Biden's Hypocrisy: Putin is a Killer But Modi is a US Ally

"Putin is a killer", declared President Joseph R. Biden in a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos  of ABC News. This stands in sharp contrast to what former President Donald J. Trump said in a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview Fox News when host Bill O'Reilly  authoritatively declared Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.” Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

President Biden with Prime Minister Modi

Biden is declaring Putin a "killer" while at the same time embracing India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has killed thousands of Muslims. In fact, Modi was shunned by the United States and much of the civilized world for over a decade for his part in the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Indian Muslims. His policies as prime minister indicate that he's not a changed man. 

Biden needs to understand that Modi's Hindutva and America's Christian White Supremacists who attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 have a lot in common. He should listen to Meena Harris, Vice President  Kamala Harris' niece, who recently tweeted: "It’s time to talk about violent Hindu extremism”. Referring to a headline about "violent Christian extremism", Harris said "it's all connected". Hindu trolls have launched hateful misogynistic campaign against Harris and other western female celebrities who have recently tweeted in support of farm protesters. 

In response to a Hindu troll accusing Meena Harris of "Hinduphobia", she tweeted: "I'm a Hindu. Stop using religion as a cover for fascism".  

Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris

It started when singer Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, tweeted “why aren’t we talking about this?!”, with a link to a news story about an internet blackout at the protest camps where tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for over two months. Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also tweeted a story about the internet blackout, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” Both drew threats of rape and violence from hordes of Hindu trolls rampaging Twitter.  Some hailed the 2009 violent assault on Rihanna by singer  Chris Brown and said it was well-deserved. 

Meena Harris Tweet. Source: Twitter

"Is Rihanna Muslim" started to trend on Google. Many Hindu trolls talked of links between Rihanna and Muslims, Khalistan and Pakistan and even claimed  Rihanna was paid to tweet in support of farmers. 

India Leads the World in Internet Shutdowns in 2020 Source: Access Now

The phenomenon of Hindu trolls issuing threats of violence and rape is not new.  It has been well documented by Indian journalist Swati Chaturvedi in a book entitled "I am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of BJP's Digital Army" as far as 2017. She found that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows hundreds of twitter accounts regularly tweeting abuses and threats of rape and other forms of physical violence against Indian actors, artists, politicians, journalists, minorities in India and individuals of Pakistani origin.

Until recently, the main target of violent Hindu extremists have been primarily Muslims and liberal Hindus. But now the threats of violence and rape against western celebrities are beginning to expose the ugly face of violent Hindu Nationalism. It is  now getting coverage in mainstream western media. 

Meena Harris is absolutely right in her assertion that "it's all connected". It is a historical fact that Hindu Nationalist ideology draws its inspiration from violent European movements like Fascism and Nazism. B.S. Monnje was the first Hindu nationalist who met Mussolini in 1931. 

Hindu nationalists, now led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, have a long history of admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, including his "Final Solution". In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."  

It is important to note that the vast majority of Indian-Americans vote for Democrats but most still support India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi who endorsed former President Trump in 2020 presidential elections. In December 2020, the Carnegie Endowment published a study detailing the political attitudes of Indian Americans: 56 percent of Indian Americans self-identified as Democrats, 22 percent as independents, and 15 percent as Republicans; 72 percent of Indian Americans planned on voting for Biden this election, while 22 percent responded with support for Trump. The same survey found that while Indian American Trump voters and Republicans were much more enthusiastic about Modi, a majority of all Indian Americans supported Modi

Here's a video clip of American historian Dr. Audrey Truschke on the Nazi inspired Hindutva ideology:

Here's a video of American journalist Mike Wallace asking Louis Farrakhan about Nigeria, calling the most populous African country "the most corrupt nation in the world": Here's Farrakhan's response: Every nation has its problems. Nigeria has serous problems. But it's only 35 years old. And America have been around for over 200 years old and it is in no position to judge others on corruption and democracy. Black people in America got the right to vote only a few decades ago. And America has blood on its hands, the blood of millions of native Americans and the blood of the Japanese who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let's not moralize. Let's help them. 



Riaz Haq said…
Mr. Biden, Enough With the Tough Talk on China
Modest measures can reverse the dangerous decay in relations.

Ian Johnson
By Ian Johnson
Mr. Johnson was a China correspondent for two decades.

March 19, 2021

These harsh exchanges will only contribute to the dangerous decay in relations between the world’s two most powerful countries. Both sides seem to be trapped by a need to look and sound tough. That stance may play well domestically in both countries, but it complicates doing what is really needed: engaging, with realistic expectations, with the other side.

Since taking office nearly two months ago, the Biden administration has been a whirlwind of activity in reforming and revisiting almost every key problem area but one: the chaotic and incoherent China policy it inherited from the Trump administration.

Top U.S. and Chinese officials met Thursday in Alaska for the first time since the new administration took power. The meeting, framed as little more than a chance for each side to state their well-known positions, fell short of even those low expectations.

In a series of blunt remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the U.S. government had “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States and economic coercion toward our allies” — actions, he said, that “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” In a lengthy presentation that went well over the agreed-upon time limit, China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, countered that the United States was the “champion” of cyberattacks and that “many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”

These harsh exchanges will only contribute to the dangerous decay in relations between the world’s two most powerful countries. Both sides seem to be trapped by a need to look and sound tough. That stance may play well domestically in both countries, but it complicates doing what is really needed: engaging, with realistic expectations, with the other side.

Now that each government has had its say, the United States should take the high ground and find ways to reduce tensions, even if those can partly be blamed on China’s recent actions.

One way forward would be to reverse some of the Trump administration’s burn-the-bridges measures, like its ending academic exchanges, expelling Chinese journalists and closing consulates.

The Biden administration has sought to characterize its China policy as more nuanced than that of the Trump White House. Shortly after taking office, the president said that the United States sought “extreme competition” with China but not conflict. Mr. Blinken said in Tokyo this week, during his first official trip abroad, “The relationship with China is a very complex one: It has adversarial aspects; it has competitive aspects; it has cooperative aspects.”

But the administration’s actions so far have largely followed the Trump playbook.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S., China exchange strong words, but both label talks constructive

Susan Thornton:

Yes, I think this meeting was about restarting diplomacy with China after a four-year hiatus, basically, under the previous administration.

And you do diplomacy to engage counterparts in private to try to find a way forward on areas where you have overlapping interests. And Secretary Blinken mentioned there at the end a number of areas, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, climate change, where there are overlapping interests.

And to sit together with the other side and find out where those areas are and a way forward, that's the art of the goal. So I think that the circus in front of the cameras to start off was a bit unfortunate. I am not sure that that is necessarily a productive way to start this off, but it looks like they were able to savor something for the end.


Susan Thornton:

I think that there is a lot of continuity that we see with Xi Jinping. And I am not that surprised by anything we see in China.

There's — it is not coming out of the blue. Certainly, there has been regression on human rights and in a lot of practices domestically, in China's domestic politics, certainly now also vis-a-vis the United States. They are starting to pursue a policy of indigenization of their technological industries.

But I think, in general, the error that the U.S. makes is in thinking that we are going to have some kind of fundamental way of changing China. I personally don't think China represents an existential threat. I think we need learn to live with China and coexist. They are not going anywhere, but we are probably not going to be able to change them fundamentally.
Riaz Haq said…
Parsing the tense diplomatic exchange between US and China

Normally, diplomats are, well, diplomatic. Not so on Thursday in Anchorage, where high-level US and Chinese officials gathered for the first time since Joe Biden became president. In the public setting of a photo op, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi tossed verbal barbs at each other. Marco Werman untangles the exchange and what it means for US-China relations with Susan Thornton, a retired career diplomat focused on China and East Asian affairs, who is now a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center.

Susan Thornton: It was a very unusual opening of a diplomatic meeting by Tony Blinken...The obsession by the US of coming from a position of strength are a bit overweening....the Chinese had to respond to the way they did.....I'm very worried...we'll see a new low....a growing estrangement...if we can not find a way to move forward we could be seeing what happened before WWI...a Thucydides Trap...fears that US and China could be destined for war.
Riaz Haq said…
India Romances the West
In a deepening geopolitical shift, New Delhi is inching closer on many fronts.

By C. Raja Mohan

In affirming that the “Quad has come of age” at the first-ever summit of the Quadrilateral Dialogue with the United States, Japan, and Australia last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent an unmistakable signal that India is no longer reluctant to work with the West in the global arena, including in the security domain. The country’s new readiness to participate in Western forums marks a decisive turn in independent India’s world view. That view was long defined by the idea of nonalignment and its later avatar, strategic autonomy—both of which were about standing apart from, if not against, post-World-War-II Western alliances. But today—driven by shifting balance of power in Asia, India’s clear-eyed view of its national interest, and the successful efforts of consecutive U.S. presidents—India is taking increasingly significant steps toward the West.

The Quad is not the only Western institution with which India might soon be associated. New Delhi is set to engage with a wider range of Western forums in the days ahead, including the G-7 and the Five Eyes. Britain has invited India to participate in the G-7 meeting in London this summer, along with other non-members Australia and South Korea. Although India has been invited to G-7 outreach meetings—a level or two below the summits—for a number of years, the London meeting is widely expected to be a testing ground for the creation of a “Democracy Group of Ten,” or D-10.

In Washington today, there are multiple ideas for U.S.-led technology coalitions to reduce the current Western dependence on China. Two initiatives unveiled at the Quad summit—the working group on critical technologies, and the vaccine initiative to supply Southeast Asia—underline the prospects for an Indian role in the trusted technology supply chains of the United States and its partners.

Along with Japan, India also joined a meeting of the Five Eyes—the intelligence-sharing alliance between the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand— in October 2020 to discuss ways to give law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications on platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram. Five Eyes is a tightly knit alliance, and it is unlikely India will be a member any time soon. But it is very much possible to imagine greater consultations between the Five Eyes and the Indian intelligence establishment.

To be sure, India’s engagement with Western institutions is not entirely new. India joined the British-led Commonwealth in 1947, but only after India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, made sure the forum was stripped of any security role in the postwar world. Refusing to join military alliances was a key plank of India’s policy of non-alignment.

Many concluded in the 1970s that anti-Americanism was part of India’s genetic code.

Nehru turned to the United States when his policy of befriending China and supporting its sensitivities collapsed by the end of the 1950s. Facing reverses in a military conflict with China on the long and contested border in 1962, Nehru sought massive defense assistance from U.S. President John Kennedy. With the deaths of both Kennedy and Nehru soon after, the prospects for strategic cooperation between New Delhi and Washington receded quickly.

The 1970s saw India drift away from the West on three levels. On the East-West axis, it drew closer to the Soviet Union. On the North-South axis, it became the champion of the Third World. This was reinforced by the sharply leftward turn of India’s domestic politics and a deliberate severing of commercial cooperation with the West.
Riaz Haq said…
Fareed Zakaria on GPS March 21, 2021: "US is spending $1.7 trillion on just the F-35 fighter program, comparable to China's spending on the entire Belt & Road Initiative" #Defense #China #US #BRI #CPEC #Pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Hell hath no fury like a superpower in decline – Responsible Statecraft

The U.S. leadership must have set some kind of new record in managing to personally insult the leadership of the two other great powers of the world within 48 hours of each other in these early days of Biden administration foreign policy. Almost as if they were graduates of “The Donald Trump Charm School.”

It is simply astonishing that in approaching a new course of relations with Russia, President Biden should have called Vladimir Putin “a killer” and lacking “a soul.”

It is similarly astonishing to have chosen an important opening moment in our delicate relationship with China to employ derogatory language. Did Blinken believe that flashing testosterone at the first high-level meeting of Beijing’s foreign policy leadership would help achieve the diplomatic goals Washington seeks? One wonders who the secretary of state was trying to impress — Beijing or a U.S. domestic audience?

Antony Blinken, seemingly without embarrassment, speaks of the United States as upholding “the rule of law globally” in the self-deception or the belief that such is the case. In fact, Washington has always expected other countries to support the international rule of law — although exempting good friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia. The United States invariably defends its own “exceptionalism” in pointedly not signing onto International law when it suits its interests. That includes foreign assassinations and the launching of several wars without authorization at the international level, provoking “Color Revolutions,” and refusing to ratify UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea or the Rights of the Child, or honor adverse judgments by the International Court of Justice. And It is difficult to understand how Blinken feels comfortable at lecturing China on its domestic failings at a time when U.S. democracy and social policy have never presented a more damaging face to the world.

Surely such self-righteousness on the administration’s part shows a lack of seriousness and honesty about U.S. history and positions. Or, more disturbingly, it suggests that Washington lacks all capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness.

In the end, this initial high-level diplomatic encounter is perhaps most distressing given the high hopes that many Americans held that so many of our problems would vanish with the departure of Donald Trump – rather than undertaking a necessarily painful examination of the inherent deep-seated flaws within the American system.

Perhaps I am wrong in making these harsh observations. Maybe, coming on strong with all guns blazing — Hollywood cowboy style — at these first public confrontations will cause Moscow and Beijing to reflect and even retreat a bit. But I doubt it. I fear these two linked events simply hammer a few more nails into the coffin of cherished American aspirations to global leadership and dominance. In that case, we may be our own most dangerous enemy if we continue to look with nostalgia at former American hegemony. That global dominance, for better or for worse, is increasingly a thing of the past. It represents a failure to recognize the unique circumstances by which America happened to play a major positive global role immediately after the collapse of Europe, Japan, and China after the brutal ordeal of World War II. Arguably, those conditions will not return, which means that the United States will be facing a very uncomfortable future reality for which it seems psychologically ill-prepared.
Riaz Haq said…
#China Doesn’t Respect #US Anymore—for Good Reason. At #AlaskaMeeting , #Chinese officials made it quite clear that they no longer fear our criticism, because they don’t respect us as they once did, and they don’t think the rest of the world does, either.

