G20 Summit in India: Modi's Personal PR Extravaganza?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully transformed routine rotational G20 presidency into an extravagant personal PR exercise this week. The Indian mass media and the general public saw Mr. Modi's face plastered all over the Indian capital. Some analysts described it as the kickoff of  the Indian leader's political campaign for national elections scheduled for next year. As Mr. Modi spoke of "one earth, one family, one future", his right-wing Hindutva allies continued their unhindered campaign of murder and mayhem against the Christian community in the Indian state of Manipur.  Globally, too, Mr. Modi lived up to his reputation of "Divider In Chief" as the Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Russian leader Vladimir Putin chose to stay away from the gathering attended by all the western leaders. Both China and Russia stand in the way of the continuation of centuries-old unchallenged western hegemony of the world. 

Modi: Hero of Hatred at G20. Source: India Today

After the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, Narendra Modi made the cover of India Today magazine with the caption "Hero of Hatred". Modi was denied a visa to visit the United States.  The US visa ban on Modi was lifted in 2014 after he became prime minister. Since then,  Narendra Modi's image has been rehabilitated by the West as the US and Western Europe seek allies in Asia to counter the rise of China.  However, Modi's actions on the ground in India confirm that he remains "Hero of Hatred" and "Divider In Chief" at his core.  A recent two-part BBC documentary explains this reality in significant detail. The first part focuses on the 2002 events in Gujarat when Modi as the state chief minister ordered the police to not stop the Hindu mobs murdering Muslims and burning their homes and businesses.  The second part looks at Modi government's anti-Muslim policies, including the revocation of Kashmir's autonomy (article 370) and a new citizenship law (CAA 2019) that discriminates against Muslims. It shows the violent response by security forces to peaceful protests against the new laws, and interviews the family members of people who were killed in the 2020 Delhi riots orchestrated by Modi's allies. 

 Modi Divider In Chief. Source: Time Magazine

In a  recent piece for Nikkei Asia, Indian journalist Swaminathan Aiyar dismisses Modi's attempts to recast himself as "Vishwaguru", the teacher of the world. Here's an excerpt of Aiyar's piece titled "India's Modi is not the world's guru": 

"Modi's notion of being the world's guru is just as ridiculous as his twisted history of "centuries of enslavement," which has been used to attack India's religious minorities. A guru is nothing without disciples. If India or Modi himself is the world's guru, who are the disciples? The least likely candidates are Western powers which believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are the true global gurus. It might seem that India's disciples would be most likely to come from its geographic neighborhood rather than distant lands. But even a cursory examination shows otherwise. Does Pakistan regard India as a guru? No, it is India's greatest foe. It has allied with China, India's other major foe, to try and put India in its place. No disciples there. What about Bangladesh, which India helped to achieve independence from Pakistan in 1971? There is now little gratitude for India's help, which is accurately viewed as a ploy to split and disempower Pakistan rather than an altruistic move to aid Bangladeshis. Sri Lanka? Many there harbor ill will toward New Delhi in the belief that it supported the development of the Tamil Tiger insurgency when Indira Gandhi was India's prime minister in the early 1980s. The insurgency became a civil war in which up to 100,000 were killed. Hard to find disciples there. What about Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation? Ever since then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened in a royal power struggle in 1951, Nepalese have viewed New Delhi as an imperial power to be feared. India has on more than one occasion blocked essential supplies to Nepal to try to exert political influence. Nepalese may be Hindus, but they are anything but Modi's disciples" 

Cartoonist Mocks Modi's Answer at the White House. Source: Satish A...

President Joseph R. Biden and other western leaders are making a huge mistake by coddling divisive and dangerous Modi.  While the western nations are seeking an alliance with India to counter rising China, the Hindutva leadership of India has no intention of confronting China. In a piece titled “America’s Bad Bet on India”,  Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis noted that the Biden administration had “overlooked India’s democratic erosion and its unhelpful foreign policy choices” in the hopes that the US can “solicit” New Delhi’s “contributions toward coalition defense”.

Earlier this year, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar confirmed New Delhi's unwillingness to confront China in an interview: “Look they (China) are a bigger economy. What am I going to do? As a smaller economy, I am going to pick up a fight with bigger economy? It is not a question of being a reactionary; it is a question of common sense.”

Modi's India is driven much more by a desire to bring back what the right-wing Hindus see as the "glory days" of India through "Hindu Raj" of the entire South Asia region, including Pakistan. The arms and technology being given to Modi will more likely be used against India's smaller neighbors, not against China. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 13, 2023 at 9:27pm

Putin will not attend G20 in India but set to visit China for Belt and Road forum


Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China for the Belt and Road Forum in October, Bloomberg reported while citing three people with knowledge of the matter. The visit would be Putin's first since an arrest warrant was issued against the Russian president for alleged war crimes, which the Kremlin has vehemently denied.

