"Howdy Modi" Rally Exposes Indian-Americans to Charge of Hypocrisy

Most Indian-Americans vote for the Democratic Party in American elections. Almost all Indian-Americans in elected offices are Democrats. Notable among them are Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal and Kamala Harris. Many Indian-Americans have been appointed to senior positions in executive and judiciary branches by Democratic administrations.  However, they instinctively agree with Republicans. They share Republicans' racism against African-Americans and Hispanics and support President Trump's religious bigotry against Muslims.

Most India-Americans ardently support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose party is openly hostile to minorities, particularly Muslims, in India. And majority of Indian-Americans are totally unconcerned about the plight of minorities in India.  Modi's declaration “we’ve said goodbye to Article 370" in Indian Occupied Kashmir drew the loudest cheers at Howdy Modi rally which highlighted the hypocrisy of Indian-Americans. The attendees at the Houston rally gave President Donald Trump standing ovation when he said that the United States is "committed to protecting innocent Indian-Americans from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism". Modi effectively endorsed Trump for re-election in 2020 when he declared "Ap ki Bar Trump Sarkar". This essentially turned "Howdy Modi" event in Houston into a Trump election rally organized and paid for by Modi-loving Hindus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) with President Donald Trump in Houston, Texas

Most Hindu-Americans fail to see the irony that Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was killed by a white nationalist in Kansas in February 2017 was a victim of the same kind of hatred in America that Mr. Modi espouses against minorities in India. Kuchibotla himself was an ardent fan of Mr. Modi’s sweeping Hindutva politics as his wife related after this murder, according to an article published in the Hindu by Indian journalist and writer Varghese K. George.  Here is an excerpt of Mr. George's article:

"The dualism of Indian-American politics has now become unsustainable as Democratic leaders find it increasingly impossible to side with Mr. Modi as he advances the Hindutva agenda. Many of these friends of India were mislead, and had misread Mr. Modi’s politics and they interpreted his success in 2014 as a turn in Indian politics towards more neo-liberal reforms and globalism. Such an image of Mr. Modi was also projected by Indian diplomacy in America. But one American thinker, who interpreted Mr. Modi’s victory as a nativist revolt against a global elite, was none other than Stephen Bannon, the most authentic interpreter of Mr. Trump’s nationalist politics. Mr. Bannon has also been particularly a critic of the H-1B visa and Indian-American immigration. That the Indian Ambassador to the U.S. retweeted a tweet that denounced Mr. Sanders and tweeted about his meeting with Mr. Bannon in glowing terms (he deleted the tweet later) in quick succession bears out the official Indian position on the emerging fault-lines in American politics and the role of Indian Americans in it."

Indian Ambassador Shringle (R) with White Nationalist Steve Bannon

In an opinion piece titled  "“Howdy, Modi” And The Politics Of The Indian American Community" published by ABP LIVE, UCLA Professor Viany Lal captured this reality in the following words:

"..there is absolutely no contradiction between the fact that Indians largely vote Democrat and their instinctive tendency to gravitate towards Republicans. But there is another question that emerges from the comical “Howdy, Modi” show: is this a moment that signifies the “arrival” of the Indian Americans on the national stage and in American consciousness? Many commentators would like to think so: the journalist Sonia Paul, for instance, has characterized the event as a “display of Indian Americans’ Political Power.” It may be that, but such analysis is toothless and uninstructive. Every minority of the size of the Indian American counts, and there are many such communities; but, viewed in relation to Hispanics and African Americans, Indian Americans are still far from being a highly influential voting bloc. Hispanics and especially African Americans are embedded in the history of the nation in vastly different ways; many Indian Americans, even those who have put down roots in the US over two generations, still think of themselves as constituting the vanguard of India and would like to be important players in India itself."

Professor Lal continues his piece to describe the Indian-American hypocrisy as follows:

"...some people may be puzzled about why so many Indians were gathered to hear Modi and Trump when Indians, by a very large majority, are supporters of the Democratic party and certainly vote Democrat in a presidential election...........the majority of Indian Americans have remained wholly indifferent to the plight of minorities in India itself. Though two million Muslims in Assam now risk being rendered stateless, and “lynchings” of Muslims and Dalits over the last few years have unfortunately made India newsworthy, Indian Americans have generally shown themselves remarkably oblivious to the sufferings of minorities while they lose no opportunity to lay claim to rights as members of a minority in the US. They would much rather gravitate towards the Republican party, which is more hospitable to business interests and free enterprise; but the party is also less accommodating to minority interests."

