Why Are Indians Unhappy With Modi's Reception in Washington?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington on September 23rd for a bilateral meeting with President Joseph R. Biden followed by a 4-nation summit involving Australia, India, Japan and the United States.  An unhappy meme of his visit went viral on social media as Mr. Modi wrapped up his visit to the United States. 

Modi Washington Visit Meme

It highlights four key complaints about how the Indian prime minister was treated by the White House:

1. President Biden did not receive Prime Minister Modi at the White House porch. This is in sharp contrast to the reception President Donald J. Trump gave Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during the latter's visit in 2019. President Trump greeted Prime Minister Khan in the driveway as the latter emerged from his car. 

2. US media did not cover Modi's visit. (Pakistan's Imran Khan was on the Newsweek cover while Modi was in Washington). The media coverage Modi did receive in the US media was about lectures from the US leaders. 
3. Kamala Harris reminded Modi of the pressing need for real democracy in India. Here's an excerpts of the US Vice President's remarks released by the White House:  "Finally, as democracies around the world are under threat, it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries and around the world and that we maintain what we must do to strengthen democracies at home. And it is incumbent on our nations to, of course, protect democracies in the best interest of the people of our countries". 
4. Joseph Biden lectured Modi on tolerance.  The President said to the Prime Minister: "As the world celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday next week, we’re all reminded that his message of non-violence, respect, tolerance matters today maybe more than it ever has". 
President Biden offered a back-handed compliment to the Indian media when he said at the White House: "The Indian press is much better behaved than the American press...And I think, with your permission, we should not answer questions because they won't ask any questions on point" . 
Biden may have said this to help Modi evade tough questions from the press that the Indian Prime Minister can not answer. He has never held an open press conference nor has he ever agreed to be interviewed by independent journalists. 
Here's a video clip of Biden's statement to the White House press corps before the beginning of the closed-door meeting with Mr. Modi:

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Here's a video clip showing what Modi doesn't like about facing tough questions like why he didn't even express regret about massacre of Muslims in Gujarat:

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Views: 232

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 4, 2021 at 1:35pm

Is #India Headed for Anti-Muslim Genocide? #Modi’s #BJP has created a deep sense of #Hindu victimhood, stoking the othering of #Muslims via #disinformation, #hatespeech, silencing progressives, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups. #HIndutva https://time.com/6103284/india-hindu-supremacy-extremism-genocide-b...

Muslims apparently lust after Hindu women, procreating rapidly with the aim of overtaking the Hindu population and establishing an Islamic state, and necessitating new laws against “love jihad.” Similar regulations against religious conversions and the slaughter of cows, which are sacred to Hindus, have encouraged vigilantism. Muslim hawkers and workers have come under increasing attack from Hindu supremacist groups calling for a boycott of Muslim businesses.

Indian social media today is filled with videos of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism calling for the lynching of Muslims—an act so common that it hardly makes news anymore. High-profile Hindu supremacists are seldom booked for hate speech. Muslims routinely face random attacks for such “crimes” as transporting cattle or being in the company of Hindu women. Sometimes, the provocation is simply that somebody is visibly Muslim. As Modi himself has told election rallies, people “creating violence” can be “identified by their clothes.”

The persecution of Muslims in Assam is just the beginning
But Baniya’s malevolence has a history longer than India’s descent into the abyss of hate. Assam, the setting for his ghoulish death dance on the body of a Muslim, is where this construct of the Muslim as the unwanted, dangerous outsider has been honed and mainstreamed. The fear of being overrun by “outsiders” has almost been genetically encoded there over centuries, dating back to the time the British started clearing the state’s lush forests for tea and other plantations. The clearances triggered the inward migration of Bengali peasants from densely populated adjoining regions in search of easily obtainable fertile lands.

Much to the discontent of the ethnic Assamese, the migrations have continued in recent decades as a result of the violent partition of the subcontinent, economic hardship, political instability and wars in what is now known as Bangladesh. Climate-related factors have also driven a steady exodus out of flood-prone, deltaic Bangladesh into Assam.

