Obama: Quickest Route to Indian Unity is Expressing Hostility Toward Pakistan

Discussion on India in President Barack Obama's memoir titled "A Promised Land" reveals what the former US President thought about India, particularly Indian hostility against Pakistan. Obama also reveals that President-elect Joseph R. Biden opposed the US Navy Seals raid to kill Usama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in 2011. Biden was Obama's Vice President at the time. 

Obama's Book Excerpts: 

“Expressing hostility toward Pakistan was still the quickest route to national unity (in India)”.  

"Violence, both public and private, remained an all-too-pervasive part of Indian life”. 

All politics and violence in India revolve around "religion, clan and caste". 

"Despite genuine economic progress, India remained a chaotic and impoverished place: largely divided by religion and caste, captive to the whims of corrupt local officials and power brokers". 

Indians take "great pride in the knowledge that India had developed nuclear weapons to match Pakistan's, untroubled by the fact that a single miscalculation by either side could risk regional annihilation".  

"(Manmohan) Singh had resisted calls to retaliate against Pakistan after the (Mumbai) attacks, but his restraint had cost him politically. He feared that rising anti-Muslim sentiment had strengthened the influence of India’s main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)" 

"Across the country (India), millions continued to live in squalor, trapped in sunbaked villages or labyrinthine slums, even as the titans of Indian industry enjoyed lifestyles that the rajas and moguls of old would have envied". 

“Joe (Biden) weighed in against the (Usama Bin Laden) raid (on compound in Pakistan)”

Deaths From Poor Sanitation in South Asia. Source: Our World in Data

Biden-Trump Debate: 

In his first debate with Democratic Presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden, President Donald Trump questioned India's coronavirus data while responding to Biden's accusation that his opponent has badly mishandled the pandemic. About 21 minutes into the debate, Trump said: "And, by the way, when you talk about numbers, you don’t know how many people died in China. You don’t know how many people died in Russia. You don’t know how many people died in India. They don’t exactly give you a straight count, just so you understand". 

Talking about climate change, Trump accused India of being a leading polluter. About an hour into the debate, Trump said: "China sends up real dirt into the air. Russia does. India does. They all do". There are reports suggesting India has surpassed China as the world's top polluter. Images captured by the Dutch space instrument, Tropomi, show high concentrations pollutants like Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone and other pollutants produced by car traffic, industry and power stations in India, according to a Business Insider report.

Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani on India:

"One hard truth that Indians have to contend with is that America has also had difficulty treating India with respect", writes former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his latest book "Has China Won?". "If America wants to develop a close long-term relationship with India over the long run, it needs to confront the deep roots of its relative lack of respect for India", adds Ambassador Mahbubani. It's not just Mahbubani who suspects the United States leadership does not respect India. Others, including former President Bill Clinton, current US President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria have expressed similar sentiments. 

Trump and Clinton:

There is some evidence to support Ambassador Mahbubani's assertion about America's lack of respect for India. For example,  ex US President Bill Clinton said in 1990s that India has a Rodney Dangerfield problem: It can’t get no respect, according to his deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott. In a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in 2010, Hillary Clinton referred to India as "a self-appointed frontrunner for a permanent UN security council seat."

More recently, US President Donald Trump mocked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Indian contribution to Afghanistan.  Trump said he got along very well with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but the Indian leader was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan". "That's like five hours of what we spend... And we are supposed to say, 'oh, thank you for the library'. I don't know who is using it in Afghanistan," Trump said.

Western Media:

Indians were justifiably very proud of their great scientific achievement when the India Space Agency ISRO successfully launched the nation's Mars Mission back in 2013. The New York Times, America's leading newspaper, mocked India with a cartoon depicting the country as a dhoti-wearing farmer with his cow knocking on the door of the Elite Space Club. 

New York Times Cartoon

In an article titled "Paper Elephant", the Economist magazine talked about how India has ramped up its military spending and emerged as the world's largest arms importer. "Its military doctrine envisages fighting simultaneous land wars against Pakistan and China while retaining dominance in the Indian Ocean", the article said. It summed up the situation as follows: "India spends a fortune on defense and gets poor value for money".

After the India-Pakistan aerial combat over Kashmir, New York Times published a story from its South Asia correspondent headlined: "After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its Military".  Here are some excerpts of the report:

"Its (India's) loss of a plane last week to a country (Pakistan) whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter (a sixth according to SIPRI) of the funding is telling. ...India’s armed forces are in alarming shape....It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check".

Fareed Zakaria: 

CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria is known to be among the loudest cheerleaders for India and a sharp critic of Pakistan. While he still refuses to say anything that could even remotely be considered positive about Pakistan, it seems that he is souring on his native India.

Speaking with Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta on The Print YouTube channel, Fareed Zakaria called the Indian state an “inefficient state”.“Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality, " he added. He did not clearly speak about the lynchings of Indian Muslims by people affiliated with the ruling BJP and the brutality of Indian military against Kashmiri Muslims, but he did ask: “What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him? He noted sadly:”India seems like roadkill for China".

Has New Delhi's abject failure in containing the coronavirus pandemic finally done what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's extreme brutality and open hatred against Zakaria's fellow Indian Muslims could not do? Has he really had it with Hindu Nationalist government? While he has not used his perch on CNN to do it, it appears that he has started expressing his disapproval of the performance on other platforms.

 Here are a few of the key points Fareed Zakaria made while speaking with Shekhar Gupta:

1. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Indian government, and by that I mean the Delhi government, has handled this crisis (COVID19) very poorly.

2. Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality.

3. In a way, India seems like roadkill for China’s obsession with absolute control over their borders. I do think there is an opportunity here for diplomacy. I don’t think India needs to be confrontational about it (the LAC issue), but of course it should push back.

4. It is now a bipolar world. US and China are way ahead of the rest of the world. For the long term, India needs to decide it’s position with China.

4. Turkey under Erdogan has become more confident and independent. It is culturally proud. It is telling Americans to buzz off.

5. Popularity of political leaders around the  world is linked to their performance on the coronavirus pandemic. In India, however, the issues of religion and caste are still dominating.