Yes, China has huge problems. Its leaders are not 10 feet tall, but they are focused on real metrics of success. “China’s leaders are fierce but fragile,” argues James McGregor, the chairman of the consultancy APCO Worldwide, Greater China. “Precisely because they were not elected, they wake up every day scared of their own people, and that makes them very focused on performance” — particularly around jobs, housing and clean air.

By contrast, many U.S. politicians these days are elected from safe, gerrymandered districts and seek to stay in power by just “performing” for their base with populist theatrics.

Whenever I point this out, critics on the far right or far left ridiculously respond, “Oh, so you love China.” Actually, I am not interested in China. I care about America. My goal is to frighten us out of our complacency by getting more Americans to understand that China can be really evil AND really focused on educating its people and building its infrastructure and adopting best practices in business and science and promoting government bureaucrats on merit — all at the same time. Condemning China for the former will have zero impact if we’re not its equal in all of the latter.

At last week’s Alaska meeting between America’s and China’s top diplomats, Chinese officials made it quite clear that they no longer fear our criticism, because they don’t respect us as they once did, and they don’t think the rest of the world does, either. Or as Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign affairs policymaker, baldly told his U.S. counterparts: “The United States does not have the qualification … to speak to China from a position of strength.”

Surprised? What did you think, that the Chinese didn’t notice that our last president inspired his followers to ransack our Capitol, that a majority of his party did not recognize the results of our democratic election, that a member of our Congress believes that Jewish-run space lasers cause forest fires, that left-wing anarchists were allowed to take over a section of downtown Portland, creating havoc for months, that during the pandemic the U.S. printed money to help its consumers keep spending — much of it on Chinese-made goods — while China printed money to invest in even more infrastructure, and that gun violence in America is out control?
Riaz Haq said…
Fareed Zakaria on GPS March 21, 2021:

"Consider two contrasting exercises of power. America's F-35 fighter jet program, devilled by cost overruns and technical problems, will ultimately cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion according to a document obtained by Bloomberg. China will likely spend a comparable amount of money on the belt and road initiative, an ambitious set of loans, aid and financing for infrastructure projects across the world aimed at creating greater interdependent with dozens of countries that are important to Beijing."

Riaz Haq said…
#Russia could upset #India’s #US-#China balancing act. #NewDelhi’s growing defense ties with #Washington risk upsetting #Moscow, its biggest arms supplier. Relations with #Beijing face a ‘complete re-set’ amid rising tensions. #Biden #Quad #Modi #BJP

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to New Delhi last week was the latest symbol of Washington’s desire for the two sides to close ranks against China’s increasing assertiveness, observers say.
Yet in drawing closer to the United States, India could risk alienating its long-time defence ally and largest arms supplier Russia, with whom Delhi enjoys a “special and privileged strategic partnership”.
Since 2016, the US has designated India a “major defence partner”, with the two going on to sign three wide-ranging agreements that allow for greater defence interoperability, as well as Delhi’s procurement of high-end American weapons technology.


India is set to host a meeting of the BRICS nations, an association of five major emerging economies that includes China, later this year – a gathering that Sibal expects to be “awkward” if Chinese President Xi Jinping attends “without disengagement, de-escalation and restoration of the status quo ante in Ladakh” – the region of India bordering China where recent clashes have taken place.
“He will have to be given a cold reception,” Sibal said. “A show of BRICS solidarity will seem artificial as our relations with China has nosedived.”
For Bambawale, “if the border is not peaceful, the rest of the relationship will be negatively affected”. “The India-China relationship is set to deteriorate, become even more competitive,” he said, adding that a “complete re-set” in ties was already under way

Meanwhile, preparations are being made to extend trilateral engagement with Australia and France – the three held talks on the Indo-Pacific for the first time in September last year – as well as an India-Australia-Indonesia grouping that officials in Delhi say is aimed at keeping the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations in the loop with the Quad’s efforts aimed at countering China’s assertiveness.
France is also set to lead a naval exercise involving all four members of the Quad in early April – something Kaushiva, the former vice-admiral, described as an important strategic development “as it seamlessly covers the Indo-Pacific region end to-end” and provides the Indian navy with a “much broader scope of operational choices”.

Riaz Haq said…
In embracing #Modi's #India & confronting Xi's #China, is #Biden just elevating one #authoritarian regime over another? #BJP #Fascism #Hindutva via @slate

Biden has already made Modi’s administration a priority. The two leaders spoke on the phone shortly after the U.S. election results were finalized, and Modi tweeted congratulations at both Biden and Harris on Inauguration Day and again in February. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with India’s foreign minister that month, while the president used his first international summit to videoconference with Modi as well as leaders from Australia and Japan. About a month afterward, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as part of the first overseas trip conducted by any of Biden’s Cabinet members, visited India to meet with Modi as well as the country’s defense minister and national security adviser.


Out of all of Donald Trump’s world-leader friends, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the quickest to offer his congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for winning the 2020 U.S. presidential election. India’s ruling, conservative Bharatiya Janata Party smartly adjusted as Biden started coming out ahead in election polls and soon fully embraced the incoming administration change. Modi may have been infamously and publicly chummy with Trump, but his quick pivot made sense. While India and the U.S. have historically had a rocky-at-best relationship, Modi worked well with both Barack Obama and Biden the last time Democrats held the executive office. Plus, Harris, who made history as the United States’ first Indian American vice president, is very popular in India, especially in her mother’s ancestral region of Tamil Nadu. So, despite some vocal ideological opposition to the Biden-Harris ticket from Modi’s right-wing followers at home and abroad, and the fact that Biden has made combating authoritarian movements like Modi’s a central theme of his foreign policy, the Indian leader had good reason to roll out the welcome mat.

For both countries, the relationship is just too important to let slide. After decades of tense neutrality and nuclear fear following India’s independence, the 21st century saw the subcontinent embraced by U.S. officials from both parties—including incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden in 2006—as an essential partner against terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, an emerging small-d democratic rival to China’s regional and global economic dominance, and an essential trading partner. India and the U.S. also established military and defense partnerships, and hammered out global climate negotiations and trade agreements. Bits of animosity have flared up here and there, and Modi and Biden are not likely to have the same bro-y relationship that Modi and Trump did, but it’s clear the two countries will remain strategic partners for the foreseeable future.
Riaz Haq said…
Sergei Lavrov to visit #Pakistan, 1st by a #Russian foreign minister in 9 yrs. Agenda: #Afghanistan, North-South #Gas Pipeline, #investment, #trade

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will reach Pakistan on Tuesday on a two-day visit to hold important talks with the country's top leadership and the Army chief on bilateral ties as well as on the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Lavrov's visit will be the first by any Russian Foreign Minister in nine years and that he would personally go to the airport to receive him.

Lavrov visited Islamabad in 2012.

There is no second opinion that Russia is an important country of this region his visit to Pakistan shows that our bilateral relations are taking a new turn, Qureshi said in a video statement.

The two countries want to take forward the North South Gas pipeline project, which is under discussion for quite some time, he said, adding that the Pakistan Steel Mill was set up in Karachi with the Russian help and there was an opportunity to cooperate to pull it out of the current financial crisis.

Pakistan and Russia are playing a role in the Afghan peace process, Qureshi said.

He said Lavrov was coming to Pakistan after visiting India with which Russia enjoys historical ties.

It can convince India to play a positive role in Afghan peace, he said.

Qureshi said he would hold delegation-level talks with the visiting foreign minister who would later on meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Lavrov, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday evening on a nearly 19-hour visit, has held extensive talks with the country's top leadership with a focus on various aspects of bilateral ties and preparations for the annual India-Russia summit.
Riaz Haq said…
#Russia to boost ties with #Pakistan, supply #military gear. Pak Army Chief Gen. Bajwa met with #Lavrov & said they discussed “enhanced defense and security cooperation, regional security, particularly the Afghan peace process.” #Afghanistan #US #India

Washington is reviewing an agreement it signed more than a year ago with the Taliban as it rethinks a May 1 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Moscow has stepped up its involvement there and hosted talks last month between the Taliban and senior Afghan government officials. Lavrov suggested another high-level meeting could again be held in Moscow.

Lavrov arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday from neighboring India, with which Moscow has had a long and solid relationship. The apparent reset in Pakistani-Russian relations, however, is by contrast a more recent phenomena.


Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday said Moscow and Islamabad will boost ties in the fight against terrorism, with Russia providing unspecified military equipment to Pakistan and the two holding joint exercises at sea and in the mountains.

Sergey Lavrov spoke on the second day of a two-day trip to Pakistan. It’s the first visit by a Russian foreign minister in nine years, part of a warming of frosty relations. It comes as Moscow seeks to increase its stature in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, where it seeks to inject itself as a key player in efforts to find a peaceful end to decades of war.

“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said, without going into detail about the equipment.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #Russia agree to build economic, health, energy and defense ties. Russia will provide #SputnikV #vaccine, invest in north-south #gas pipeline, supply #military equipment to build "multidimensional ties"

Pakistan and Russia agreed to develop cooperation in economic, energy and defence fields during the visit of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The two-day (April 6-7) visit to Pakistan is the first by a Russian foreign minister in nearly a decade and was described as the beginning of a “new chapter” in Pakistan-Russia relations.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Islamabad, the Russian foreign minister expressed readiness to expand collaboration with Pakistan especially in defence, security and energy sectors. Russia is ready to offer Pakistan “special military equipment” and to expand cooperation in the domain of counter-terrorism, Lavrov said.

Pakistan looks forward to build “multi-dimensional relations with Russia” as it can contribute to regional stability and global security, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said after delegation-level talks. The two sides also discussed the Asia Pacific development and the Middle East situation particularly solution of Palestine issue.

PM Imran Khan meets Russian FM
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in his meeting with the Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stressed upon the “importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority”. Discussing the growing bilateral cooperation in trade, energy and security, PM Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to commence “Pakistan Stream” (North-South gas pipeline) project as early as possible. The multi-billion dollar 1,100-km gas pipeline will link the port city of Karachi to Lahore. Khan also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Pakistan soon.

Defence ties
Islamabad and Moscow agreed to strengthen military ties with regular joint exercises and counter-terrorism training. In an interview to a Pakistani newspaper, Lavrov said Russia and Pakistan shared a “concurrence or similarity of approaches” to regional and international issues. Russian foreign minister also held a meeting with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss enhanced defence and security collaboration, regional security and particularly the Afghan peace process. “Pakistan values its relations with Russia and reciprocates the desire for enhanced bilateral military cooperation,” Gen Bajwa said. The Russian official acknowledged Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism and contributions to regional peace and stability, especially in Afghanistan.

The two sides reaffirmed their support to Afghanistan peace process and to facilitate intra-Afghan talks to “put an end to civil war based on inclusive dialogue.” Pakistan appreciated Russia’s efforts in promoting the Afghan peace process within the framework of Moscow format comprising representatives of Russia, China, US and Pakistan. “Pakistan welcomes all initiatives which can bring peace and stability in Afghanistan as the whole region will benefit from it” Pakistan’s army chief said.

Bilateral trade between Russia and Pakistan witnessed a 46 per cent increase hitting an all-time high of $790 million, mainly driven by the export of Russian wheat to Islamabad. Realising the trade potential, the officials agreed to diversify and increase bilateral ties in the fields of energy, industrial modernisation, railways and aviation. Progress on economic cooperation would be followed in the upcoming intergovernmental commission meeting in Moscow.

On cooperation to fight coronavirus, Lavrov said Russia had already provided 50,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V to Pakistan and would offer a further 150,000 doses soon. Sputnik V vaccine is currently being administered privately in Pakistan. The two countries also discussed the possibility of local production of the Sputnik V vaccine in Pakistan to help meet the growing vaccination demand in the country of 220 million.

Riaz Haq said…
The paradox of US-India relations

Yet, despite these many indicators of a burgeoning defense relationship between two countries that as late as the 1980s had maintained standoffish relations for decades, the Austin visit also involved a throwback to those earlier times. Austin voiced his unhappiness with India’s interest in purchasing the Russian S-400 air defense system — the same system that is at the center of a dispute between the United States and Turkey. Ankara has purchased the S-400 and that has resulted in U.S. cancellation of Turkish participation in the American F-35 fighter program.

India’s military, especially the army and air force, has maintained longstanding and close ties to Russia (and previously the Soviet Union). India seems unwilling to jettison those ties simply because Austin told his hosts that “we … urge our allies and partners to move away from Russian equipment.” An Indian S-400 purchase, therefore, is not at all out of the question.

In his recently published volume, “The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World,” India’s external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, makes it clear that India has no plan to align itself fully with either the U.S. or China. As he states in the book’s first chapter, “This is a time for us to engage America, manage China, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play … and expand traditional constituencies of support. … A longstanding trilateral with Russia and China coexists now with one involving the U.S. and Japan. … Positioning is of increasing value in a fluid world, explaining the importance of engaging competing powers like the U.S., China, the EU [European Union] or Russia at the same time.”

Jaishankar writes with authority that derives from far more than his current office. He is a former ambassador to both Washington and Beijing. He also is the son of Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam, widely recognized as the father of India’s nuclear program, who maintained close ties with Moscow even as he was perhaps the leading advocate of the 2007 Indo-U.S. Agreement on Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. Jaishankar certainly harbors no ill feeling toward the United States; quite the contrary. But he does not see American and Indian interests as entirely congruent.

Jaishankar’s views — which represent a significant swath of informed Indian opinion — do not mean that Washington should not continue to seek to intensify its relations with New Delhi. Both the Quad summit and the Austin visit signify the potential for further expanding cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies. Nevertheless, India will not become an American ally, nor will it drop its close ties to Russia. Instead, it will carve out its own path in an increasingly multilateral international power structure.

