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June 10, 2016

Ironic India


June 10, 2016

Prime Minister Modi arrived in the US earlier this week for his seventh meeting with President Obama in the last two years. There are a lot of routine things in his schedule. But in the midst of all of this, PM Modi accepted an invitation to address a joint session of both houses of the US Congress, which is considered an extremely rare honor.

It is ironic that a man once denied a visa to the US addressed its national legislative body. During his address to the US Congress, Modi said, “The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution. Our founding fathers, too, shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India.”

Has Modi forgotten the recent string of murders and hate crimes in India over beef? Or perhaps he’s forgotten that India still has a caste system, where a large population is discriminated against – considered untouchable by the rest of society. Or perhaps Modi hass forgotten the reason he was denied entry to the US in the first place. As the chief minister of Gujarat he did nothing when innocent men, women, and children were massacred in his state; he was rightfully dubbed the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’. It is ironic that a country where half the population faces discrimination on the grounds of religion and caste pretends to be liberal and democratic.

Modi went on to thank the Congress for passing the India-US civil-nuclear cooperation agreement, saying “it changed the very colors of leaves of our relationship. We thank you for being there when the partnership needed you the most.”

And the US, a country that promotes nonproliferation, is being thanked by Modi for helping India, a non-NPT nuclear weapon state, secure an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The NSG is an export control group, which was established to curb India from further proliferation after it exploded a nuclear device in 1974. Securing the exemption made the India-US nuclear cooperation deal possible.

The irony does not stop at the NSG exemption; the nonproliferation champions of the world are not doing anything to stop India from nuclearising the Indian Ocean.

Modi said, “India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region. A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from the Indian Ocean to the pacific. It can also help ensure security of the sea-lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas.”

What Modi forgot to mention was how, in “assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region”, India is actually destabilising the entire region. In an attempt to ‘contain’ one global competitor (China), the US is actually creating another one – India.

Modi talked about India’s partnership with the US in its war on global terrorism, but India has failed to prove that it is committed to the partnership in any meaningful way. Last year when President Obama asked Modi to commit actual resources, the prime minister refused. In contrast, Pakistan has committed everything it has in the fight against global terrorism.

It is ironic that Modi talked about India’s neighborhood (no doubt talking about Pakistan) being an incubator of terrorism, when his own national security adviser is on record promoting the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It is also a matter of record that a serving Indian naval officer has admitted to his country’s role in using terrorism against Pakistan, after he was captured in Balochistan earlier this year.

Subtly addressing the US sale of F-16 fighter aircrafts to Pakistan, Modi said, “I commend the members of the US Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains. Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions.”

It is also ironic that Modi talks about combating global terrorism, but is at the same time thanking the US Congress for holding up the F-16 deal, which if it had gone through would have greatly helped Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

President Obama’s Modicare has turned India into a dangerous paradoxical state. Whoever takes charge of the US government after Obama would do well to put an end to the Modi coddling and wake up to the reality of Modi’s India for all of our sakes. India is not the democracy Modi portrays it to be. His India will never stand up to China for the Americans – let alone contain it – and his India will not improve the US or global economy.

The writer is an assistant professor at NUST in Islamabad. Twitter: @umarwrites.



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