6.  What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him? How many Muslims in Indian government? Or South Indians in BJP? It is much less diverse than Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet.

7. I have been very sad to see how Indian democracy has developed over the last few years. It has become an illiberal democracy.

8. The India media is slavishly pro-government. Self-censorship is widespread in India.

9. The Indian courts fold in cases where government takes serious interest.


“Expressing hostility toward Pakistan was still the quickest route to national unity (in India)”, writes former US President Barack Obama in his memoir titled "A Promised Land.  Obama goes on to add: "Violence, both public and private, remained an all-too-pervasive part of Indian life”.  Singaporean diplomat, analyst and writer Kishore Mahbubani has argued in his latest book "Has China Won?" that America does not really respect India. Others, including ex US President Bill Clinton, current President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria, have expressed similar sentiments. It has become increasingly clear that India's loudest cheerleaders like Fareed Zakaria are now starting to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. Indian state has failed to contain the deadly COVID19 pandemic. India's economy is in serious trouble. The country's democracy is in decline. India seems like a roadkill for China. This turn of events has created serious problems for Pakistani "liberals" who have long seen and often cited India as a successful example of "secular democracy" at work in South Asia.

Here's a video clip from CNN GPS Show:


Related Links:

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Fareed Zakaria Never Misses Any Opportunity to Bash Pakistan

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Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

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Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Anonymous said…
Modern day-India, Mr Obama writes, was a "success story, having survived repeated changeovers in government, bitter feuds within political parties, various armed separatist movements, and all manner of corruption scandals".


But despite the thriving democracy and the freer economy, India still "bore little resemblance to the egalitarian, peaceful, and sustainable society Gandhi had envisioned". Inequality was rife, and violence "remained an all-too-pervasive part of Indian life".

Mr Obama writes that after leaving Mr Singh's residence on that November evening he wondered what would happen when the then 78-year-old prime minister left office.

"Would the baton be successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother and preserving the Congress Party's dominance over the divisive nationalism touted by the BJP?" he wonders.

"Somehow, I was doubtful. It wasn't Singh's fault. He had done his part, following the playbook of liberal democracies across the post-Cold War world: upholding the constitutional order; attending to the quotidian, often technical work of boosting the GDP; and expanding the social safety net."

"Like me, he had come to believe that this was all any of us could expect from democracy, especially in big, multiethnic, multi-religious societies like India and the United States."

But Mr Obama also found himself "asking whether those impulses - of violence, greed, corruption, nationalism, racism, and religious intolerance, the all-too human desire to beat back our own uncertainty and mortality and sense of insignificance by subordinating others - were too strong for any democracy to permanently contain."

"For they seemed to lie in wait everywhere, ready to resurface whenever growth rates stalled or demographics changed or a charismatic leader chose to ride the wave of people's fears and resentments."

Mr Obama's question was answered in 2014, when Narendra Modi led the Hindu nationalist BJP or Bharatiya Janata Party to a sweeping victory.

Mr Obama visited again in 2015 when Mr Modi was prime minister, becoming the first US President to visit India twice while in office.

But the first half of the former president's memoirs ends with with the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

The second part is likely to contain his impressions of Mr Modi.
Riaz Haq said…
Obama says he had never been to India before his Presidential visit in 2010, but the country had "always held a special place in my imagination".

Spent childhood years listening to Ramayana and Mahabharata in Indonesia: Obama in Book In "A Promised Land".

"...Pakistani and Indian college friends who'd taught me to cook dahl and keema and turned me on to Bollywood movies"

Riaz Haq said…
Biden speaks with leaders of #Israel, #India. Both #Netanyahu and #Modi have recognized #Biden as president-elect. #Trump and Modi participated in a “Howdy Modi” rally in #Houston last year where Modi endorsed Trump by saying "Apki Bar Trump Sarkar". https://thehill.com/homenews/news/526382-biden-speaks-with-leaders-of-israel-india#.X7SBXciK2hs.twitter

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke with the leaders of Israel and India, among other countries, as he shores up support from key global allies before entering office in January.

Biden's conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi come as President Trump continues to challenge the results of the election. While Trump has refused to concede, both Netanyahu and Modi recognized Biden as president-elect.

In his conversation with Netanyahu, Biden thanked the prime minister for his congratulations and reiterated “steadfast” support for Israel’s security, its future as a Jewish and democratic state and pledged to work closely on many challenges confronting the two countries, according to a readout of the call released by his transition team.


Trump during his time in office has also maintained a friendly relationship with Modi, who was similarly elected on a populist platform. Trump traveled to India earlier this year before the explosion of the coronavirus pandemic, in what will likely be his last foreign trip as president. He and Modi participated in a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston last year that mirrored one of the president’s signature campaign rallies.

Trump has refused to acknowledge the election results and his campaign has filed a number of lawsuits that experts view as highly unlikely to impact the results in any one state.

Mirza said…
Worth repeating this excerpt:
"recently, US President Donald Trump mocked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about Indian contribution to Afghanistan. Trump said he got along very well with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but the Indian leader was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan". "That's like five hours of what we spend... And we are supposed to say, 'oh, thank you for the library'. I don't know who is using it in Afghanistan," Trump said."

However, Mr Haq, there are other excerpts from Obama's memoirs that require analysis by Indians:
""Would the baton be successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother and preserving the Congress Party's dominance over the divisive nationalism touted by the BJP?" he wonders.
"Somehow, I was doubtful. It wasn't Singh's fault. He had done his part, following the playbook of liberal democracies across the post-Cold War world: upholding the constitutional order; attending to the quotidian, often technical work of boosting the GDP; and expanding the social safety net.
"Like me, he had come to believe that this was all any of us could expect from democracy, especially in big, multiethnic, multi-religious societies like India and the United States."
But Mr Obama also found himself "asking whether those impulses - of violence, greed, corruption, nationalism, racism, and religious intolerance, the all-too human desire to beat back our own uncertainty and mortality and sense of insignificance by subordinating others - were too strong for any democracy to permanently contain.
"For they seemed to lie in wait everywhere, ready to resurface whenever growth rates stalled or demographics changed or a charismatic leader chose to ride the wave of people's fears and resentments."
Mr Obama's question was answered in 2014, when Narendra Modi led the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a sweeping victory."