American policymakers should approach India with a heavy dose of realism and disabuse themselves of any hope for an alliance with India. If they persist with such illusions, they surely will be sorely disappointed.
Riaz Haq said…
US Navy Warship Lakshadeep: What it Means for India & China

by Manoj Joshi

Under UNCLOS, war vessels can transit through another state’s territorial waters in what is called “peaceful passage”, with its weapons radars and system turned off. But in the contiguous zone or the EEZ, which are international waters, there is no restriction on military exercises and maneuvers.
Under domestic law India requires prior notification for all these activities and the Chinese go a step further and demand prior permission for these actions.

The US says the Indian, and for that matter, the Chinese position, is “inconsistent with international law.” So, Washington, which has itself yet to ratify the UNCLOS, has decided to uphold “the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea” recognised by the law.
Last year, according to an official release, it challenged 28 different “excessive maritime claims by 19 different claimants throughout the world,” and it has been doing this for decades.
The US conducts what it calls Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) since 1979, but the earliest record we have with regard to India is of 1992, when it sent a warship to enter our 12 mile nautical mile territorial sea to challenge our requirement that the US inform us before doing so.
This time around, fortunately, they were some 130 nm west of the Lakshadweep. And this is itself another 200 nm from the Kerala coast.
A 2016 listing by the office of the US Judge Advocate General reveals the various excessive claims that the US accuses India of making. Besides the issue of prior notification for entering India’s territorial seas and EEZ, is the issue of straight baselines.
It has made it clear that it objects to India’s claim that the waters of Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar, till the boundary with Sri Lanka, are historic waters formed by straight baselines. The US does not recognise this and conducted FONOPS there in 1993, 1994 and 1999.

What is perhaps more worrisome is the possibility that the US FONOP near Lakshadweep islands relates to prior notification, which as we noted, they have been doing so regularly in the past, or whether they have come up with a new challenge. This could relate to the 2009 Indian decision to declare straight baselines to enclose the entire group of Lakshdweep islands.
Baselines are points at the edge of the land at low tide from which territorial sea, contiguous zone and EEZ are measured outwards to the sea.
UNCLOS allows archipelagic states like Indonesia and the Philippines to draw straight lines between two basepoints of islands that may be spread out, thus entitling them to claim territoriality over waters enclosed, even if they do not fit the 12+24+200 formula.
But as we said, only archipelagic states have this privilege, not continental states like India and China, which may happen to also have island chains.
By drawing straight baselines around the Lakshadweep chain, India is in violation of its commitment to UNCLOS. New Delhi may view its action in declaring the straight baselines as an important security measure, but, as they say, the law is the law.
But even now, we do not know if the US has challenged our straight baselines in the Lakshdweep. While in the case of China, which has done the same thing with the Paracel Islands group, US in 2016 sent in the USS Decatur into the island group where it loitered within the islands, however, ensuring that it did not cross the 12nm limit of any individual island.

he US action in sailing the destroyer John Paul Jones past the Lakshdweep islands has got India’s normally hawkish strategic commentariat in a tizzy. Having advocated marching lockstep with the US to deal with the Chinese encroachments into the “rules-based international order”, they are aghast at Washington questioning their own commitments to some of those rules.
Riaz Haq said…

US Navy Warship Lakshadeep: What it Means for India & China

by Manoj Joshi

Not surprisingly, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a mealy-mouthed statement merely re-stating India’s 1995 declaration at the time of ratifying the UNCLOS.
It does not amount to any change in the law, but merely states that it “does not authorse other states… to carry out military exercises of maneuvers in India’s EEZ or continental shelf”.
As per UNCLOS, a state can claim 12 nautical miles (nm) territorial waters, a 24 nm contiguous zone to these waters where some law and order activity is permitted and another 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone( EEZ) whose seabed and fishery resources it has the exclusive right to exploit.
The value of these categories differ in the case of islands, rocks, and low tide elevations. Islands follow the same 12+24+200 nm formula. Rocks have 12 nm territorial sea and a 24 nm contiguous zone, but no EEZ and low tide elevations generate nothing.
Under UNCLOS, war vessels can transit through another state’s territorial waters in what is called “peaceful passage”, with its weapons radars and system turned off. But in the contiguous zone or the EEZ, which are international waters, there is no restriction on military exercises and maneuvers.
Under domestic law India requires prior notification for all these activities and the Chinese go a step further and demand prior permission for these action

India Wants to Safeguard Lakshadweep
The challenge in Lakshadweep is fraught. The islands lie at a very strategically sensitive part of the country. Ships in great numbers from the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal go to East Asia in sea lanes on either side of the Lakshdweep islands.
To the immediate south of Lakshdweep lies Maldives, which had just some years ago, decided to build a joint observation station with China on its western Makunudhoo island and leased some islands to the Chinese.
By enclosing the islands using straight baselines, India is acting to ensure that foreign navies, especially survey ships, do not loiter in between the islands since those waters are now designated as territorial waters, even if the process is a self-declared one in violation of UNCLOS.
Only the navy of a powerful country like the US would dare to challenge India on that point and what the recent FONOP tells us is that, at the end of the day, what matters in international law is power.
The US today has the ability to conduct such operations around the world and even the second most powerful navy cannot stop them in the western Pacific. We, on the other hand, can chase away a Chinese survey ship from the Andamans, as we did a while ago, but taking on the US on the issue is not an option.
China’s navy is steadily accruing power, in its own region, as well as the Indian Ocean where it is allied to Pakistan. The US example could well provide it with an opportunity to stir up trouble along our coast, on the pretext of challenging our so-called “excessive maritime claims”.

The US today has the ability to conduct such operations around the world and even the second most powerful navy cannot stop them in the western Pacific. We, on the other hand, can chase away a Chinese survey ship from the Andamans, as we did a while ago, but taking on the US on the issue is not an option.
China’s navy is steadily accruing power, in its own region, as well as the Indian Ocean where it is allied to Pakistan. The US example could well provide it with an opportunity to stir up trouble along our coast, on the pretext of challenging our so-called “excessive maritime claims”.
Riaz Haq said…
#Putin's Blank Check to #Pakistan: "I came with a message from my president that tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it" #Lavrov said in closed door meeting with #Pakistani officials in #Islamabad

When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad last week after a gap of nine years, he had delivered an "important" message to the Pakistani leadership. The message was from President Vladimir Putin.

"I came with a message from my president that tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it," Lavrov was quoted by a senior Pakistani official, who attended the closed door meeting between the Russian foreign minister and Pakistani authorities, as saying.

"In other words, the Russian president offered us a blank cheque," said the official, who requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The official revealed that Putin had conveyed to Pakistan through his top diplomat that Moscow would help Islamabad in any manner. "If you're interested in gas pipelines, corridors, defence or any other cooperation, Russia stands ready for it," the official quoted FM Lavrov as saying when asked what he meant by "blank cheque".

Pakistan and Russia are already working on the North-South gas pipeline project. The two sides had entered into the agreement in 2015 to lay a pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The project is estimated to cost $2 billion.

The work on the pipeline could not kick off because of possible American sanctions. The two sides, however, recently agreed to approve a new structure that would pave the way for the start of the work.

Russia is also keen to revive the Pakistan Steel Mills, which it originally built. Similarly, Moscow has interest in hydroelectric projects. Overall, Russia is thought to be willing to make $8 billion investment in different areas.

"It is now up to us to follow up this successful visit," the official said.

When asked the possibility of Pakistan acquiring Russian air defence systems, the official said he could not talk about the specifics but Russia had shown willingness to expand the cooperation with Pakistan.

At the joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart, the Russian foreign minister had said Moscow was ready to supply Pakistan with "special military equipment" to enhance its anti-terrorists potential. He, however, did not provide further details.

Relations between Pakistan and Russia have undergone transformation in recent years thanks to the new alignments and strategic realities.

The rapprochement between the former Cold War rivals began in 2011 when Pakistan's relationship with the US hit the rock bottom. At that time, a decision was taken to bring a strategic shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. The shift envisaged reaching out to Russia as part of Pakistan’s efforts to diversify its foreign policy options.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's FM Jaishankar’s slip of tongue, #Lavrov’s #Pakistan trip — why all’s not well with India-#Russia. Describing the time-tested and very cordial nature of the relationship, Jaishankar said “India-US,” instead of “India-Russia.” via @ThePrintIndia

More seriously, though, Lavrov’s visit has been interesting for a number of reasons, not least because his visit to Pakistan from Delhi has been construed as terrible Russia policy. In an interview with this reporter, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close aide and confidante Vyacheslav Nikonov emphasised that New Delhi need not take the Pakistan trip too seriously, because Pakistan hardly figured on Russia’s foreign policy agenda.

But Nikonov also admitted that Lavrov’s visit was “a signal” to New Delhi about the changing world order. That if Delhi wanted to expand its own repertoire of friendships, notably with the US – which had outright refused to downgrade its own ties with Pakistan – then it could not expect Moscow’s total fidelity in this regard.

That’s why Jaishankar’s slip of tongue is important – it signifies not just the shrunken measure of the India-Russia relationship, it is a tell-tale sign that the “time-tested” relationship is getting misshapen because both sides simply don’t care enough about the sensitivities of the other.

First of all, the trip to Pakistan. There was simply no need for Lavrov to travel to Islamabad at a time when India has clawed its way back into the Afghan great game, which both Pakistan and its patron, China, have successfully prevented all these years.

Lavrov was probably influenced by his own joint secretary equivalent in charge of South Asia, Zamir Kabulov. Now Kabulov used to be Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan a decade or so ago and left no stone unturned in pushing the point that Russia must maintain close ties with Pakistan, because of the leverage it has over the Taliban – keeping especially in mind Russia’s own significant Muslim population.

This is the same US argument – and, presumably, a Chinese one. Which is that it is essential to maintain close links with those who have influence, or leverage, in this case Pakistan. Russia is following the same maxim.

Second, Lavrov was unable to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi because the latter was campaigning in West Bengal – although John Kerry, the US presidential envoy, did manage a meeting the following day. So what prevented Lavrov from coming in one day later, or staying on, like Kerry did?

Considering protocol is more than half the time spent by foreign office diplomats, either the Russians messed up by not insisting on a Lavrov-Modi meeting, or the Indians just shrugged their shoulders and didn’t persuade Modi’s schedule-keepers to try and find a slot for Lavrov – or, probably both.

Third, the perception that India is moving into the US camp is increasingly gaining ground. In addition to all of the above, Modi had quite an encounter with the visiting US defence secretary Lloyd Austin. Then there is the more recent illegal navigation by the US Seventh Fleet guided missile destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones through India (and Maldives) exclusive economic zone because – well, the waters were in its path – without so much as informing the Indian authorities.

The Americans argue that they do not abide by the UN Convention on Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and therefore found no need to inform India about its freedom of navigation operations. The MEA issued a statement of concern.

Riaz Haq said…
UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba in #WashingtonDC: #UAE played part in #India-#Pakistan cease-fire. Union of 7 sheikhdoms on #Arabian Peninsula home to #AbuDhabi and #Dubai has a large expatriate workforce of Indians & Pakistanis. #Kashmir #Modi #ImranKhan

“At least we want to get it (India-Pakistan ties) to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other, where there’s lines of communication,” al-Otaiba said. “That’s our goal.”

Speaking in a video released Wednesday by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, al-Otaiba acknowledged an Emirati role “in bringing the Kashmir escalation down” between the two nuclear-armed nations.

“We try to be helpful where we have influence with two different countries,” al-Otaiba told H.R. McMaster, a former national security adviser to Trump. “India and Pakistan was the most recent one.”

In February, India and Pakistan agreed to adhere to a 2003 accord over the heavily militarized Himalayan region that had been largely ignored since its signing. Troops regularly exchanged artillery, rocket and small-arms fire across the so-called Line of Control, killing hundreds including civilians.

Kashmir has been divided but claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after the two countries’ creation in 1947. They have fought three wars against each other, two directly dealing with the disputed region. India in 2019 stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and took direct control over it, sparking unrest.

The sudden cease-fire in February came as a surprise, especially given Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist agenda and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s own comments about India.

The two sides had reached the brink of war in 2019 after what India called a preemptive strike against militants blamed for a suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a MiG-21 fighter jet and capturing its pilot, whom they later released.

That the UAE could be a trusted interlocutor isn’t surprising. The federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai has a large expatriate workforce of Indians and Pakistanis across both blue-collar and white-collar jobs. Emirati sheikhs maintain close relations to both countries because of it.

In Pakistan, a security official told The Associated Press the UAE did play a role in brokering the cease-fire. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, declined to say where these meetings took place.

An Indian security official told the AP the two countries had decided to keep the talks “secret and low key.” But he described the UAE’s role as providing “nothing but the venue” in Dubai. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters.

The UAE, which hosts 3,500 American troops and the U.S. Navy’s busiest foreign port of call, remains a close partner in the region, having sent troops at one point to Afghanistan. The UAE has tried to trade on its efforts to host peace talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as its recognition of Israel, to bolster those ties. It hopes to purchase advanced F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. as part of a $23 billion sale.

Riaz Haq said…
I Got A Front-Row Seat To The Decline Of My (#Indian) #Democracy. Hoped that #Modi would bring prosperity, but instead, India’s democracy has crumbled. Ham-fisted decisions like banning most banknotes destroyed India’s cash-based #economy via @PranavDixit

I was in a cavernous college auditorium on the frigid winter afternoon in New Delhi in 2015 when Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, was selling the promise of India, his home country and the company’s largest market, to 2,000 high school and college students.