Not only do Indian-Americans strongly support Modi and his Hindutva policies, they demand that elected Indian-American Democrats do the same. This is best illustrated by their pressure on Silicon-Valley's Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna. Khanna joined US Congress's Pakistan Caucus and rejected Hindutva.  Khanna said in a tweet that "it is the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist and Christians". A record 230 Hindu-American organizations wrote an angry letter to Khanna in response. They asked him to withdraw from Pakistan Caucus and to highlight "ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits".

Hindu organizations conveniently ignore the long history of atrocities committed by Indian military against Kashmiri Muslims. Nearly a million Indian troops are  currently keeping 8 million Kashmiris in a complete lockdown that is about to enter its 3rd month. They also make no mention of what happened to Muslims who constituted a majority in Jammu in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed or expelled from Jammu in 1947, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar.  Here is an excerpt of Thapar's Hindustan Times column on this subject:

"Writing in The Spectator in January 1948, Horace Alexander says: “Hindus and Sikhs of the Jammu area … apparently with at least the tacit consent of state authorities, have driven many thousands of their Muslim neighbours from their homes”. Citing Mahatma Gandhi, he asserts “some two hundred thousand are … not accounted for”. Christopher Snedden, in Kashmir: The Unwritten History, estimates between 70,000 and 237,000 Muslims were killed. Arjun Appaduri and Arien Mack in India’s World believe 200,000 could have been killed and a further 500,000 displaced. Last year, the columnist Swaminathan Aiyar wrote: “In sheer scale this far exceeded the ethnic cleansing of Pandits five decades later”."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Silicon Valley's Indian-American Congressman Rejects Hindutva

Sonal Shah to Help Divide the Obama Victory Spoils

Rape of 8-year-old Asifa Bano in Kashmir

Imran Khan in Washington

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
No #trade deal, no #Kashmir win, no #investment in #India but #BJP celebrating #Modi return from #UnitedStates https://theprint.in/opinion/no-trade-deal-no-kashmir-win-no-investment-but-bjp-celebrating-modi-return-from-us/298552/ via @ThePrintIndia

rime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday returned home to a rousing welcome from BJP party workers and supporters despite not having secured the much-touted trade deal with the US. Also, the issue of Kashmir became further complicated between him and US President Donald Trump despite a massive spectacle of bonhomie between the two leaders at ‘Howdy, Modi!’.

Prime Minister Modi scored clear nil in the most contentious issue of trade during his weeklong trip to America. Trade has undoubtedly become an unavoidable stumbling block in the relationship, even as both sides continue to fiercely fight out trade disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

While it is true that Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal continues to brainstorm along with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington DC, a so-called ‘limited’ trade deal remains as elusive as it was before Modi’s visit.


When the Modi government came back to power for the second time with a landslide victory earlier this year, the US was clearly not amused. Within days of the government settling into office, the Trump administration cracked the whip on India in May and revoked the trade benefits given under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The US was threatening to do so since before the elections. This was an unprecedented act on US’ part because ever since the GSP programme started in 1974, it was never taken away from India.

It is true that previous US administrations, particularly the Barack Obama administration, did threaten to revoke it, but in reality, it never walked the talk much to India’s relief.

India, on the other hand, whether it was under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or under Prime Minister Modi, has always claimed, rather arrogantly, that the withdrawal of GSP did not impact India’s foreign trade much. New Delhi’s public posturing has always been that the GSP, or tariff-free access to US markets for Indian goods, is not really needed as India is not an underdeveloped country anymore.

Indian shipments under GSP programme get a benefit of around $6.4 billion, which is now gone. It was widely expected that the GSP would be restored during Prime Minister Modi’s trip, and it seemed all the more plausible after ‘Howdy, Modi!’, but eventually it turned out to be a damp squib.

This despite Trump being a “true, warm, friendly and accessible” friend of Modi’s.

Prime Minister Modi was not even able to restore a waiver from US’ high duties on Indian shipments of steel and aluminium during his mega visit.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi is damaging #India’s #economy as well as its #democracy. Fear is that, instead of getting to grips with economy, Modi will stop posing as a reformer and fully embrace his alter ego, as chest-thumping #Hindu nationalist. #Kashmir https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/10/26/narendra-modi-is-damaging-indias-economy-as-well-as-its-democracy via @TheEconomist

Stories of the clampdown in Jammu & Kashmir and the threat to strip millions of poor and mostly Muslim people in Assam of citizenship, a form of ethnic cleansing by bureaucracy, have seeped into the world’s consciousness, but many Western businesspeople are still inclined to defend the Indian prime minister. Even if Narendra Modi is bad for democracy, they say, his pro-business philosophy is good for the economy. But, as our special report this week argues, that argument no longer washes. India’s economy is incompetently managed and doing badly.