India's destiny is laid bare. Obama and his ally Biden agree on BJP being "divisive". Phraseology such as "violence, greed, corruption, nationalism, racism, and religious intolerance", "charismatic leaders riding waves of resentment over demographic change".

One has to conclude that Obama was prophetic on this. India is well aware that Biden is an Obama-ite, nothing less. Modi's best chance is to suck up submissively and play the Kamala card early. Otherwise Biden will brow beat them silly.

Riaz Haq said…
Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis talking with Shekhar Gupta on The Print YouTube channel:

US-India nuclear deal is one-in-a-lifetime achieving

Chinese policymakers do not believe India's goal of "strategic independence" will prevent a real alliance with US against China

India has huge advantage over China in air and on the sea

In terms of ground forces where India spends its biggest chunk of defense budget, the best India can achieve vis-a-vis China or Pakistan is a stand-off (38 minutes)


Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Economy to Struggle With Effects of #CoronaVirus Through 2025. #IMF predicts #Indian #GDP will shrink 10.3% in the year to March 2021 as #Modi’s sudden #lockdown paralyzed activity. #BJP #Hindutva https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-19/india-s-economy-to-struggle-with-effects-of-virus-through-2025


HSBC Holdings Plc said India’s potential growth could drop to 5% in the post-pandemic world from 6% on the eve of the outbreak and more than 7% before the global financial crisis.

“All supply-side factors feel the effect, with only human capital’s contribution unchanged from the pre-virus baseline,” Kishore said. “Capital accumulation takes the biggest hit because we expect balance-sheet stresses to worsen following the crisis, lengthening the investment recovery cycle.”


India will be worst-affected among the world’s major economies even after the pandemic wanes, with output 12% below pre-virus levels through the middle of the decade, according to Oxford Economics.

Balance sheet stress that had been building before the coronavirus outbreak will probably worsen, Priyanka Kishore, head of economics for South Asia and South-East Asia, wrote in the report. She projects potential growth for India at 4.5% over the next five years, lower than 6.5% before the virus.

“It’s likely that headwinds already hampering growth prior to 2020 -- such as stressed corporate balance sheets, elevated non-performing assets of banks, the fallout in non-bank financial companies, and labor market weakness -– will worsen,” she said. “The resulting long-term scars, probably among the worst globally, would push India’s trend growth substantially lower from pre-Covid levels.”

The contraction hasn’t deterred Prime Minister Narendra Modi from reiterating his target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025 from $2.8 trillion. While the government has announced a slew of measures to support growth, they have fallen well short of expectations to boost demand, leaving the central bank to do much of the heavy-lifting. A paper published by the Reserve Bank of India last week predicted Asia’s third-largest economy has entered a historic technical recession. Official data is due Nov. 27.

The International Monetary Fund predicts GDP will shrink 10.3% in the year to March 2021 as Modi’s sudden lockdown paralyzed activity. While a sharp rebound is forecast as economic activity resumes, there are lingering scars.
Riaz Haq said…
Poor #sanitation causes the highest percentage of deaths in #India in #SouthAsia region. #Bangladesh and #Pakistan fares much better. #WorldToiletDay2020 #Modi #BJP #Hindutva https://ourworldindata.org/sanitation#:~:text=An%20estimated%20775%2C000%20people%20died,unsafe%20sanitation%20across%20the%20world.

Riaz Haq said…
The World Bank links one in ten deaths in India to poor sanitation. From contaminated groundwater children pick up chronic infections that impair their bodies' ability to absorb nutrients. Almost 44m children under five, says the bank, have stunted growth, and every year over 300,000 die from diarrheal diseases.

Riaz Haq said…
The United Nations marks November 19 annually as World Toilet Day to raise awareness about access to hygienic toilets and the human costs of unsafe sanitation.


The chart below explains the annual number of deaths by risk factors in India. “Poor sanitation, unsafe water sources, and no access to hand washing facilities” are among the top factors in the country; the list being topped by high blood pressure, air pollution, high blood sugar and smoking.

The chart below shows how the share of deaths due to unsafe sanitation has changed over the years. In India, this share has been higher than its neighbours such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The reason why so many die from unsafe sanitation is that, in India, a high proportion of the population does not have access to “improved sanitation”. Improved sanitation is defined as facilities that “ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact”. This includes facilities such as flush/pour flush (to piped sewer system, septic tank, pit latrine), ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine, pit latrine with slab, and a composting toilet.

In 2015, 68% of the world population had access to improved sanitation facilities. In other words, almost one-third of people did not have access.

In India, only 40% of the population had access to improved sanitation. This is much lower than its next-door neighbours such as Sri Lanka (95%) and Pakistan and Bangladesh (both over 60%). At 40% access, India is clubbed with countries such as Zimbabwe and Kenya, and is below countries such as Zambia and Senegal.

The economic impact of poor sanitation

According to the World Bank: “A lack of sanitation also holds back economic growth. Poor sanitation costs billions to some countries”.

Don’t miss from Explained | What is the economic cost of being ‘filthy India’?

In India’s case, the most oft-quoted study is a World Bank one from 2006 when such costs were pegged at $53.8 billion or 6.4% of India’s annual GDP. Even if this percentage (of GDP) has stayed the same, at current-day GDP, the losses (a rough approximation) would be close to $170 billion (or Rs 12 lakh crore).

“The economic losses are mainly driven by premature deaths, the cost of health care treatment, lost time and productivity seeking treatment, and lost time and productivity finding access to sanitation facilities,” according to the World Bank.

According to the World Health Organization, “every dollar spent on sanitation yields about $9 in savings on treatment, health-care costs and gains from more productive days”.


“World Toilet Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation and is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030,” the UN website says.

The annual event was adopted by the UN in 2013. This year, World Toilet Day focuses on sustainable sanitation and climate change.

As per UN Water, sustainable sanitation begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting, which then gets stored in a tank, which can be emptied later by a collection service, or transported away by pipework. The next stage is treatment and safe disposal.