“Part of the reason we’re all very interested in India is that it’s an amazingly young country,” he said. “It’s a vast country, and in so many ways, we do think the trends of the future will come from places like that.”

Over the next few years, American tech companies hungry for growth set their sights on India, where hundreds of millions of people were coming online for the first time thanks to cheap Android phones and crashing data prices. Venture capital coursed through Bangalore’s clogged streets. Millions of Indians were suddenly booking their first Uber rides, receiving their first Amazon packages, watching their first Netflix shows, and having their first WhatsApp chats, some of it powered by the free Wi-Fi that Google was blanketing the country’s railway stations with. A great churning was upon us.

My colleague Mat Honan described those years as a “manifestation of the hope and excitement of the next billion not only coming online, but coming into power,” when he profiled Pichai in 2016. “It feels like a nation on the make.”

Tech made us and unmade us. Before Facebook let misinformation thrive, before Twitter let the trolls run wild, and before WhatsApp got Indians lynched, tech companies unshackled us and promised a billion people a seat at the same table the rest of the world was at — as long as they had an inexpensive data plan.

But at the same time, a different kind of churning was underway. In 2014, a year before Pichai flew down to India, millions of Indians had voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a right-wing politician with deep roots in the RSS, a Hindu nationalist organization that his Bharatiya Janata Party draws its ideology from. Many people had hoped that Modi would usher in economic prosperity, but instead, India’s democracy has crumbled. Ham-fisted decisions like banning most banknotes destroyed India’s cash-based economy, while crimes against minorities shot up. Journalists were harassed, jailed, and shot; human rights activists languished in jail for years without trials; communal clashes erupted in the capital; millions spoke out against a contentious new citizenship law that fast-tracks Indian citizenship for members of major South Asian religions except Islam; and for months, farmers have protested new agricultural laws that they said would hurt their businesses.

Tech made us and unmade us.
For years, I let these incidents play out in the background of my consciousness. I grimaced as I scrolled through my Twitter feed full of bloodshed and violence and anger each week, and drowned weekends in alcohol and video games to numb the pain. But each Monday, I threw myself back into tech news, trying to keep up with Silicon Valley, a world away from India’s dust and grime and blood and murky politics. To friends in the country who write about crime and politics from the frontlines, I sent WhatsApp texts of admiration and solidarity. But I told myself that I didn’t need to get mixed up. I was a tech reporter, I reasoned, and the biggest news in my industry each September was new iPhones.

Separating what I cover from the horrors unfolding around me became my coping mechanism. But unfortunately, it hasn’t worked for a while. For years, I tried to live in the comforting fiction that what was happening in India and what was happening in the world of tech were separate things — but that isn't true anymore.

Riaz Haq said…
Global Trends 2040 "A More Contested World": Why #US #Spy Agencies Say the Future Is Bleak as Competition with #China Ratchets up in the Next 20 years. #Climatechange, #technology, #pandemics and #financial crises will pose big challenges for the world.

The world envisioned in the 144-page report, ominously subtitled “A More Contested World,” is rent by a changing climate, aging populations, disease, financial crises and technologies that divide more than they unite, all straining societies and generating “shocks that could be catastrophic.” The gap between the challenges and the institutions meant to deal with them continues to grow, so that “politics within states are likely to grow more volatile and contentious, and no region, ideology, or governance system seems immune or to have the answers.” At the international level, it will be a world increasingly “shaped by China’s challenge to the United States and Western-led international system,” with a greater risk of conflict.

Here’s how agencies charged with watching the world see things:

“Large segments of the global population are becoming wary of institutions and governments that they see as unwilling or unable to address their needs. People are gravitating to familiar and like-minded groups for community and security, including ethnic, religious, and cultural identities as well as groupings around interests and causes, such as environmentalism.”

“At the same time that populations are increasingly empowered and demanding more, governments are coming under greater pressure from new challenges and more limited resources. This widening gap portends more political volatility, erosion of democracy, and expanding roles for alternative providers of governance.”

“Accelerating shifts in military power, demographics, economic growth, environmental conditions, and technology, as well as hardening divisions over governance models, are likely to further ratchet up competition between China and a Western coalition led by the United States.”

“At the state level, the relationships between societies and their governments in every region are likely to face persistent strains and tensions because of a growing mismatch between what publics need and expect and what governments can and will deliver.”

Experts in Washington who have read these reports said they do not recall a gloomier one. In past years, the future situations offered have tilted toward good ones; this year, the headings for how 2040 may look tell a different story: “Competitive Coexistence,” “Separate Silos,” “Tragedy and Mobilization” or “A World Adrift,” in which “the international system is directionless, chaotic, and volatile as international rules and institutions are largely ignored by major powers like China, regional players and non-state actors.”

There is one cheery scenario thrown in, “Renaissance of Democracies,” in which the United States and its allies are leading a world of resurgent democracies, and everybody is getting happier. Its apparent purpose is to show that people could, in principle, turn things around. But nothing in the report suggests it is likely.

The gloom, however, should not come as a surprise. Most of what Global Trends provides are reminders of the dangers we know and the warnings we’ve heard. We know that the world was ill prepared for the coronavirus and that the pandemic was grievously mishandled in most parts of the world, including the United States. We know the Arctic caps are melting at a perilous rate, raising sea levels and threatening dire consequences the world over. We know that for all the grand benefits of the internet, digital technology has also unleashed lies, conspiracies and distrust, fragmenting societies and poisoning political discourse. We know from the past four years what polarized and self-serving rule is like. We know that China is on the rise, and that it is essential to find a manageable balance between containment and cooperation.
Riaz Haq said…
#Tech giants happy to do Narendra #Modi’s bidding in return for access to #Indian market. The Indian leader’s autocratic tendencies do not seem to have posed great ethical difficulties for #Facebook and #Twitter. #Hindutva #Islamophobia | John Naughton

Through his wildly successful promotion of Hindutva ideology, Modi is poised to remake India into a Russian-style ‘managed democracy’ – one retaining all the trappings of democracy while operating as a de facto autocracy.”

Quite like Hungary, in fact. Looking at his record, Modi seems to have been following the playbook of Viktor Orbán, that country’s prime minister, except that Modi has added religious and ethnic dimensions to his programme. But the formula seems pretty similar, based as it is on a thumping electoral majority and weak parliamentary opposition. The formula is to promise economic reform and then, when that falters, suppress opposition, control mainstream – and then social – media and undermine the judicial system. To this Modi has added his own distinctive flourish: radical and sustained use of internet shutdowns to hamper the mobilisation of opposition. And, so far, the strategy seems to be working: last year, Freedom House, an organisation that continually monitors the health of democracies, had judged India to be a “free” society. This year, the country’s rating is “partly free”.

Facebook planned to remove fake accounts in India – until it realized a BJP politician was involved

All of which impales American tech giants, especially Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix, on the horns of an ethical dilemma. For them, India represents a huge market – bigger than China, in a way, because of the firm grip that the Communist party has on the operations of tech companies in its jurisdiction. The Indian market, being less centrally controlled, has enormous potential for growth. But in order to thrive there the companies must reach an accommodation with an authoritarian government that doesn’t brook criticism, never mind opposition.

In February, Modi’s administration announced sweeping new rules to regulate social media firms, streaming services and digital news outlets. Companies will be required to acknowledge takedown requests of unlawful and violent content and misinformation within 24 hours and deliver complete redress within 15 days. In sensitive cases such as those surrounding explicit sexual content, firms will be required to take down the content within 24 hours and will also be required to appoint compliance, contact and resident grievance officers whose names and contact details will be shared with New Delhi to address official concerns. Each will also be required to set up a local office in India, which means they will have employees on the ground who can be arrested and jailed.

For Facebook, with its long history of accommodating tyrants, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. A recently revealed internal memo released by Sophie Zhang, a former employee who was a data scientist on the company’s “site integrity fake engagement” team, reveals how relaxed Facebook was about the activities of supporters of Donald Trump and foreign autocrats from Honduras, Azerbaijan and Ukraine on its platform. Zhang also observed “a lack of desire from senior leadership to protect democratic processes in smaller countries”. So Facebook’s boss and India’s prime minister will doubtless get along fine. After all, they’re both autocrats.

Twitter, for its part, had a brief flirtation with defiance of the ruling regime. But in the end it seems to have bowed to the facts on the ground. At any rate, after it was pulled up by the government for non-compliance, the company blocked 1,398 of 1,435 accounts that had been flagged by the IT ministry for allegedly spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protests that had been enraging the government.
Riaz Haq said…
China is now applying calculated doses of pain to shock Westerners into realizing the old, #American-led order is ending. #Chinese foreign policy chief lectured American diplomats in #Alaska. Then #China sanctioned #British, #Canadian & #EU politicians

Its gaze fixed on the prize of becoming rich and strong, China has spent the past 40 years as a risk-averse bully. Quick to inflict pain on smaller powers, it has been more cautious around any country capable of punching back. Recently, however, China’s risk calculations have seemed to change. First Yang Jiechi, the Communist Party’s foreign-policy chief, lectured American diplomats at a bilateral meeting in Alaska, pointing out the failings of American democracy. That earned him hero status back home. Then China imposed sanctions on British, Canadian and European Union politicians, diplomats, academics, lawyers and democracy campaigners. Those sweeping curbs were in retaliation for narrower Western sanctions targeting officials accused of repressing Muslims in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

China’s foreign ministry declares that horrors such as the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and the Holocaust, as well as the deaths of so many Americans and Europeans from covid-19, should make Western governments ashamed to question China’s record on human rights. Most recently Chinese diplomats and propagandists have denounced as “lies and disinformation” reports that coerced labour is used to pick or process cotton in Xinjiang. They have praised fellow citizens for boycotting foreign brands that decline to use cotton from that region. Still others have sought to prove their zeal by hurling Maoist-era abuse. A Chinese consul-general tweeted that Canada’s prime minister was “a running dog of the us”.

Such performance-nationalism is watched by Western diplomats in Beijing with dismay. Envoys have been summoned for late-night scoldings by Chinese officials, to be informed that this is not the China of 120 years ago when foreign armies and gunboats forced the country’s last, tottering imperial dynasty to open the country wider to outsiders. Some diplomats talk of living through a turning-point in Chinese foreign policy. History buffs debate whether the moment more closely resembles the rise of an angry, revisionist Japan in the 1930s, or that of Germany when steely ambition led it to war in 1914. A veteran diplomat bleakly suggests that China’s rulers view the West as ill-disciplined, weak and venal, and are seeking to bring it to heel, like a dog.

In Washington and other capitals it is not hard to hear voices suggesting that China is making rash, clumsy mistakes. Surely China sees that it is souring public opinion across the West, they murmur. There is puzzlement about how China now views its recent draft accord with the European Union, the Comprehensive Investment Agreement, which it had appeared so eager to conclude. That pact’s ratification by the European Parliament is now on ice, and possibly entombed in permafrost, as a result of China’s sanctions on several Euro-legislators.
Riaz Haq said…
Asked about a “thaw” in India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa’s remarks that India and Pakistan should “bury the past”, (Shiv Shankar) Menon called it “a fishing expedition”. He said Islamabad is motivated to know how much pressure India is under after what happened on the border with China.

The India-China relationship will be marked by “hard times” over the next five to 10 years, former national security advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon said Tuesday as he discussed his new book during an online event hosted by Harvard Kennedy School.

India now faces a China that is “in a hurry” to seize a moment of opportunity outlined in its global ambitions, Menon said during the event. “Xi Jinping sees China as central to Asia.”

However, he said India-China tensions won’t be permanent. “The fact is China is part of our neighborhood and on our periphery… it is never going to be a purely competitive adversarial relationship and it also never was a purely cooperative one. It swings between these two,” he explained.

India and China have been working to ease tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since the Galwan border clash in June 2020. Last week, both sides held the 11th round of corp commander meeting at the Chushul-Mondo border.

Asked about a “thaw” in India-Pakistan relations and Pakistan Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa’s remarks that India and Pakistan should “bury the past”, Menon called it “a fishing expedition”. He said Islamabad is motivated to know how much pressure India is under after what happened on the border with China.

Asked about the formation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, Menon observed that it has evolved beyond just a security dialogue. “As long as it was a security dialogue, it had a limited purpose. It ran the risk of when any one of the members pulled out or saw those security issues differently, the Quad itself would collapse. That’s what happened to it in 2008,” he said.

Initiated in 2007, the Quad is a strategic and security framework under the Indo-Pacific construct between the US, Japan, Australia and India. The Quad countries held their first summit-level meeting virtually on 12 March.

“Quad is not a closed shop. It can’t deal with the Indo-Pacific unless it involves other people in the Indo-Pacific,” said Menon. This does not mean the Quad must admit new members, but rather find new partners to work with, he added. The group should also be a “catalyst” for economically integrating Europe into the Southeast Asia region, he said.

On FONOP row
Commenting on the US Navy’s Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in India’s exclusive economic zone last week, which caused a row in India, Menon remarked: “We’ve just had a reminder that we [India and US] have slightly different interpretations of freedom and navigation and the law of the sea.”

He said there are other ways to enhance maritime security, adding: “I’m not sure that FONOPs is the way to go.”

High expectations for India-US relationship
Observing that the India-US relations are at an all-time peak, Menon said expectations are now high for the two countries. They must find “new directions” in this relationship given that the world is changing considerably, he said.

India and the US can do more on the bilateral front in terms of students and education, agriculture, technology and such areas that affect the lives of ordinary people, he said.

Asked about the role of “internal cohesion” in the US and India, Menon said democracy is “still a work in progress” in India. “The social contract, the fundamental political contract itself, is in the process of being renegotiated [in India],” he said.