With the rise of Modi, historical Assamese resentment towards non-Assamese speakers has mixed with the politics of Hindu nationalism in a dangerous brew of xenophobia and patriotism. Stomping on a Muslim corpse now has a gloss of patriotic righteousness to it, which is why it is flaunted on camera. Bigotry is now a badge of honor. In his head, Baniya was protecting India and policemen are seen hugging him in the video after Hoque’s death. His behavior says much about the way Modi has weaponized history and valorized and incentivized hate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally for the West Bengal Assembly Election on April 12, 2021 in the North 24 Parganas district, India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally for the West Bengal Assembly Election on April 12, 2021 in the North 24 Parganas district, India. Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Assam is Modi’s grand laboratory, where he is putting Muslims to the litmus test of a citizen verification drive—separating the trueborn from the chaff—before taking it national. The BJP says it simply wants India to be rid of “Bangladeshi migrants”, but it uses it as a code for Indian Muslims. Nearly two million people have been disenfranchised in the state, with no clarity as to what is to happen to them. The closest regional parallel to such large-scale, government-dictated statelessness in recent times was the 1982 mass disenfranchisement of the Rohingya in Myanmar, before the massacres and exodus years later.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 4, 2021 at 1:35pm

Is #India Headed for Anti-Muslim Genocide? #Modi’s #BJP has created a deep sense of #Hindu victimhood, stoking the othering of #Muslims via #disinformation, #hatespeech, silencing progressives, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups. #HIndutva https://time.com/6103284/india-hindu-supremacy-extremism-genocide-b...

And it is only the beginning. In neighboring Bihar, the government is asking people to report “suspected illegal migrants” and officials have been ordered to create awareness of the issue on “an urgent basis.” The state’s high court has demanded a detention center to house migrants, reminding the government that “deportation of illegal migrants is of paramount importance and in the national interest.” Bihar’s 17 million Muslims are on edge about their future. In next-door Bengal, which borders Bangladesh and is home to nearly 25 million Muslims, the BJP has been promising an Assam-like citizenship verification drive if it comes to power in the state.

The chief minister of India’s biggest and most politically important state, Uttar Pradesh, recently blamed Muslims for cornering government-subsidized food. Uttar Pradesh, along with Assam, has introduced a two-child policy blaming Muslims for a supposedly runaway population growth that officials say accounts for the backwardness of these states. The claim is not rooted in reality. Fertility rates among Muslims have in fact been falling rapidly.

But reality is no longer important. It bends to the requirements of the ruling party’s dehumanizing narrative against Muslims. As Jews in Nazi Germany were called “rats” and Tutsis in Rwanda in the 1990s were called “cockroaches,” so BJP members now refer to Indian Muslims as “termites” eating away at India’s resources, denying Hindus what is due to them in their own land.

The destruction of Gandhi’s legacy
The foundations of the secular republic that Gandhi died defending are thus being hollowed out ever more frantically. While Modi pays ritualistic homage to Gandhi, BJP leaders openly glorify Gandhi’s killer, who was a Hindu fanatic. Modi’s ministers and legislators freely call on people to shoot “traitors” and start pogroms, and are promoted rather than penalized for their actions. Modi himself partly owes his fan following and ascent to his lack of remorse over the 2002 pogroms in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister. Hundreds of Muslims were killed and thousands rendered homeless.

Noticeably, not only did the current chief minister of Assam not apologize for the police excesses, he in fact trivialized the deaths of Hoque and Farid, calling Hoque’s death “just 30 seconds” of a three minute video. He also carried on with the eviction drive and even proudly tweeted photos of the rubble of the four mosques destroyed in it.

While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. So have the standards of acceptable discourse in public and social life. Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations on politics among friends or family. Death threats are used like punctuation marks in debates on social media.

On Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated with much fanfare as the International Day of Non-Violence. Two new books on his assassination in 1948 were launched. In Karnataka, meanwhile, a 25-year-old Muslim man was found beheaded for his affair with a Hindu girl, allegedly by a local Hindu vigilante group.

Gandhi continues to be killed in a million ways in today’s India. Bijoy Baniya just added a flourish to it.

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