Safe reuse of human waste helps save water, reduces and captures greenhouse gas emissions for energy production, and can provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients.

Riaz Haq said…
Rebooting Economy 41: India's growing poverty and hunger nobody talks about

Latest estimate from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports - World Economic Outlook: A Long and Difficult Ascent, October 2020 and Fiscal Monitor: Policies for the Recovery, October 2020- shows that 90 million people globally would slip into "extreme poverty" (surviving on $1.9 a day) due to the pandemic. This is in line with the World Bank's June 2020 estimate ("Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19") which estimated 70-100 million to slip into extreme poverty.


Earlier this month, the Global Hunger Index 2020 report ranked India at 94 (of 107 it mapped for the 2020 report), far below neighbouring Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This index is based on four component indicators: (i) undernourishment (insufficient caloric intake) (ii) child wasting (under 5 years) (iii) child stunting (under 5 years) and (iv) child mortality (under 5 years).

India's progress has been very tardy compared to its neighbours as the following graph shows. Its "child wasting" (low weight for age reflecting acute undernourishment) and "child stunting" (low weight for age reflecting chronic under-nutrition) is particularly poor. The hunger index scores are measured on a scale of 0-100, where '0' represents zero hunger.


The inept and callous handling of the pandemic and the untimely and unplanned lockdown has jolted India like no other country. Its GDP growth for the April-June 2020 quarter tanked to minus 23.9% - the highest among major economies. The RBI estimates the GDP growth for the entire fiscal to be minus 9.5%, as against the IMF's estimate of minus 10.3%, while its global average is estimated to be minus 4%. (To know why read "Rebooting Economy 37: Do high-frequency data suggest V-shaped recovery? ")
Also Read: Rebooting Economy VIII: COVID-19 pandemic could push millions of Indians into poverty and hunger

India would account for 40 million of the 90 million the IMF says would turn extremely poor or 44.4% of all. The following graph from the IMF's Fiscal Monitor report shows that in India (extreme left), their number would rise from 80 million in 2018 to 120 million in 2020.


Riaz Haq said…
#Indians' national dream of emulating #China’s rapid growth is receding — by some #economic yardsticks, #India can’t even keep up with #Bangladesh. #Modi’s #COVID19 #lockdown in March left millions of scared migrant workers without jobs, shelter or food. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-opinion-india-and-modi-are-losing-china-battle/
By Andy Mukherjee


The post-lockdown economy will simply not have enough demand to consume what can be produced. There’s some attempt to reform the supply side — labor and farm markets, in particular. But not much is being done to revive demand, either in the short or the long run. Some of us are wondering if this callousness will cause India’s demographic dividend — two out of three Indians are still in the magic age group of 15 to 64 years — to go unclaimed.


China’s example beckoned. After the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing wouldn’t brook political freedoms, but the economic reforms begun by Deng Xiaoping were deemed irreversible and foreign investors were mostly welcomed. The economy took off. China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and grew at 10%-plus rates for 20 years.

It was never going to be easy for India to emulate its neighbor, whose single-party state struck a bargain with foreign investors, while discriminating against its own business class. Such stratagems weren’t possible in India’s noisy, federal democracy. Politicians couldn’t ignore local businesses that gave them money to fight elections. So India cleaned up the stock market and opened it to overseas investors. This made sense. Unlike China, which was saving more than half of its national income before the 2008 global financial crisis, India lacked the capital to sustain a liberalizing economy through messy cycles of coalition politics, let alone to build the roads, power plants and other basics of missing infrastructure.

So we put our faith in institutions. Our heritage of English common law, independent courts and regulators held the promise of fairness and protection for all stakeholders, and we thought these would get stronger over time. The state, we hoped, would shrink as an economic player, and become a more robust referee. Governance would improve, endemic corruption would recede. The anonymity fostered by urbanization would smash the regressive caste system. We liked it when scholars such as Yasheng Huang, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, said that India could overtake China.

To me and many of my generation, Manmohan Singh was a savior, someone who carried the scars of partition and had known poverty as a child. He was one of us. Our disillusionment with him was 20 years in the future.


Then, in November 2016, Modi performed a high-voltage stunt: He outlawed 86% of the country’s cash, presumably to unearth illicit wealth. People queued up for days to return their worthless notes. New currency was in short supply. Small businesses in my hometown — a shoe-making hub — couldn’t pay workers. Women-run micro enterprises on the outskirts of Mumbai later told me that their going rate for weaving golden threads into a sari crashed to 4,000 rupees ($54), from 7,000 rupees.

The rest of the economy is still highly informal, and inefficient: 80% of the output of farms and by small businesses goes to pay for capital, which is scarce. Labor’s share is 20%. Workers are liberally rewarded only in a bloated public sector, much of which ought to have been privatized long ago. Because it wasn’t, taxpayers have to keep alive debt-addled firms such as Air India Ltd.


The push toward higher wages should have come from higher farm productivity, which would have raised the price of migrant labor coming to cities. India missed this page of the East Asian playbook and failed to create a permanent urban working class.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #police use #violence as a shortcut to justice. Poorest bear the scars. 60% of those who died in police custody in 2019 were from poor and marginalized communities -- #Muslims, #Dalits and Indigenous #tribal communities (Adivasi). #Modi #democracy https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/02/india/police-brutality-india-dst-intl-hnk/index.html

It was minutes into India's Independence Day when police stormed a slum in the western state of Gujarat where Hira Bajania, 65, was sleeping. In the black of night, he was dragged from his home, taken to a nearby police station and accused, with 11 other men, of stealing cell phones.

As dawn broke on a day commemorating India's freedom, one by one the men were taken from their cell to be interrogated for up to 30 minutes, according to a complaint subsequently filed to police, and seen by CNN. They were bound, stripped, beaten, abused and, according to two people in the group, tortured sexually and told to confess. Many returned to their cell limping, unable to stand or sit, say several of the men. All denied the charges.
At around 5.30 p.m. the next day, Hira Bajania, a ragpicker, collapsed after being beaten. "We told them, 'He is dead. You've killed him.' The police thought he was pretending," says Shankar Bajania, no relation, who is one of the men picked up on August 15, 2019.
Hira Bajania was not pretending. Shankar Bajania says he saw, through the police station windows, his lifeless body put in a police jeep. At the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Hira's death was not an outlier. According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India, a government body dealing with human rights violations, since the start of 2019, at least 194 people died in police custody in India, where police violence is a daily reality, ranging from the use of batons for crowd control to fatal custodial beatings.
Officers are rarely convicted for their actions, often against the most vulnerable members of society, statistics show.