Riaz Haq said…
Elliot Ackerman & James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War

On March 12, 2034, US Navy Commodore Sarah Hunt is on the bridge of her flagship, the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, conducting a routine freedom of navigation patrol in the South China Sea when her ship detects an unflagged trawler in clear distress, smoke billowing from its bridge. On that same day, US Marine aviator Major Chris “Wedge” Mitchell is flying an F35E Lightning over the Strait of Hormuz, testing a new stealth technology as he flirts with Iranian airspace. By the end of that day, Wedge will be an Iranian prisoner, and Sarah Hunt’s destroyer will lie at the bottom of the sea, sunk by the Chinese Navy. Iran and China have clearly coordinated their moves, which involve the use of powerful new forms of cyber weaponry that render US ships and planes defenseless. In a single day, America’s faith in its military’s strategic pre-eminence is in tatters. A new, terrifying era is at hand.

So begins a disturbingly plausible work of speculative fiction, co-authored by an award-winning novelist and decorated Marine veteran and the former commander of NATO, a legendary admiral who has spent much of his career strategically outmaneuvering America’s most tenacious adversaries. Written with a powerful blend of geopolitical sophistication and human empathy, 2034 takes us inside the minds of a global cast of characters—Americans, Chinese, Iranians, Russians, Indians—as a series of arrogant miscalculations on all sides leads the world into an intensifying international storm. In the end, China and the United States will have paid a staggering cost, one that forever alters the global balance of power.

Everything in 2034 is an imaginative extrapolation from present-day facts on the ground combined with the authors’ years working at the highest and most classified levels of national security. Sometimes it takes a brilliant work of fiction to illuminate the most dire of warnings: 2034 is all too close at hand, and this cautionary tale presents the reader a dark yet possible future that we must do all we can to avoid.
Riaz Haq said…
2034: A Novel of the Next World War
What a US nuclear war with China would look like

World Socialist Website

2034 is co-written by a man who would be a leading architect of such a war. Stavridis was one of the Pentagon’s most prominent political commanders, having been vetted as a potential running mate by the Clinton campaign and a possible secretary of state by President-elect Donald Trump in the fall of 2016.


Finally, the military dynamics are themselves totally unrealistic. The central assumption of the book is that there exists such a thing as a “tactical” nuclear war. Military actions are calmly and rationally discussed and deliberated.

Even so, it is only through an absurd and unbelievable plot twist that a strategic nuclear exchange is avoided. In a ridiculous deus ex machina, India attacks both Chinese and US vessels, bringing about an end to the war.

There is no such thing as a “tactical” nuclear world war. There has never been a full-scale war between two countries armed with nuclear weapons. More importantly, there has never been a full-scale war between “great powers” armed with 21st century technology.

The range, cheapness, and speed of offensive weapons, including drones and high-speed missiles, will mean that a third world war will be conducted everywhere at once, at dizzying speed and complexity. The logic of these phenomena—the complexity of global relations and domestic opposition, the expansion of the battlefield to the entire globe, the delegation of warfare to artificial intelligence—makes nuclear war impossible to control and limit to the “tit-for-tat” military exchanges depicted in the book.

A normal person, that is, one for whom moral derangement is not a professional requirement, would read Stavridis’ book with horror and do everything to avoid the massive level of death it depicts. But the fact is that, for its intended audience within the Beltway and the Pentagon, the tactical nuclear exchanges depicted in the book, constitute, in the words of Dr. Strangelove’s Gen. Buck Turgidson, “getting our hair mussed”—an entirely acceptable consequence of the use of nuclear weapons.

Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Dr. Strangelove, Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe, and, more obliquely, John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (all released in 1964) were scathing critiques of the military and of nuclear war. No such critical works are being written and produced today, and ground has been ceded to Stavridis’ sanitized depiction of nuclear war from the standpoint of a practitioner.

2034 is a wake-up call. The US military is actively planning and discussing a nuclear war, based on the false claim that such wars can be managed and contained. No, they cannot. Nuclear war threatens the annihilation of humanity. These well-advanced war plans must be opposed and stopped before it is too late.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi’s #BJP party loses #WestBengalElections2021 by a wide margin amid #COVID19 #pandemic; #India sees 3,689 deaths , a new record in 24 hours. There were 390,000 new infections in 24 hour period. #CoronavirusPandemic #ModiResign #MamataBanerjee

The holding of elections over the past month even as the number of new cases mushroomed has drawn scrutiny in India. The Madras High Court even went as far as to slam the country’s Election Commission for not stopping political rallies that were flouting coronavirus protocols. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee called the organization “singularly responsible” for the new surge in cases.

During the past month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held several massive campaign rallies attended by tens of thousands of people in the eastern state of West Bengal where his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or the BJP, was in a close race with an opposition party led by a woman. Modi and his powerful deputy, Amit Shah, addressed more than 50 rallies in Bengal, according to NDTV.

By evening, it was clear Modi’s party had lost the bitterly fought election battle. The BJP was on track to lose in two other south Indian states where they weren’t in the reckoning. The party is set to retain power in the state of Assam.

Modi has been panned by critics for sending the wrong message by holding rallies at a time when India was on its way to becoming the worst-affected country in the world by the pandemic, but losses in these elections may signify only a limited test of the impact of the unfolding crisis on his support.

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal, known for her streetfighter reputation, asked her supporters to remain at home. “Covid is my first priority,” Bannerjee said in her victory speech. The state capital, Kolkata, has in recent days seen a climbing positivity rate with every second person being tested for the coronavirus turning out to be positive.
Riaz Haq said…
Bruce Reidel: #Biden"has not spoken with Pakistani PM Imran Khan. Khan is the elected leader of 6th most populous country in the world with growing nuclear weapons arsenal... Blinken has been to New Delhi but not to Islamabad" #Pakistan #Afghanistan #India

The Biden administration has taken a curious lack of interest in Pakistan. Routine contacts with the army, diplomats, and spies have continued but President Biden has ignored the country. He has not spoken with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Khan is the elected leader of the sixth most populous country in the world with a growing nuclear weapons arsenal. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been to New Delhi but not to Islamabad. The fiasco in Kabul should be a wake-up call to get involved.


The Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani army patrons are back in Kabul before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Pakistan’s army Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has backed the Taliban since the group’s origin in the mid-1990s. Under intense pressure in September 2001, the ISI briefly removed its experts and assistance, creating the same panic and flight to the Taliban that the U.S. withdrawal just did to the Afghan army. But the ISI quickly renewed its support and that aid continues today. The Taliban/ISI victory in Afghanistan will have significant consequences for Pakistan, some of which may be dangerous and violent.

Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, was trained by the ISI during the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. When he was wounded, he got medical attention in a Pakistani hospital. After the Soviets retreated out of Afghanistan, he was one of many warlords fighting for control of the country. As he created the Taliban, the Pakistani army gave him support for the drive on Kabul in 1996 that gave the Taliban control of most of the country. Pakistan provided experts and advisers for the Taliban military, oil for its economy and was their supply route to the outside world.

After the American invasion of Afghanistan, Omar went into exile in Pakistan along with most of his lieutenants. With the ISI’s help, they rebuilt the infrastructure in the borderlands and gradually stepped up attacks on the NATO and Afghan forces. Pakistani aid went far beyond sanctuary and safe haven for the leadership and cadres and their families — it included training, arms, experts, and help in fundraising, especially in the Gulf states. On occasion, Pakistani advisers accompanied the Taliban on missions inside Afghanistan. The ISI is particularly close to the Haqqani network in the Taliban. Omar most likely died in Karachi; his death was not announced for months.

It is fair to assume that the ISI helped the Taliban plan its blitzkrieg this summer. The Taliban’s seizing of the north reflected memories of its enemies using bases there in the late 1990s to resist the Taliban and the CIA using those facilities to bring down the Taliban in 2001. The plan also prioritized seizing border crossings, especially in the west, which kept Iran from providing aid to its Shiite Hazara allies in Afghanistan.


Islamist parties in Pakistan have celebrated the victory in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly the ISI is hailing the fall of Kabul as their humbling of a second superpower, but it is savvy enough to do its gloating in private.

Riaz Haq said…
"While the Bidens of this world still talk about Gandhi, India’s role models have changed. ..(Anti-#Muslim) #Genocide is now openly demanded at public rallies. The “need” for ethnic cleansing can pop up in casual conversations" #India #Modi #Hindutva

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.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistanis have never elected #Fascist leaders like #Modi and #YogiAdityanath. Religious parties in #Pakistan get very few votes and even fewer seats in federal and provincial #legislatures.
Riaz Haq said…
Pieter Friedrich

The Nazi-inspired #RSS paramilitary has been implicated in lynchings, assassinations, TERRORIST BOMBINGS, and over a dozen large-scale pogroms targeting minorities.

(Mumbai High Court Justice Kolse Patil's video attached)
Riaz Haq said…
It Is No Longer ‘Incredible India’ But ‘Intolerant India’.
#Modi's #Hindutva activists are seeking to enforce rigid codes of normative #Hindu culture and #Islamophobia by forcing the withdrawal of progressive advertisements. #India @Diplomat_APAC

The BJP’s troll army soon took to Twitter, with #BanFabIndia trending and some even demanding that models in advertisements should have “Hindu appropriate dressing” with women sporting a bindi, a traditional dot on the forehead of Indian women. A right-wing influencer lashed out at the “secularization” of Hindu festivals, tweeting #NoBindiNoBusiness and calling for a boycott of brands that did not comply with the sentiments of Hindu culture. Consequently, Fab India not only withdrew its promo advertisement but tried to mollify the right-wing by stating that its soon-to-be launched Diwali campaign was titled an innocuous “Jhilmil Si Diwali” (Sparkling Diwali).

While the targeting of the skin bleach advertisement is an attempt to enforce rigid codes of normative Hindu culture with a homophobic worldview, the Fab India advertisement controversy is an attempt to entrench Islamophobia in the masses. The saffron brigade and its votaries, namely the BJP politicians, assign themselves the role of custodians of Indian culture. In their myopic view, recognition of the LGBTQ community and its rights is anathema and they are highly intolerant of introduction of any progressive ideas into Hindu festivals and traditions. Highlighting India’s cultural and religious diversity, especially Hindu-Muslim brotherhood, angers the right wing.

Significantly, the increasing attacks on advertisements have coincided with the mainstreaming of hate politics championed by the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Islamophobia in India has escalated to ridiculous heights. Linguists point out that the language Urdu is not the sole preserve of Muslims in the country, but Urdu words are widely used in everyday speech and literary texts of Hindustani language.

Incidentally, these were not the only advertisements that were targeted by the Hindutva brigade this festive season. CEAT Tyres was viciously trolled and faced an onslaught of online abuse after its Diwali advertisement featured Bollywood actor Aamir Khan advising children not to burst firecrackers on the streets but within the apartment complex.

BJP Member of Parliament Ananth Kumar Hegde, who habitually spews communal venom, wrote to the CEO of CEAT Tyres accusing the company of “creating unrest among Hindus.” In his letter which he made public on Facebook, Hegde also attacked the actor Khan, who is a Muslim. “Nowadays, a group of anti-Hindu actors always hurt the Hindu sentiments whereas they never try to expose the wrong doings of their community.”

In a long rant, Hegde lashed out at Muslims in general for offering namaaz (prayers) on the roads, which he said was public property. He described the Azaan, the muezzin’s call to prayer, as noise pollution. He issued a dire warning to the CEAT Tyres company to “not hurt Hindu sentiments” in future.

Hindutva leaders are now turning Hindu festivals into a weapon against Muslims, says Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi University. The backlash against these recent advertisements is certainly an indicator of this trend.
Riaz Haq said…
#Biden & #Blinken hypocrisy: Both attack #China but ignore #UCIRF recommendation to put #India on religious freedom violation list "systematic, ongoing and egregious" violations of religious freedom — for 2nd consecutive year. #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia

The State Department has bypassed a recommendation from an independent government commission to name India to its "red list" of countries engaged in "systematic, ongoing and egregious" violations of religious freedom — for the second consecutive year.

Why it matters: The omission is the latest example of leniency applied to India by the administration and U.S. lawmakers. Strengthening ties with the world's largest democracy has featured prominently in both the Trump and Biden administrations' strategy for countering China.

Officials in New Delhi now regard China as their biggest security threat, aligning with U.S. concerns about Beijing's intent around the world.
Former President Trump had no qualms about embracing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who was once banned from entering the U.S. over "severe violations of religious freedom" during his time as governor of the state of Gujarat.
For President Biden, who's pledged to place human rights at the "center" of his foreign policy, the issue is far more delicate.
Driving the news: Nadine Maenza, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told Axios the Biden administration "missed an opportunity" to publicly pressure India by naming it as a "country of concern."

"We're disappointed that they're not looking at the conditions on the ground and how they're deteriorating," she said.
Since Modi's election in 2014, India has experienced democratic backsliding and frequent outbreaks of anti-Muslim mob violence.
Critics say Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party has turned a blind eye to discrimination and imposed laws designed to marginalize Muslims.
Between the lines: The Biden administration appears to have made the judgment it would be more productive to address India's worsening human rights conditions in private, unless a more dramatic threshold is crossed.

"With China's belligerent rise — and India's willingness to work with the U.S. and other partners — the Biden administration will not want to put the relationship at risk over the current level of concern in these areas," says Richard Rossow, a U.S.-India expert at CSIS.
In the meantime, Biden has pressed ahead by hosting Modi at the White House and forging new ties through the Quad, a strategic dialogue between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia that Beijing views as hostile.
Biden also reportedly plans to invite India to his "Summit for Democracy" next month.
The big picture: This is not exclusive to India. U.S. administrations have long been more critical of human rights abuses in adversarial countries like Iran, for example, than in friendly ones like Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Zoom out: The next test of Modi's free pass will be whether India is sanctioned for acquiring Russia's S-400 air defense system. That move is required under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Turkey was sanctioned in 2020 for the same purchase, but unlike India, Turkey is a NATO ally. Its use of Russian military equipment could lead to U.S. security concerns, since the Russians could gain insight into U.S. defense capabilities.
"I think CAATSA sanctions would be simply disastrous for the transformation of the [U.S.-India] relationship," Ashley Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Axios.