Preparations are now underway in Moscow for Putin's visit as Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly accepted Chinese leader Xi Jinping's invitation for the top flagship project of his presidency.

That's pretty much it. Vladimir Putin, in a telephonic conversation with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 28, cited his "busy schedule" and said that his main focus is still the "special military operation" in Ukraine for his inability to attend the G-20 summit in New Delhi in September.

Another facet of the discourse remains that New Delhi has vehemently opposed the G20 summit to emerge as a forum for focus on war in Ukraine, saying that it's a "geo-economic" platform and that the "(UN) Security Council" exists for conflict resolutions.

Putin in the New Delhi G-20 summit would have made him and by extension the war in Ukraine the top focus of a crucial multilateral meeting.

Secondly, Putin is reportedly willing to visit countries where his security service can completely guarantee his safety, and China is one of those places, according to two people cited by Bloomberg.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said in July that Putin planned to visit China for the forum, while Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said that China had invited the Russian leader as the "main guest" at the event, the state-run TASS news service reported in May.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 20, 2023 at 5:00pm

If India ordered a murder in Canada, there must be consequences
Western countries have for too long acquiesced to the Indian government’s abuses


For years, India objected to Western strategists lumping it together with its violent and chaotic neighbour in the phrase “Indo-Pakistan”. Now recognised as a fast-growing giant and potential bulwark against China, India claims to have been “de-hyphenated”. Yet the explosive charge aired this week by Justin Trudeau suggests that diplomatic recalibration may have gone too far. Canada’s prime minister alleges that Indian agents were involved in the murder in Vancouver of a Canadian citizen sympathetic to India’s Sikh separatist movement. India has long been accused of assassinating militants and dissidents in its own messy region; never previously in the friendly and orderly West. And while India calls the victim, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a terrorist, he had rebuffed Indian allegations that he was linked to separatist violence.

India denies everything. But Canada is reported to have shared intelligence about the murder with its allies in the “Five Eyes” intelligence pact. None appears to have questioned it. Shortly after Mr Trudeau levelled the charge in Canada’s parliament, America and Britain released cautiously supportive statements, urging India to co-operate with a Canadian probe. The assassination, by two unknown gunmen outside a Sikh temple in June, follows a recent spike in both Sikh separatist activity and at times heavy-handed Indian suppression of it.

The squabble, which has involved tit-for-tat expulsions of Indian and Canadian diplomats, could escalate. Mr Trudeau faces domestic pressure to reveal evidence of Indian involvement in the killing. A criminal investigation is under way. The Canada-India relationship, already blighted by Indian suspicions of separatist support in the 770,000-strong Sikh diaspora in Canada, has grown worse. America and its allies will hope the rot stops there. Yet even if it does, they should consider this a warning-shot against the government of Narendra Modi—and their own eagerness to overlook its too-frequent abuses.

On its own turf it has muzzled the press, cowed the courts and persecuted minorities, even though none is a threat to it. The alleged assassination in Canada, too, appears gratuitous as well as wrong. The movement to create an independent Sikh nation (known as Khalistan) led to the killing of tens of thousands of people in India in the 1980s and 1990s, but has since been not much more than a talking-point in the Sikh diaspora, even as India’s ability to police it by conventional means at home has improved (see Asia section).

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 20, 2023 at 5:01pm

If India ordered a murder in Canada, there must be consequences
Western countries have for too long acquiesced to the Indian government’s abuses


Making martyrs of separatist leaders is a gift to their beleaguered cause. This might be considered typical of an Indian government that, for all its recent swagger on the world stage, remains dogged by feelings of insecurity. It is a feature of India’s rapid rise. The country is almost invariably weaker than its leaders publicly proclaim, yet stronger than they privately fear—and that mismatch is a recipe for miscalculations of this kind. Mr Modi, a probable shoo-in for re-election next year, should know that confident countries entrust their security to the rule of law.

India’s Western friends cannot count on that, however. Hitherto reluctant to condemn Mr Modi’s excesses, they have maintained a fiction that their partnership with India is based on shared democratic values, not interests. This has laid them open to charges of hypocrisy. It also seems likely, in the light of Mr Nijjar’s demise, to have emboldened Mr Modi. If the investigation confirms Indian involvement in this crime, it is time for a tougher line. Strategic partners do not air all their dirty linen in public, but nor do they murder each other’s citizens. Canada’s allies must join it in making that clear to Mr Modi.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 25, 2023 at 10:06am

Aatish Taseer
So, in retrospect, the G20 was an event where the leaders of Russia and China were not present, while the leader of the free world accused Mr Modi (the host) of extrajudicial murder in Canada. Truly, surreal!



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