This year, however, a spate of high-profile, brutal police killings have horrified Indian society, igniting a discussion about police brutality -- and the uncomfortable relationship between society's tolerance for that violence and the issue of caste.
Hira, and the others picked up in August, are from the Nat Bajania caste, a disadvantaged community that was legally categorized as a "criminal tribe" by British colonial administrators in the 1800s. That label branded whole demographics as habitual offenders and created a social stigma that has lingered. Shankar Bajania says he and the others did not have criminal records of theft.
"We were picked up only because we were poor," says the 40-year-old, who earns a living from casual work on construction sites and factories.
So far, no officers have faced charges over Hira's death.
"(Hira) did die of heart complications, but we are looking into the role of the police personnel involved. We expect a charge sheet against six police officers soon. Action will be taken against them," says Saurabh Singh, Superintendent of Police in Junagadh who oversees law and order in the district, when asked by CNN about the case.
India's over-burdened police force has 158 police officers for every 100,000 people. That lack of manpower, coupled with inadequate investment in modern investigation techniques and political pressure to get results, means confessions under torture are often simply the quickest, or only, way to resolve crimes -- even if they come at a deadly cost.
Riaz Haq said…
EU Disinfo Lab discovers massive 15-year long #fakenews influence op by #India against #Pakistan. It is still going on. https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1336865077626953732?s=20



The dead professor and the vast pro-India disinformation campaign


The network was designed primarily to "discredit Pakistan internationally" and influence decision-making at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament, EU DisinfoLab said.

EU DisinfoLab partially exposed the network last year but now says the operation is much larger and more resilient than it first suspected.

A dead professor and numerous defunct organisations were resurrected and used alongside at least 750 fake media outlets in a vast 15-year global disinformation campaign to serve Indian interests, a new investigation has revealed.

The man whose identity was stolen was regarded as one of the founding fathers of international human rights law, who died aged 92 in 2006.

"It is the largest network we have exposed," said Alexandre Alaphilippe, executive director of EU DisinfoLab, which undertook the investigation and published an extensive report on Wednesday.
Riaz Haq said…
Wistron violence could sour #Apple's 'Make In India' plans. Thousands of workers angry over non-payment of wages, destroyed equipment and vehicles at a Wistron plant in southern #India, causing an estimated $60 million in damages. #Modi #MakeInIndia https://reut.rs/3npyHyy

Violence at a Wistron Corp factory in southern India is likely to stall the company’s and its client Apple Inc’s drive to expand local manufacturing, while forcing the government to redouble efforts to encourage foreign investors.

The Taiwanese company, one of Apple’s top suppliers, had been hiring in significant numbers at the plant that became operational earlier this year.

It assembled the second-generation iPhone SE there and was expected to start producing newer models, but the violence has led the company to shut the site and file a police complaint against more than 5,000 contract workers for destruction of property.

Wistron has not disclosed details, but one source familiar with the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the area where smartphones are assembled and lines where delicate components, such as printed circuit boards, are mounted, have been damaged.

The company did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters. It said in a regulatory filing in Taiwan that it was doing its best to get the plant running again.

Apple also did not respond to a request for comment.

Two sources close to the situation, who asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the press, said restarting could be difficult.

Riaz Haq said…
Nowadays, Indian reactions to Pakistan span the spectrum. There’s implacable hatred for the country in some quarters, vitriol directed at it is motivated by anger over terrorism or designed as a dog whistle to exert everyday pressure on Indian Muslims. Some disgracefully even celebrated the plane crash at Karachi in May. At the other end, thousands profess their love for Pakistani music and television dramas – one has to only see the comments on any Coke Studio (Pakistan) song on YouTube to comprehend the fervour among Indians.


Regardless of the vantage, there’s no doubt that Indians are singularly uninformed about Pakistan in general. Most would fail basic geography tests; is Lahore to the north or south of Islamabad and where do they lie in relation to Rawalpindi? The reasons are not hard to divine. There is no established tradition of allowing journalists to be posted in each other’s countries; tourist visas are hostage to political ties and academic production on Pakistan in India is negligible and often bereft of quality. Bigotry thrives amid the absence of elementary insight; there has for long been a market gap in India for a readable account of Pakistan – and fortunately, Sameer Arshad Khatlani, a Kashmiri journalist, has filled it with a charming, insightful book in The Other Side of the Divide: A Journey Into the Heart of Pakistan.


Punjab also has a longer history of mutuality and belonging which aren’t easily extinguished by the imperatives of geopolitical calculation. The history of Sikhism, for instance, is very much bound with engagement with Muslim communities. Guru Nanak had a Muslim teacher, Maulana Qutab-ud-din, who taught him Arabic and Persian; Rai Bular, a Muslim, was Nanak’s first devotee outside his family and the one who persuaded Nanak’s father to tolerate his other worldly pursuits. Bular figures in the Guru Granth Sahib and donated large tracts of land to Nanak which became part of the Nankana Sahib complex, one of the holiest shrines in Sikhism. Bular’s descendants to this day lead the celebrations on Nanak’s birth anniversary and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has wanted to commemorate Bular’s ‘immense contribution’ to Sikh history.