Riaz Haq said…
#Biden's #democracy summit casts a wide, inclusive net. Countries undermining democratic institutions (#Poland, the #Philippines, #India) are invited due to geostrategic considerations in decision process. #Modi #hindutvastateterror #Islamophobia #Pakistan

The Summit for Democracy promised by President Biden during his campaign is now scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10. Deciding which countries to attend this virtual event has always been a challenge and the Biden administration has seemingly made a decision to err on the side of inclusiveness.

Several countries that have been undermining democratic institutions in recent years (Poland, the Philippines, India) have found themselves on the invitation list. Some speculate that geostrategic considerations overtook democratic standards in the decision process. These nations play a role in countering Russian and Chinese efforts to expand their influence.

It strikes me, however, that inclusiveness is the right approach to take in compiling this guest list. Democratization is a process that evolves over time, often with significant setbacks. There is truth in the old saying that democracy is a journey, not a destination

The yardstick for democracy is somewhat different from the yardstick for human rights. Sadly, as we have seen in our own country, abuses of human and civil rights can occur in a functioning democracy. The correctives are political debate, a free press and strong legal institutions that hold violators accountable.

For example, 55 out of the 57 member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) consider the death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of human rights. In 2014, I attended the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting conference in Warsaw, Poland. As the leader of the U.S. delegation, I had to address this issue. I made my personal opposition known. Nonetheless, I couldn’t say that the United States was no longer a democracy because many states had yet to abolish the death penalty. That is hopefully a work in progress.

Democracy isn’t easily defined, yet there are minimal standards: Periodic free and fair elections, a free press, an independent judiciary, protected speech, the right to assemble and freedom of religion (and ideally a separation of church and state). There is a surfeit of evidence that governments that are accountable to the people are enduring and more effective. That evidence is compiled very nicely in the book “Why Nations Fail: The origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty,” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.

So why is now the right moment in history to revive the democratic spirit globally? Clearly, the democratic movement has waned in the past decade. I would argue that it is vital that the United States, once called a “shining city on a hill,” offer a corrective to the past four years of an administration that disrespected democratic institutions. The Trump administration gave a green light to authoritarian rulers to undermine a free press, treat parliamentary bodies with disrespect, flout the law and challenge free and fair elections. Viktor Orban of Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are just two of the more conspicuous followers of Trump’s anti-democratic playbook.

Some will argue that the United States has even lost its right to host a summit on democracy. I disagree. U.S. institutions held together despite Trump’s antics. We are struggling with a polarized society as are many democracies, but we never pretended to be perfect. That is why we are even more credible as we battle disinformation, attacks on democratic institutions and efforts to suppress the vote. Sometimes it is easier to make the case for democracy when our own vulnerabilities are glaringly obvious. Self-criticism is a disarming tactic.
Riaz Haq said…
In #India, calls for #Muslim #genocide grow louder. #Modi’s silence is an endorsement. Is this the type of “democracy” #Biden and other allies are championing? #Islamophobia #Hindutva #BJP #MuslimLivesMatter @RanaAyyub

“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread. When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out ‘stop!’"

These lines, written by the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, came to me as I heard the horrifying speeches delivered by Hindu nationalists during a religious conference this month, when leaders issued direct calls for genocide against Muslims.

“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a militant organization, at a conference in the city of Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi. “Be ready to kill and go to jail.”

At the same event, another Hindu seer invoked the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as a model for what can be done to drive Muslims away, a monstrous event that has been covered in the media.

The Dharma Sansad (Hindu convention) was attended by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party. Videos of the packed event have been circulating on social media. Attendees made pledges to turn India into a Hindu nation. Unsurprisingly, the calls for violence and extermination have been met with silence by Modi and others — a silence that translates as an endorsement.

Inciting violence is a crime in India, but Pandey and the other speakers remain free. The police are supposed to be investigating but have been very slow to act — since they know full well these leaders have the protection of the ruling political class.

In fact, these Hindu leaders have now been emboldened to form a paramilitary force of monks who they claim will lead an armed fight against the 220 million Muslim population in India.

Days after the conference, Tejaswi Surya, Modi’s handpicked youth leader and a BJP member of parliament, called for bringing Indian Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism, “the mother religion.” He then tried to walk back his comments.

What is happening in India, where calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing are a centerpiece of our political debates? Where the Hindu nationalist who assassinated Mohandas K. Gandhi, a global symbol of nonviolent resistance, is glorified by national leaders.

What is happening in India, where the majority Hindu community fails to repudiate acts of terror unleashed in its name? Where Muslims are lynched on the streets, where Christmas celebrations are attacked, where the government has blocked the charity of human rights icon and Nobel laureate Mother Teresa from receiving international donations.

What is happening in India, where Suresh Chavhanke, the influential owner of a right-wing nationalist news channel, calls for people to “fight, die and kill if required” to make India a “Hindu nation” at an event on Dec. 19 in the national capital as the cameras rolled and the police looked on.

What is happening in India, where law enforcement is more likely to investigate journalists over tweets and the sons of critical public figures over alleged marijuana possession, than go after fanatics calling for mass murder?

What is happening in India, where the captain of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli, loses his position for defending a Muslim colleague who was targeted for his faith?

The answer is as loud and clear as the hate spewed at those events, as the mobs that have been given a free pass to attack minorities.

Riaz Haq said…
Online ‘Auction’ Is Latest Attack on #Indian #Muslim Women. #India's cyberspace is rife with #misogyny and #Islamophobia. But the two “auctions” have amplified concern about the organized nature of the virtual bullying. #BJP #Hindutva #Bullibai #SulliDeals

The fake site, the second in months, is a sign of the organized nature of virtual bullying, with threats of sexualized violence aimed at silencing the outspoken.

Hiba Bég, a graduate student in the United States, was visiting the grave of her grandmother in New Delhi over the weekend when she learned that she was “for sale” to the highest bidder online — for a second time in less than a year.

Her screen filled with dozens of calls and messages from friends, all sharing the same screenshot of the profile created of her on the app, a fake auction site called “Bulli Bai.” Ms. Bég, a former journalist with an active online presence, wasn’t alone. More than 100 other prominent Indian Muslim women, including artists, journalists, activists and lawyers, found that online images of themselves were being used without permission on the app, which went up on Saturday and was taken down again within about 24 hours.

In June a similar app, called “Sulli Deals,” appeared. (Both terms are derogatory slang for Muslim women.) That one remained up for weeks and was taken down only after complaints from victims. Though the police opened an investigation, no one has been charged in that case.


Karti Chidambaram, a member of India’s Parliament and a leader of the opposition Congress party, wrote on Twitter that he was appalled that those responsible apparently felt emboldened because of the government’s lack of action on the previous auction.

“It is unacceptable that this project of dangerous anti-Muslim misogyny is back,” he said.

On Monday, the police in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said they had opened an investigation and filed a criminal complaint against several Twitter handles and developers of the app, based on the complaint of a Muslim woman.

But many complaints said the lack of progress on the previous investigations had inspired little confidence.

For years, Ms. Bég has been a vocal critic of India’s governing Hindu nationalists and their anti-minority policies under Mr. Modi. She has faced intense internet trolling, including death threats, on Twitter.

Over the years, as the pressure has intensified, she said, she started self-censoring, avoiding critical posts on the policies of the Hindu nationalists.

She said she had been worried about the rising intolerance, but the latest episode showcased how the online machinery was being used to make vocal Muslim women withdraw from public life, essentially eliminating any counternarrative.

Hasiba Amin, a social media coordinator of the opposition Congress party, who was also featured on the auction app, says the fact that the violence and death threats against minorities online have recently gone beyond virtual is what keeps her awake.

“What guarantees do we have from the government that tomorrow the threats and intimidation online is not going to turn into the real-time sexual violence on the streets?” she asked.
Riaz Haq said…
US Cites #Indian PM Narendra Modi's Immunity After #Gujarat2000 killing of #Muslims To Defend Protection To #Saudi Crown Prince #MBS. #Modi was banned from entering #US during 2005-14 over his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim #Pogrom. #Khashogi

"It is a longstanding and consistent line of effort. It has been applied to a number of heads of state previously. Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993, President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001, Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014, and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers," said Patel.


The US government has cited the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defend the immunity provided to Saudia Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US intelligence community found that Mohammad bin Salman, often called MBS, ordered the killing of Khashoggi in 2018. However, he not been sanctioned and the US government continues to engage with him and the ruling Saudi family.


The Joe Biden administration on Thursday submitted in response to a lawsuit filed by Khashoggi's fiance Hatice Cengiz that MBS has immunity in the United States as he is a head of a government. MBS was recently appointed the Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. While the decision attracted critcism from Cengiz and human rights advocates, the Biden administration defended the move and cited precedents, involving Modi.

What did US government say?
Modi was sanctioned by the United States during 2005-14 over his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat Riots. The ban wan on his entry into the United States was lifted in 2014 when he became the Prime Minister of India. US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel cited Modi and others to defend the immunity to MBS.

Riaz Haq said…
Immunity to Saudi ruler: India upset at ‘unnecessary’ reference to PM Modi by US official
Bagchi also said reports about the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect

India is upset at a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a US State Department official while defending the immunity it had extended to Saudi Arabian ruler Mohammad bin Sultan, who is facing allegations of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Frankly, I fail to understand how the comment on Prime Minister Modi was either relevant, necessary or contextual,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said responding to questions about a US official referring to Modi while explaining the reasons for granting immunity to the Saudi ruler.

“Our two countries enjoy a very special relationship which is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the US to further deepen it,” he said, referring to the bilateral ties between India and the US.

When asked about giving immunity to the Saudi Crown Prince over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a briefing last Friday that this is not the first time that the US has done this and it has been applied to a number of heads of state previously, including PM Modi, according to reports.

Bagchi also said reports about the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in December were incorrect.

“No proposal for a visit by the Prime Minister to the US in December has been made by our side. Media reports in this regard are incorrect,” Bagchi said.

He also dismissed social media posts about “false comments” attributed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and White House spokesperson with regard to the brief bilateral meeting between Modi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the recent G-20 summit in Bali.

“We have seen some incorrect social media posts which attribute false statements to the External Affairs Minister, who has not made any comment on this to the press or on social media. It also attributes false statements to the White House press secretary. So, I would request you all not to lend credence to such incorrect information,” Bagchi said.

He said the prime minister met Biden on a number of occasions in the course of the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and a trilateral meeting that involved Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“During these interactions, they exchanged views on a number of issues. Our press releases and tweets as well as the foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali encapsulates all these conversations.

“The US side has also issued its readout of the trilateral meeting and also separately indicated that a brief bilateral meeting did take place between the two leaders,” Bagchi said.
Riaz Haq said…
Ashok Swain
Modi’s Home Minister says the mass killing of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat, India in 2002 was done to teach minorities a Lesson! In which world, a ruling regime takes credit for killing 2000 of its own citizens?


"Rioters Taught Lesson In 2002...Permanent Peace In Gujarat": Amit Shah
Parts of Gujarat had witnessed large-scale violence in 2002 following the train burning incident at Godhra railway station in February that year.

Ahmedabad: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said anti-social elements earlier indulged in violence in Gujarat as the Congress supported them, but after the perpetrators were "taught a lesson" in 2002, they stopped such activities and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) established "permanent peace" in the state.
Parts of Gujarat had witnessed large-scale violence in 2002 following the train burning incident at Godhra railway station in February that year.

Addressing a rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district in support of BJP candidates ahead of the next month's Assembly elections, Mr Shah alleged, "During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society." Mr Shah claimed that Gujarat witnessed riots in 2002 because perpetrators became habitual of indulging in violence due to the prolonged support they received from the Congress.

"But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence," the Union minister said.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for abrogating Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Shah alleged that the Congress was against it because of its "vote bank".

Riaz Haq said…
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took India to task on Thursday for calling Pakistan “the epicentre of terrorism”, saying India “demonises the people of Pakistan” to hide its Hindu-supremacist ideas.

The FM’s comments came minutes after his Indian counterpart had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.

In his speech at the Security Council, the Indian minister had said that “India faced the horrors of cross-border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it” and has “fought terrorism resolutely, bravely and with a zero-tolerance approach".

Bilawal hit back at the comments saying “I am the foreign minister of Pakistan and Pakistan’s foreign minister is a victim of terrorism as the son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif when he was chief minister of Punjab, his home minister was assassinated by a terrorist. Political parties, civil society, the average people in Pakistan across the board have been the victims of perpetrators of terrorism.”

“We have lost far more lives to terrorism than India has,” he added questioning why Pakistan would ever want to perpetuate terrorism and make “our own people suffer”.

“Unfortunately, India has been playing in that space […] where it is very easy to say ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ together and get the world to agree and they very skilfully blur this line where people like myself are associated with terrorists rather than those that have been and to this day are fighting terrorism,” he continued.

The FM then went on to say that New Delhi perpetuated this narrative not just against India but also Muslims in that country. “We are terrorists whether we’re Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.”

“Osama bin Laden is dead,” said Bilawal, “but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India”.

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States],” he continued, “these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS [a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation]”.

“The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS [the Nazi Party’s combat branch, Schutzstaffel],” Bilawal added.

The FM went on to point out the irony in the inauguration of Gandhi’s bust at UN headquarters by the Indian FM and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “If the FM of India was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi.”

“They are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hands,” said Bilawal, lamenting that the “Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”.