Growth fell from 8% in the middle of last year to 5% year-on-year in the most recent quarter. That might not sound too bad, and other emerging economies are also suffering, but India needs to grow fast just to keep its vast workforce fully employed. Worse, the slowdown looks less like a dip than a prolonged cold shower.

Some banks and many other lenders are in crisis, with a $200bn mountain of bad debts. In the six months ending in September, the total flow of financing to businesses fell by 88%. Five successive rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, have failed to pull down commercial lending rates, and in any case firms are not investing. Consumer demand has levelled off or fallen, too. Sales of cars and motorbikes have tumbled by 20% or more. And with the combined fiscal deficit of the federal government and the states already approaching 9% of gdp, and tax receipts falling well below expectations, there is little scope for stimulus.

When it first took power in 2014 Mr Modi’s government inherited an economy with plenty of problems, but it did too little about them. The latest downturn continues that disappointing pattern. With the exception of a steep cut in corporate taxes earlier this month, to 25%, which brings India into line with other countries in the region, the official response has been scattershot and timid. This, say critics, reflects both an unusual paucity of expertise in Mr Modi’s government and conflicting views in his circle, as competing interest groups vie for his ear. Nevertheless, the outlines of what needs to be done are clear.

To start with, Mr Modi should recruit an economic team that is based on competence and experience rather than affinity for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindu-nationalist ideology. It must tackle both the financial crisis and sagging demand. To fix the banking system, the banks and the lightly regulated shadow banks that have recently been lending heavily need to be stress-tested and, where necessary, the banks recapitalised. Eventually, the state-owned banks could be privatised and the shadow banks put under the same prudential regulations as other lenders.

A broader privatisation programme would give the government the money it needs to succour demand. It should make use of levers such as the national rural-employment scheme to get money to the distressed hinterland. In the longer run, the tax system, labour laws, the regulation of land-ownership and fiddly, protectionist tariffs should all be given a thorough overhaul.

Riaz Haq said…
Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-india


When (Rana) Ayyub and the photographer were detained at the hospital in Srinagar, I found a hiding place across the street, screened by a wall and a fruit vender; Ayyub would have faced serious repercussions if she was found to have snuck in a foreigner. After about an hour, they emerged. Ayyub said that an intelligence officer had questioned them intently, then released them with an admonition: “Don’t come back.”

The next morning, we drove to the village of Parigam, near the site of the suicide attack that prompted Modi’s air strikes against Pakistan. We’d heard that Indian security forces had swept through the town and detained several men. The insurgency has broad support in the villages outside the capital, and the road to Parigam was marked by the sandbags and razor wire of Indian Army checkpoints. For most of the way, the roads were otherwise deserted.

In the village, Ayyub stopped the car to chat with locals. Within a few minutes, she’d figured out whom we should talk to first: Shabbir Ahmed, the proprietor of a local bakery. We found him sitting cross-legged on his porch, shelling almonds into a huge pile. In interviews, Ayyub slows down from her usual debate-team pace; she took a spot on the porch as if she had dropped by for a visit. Ahmed, who is fifty-five, told her that, during the sweeps, an armored vehicle rumbled up to his home just past midnight one night. A dozen soldiers from the Rashtriya Rifles, an √©lite counter-insurgency unit of the Indian Army, rushed out and began smashing his windows. When Ahmed and his two sons came outside, he said, the soldiers hauled the young men into the street and began beating them. “I was screaming for help, but nobody came out,” Ahmed said. “Everyone was too afraid.”

Ahmed’s sons joined us on the porch. One of them, Muzaffar, said that the soldiers had been enraged by young people who throw rocks at their patrols. They dragged Muzaffar down the street toward a mosque. “Throw stones at the mosque like you throw stones at us,” one of the soldiers commanded him.

Muzaffar said that he and his brother, Ali, were taken to a local base, where the soldiers shackled them to chairs and beat them with bamboo rods. “They kept asking me, ‘Do you know any stone throwers?’—and I kept saying I don’t know any, but they kept beating me,” he said. When Muzaffar fainted, he said, a soldier attached electrodes to his legs and stomach and jolted him with an electrical current. Muzaffar rolled up his pants to reveal patches of burned skin on the back of his leg. It went on like that for some time, he said: he would pass out, and when he regained consciousness the beating started again. “My body was going into spasms,” he said, and began to cry.

After Muzaffar and Ali were released, their father took them to the local hospital. “They have broken my bones,” Muzaffar said. “I can no longer prostrate myself before God.”

It was impossible to verify the brothers’ tale, but, as with many accounts that Ayyub and I heard in the valley, the anguish was persuasive. “I am a slightly more civilized version of these people,” Ayyub told me. “I see what’s happening—with the propaganda, with the lies, what the government is doing to people. Their issues are way more extensive—their lives. But I have everything in common with these people. I feel their pain.”

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