The portrait of another Muslim, Nawab Rai Kahla, hangs in Amritsar’s Central Sikh Museum, in recognition of his courage to provide shelter to Guru Gobind Singh. There’s more: Baba Farid’s verses “are an important part of the Guru Grant Sahib”, Mian Mir, a Sufi saint from Lahore, is “widely believed to have laid the foundation” of the Golden Temple, while Ram Das, the Lahore-born fourth Sikh guru, established Amritsar’s foundation in 1577 around an estate that emperor Akbar had granted to his wife, Bibi Bhani. Khatlani explains the bonds of Lahore and Amritsar very evocatively and concludes that “an artificial line drawn through the heart of Punjab cannot be deep enough to change the shared language, culture, customs, idioms and attitudes shaped over centuries.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi has overcome protests of #Indian #Muslim & #Kashmiris with heavy-handed crackdowns and nationalist appeals but the #FarmersProtests will not be so easily subdued. #India's efforts to dismiss protests by farmers as “anti-national” are falling flat. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/12/modis-nationalism-cant-quell-the-farmers-protest/617448/

The standoff between India’s government and its farmers began in September following the passage of new regulations designed to open up the country’s enormous agricultural sector to private investment (a move that would enable farmers to sell directly to companies instead of to the government marketplace, which guaranteed a minimum price for certain crops). Although the authorities have framed the reforms as necessary to modernize India’s farming industry, which employs more than half of the country’s 1.35 billion people and is rife with mismanagement and waste, many farmers fear that the changes will ultimately drive down crop prices, devastating their livelihoods.

Those fears have prompted tens of thousands of farmers, predominantly from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, known as India’s “food bowl,” to set up makeshift barricades of tractors and trailers across roads, railway lines, and highways leading to New Delhi. More than 450 farmers’ unions and organizations expressed their support in a nationwide strike, and the protests have attracted the backing of opposition lawmakers and other high-profile figures.

Perhaps because of this widespread support for the farmers, to say nothing of their size as a voting bloc, Modi’s government has felt inclined to tread carefully in its handling of the demonstrations. In addition to relenting on its initial crackdown, which resulted in clashes between farmers and police, the government agreed to enter into negotiations with the protest’s leaders (an offer that was never extended to those protesting the government’s more nationalist policies).

But some habits die hard, and many within the government opted to revert to familiar tactics. One minister claimed that the farmers’ protest had nothing to do with agriculture at all and was instead being infiltrated by “leftist and Maoist elements.” Other leaders branded them as “goons” and “anti-nationals.” Senior officials in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that the farmers were “Khalistanis,” in reference to the Sikh separatist movement (India’s Sikh community is largely concentrated in Punjab). Some even attempted to discredit the protests by alleging that the participants weren’t real farmers because they eat pizza.

Framing them as ignorant at best—and traitorous at worst—echoes the divisive and nationalist language that the Indian government has previously deployed against peaceful protesters, including those who demonstrated against the government’s citizenship law last year. Where Modi is seen to be enacting his nationalist agenda, the government can easily dismiss critics as simply being “anti-nationals,” particularly when it comes to issues on which the prime minister enjoys widespread support.


“They are extremely disciplined because they know the art of political negotiation,” Kaur said. “These farmers’ unions and workers’ unions are resourceful, and they have also been extremely careful in making sure that the focus always remains on these demands and not be sidetracked by anything else.”

With the farmers prepared to protest for as long as it takes, there is no easy way out. For Modi, there is no nationalist fix this time.
Riaz Haq said…
From Indian analyst Pravin Sawhney:

"Most Indian military analysts deep seated poison, hatred, prejudices & negativity for Pak & its military harms India. Without much positivity (for clear thinking) they are unable to grasp Chinese warfare & Pak’s risen geopolitical status!"

Riaz Haq said…
Father arrested in #India for beheading his 17-year-old daughter. Sarvesh Kumar, a #Hindu, was arrested as he was walking toward a police station in Hardoi district In #UP on Wednesday night, carrying the severed head of his daughter. #honorkilling - CNN


Police in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state have arrested a man who confessed to beheading his teenage daughter.

Sarvesh Kumar was arrested as he was walking toward a police station in Hardoi district on Wednesday night, carrying the severed head of his 17-year-old daughter.
"He was making his way on foot to the police station to confess what he had done," a spokesperson for Hardoi Police told CNN on Friday.
Indian court rules in favor of female journalist sued for defamation over sexual harassment allegations
Indian court rules in favor of female journalist sued for defamation over sexual harassment allegations
"He told police he had seen his daughter with a young man that he believes she was seeing, which made him angry as he was against it," the spokesperson added.
As Kumar, a vegetable seller from Pandetara village, made the one-mile walk from his home to the police station, local passersby alerted the police, who stopped him and began to film him.
During this time, according to the police spokesperson, Kumar told authorities about his daughter's relationship, saying he had found her alone at home, locked her in a room and severed her head using a knife.
Indian priest and 'disciples' arrested for alleged gang rape and murder of woman
Indian priest and 'disciples' arrested for alleged gang rape and murder of woman
"Considering the situation, he was calm. He wasn't crying or hysterical. When the policemen were speaking to him, they asked him to place his daughter's head on the ground and to sit down, which he listened to without arguing back," the police spokesperson told CNN.
Kumar is currently in custody where he continues to be questioned, the spokesperson added. A list of charges will be compiled once the investigation has been completed. He will have access to a public lawyer once he has been formally charged, and he will remain in custody until the trial, police said.
Riaz Haq said…
Female workers at H&M supplier in #India allege widespread sexual violence. Multiple #women at Natchi Apparels have reported abuse weeks after 21-year-old worker was allegedly killed by her supervisor. #misogyny #violence #rape #Hindutva #Modi https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/mar/09/female-workers-at-hm-supplier-in-india-allege-widespread-sexual-violence

Women in India making children’s clothes for H&M have spoken out about widespread sexual violence they claim to have faced at one of the company’s suppliers in India.

The allegations come just weeks after the body of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a 21-year-old Dalit garment worker, was found in a field close to her family home after she failed to return from her shift at the Natchi Apparels factory in Tamil Nadu.

Kathiravel’s supervisor has been charged with her murder. Her family and colleagues at the factory claim she was too afraid to report harassment they say she faced from her supervisor in the weeks before she died.

Since the killing, 25 women have made allegations to the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU) of sexual assault, harassment and verbal abuse by male supervisors and managers at Natchi Apparels, owned by one of India’s largest garment manufacturers, Eastman Exports.

Workers at Natchi Apparels making clothes for H&M and other brands, who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, claimed that female workers faced persistent sexual violence and verbal abuse in the workplace.