“For their electoral campaign, Prime Minister Modi’s government has used their authority to pardon the men who perpetuated rape against Muslims in Gujarat. Those terrorists were freed by the prime minister of India,” said Bilawal.

“In order to perpetuate their politics of hate, their transition from a secular India to a Hindu supremacist India, this narrative is very important,” said Bilawal, claiming Pakistan had “proof” that Modi’s government had facilitated a terrorist attack in Pakistan.

The minister was referring to the “irrefutable evidence” Pakistan had of the involvement of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the blast at Johar Town, Lahore last year as three terrorists had been arrested.
Riaz Haq said…

Derek J. Grossman
The US and India are putting pedal to the metal on decoupling from China. Doubt it will work, but I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.


U.S. Pursues India as a Supply-Chain Alternative to China
Biden administration turns to New Delhi as it seeks to steer critical technologies away from Beijing

India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, led New Delhi’s delegation this week in meetings with Mr. Sullivan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other officials.

The meetings underscore a broader U.S. effort to meet challenges from China through alliances with other countries. The Biden administration has given priority to Washington’s relationship with what is known as the Quad—an alliance between India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. that has focused on countering Beijing.

“President Biden really believes that no successful and enduring effort to address any of the major challenges in the world today…is going to be effective without a close U.S.-India partnership at its heart,” a senior administration official said.
Riaz Haq said…
US gives a 'free pass' to India as worry over China rivalry deepens

“India is getting this free pass on account of China," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi who has advised previous Indian administrations on national security issues. “The only country in Asia, in terms of size and potential, that can balance China is India."


The Biden administration has decided to remain publicly quiet on India’s democratic backsliding, according to senior US officials, as the US intensifies efforts to keep New Delhi on its side in the rivalry with China.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pressure on religious minorities and the media is troubling, as is his party’s targeting of opposition lawmakers, said the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. But the decision to largely refrain from criticizing Modi comes as growing concerns about China make India increasingly crucial to US geopolitical and economic goals in the Indo-Pacific.

The decision on handling India is an example of how President Joe Biden’s emphasis on human rights — and his framing of a global conflict between democracies and autocracies — has run up against the strategic realities of a world where rivals such as China and Russia are vying for greater control.

So while New Delhi’s strong defense ties with Russia and its vast purchases of Russian crude have drawn scrutiny from US lawmakers after the invasion of Ukraine, the administration believes it needs India to buy that oil to keep prices low. And rising concerns about China’s growing assertiveness under Xi Jinping have helped drive the US and India even closer together, these people said.

“India is getting this free pass on account of China," said Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi who has advised previous Indian administrations on national security issues. “The only country in Asia, in terms of size and potential, that can balance China is India."

In a sign of the close ties, Biden is set to host Modi for a state dinner in Washington this summer. While Biden might press Modi to take a more explicit stance on Ukraine, one US official said it’s doubtful New Delhi would publicly rebuke Russia, given their close defense ties.

‘Regularly Engage’
Asked whether the administration is reluctant to criticize Modi, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement, “As we do with other nations around the world, we regularly engage with Indian government officials at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief."

US officials also have frequently pointed to India’s shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as Modi’s comments to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not one for war."

India’s foreign ministry declined to comment. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has made no secret of his country’s decision not to pick sides regardless of what others may want, echoing India’s Cold War leadership of what was called the “non-aligned movement."

“Whether it is the United States, Europe, Russia or Japan, we are trying to ensure that all ties, all these ties, advance without seeking exclusivity," Jaishankar said during a visit to the Dominican Republic last month.

As India eclipses China as the world’s most populous country with more than 1.4 billion people, the Biden administration believes it’s impossible to solve pressing global challenges such as climate change without New Delhi, one official said, and the country remains a central part of the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

That’s led to the relative silence on issues that the US would normally speak out about publicly, and loudly.
Riaz Haq said…
US gives a 'free pass' to India as worry over China rivalry deepens

Most recently, India’s government banned a critical documentary about Modi released by the BBC and sent federal tax authorities to raid the British news organization’s Delhi office.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party also won a defamation case against the main political opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, that has seen him kicked out of parliament. Modi’s government has also choked local and international nongovernmental organizations of foreign funding.

Russian Arms
Other Indian moves also run against a greater strategic alignment with Washington: In recent months, India pledged closer defense ties with Russia. Although India has sought to scale back purchases of some Russian weapons, its military has more than 250 Russian-designed fighter jets, seven Russian submarines and hundreds of Russian tanks. It has also received Russian S-400 missile defense systems despite US efforts to keep those purchases from going forward.

“President Biden would be remiss if he doesn’t raise the Russia issue and restate the importance of supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and explain why that is important for the Indo-Pacific region," said Lisa Curtis, who was the National Security Council senior director for South and Central Asia under former President Donald Trump.

“It’s no use pretending we don’t have serious differences on such a crucial issue," said Curtis, who directs the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Oil Politics
The US has also moved on from concerns about India’s vast purchases of Russian crude oil even as the country rejects a Group of Seven initiative to put a cap on the price for which it’s sold.

At one meeting in Delhi between US and Indian officials following the invasion of Ukraine, a US diplomat told a senior Indian official that if their refiners weren’t buying Russian crude and putting it back on global markets, oil prices might have soared to about $180 a barrel, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

Indian officials always viewed Western criticism of their oil purchases as hypocritical, given that Indian refiners do simply put the product on global markets — in many cases for US and European buyers.

Jaishankar, the foreign minister, has often invoked broader sentiment in the so-called Global South as he defended his country’s position on Ukraine amid soaring food and energy prices that have put immense pressure on poor countries. He has waved off US concerns about India’s human rights record, saying “people are entitled to have views about us."

The US’s positioning on India reflects a calculation it’s had to make several times in the past, most prominently with Saudi Arabia. After declaring during his presidential campaign that he would declare Saudi Arabia a “pariah," Biden has had to backtrack as he seeks the kingdom’s help countering Iran and keeping oil prices low.

“I can understand governments’ reluctance" to take on Modi," said Shashi Tharoor, a senior lawmaker in the opposition Congress Party. “There’s an overriding strategic interest on the part of the West, and other countries in Southeast Asia, in staying on the right side of India."
Riaz Haq said…
Joe Biden and Narendra Modi are drawing their countries closer

Yet the relationship faces two potential sources of friction. First, India’s pro-Western tilt—which became more pronounced after border skirmishes with Chinese troops in 2020—is essentially pragmatic. Ideologically, it is suspicious of Western countries and flatly rejects their claim to global leadership. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Mr Modi, India considers the post-war order to have offered it little more than another bout of domination by other countries. The result of these contradictory impulses is disorientating. India is an American strategic partner that mistrusts the West, is unlikely ever to enter a formal alliance with America and is attached to Russia, which supplies it with arms. It is not clear how much support, if push came to shove, America could expect from India. It wants to bolster its land defences against China, not fight over Taiwan.

The second sticking-point is Mr Modi’s attacks on liberal norms. Under his Hindu nationalist, Islamophobic party, India is increasingly hostile to over 200m of its own people. Lynchings and the dispossession of Christians and Muslims are becoming more common. The press is cowed and the courts are largely pliant. Though India seems sure to remain a democracy—not least because Mr Modi is almost guaranteed re-election next year—it is an illiberal one. The fact that only 60m of its 1.4bn people have formal jobs is a potentially explosive situation in a country prone to rabble-rousing.

Some suggest that America risks repeating its history with China, by showering economic advantages on a rival that ends up turning against it. That seems unlikely. Mutual suspicion of China alone should keep India close. Primly rejecting co-operation with India because its ideology and democracy do not conform to Western ideals would only empower China. It would also show that America has failed to adapt to the multipolar world that lies ahead.

Instead, America and its allies should be realistic about where India’s sympathy lies—with its interests, not theirs—and creative in their efforts to find overlaps between the two. That means layering the relationship with common endeavours. The Biden administration’s efforts to accelerate technology transfer to India seem a promising example. By boosting India’s defence industry, America hopes to wean it off dud Russian weapons and provide an affordable new source of arms for other Asian democracies. Other areas of co-operation could include clean energy and tech, where both seek to avoid relying on China.

An alignment of interests, not principles
America’s foreign policy has always combined realism with idealism. So America must speak out against attacks on democratic norms and human rights, even as it works more closely with India. For its part, India must get used to the idea that, as it grows more powerful, it will face more scrutiny. Discount the expressions of unconditional friendship and brotherhood in Washington next week. To work, the relationship will have to function like a long-term business partnership: India and America may not like everything about it, but think of the huge upside. It may be the most important transaction of the 21st century.
Riaz Haq said…
Derek J. Grossman
Me, before Modi’s visit: “The question is, are we propping up an increasingly illiberal democracy here? In my view, we are. We have taken the view that geopolitics and countering China is more important to us right now than the values-based diplomacy……the Biden admin came in saying they would prioritize.” Many thanks for reaching out,


In the weeks and days leading up to Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington this week, US officials have been outdoing one another with words of adulation that have delighted the Indian leader’s supporters and made his critics cringe. 

“He is the most popular world leader for a reason,” commerce secretary Gina Raimondo said at an India House event in Washington in April, wearing a green and yellow sari and gesturing expansively. “He is unbelievable, visionary, and his level of commitment to the people of India is just indescribable.” 

Eric Garcetti, the US ambassador who arrived in New Delhi last month, has called Modi India’s “guru-ji” and Ajit Doval, the prime minister’s hard-boiled national security adviser, “not only a national treasure but an international treasure”. 

Local media reported that at a Quad meeting on the sidelines of last month’s G7 summit in Hiroshima, President Joe Biden told Modi that he was running out of tickets for next Thursday’s state banquet at the White House because the Indian leader is “too popular”.

In a world of post-pandemic supply chain shifts, a globally disruptive war in Ukraine and rising concerns about China, the US is not alone in rolling out the red carpet for India. France’s Emmanuel Macron has invited Modi to be its guest of honour at next month’s Bastille Day parade. 

But this charm campaign has been noted with dismay by India’s liberal elites. Analysts say western democracies are putting aside human rights principles, including concerns about New Delhi’s treatment of minority Muslims and Christians, its pressure on non-governmental organisations and journalism and weakening of democratic standards because they need India as a bulwark against China.

“Western countries have decided to look away from the decline in democratic credentials, press freedoms or treatment of religious minorities taking place in India because they think they need India to counterweigh China,” says Sushant Singh, senior fellow with the Centre for Policy Research. “They believe a stronger India would provide a counter to China’s rise.” 

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India’s government rejects the notion that its democracy is anything other than robust, and its defenders can easily find examples of democratic backsliding in western countries, not least the US.

From an American point of view, India is hardly the only country where Washington pushes human rights to the side and geopolitical considerations to the fore, as seen in its growing alignment on defence with Vietnam, a one-party non-democracy. Among other democracies, Israel, with its patchy human rights record and fraying of democratic institutions under Benjamin Netanyahu, is a perennial US ally with bipartisan support.

“The question is, are we propping up an increasingly illiberal democracy here?” asks Derek Grossman, senior defence analyst with the Rand Corporation, of the US-India relationship. “In my view, we are.”

He adds: “We have taken the view that geopolitics and countering China is more important to us right now than the values-based diplomacy the Biden administration came in saying they would prioritise.”

Riaz Haq said…
Derek J. Grossman
Me, before Modi’s visit: “The question is, are we propping up an increasingly illiberal democracy here? In my view, we are. We have taken the view that geopolitics and countering China is more important to us right now than the values-based diplomacy……the Biden admin came in saying they would prioritize.” Many thanks for reaching out,

India’s scale is what makes it different both in terms of what its western diplomatic partners are willing to overlook, and how much they have to gain from doing so.

The country is now the world’s largest buyer of arms, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. France, thanks to an order of 36 Rafale fighter jets, is now its second-largest military supplier after Russia, with the US third.

Modi will address Congress on Thursday and preside over the signing of a slew of deals involving US companies, the fruit of a widening US-India partnership in technology and defence. 

More deals, including an expected agreement with GE to build jet engines in India, are expected as the country pushes an “indigenisation” plan to build up local defence production. 

Despite these priorities, some criticism of India on human rights does emerge from parts of the US administration. The state department’s most recent Religious Freedom Report listed India among 17 countries of particular concern, citing violence and hate speech against Muslims and Christians.

But these days, it is usually with a whisper. When opposition MP Rahul Gandhi was recently convicted of criminal defamation and stripped of his parliamentary seat, the US said it was “watching” the case in carefully worded language that stressed Washington and New Delhi’s “shared commitment to democratic values”.

Analysts following the upcoming visit say any US words on sensitive issues, including both human rights and India’s ties with Russia, will be similarly delicate, to the extent they are voiced at all.
Riaz Haq said…
Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

As the former diplomat Dennis Kux wrote in India and the United States: Estranged Democracies, “The effort succeeded.” During President Dwight Eisenhower’s second term, Kux notes, “US assistance grew substantially, surging from about $400 million in 1957, to a record $822 million in 1960.” Eisenhower himself seemed committed to India’s democratic future. As the president stated in remarks at the opening of the World Agriculture Fair in New Delhi in December 1959, “Whatever strengthens India, my people are convinced, strengthens us, a sister republic dedicated to peace.” Six months later, Eisenhower signed a breakthrough multiyear deal with India to deliver $1.28 billion in food aid under the United States’ Food for Peace program, because India’s domestic farmers were routinely unable to meet the country’s food needs.

But if Kennedy and Eisenhower hoped that praising India would turn New Delhi into an ally, they were sorely mistaken. In 1954, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had explicitly declared that his country would remain nonaligned in the Cold War, rankling Eisenhower. Kennedy, as president, hoped he could bring India closer by having Nehru visit Washington in 1961, but the trip changed nothing. The prime minister rebuffed all his efforts to bring India into the United States’ orbit.


