The White House called India “a vibrant democracy.”

India’s pliant media is projecting the visit as unprecedented. Don’t rule out stories that count the number of times Congress members will applaud Modi, whether they stand up when they clap, measure the duration of the applause, and compare it with responses to similar addresses by former Indian leaders, hoping that Modi will set a record. For Modi likes adulation and believes in superlatives, and the bulk of the Indian media today aims to please him.

To be sure, India has arrived. The U.S. wants closer, stronger, and more meaningful relationship with India as a destination of investments, as a strategic ally, and as a bulwark against the rise of China. India is now the world’s most populous country. As it regularly holds elections, India is called the world’s largest democracy, although most indices that measure human rights or democracy show the precipitous decline in India’s record on both counts in the nine years Modi has been in power. Depending on how you measure economies, India is now the world’s fifth-largest—according to the World Economic Forum, it overtook its former ruler, the U.K., last year. While some international economists are skeptical over India’s public statistics, its chief economic adviser claimed in March that India’s economy grew 7.2% last year. It remains among the top ten destinations for foreign direct investment in the world.

No doubt India is a military power, and it is part of the Quad, a diplomatic alliance including Australia, Japan, and the United States, ostensibly intended to spread stability and prosperity in Asia-Pacific, but really a thinly-veiled alliance to rival China. Surely India is an ally of western democracies?

Not so fast. India unequivocally defended anti-colonial struggles until the end of the Cold War (it was one of the earliest countries to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa, and supported Palestine and many African liberation movements). But it has dragged its feet in supporting democracies since. The generals who annulled elections in Myanmar consider India a steadfast friend. It has issued only tepid, pious platitudes for peace in response to Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine. Its trade with Russia has not stopped, and it is accused of selling Russian oil in international markets undermining sanctions. It is wary of China, but only with regard to its disputed border; it has abstained U.N. resolutions on the treatment of Uyghurs and is unlikely to say anything meaningful if China invades Taiwan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 4:38pm

India’s Worsening Democracy Makes It an Unreliable Ally

https://time.com/6288505/indias-worsening-democracy-makes-it-an-unr...


by Salil Tripathy

India’s interpretation of its own interests are therefore not aligned with western interests, and if its positions align with certain western positions, those have less to do with any perception of shared values, and more with defending its own perspective. Even if India’s non-alignment was never consistent, and John Foster Dulles in fact called it immoral, India saw it as a practical response in a polarized world. And the Modi administration’s differences with earlier Indian governments are only a matter of degree, and not of kind.

Western wooing of India is real. There is the roadmap of defense collaboration with the U.S., the proposed submarine deal being negotiated with Germany, and France has invited Modi as a guest of honor on Bastille Day this July. These measures suggest a qualitatively different relationship, for India wants to diversify its defense procurement, which is still overwhelmingly reliant on Russian weapon systems. But the ties with Russia are historic, and China is a formidable neighbor which occupies vast stretches of territory India considers its own, and Chinese incursions have only increased in recent years. And yet, other than cosmetic steps like banning Tik Tok, India has not retaliated. Bilateral trade has grown to $136 billion (an 8% increase over the previous year) and its trade deficit with China has widened to $100 billion. While India would love to attract investors who look for alternate destinations other than China as part of their de-risking strategies, other countries in Asia are also looking to attract the same investments.

Realpolitik apart, the U.S. does speak of building ties based on values, such as democracy and human rights. First, India has always been a flawed democracy, but its human rights record has worsened significantly during Modi’s tenure. Researchers Suchitra Vijayan and Francesca Recchia have identified about 250 non-violent political prisoners who were put in jail without being formally charged or tried between May 2014, when Modi came to power, until July 2022, in their forthcoming book, How Long Can The Moon Be Caged?. The detained prisoners include lawyers, writers, human rights activists, and other socially-conscious dissidents. According to watchdog Access Now, India leads the world in network shutdowns, and as western tech companies have learned, India browbeats telecom and social media companies to take down content and threatens them with police action if they don’t comply.

The treatment of Muslims, who form 14% of India’s population, has worsened. A 2019 report by Human Rights Watch documented 44 murders (36 of them being Muslim) by lynch mobs who killed people they suspected of possessing beef, consuming it, or trading cows. Muslims find it hard to buy or rent property, are denied permission to build mosques in some cases, and prevented from praying in public. Vigilantes prevent Muslims from praying at home. Female Muslim students in one state were banned from wearing head-scarves. A senior politician from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had welcomed convicted cow protectors with garlands. BJP-ruled states have passed laws to make it harder for inter-faith marriages from taking place. Right wing Hindus celebrated the early release of 11 men who were convicted of having raped a Muslim woman and murdered some of her family members during the massacres of 2002. Those incidents occurred when Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister and had failed to stop Hindu violence against Muslims. Modi was then barred from entry into the U.S. or the E.U. until India’s Supreme Court said Modi did not have a case to answer. A recent BBC film which blamed Modi for complicity, is banned in India.

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    Pakistani Student Enrollment in US Universities Hits All Time High

    Pakistani student enrollment in America's institutions of higher learning rose 16% last year, outpacing the record 12% growth in the number of international students hosted by the country. This puts Pakistan among eight sources in the top 20 countries with the largest increases in US enrollment. India saw the biggest increase at 35%, followed by Ghana 32%, Bangladesh and…

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    Posted by Riaz Haq on April 1, 2024 at 5:00pm

    Agriculture, Caste, Religion and Happiness in South Asia

    Pakistan's agriculture sector GDP grew at a rate of 5.2% in the October-December 2023 quarter, according to the government figures. This is a rare bright spot in the overall national economy that showed just 1% growth during the quarter. Strong performance of the farm sector gives the much needed boost for about …

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    Posted by Riaz Haq on March 29, 2024 at 8:00pm

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