They described a working environment in which male supervisors wielded “total power” over the women beneath them. One said that “even married women are not safe. It is just that [abuse] and production targets. We are nothing more to the factory.”

Another said sexual violence had been going on for years. “It happens a lot on the night shift.”
Riaz Haq said…
As extreme #poverty returns, #India sees surge in #child #slavery. Among many gains lost to the #COVID-19 #pandemic, child labour shows resurgence, worsened by inadequate rescue efforts. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Islamophobia_in_india https://aje.io/y7puts via @AJEnglish

Across the rural countryside in states such as Bihar that rank low on the Human Development Index, as families strained against widespread loss of livelihoods, India’s already fatigued child-protection mechanisms found more and more children rendered vulnerable to trafficking.

The government of India confirmed that the financial year 2020-21 recorded a small rise over the previous year in the number of children rescued from illegal work.

Children in destitute families are more vulnerable to trafficking than ever.


When 13-year-old child labourer Shashikant Manjhi died in May 2020, his body could not be transported to his family’s brick-and-mud home in the eastern state of Bihar, 1,126km (700 miles) from Rajasthan state’s Jaipur, where the boy had worked for over a year.

Lockdown restrictions made it impossible, explained the policeman who telephoned the news of the death to the boy’s family, promising to cremate the child respectfully.

Days later, Shashikant’s mother Sahuja Devi conducted the final rites of her last-born on an open field a few hundred metres away from their home. She used a doll fashioned out of paddy husk to represent the child she was consigning to the flames.

In one of a handful of telephone conversations, her son had told her he was bone-tired from placing sequins, stones and glitter on metal bangles for 14-15 hours a day. He was yearning to return.

“For weeks, his employer would not let him speak to us on the phone,” Sahuja told Al Jazeera, seated on the mud floor of her house.

She was stirring a large, blackened aluminium pot of rice that would be lunch for five adults and six children, with a tiny cup of watery dal.

Flies hovered over a small bowl of chopped bittergourd beside the wood-fired mud hearth.

Then her eldest son Mithilesh, 30, took ill and the family needed cash. They managed to get Shashikant on the phone.

“Photan said he would convince his employer to send money,” said Subbidevi, Mithilesh’s wife, using the whimsical name given to Shashikant by the employer.

“Photan’s money didn’t come, only the call came announcing his death.”

No cause of death was given. The family had no way of knowing if the body bore injuries, but they suspected that the child may have insisted upon money being wired home and been injured in an ensuing scuffle.

The employer was in a Jaipur jail briefly, they said, and subsequently released.

In Bhimpur Tola where they live, adjoining Sondiha village and 32km (20 miles) from the nearest town of Gaya, even getting more information would have meant an expensive day trip to Konch police station, 13km (8 miles) away.

“There wasn’t a rupee at home. Unless Photan sent us money, we had nothing,” said Subbidevi.

Shashikant was one of tens of thousands of trafficked child labourers who continued to work during the coronavirus lockdown, their traffickers and employers accustomed to ducking the law enforcers.
Riaz Haq said…
S. K
The fact that 14% minority Muslims dominate the mindset & are an object of awe, fear, hatred and obsession of so called great civilization and culture is itself an example of the hollowness and insecurity of the (Hindu) majority.

Riaz Haq said…
Book review: 'The Mirage' by Matt Ruff


I found myself thinking about Dick and “The Man in the High Castle” as I read Matt Ruff’s “The Mirage,” which offers an alternative universe of its own. Here, it’s not World War II that’s turned on its head but the War on Terror, with a fundamentalist America — a collection of rogue states and small theocracies — as the antagonists against a secular Islamic democracy called the United Arab States.

In such a world, 9/11 never happened; rather, it is 11/9, the mirror image, in which Christian terrorists “hijacked four commercial passenger jetliners … crash[ing] two of them into the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry headquarters in the federal district of Riyadh. The fourth plane, which is believed to have been bound for either the Presidential Palace in Riyadh or, possibly, Mecca … crashed in Arabia’s Empty Quarter after its passengers attempted to retake control from the hijackers.” After these attacks, the UAS captures Denver, then launches a wider military campaign on the East Coast, establishing a “Green Zone” in the hostile environs of Washington, D.C.

This is a terrific setup, using fiction to take events and tweak them, albeit recognizably. Yet for all the enthusiasm Ruff brings to his efforts, the illusion never feels completely real. Why? A couple of reasons, I think, beginning with the proximity of the narrative to recent experience.

For me, the most effective alternate histories are the most organic, those that have an internal logic of their own. That’s what Dick did in “The Man in the High Castle” — or what William Gibson and Bruce Sterling did in “The Difference Engine,” Philip Roth in “The Plot Against America,” Michael Chabon in “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” — to create a world that stands alongside the real one, while not depending on it, exactly, for all its context clues. Thus, while these novels feature historical players (Goebbels, Göring, or, in the case of Roth, Charles Lindbergh), they are not protagonists but more part of the social fabric.


I can buy Saddam Hussein as a John Gotti-like master of the underworld; that’s not so far from what he was in life. But while it’s funny, shocking even, to imagine Osama bin Laden as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he behaves in a manner more befitting a terrorist than an elected official — even in this mirror world. Then there’s LBJ, who, in these pages, survives to become an American Saddam, as well as David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh, both part of the American insurgency, a fragmented movement led by, among others, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. The idea, I suppose, is to use the alternate landscape of the novel to comment on the absurdities of our situation, but it’s never quite clear what all these people have to do with one another or how they ended up within the same sphere.


To mitigate this, perhaps, Ruff creates his own form of chaos by evoking, à la Dick, a pathway back to the actual world. This takes the form of artifacts (a New York Times from Sept. 12, 2001, reporting a terrorist strike on Manhattan; Iraqi bank notes bearing Saddam’s image) that hint at the existence of a reality beyond that of the novel — another interesting idea but again one that isn’t fully developed, relying on coincidence, on supernatural phenomena to explain how the whole thing unfolds.

I don’t want to give too much away, but in the end, this leaves the imagined world a flimsy simulacrum, with no particular integrity of its own. The same is true of the history Ruff creates, interweaving throughout the book a series of pages from the Wikipedia-like “Library of Alexandria” (“a user-edited reference source”) that seek to answer context questions yet never explain convincingly how a tolerant secular Arab union arose out of the Ottoman Empire or how the U.S. descended into tribal war.
Riaz Haq said…
Pew talks about how Muslims were blamed and targeted during the COVID pandemic.


In India, Islamophobic hashtags like #CoronaJihad circulated widely on social media, seeking to blame Muslims for the virus.

In India, there were multiple reports of Muslims being attacked after being accused of spreading the coronavirus.

In India, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced in April 2020 that more than 900 members of the Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat and other foreign nationals (most of whom were Muslim) had been placed “in quarantine” after participating in a conference in New Delhi allegedly linked to the spread of early cases of coronavirus. (Many of those detained were released or granted bail by July 2020.)

Pandemic-related killings of religious minorities were reported in three countries in 2020, according to the sources analyzed in the study. In India, two Christians died after they were beaten in police custody for violating COVID-19 curfews in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Riaz Haq said…
Imran Khan's Party Uses Old PM Modi Clip To Target Pak PM.


An old video of a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trending across the border. Leaders of Imran Khan's party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, are sharing a clip of PM Modi to slam the Shehbaz Sharif government over Pakistan's financial crisis.
The video shows PM Modi's speech in Rajasthan's Barmer during his campaign for the 2019 general election. "We destroyed Pakistan's arrogance, forced them to go around the globe with a begging bowl," the Prime Minister says.

He also refers to Pakistan's threats of a nuclear attack and says: "We have stopped fearing Pakistan's threats. If they have nuclear weapons, ours are hardly kept for Diwali."
Riaz Haq said…
Javed Akhtar says 'religion does not make a nation', cites Pakistan's example: 'Arre jab woh nahi bana sake...'


The Bollywood writer-poet had recently attended a festival in Pakistan and has since been the centre of a fresh controversy. Told that all Indian believe that all Pakistanis are terrorists, Javed said that Pakistan continues to nurture the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. While Pakistani celebs have slammed him, Indians, including celebrities and politicians, are praising him for the statement.


Javed Akhtar questions the rationality behind creating nations based on religion and cites Pakistan as an example of failed attempt to do so.

Javed Akhtar has lashed out at extremists demanding a 'Hindu rashtra' and said the British made a similar attempt - to create nations based on religions - but failed miserably. He was talking about the creation of Pakistan at a Mumbai event when he made the statements. (Also read: Javed Akhtar calls Kangana Ranaut ‘unimportant’ after she praised him)

At an ABP event in Mumbai, Javed Akhtar was asked if the formation of Pakistan was a mistake, in hindsight and he said, “If a book were to be written about 10 blunders that human beings have made, the creation of Pakistan would certainly figure in it. It was illogical, unreasonable, but alright...now it is a reality, we have to accept that. But, it was not right, it was very illogical - religion does not make a nation, it is not enough of a glue. If it was, the whole of Middle East would have been one nation, whole of Europe would have been another country. Today, the day you start excluding, you will keep on taking out the layers of the onion to find the real onion, (but won't find anything). There (in Pakistan), Ahmedaiyas and Shias are no longer considered Muslims. That exclusion continues, but what have we learnt from them?”

He added, "Today, we are doing what they did 70 years ago - you want a Hindu Rashtra. Arre wo (Pakistan) nahi bana sake, duniya nahi bana saki aap kya bana lenge (they could not do it, the world could not, what will you create)? I do not know what a Hindu Rashtra is, I do not know what is a country based on religion is."

The Bollywood writer-poet had recently attended a festival in Pakistan and has since been the centre of a fresh controversy. Told that all Indian believe that all Pakistanis are terrorists, Javed said that Pakistan continues to nurture the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. While Pakistani celebs have slammed him, Indians, including celebrities and politicians, are praising him for the statement.

Riaz Haq said…
Modi uses speech to Russia-China-led group to swipe at Pakistan, avoids mentioning Ukraine


India’s prime minister on Tuesday took a veiled swipe at rival neighbor Pakistan and avoided mentioning the war in Ukraine while addressing a group of Asian countries led by China and Russia

India’s prime minister on Tuesday took a veiled swipe at rival neighbor Pakistan and avoided mentioning the war in Ukraine while addressing a group of Asian countries led by China and Russia.

In his opening speech to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the group should not hesitate to criticize countries that are "using terrorism as an instrument of its state policy."

"Terrorism poses a threat to regional peace and we need to take up a joint fight,” Modi said without naming Pakistan. India regularly accuses Pakistan of training and arming insurgent groups, a charge Islamabad denies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif are scheduled to address the day-long virtual summit.

Modi also warned of global challenges to food, fuel and fertilizer supplies. Trade in all three has been disrupted by Russia's 14-month-long war in Ukraine, but SCO members have largely avoided direct mention of the war.

Putin is participating in his first multilateral summit since an armed rebellion rattled Russia, at one of the few international grouping in which he enjoys warm relations with most members.

For Putin, the summit presents an opportunity to show he is in control after a short-lived insurrection by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a security grouping founded by Russia and China to counter Western alliances from East Asia to the Indian Ocean. The group includes the four Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, all former Soviet republics in which Russian influence runs deep. Pakistan became a member in 2017, and Iran, which is set to join on Tuesday. Belarus is also in line for membership.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a message to the summit that it was taking place amid growing global challenges and risks. "But at a time when the world needs to work together, divisions are growing, and geopolitical tensions are rising.”

"These differences have been aggravated by several factors: diverging approaches to global crises; contrasting views on nontraditional security threats; and, of course, the consequences of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

This year’s event is hosted by India, which became a member in 2017. It’s the latest venue for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to showcase the country’s growing global clout.

Days after his return from a high-profile visit to the United States, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday had a telephone conversation with Putin about the recent developments in Russia, India’s External Affairs Ministry said.

Modi reiterated calls for dialogue and diplomacy between Russia and Ukraine, ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.

India has avoided condemning Russia for its war on Ukraine and abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions against Russia.

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