As Kux recounts, Kennedy’s Cold War successors were similarly frustrated by New Delhi. President Lyndon Johnson found Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s 1966 criticism of U.S. involvement in Vietnam to be particularly galling; his ambassador to India later recalled that the president’s reaction ranged “from the violent to the obscene.” Gandhi’s subsequent decision, in 1971, to conclude a “Friendship Treaty” with Moscow was later described by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a “bombshell” that threw “a lighted match into a powder keg,” inflaming relations between India and Pakistan. And in January 1980, when India’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations effectively endorsed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter was livid. Carter’s ambassador in New Delhi told Gandhi “what a devastating statement it had been from the American point of view and what a terrible backlash it had caused in the United States.”

Nonetheless, U.S. policymakers often praised India in the following decades, and policymakers continued to argue that India’s democratic principles made it a good partner. In his address to India’s Parliament in 2000, President Bill Clinton asserted that the strength of India’s democracy was the first of several important lessons it had taught the world. The administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama routinely employed the “oldest and largest democracies” formulation to describe Washington and New Delhi and their longtime ties. In a 2010 speech to the Indian Parliament, Obama repeatedly stressed the unique bond shared by “two strong democracies.” He then endorsed India’s effort to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, suggesting that cooperation between India and the United States on the council would strengthen “the foundations of democratic governance, not only at home but abroad.”

Riaz Haq said…
Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

New Delhi’s position on Ukraine certainly cuts against its espoused values. But it is far from India’s biggest democratic failure. Since winning two sweeping national victories, one in 2014 and another in 2019, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has made India’s own attachment to liberalism more and more dubious. The BJP has hollowed out institutions that can check the prime minister’s behavior, including by politicizing India’s civilian bureaucracy and turning its Parliament into a rubber stamp for the party’s priorities. Modi also tolerates no criticism in the media, academia, or civil society. The government, for example, imposed an outright ban on a 2023 BBC documentary that detailed Modi’s role in the state of Gujarat’s deadly 2002 communal riots. The organizations that compile the three biggest rankings of democracy across the world—the V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute, Freedom House, and the Economist Intelligence Unit—have all downgraded India’s score since Modi took office.

New Delhi’s democratic failings extend beyond eliminating checks and balances. The BJP is deeply intertwined with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization that aims to give India an exclusively Hindu identity (and to which Modi belongs). Created in 1925, the RSS was modeled on interwar European fascist groups and charged with promoting, in the words of one founder, “the military regeneration of the Hindus.” This goal was directly opposed by Mohandas Gandhi and Nehru, who championed freedom of religion, celebrated diversity, and defended minority rights. That is why a radicalized Hindu nationalist and RSS member assassinated Gandhi in 1948.

India’s autocratic turn creates many problems for the United States. One is that it simply makes New Delhi less trustworthy. Democratically accountable leaders need to justify and defend foreign policies to their own citizens, which makes their decisions more transparent and predictable. Authoritarian decisions, by contrast, are far harder to predict. In addition, the more ethnonationalist New Delhi becomes, the less secure India will be. India is home to roughly 200 million Muslims—almost the size of Pakistan’s entire population—and it has an extensive history of communal violence. By repressing its minorities, India risks its tenuous stability in the near term and mounting and debilitating violence in the long term. And an India consumed with internal security challenges will have fewer resources, less bandwidth for foreign policy, and less legitimacy to play a constructive role beyond its borders.

India’s Hindu nationalism at home also leads it to promote illiberal aims abroad. Hindu nationalists believe that one of their top foreign policy achievements has been mobilizing overseas RSS-affiliated groups in the Indian diaspora to lobby other capitals, including Washington, to support BJP initiatives. Hindu nationalists also believe that India should be a sprawling, civilizational power, and many of them say they want to create Akhand Bharat—a greater “Undivided India”—in which New Delhi would build a “cultural confederation” of territory stretching from Afghanistan to Myanmar and Sri Lanka to Tibet. In 2022, for example, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat claimed that this could be a reality in as little as ten to 15 years. His statements raised questions about what a Hindu cultural confederation would actually mean, and they have prompted at least some regional consternation about whether India’s drive for leadership will be as peaceful as the country claims.

Riaz Haq said…
Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

Despite the obvious evidence of the BJP’s illiberalism, top Biden administration officials have avoided publicly criticizing the Modi government. Instead, they have brushed aside concerns by declaring, as Blinken did in 2021, that every democracy is an imperfect “work in progress.” Presumably, that is because Biden believes that expressing any concerns about Indian policies would cause too much harm to the relationship.

This fear is not baseless. Like most countries, India does not like to be criticized, so an honest airing of grievances would not go down well. But the current, disingenuous approach has its own price. Soft-pedaling concerns about India’s authoritarian slide, for example, weakens Washington’s ability to champion democracy around the world. In fact, it might actively encourage democratic backsliding. India is no garden-variety struggling democracy: it is the world’s most populous country and a leader in the global South. When Modi uses his association with Washington to burnish his democratic credentials and even to strengthen his self-serving narrative that Hindu India is “the mother of democracy” (as he declared during Washington’s 2023 Summit for Democracy), it sets back liberalism everywhere.

Praising India’s democracy also makes it hard for Biden to build the domestic political alliances he needs to cooperate with New Delhi on security. Many powerful U.S. constituencies, including evangelical Christian groups, are deeply concerned about India’s poor treatment of minorities, its crackdown on religious freedoms, and its stifling of the press. The New York Times and The Washington Post, along with other top U.S. media outlets, run stories and columns on these issues so frequently that BJP leaders have gone out of their way to label the publications “anti-Indian.” And influential figures in Washington are expressing growing alarm about India’s illiberal policies. In March 2021, for example, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, asking that he use his upcoming India trip to “make clear that in all areas, including security cooperation, the U.S.-India partnership must rest on adherence to democratic values.” If Biden continues to emphasize principles in his pitch for better relations, his calls could face mounting opposition.

India’s turn away from democracy is deeply unfortunate. But New Delhi is still an invaluable partner for Washington. In addition to being the world’s most populous state, India boasts the world’s fifth-largest economy, the world’s second-largest military, and a significant cadre of highly educated scientists and engineers. It has a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. And like the United States, India is deeply concerned about China, which it sees as a dangerous power intent on challenging the regional and global order. In a way, now may be the best moment for the United States to cooperate with India. The question is how far Washington should go.

In many cases, the decision to help India is easy. When China began encroaching on Indian territory along the Chinese-Indian border, prompting deadly clashes between the two countries’ militaries in 2020, Washington rightfully provided New Delhi with urgently needed cold-weather gear and intelligence on Chinese positions. It also expedited already planned deliveries of surveillance drones. Since then, U.S. officials have correctly concluded that they can have far more candid discussions with India’s leaders than they have had in the past about defense cooperation, both on land and at sea. They hope that the threat from China, combined with Russia’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine, presents Washington with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to decisively (if not immediately) get New Delhi to shift its heavy reliance on Russian-made military gear to U.S. systems.
Riaz Haq said…
Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

Greater U.S.-Indian alignment on China also means the two states could cooperate on certain kinds of technology. Washington, for example, could work with New Delhi to develop alternatives to Chinese-built information and telecommunications infrastructure as a means to compete in a global industry that Beijing has threatened to dominate. The United States could also speed up its efforts to diversify essential industrial inputs away from China and toward India. New Delhi, in turn, would benefit from new economic investments.

But Washington must be careful about the ways it deals with New Delhi. It must remain keenly aware that India’s desire to work with the United States is born of circumstance, not conviction, and could quickly disappear. New Delhi, after all, spent most of the post–Cold War years vacillating about what role it should play between Beijing and Washington, and it often signed on to the former’s initiatives. Even after the border clashes, China and India have roughly the same volume of trade as India and the United States have. New Delhi is still part of the Beijing-founded Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And many Indian policymakers and analysts would much prefer a multipolar world in which India is free to navigate flexible relationships with other great powers to a world led by the United States or defined by a new cold war between Beijing and Washington—a world in which New Delhi must take sides. One of New Delhi’s greatest fears is being indefinitely consigned to the geopolitical sidelines.

For U.S. officials, then, cooperation with India must be tightly targeted to countering immediate threats posed by China. It is fine, for example, for the United States to conduct joint military exercises with India near the Chinese border, as the two states did in November 2022. It is also fine for Washington to strike transactional deals that obviously advance U.S. interests, such as a deal that gives the United States access to Indian seaports in exchange for finite technology transfers or additional intelligence. But when U.S. policies do not clearly enhance U.S.-Indian cooperation with respect to China, they should not receive the benefit of the doubt. The United States should think twice, for example, before approving a proposal General Electric put forward earlier this year to co-produce and transfer U.S. technology to India for advanced fighter jet engines. Washington may benefit from a better Indian military in the short term, but the GE deal could strengthen India’s indigenous defense industry for decades, which might not serve U.S. interests in the long term.

U.S. officials must understand that, deep down, India is not an ally. Its relationship to the United States is fundamentally unlike that of, say, a NATO member. And India will never aspire to that sort of alliance. For this reason, U.S. officials should not frame their agreements with India as the building blocks of a deeper relationship. The country is not a candidate for initiatives such as the AUKUS deal among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (which will help Australia develop nuclear submarine technologies) because such deals entail sharing important security vulnerabilities that only sturdy liberal democracies—ones with broadly shared values and aspirations—can safely exchange. India’s uncertain commitment to democratic principles is also why Washington will never be able to share intelligence with New Delhi in the way that it does with its so-called Five Eyes partners: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Riaz Haq said…

Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

In fact, Washington should qualify its support for greater Indian participation in the international organizations to which New Delhi already belongs. India’s voice is essential on the world stage, especially because of its vast and diverse society. But considering how often India and the United States diverge on important issues, it is not a bad thing that no one has taken up Obama’s proposal to offer India a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Washington should similarly temper its expectations for the Quad—the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. The White House clearly hopes that the Quad can be an Indo-Pacific league of liberal democracies. But given India’s identity, it simply cannot. What the Quad can do is better deter Chinese aggression in the region, and it should dedicate itself to that task.

As the Biden administration pivots away from seeking an imaginary relationship based on values to acknowledging a real one based on mutual interests, it must be forthright. The administration ought to explain to Indian and U.S. audiences alike that shared concerns about China and a wide array of other common interests create strong and constructive incentives for cooperation; there is much that the two sides can do together. But Washington needs to cease endorsing Modi’s BJP. It must stop altruistically subsidizing the rise of another illiberal Asian giant. And the Indian government should know that its domestic political decisions have the potential to complicate and endanger relations with Washington. Indian voters should know that, too.

The Biden administration should also write and publish more reports that accurately depict India’s record on human rights, freedoms, and democratic practices. Such analysis should then become required reading for U.S. leaders, including Pentagon policymakers and uniformed officers, who need to understand how undemocratic the world’s largest democracy is. These reports must be scrupulously accurate, because they will certainly draw fire from Indian diplomats. But Biden should not worry that U.S. criticism will derail cooperation. Unlike Chinese military activities, a critical report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom does not materially threaten New Delhi. If India and the United States are going to be strong partners, both sides need to learn how to navigate serious disagreements without sweeping them under the rug, even if that means suffering some unpleasantness along the way. U.S. officials can unapologetically explain the American perspective without being undiplomatic, just as their Indian counterparts frequently do.

Many U.S. opponents of the Modi government would go even further, arguing that criticism of India’s democratic shortcomings should be bolstered by active U.S. government initiatives—such as giving material support to Indian rights groups. Some critics have even encouraged Washington to withhold U.S. security cooperation unless India rolls back recent autocratic measures. But New Delhi is likely to balk at conditional defense ties, and pro-democracy investments will not be effective. India is almost unimaginably enormous and complicated, making it nearly impervious to outside political influence. As a postcolonial state, it is quite practiced at resisting, ignoring, or mitigating external interference. Better, then, to leave the task of strengthening India’s democracy to the Indians themselves.

Riaz Haq said…
Washington and New Delhi Share Interests, Not Values
By Daniel Markey

For now, that means the United States will have to deal with an unsavory government in New Delhi. But for Washington, this is nothing new. The United States has spent years cooperating with regimes it dislikes in order to bolster its security. At one point, it even worked with the country New Delhi and Washington are now trying to outcompete. The Nixon administration’s 1972 opening to China was intended to exploit the differences between Beijing and Moscow to deliver a decisive advantage to the United States in the Cold War. It succeeded: President Richard Nixon’s gambit deepened splits in the global communist movement, helped tie down Soviet army divisions along the border with China, and provided Washington with additional leverage over Moscow.

What followed, however, is much more controversial. Nixon’s opening eventually led to a deluge of U.S. investment in China’s economy and cooperation across many sectors—including, at times, defense and security. The United States’ contributions helped China quickly become the world’s second-largest economy. Washington instead should have had a greater appreciation for the ways in which U.S. and Chinese interests would most likely diverge as China’s power grew. American policymakers could have then lowered their expectations, narrowed the scope of official cooperation, and even ruled out certain types of commerce. In hindsight, it is clear they could have partnered with Beijing to contain Moscow without contributing so much to the rise of a peer competitor.

India, of course, is not China, and it may never pose the same sort of challenge. And New Delhi’s authoritarian turn has not been total. Despite the government’s best efforts, India still has free (if not fair) elections and a vocal domestic opposition. Americans and Indians can, and should, hold out hope that India’s diverse society will remake India into a liberal democracy more fundamentally aligned with the ideals that Washington seeks to uphold.

That, however, is not where India is today. The country is instead led by an ethnonationalist who tolerates little dissent. It is in thrall to an illiberal and increasingly undemocratic party, and that party’s grip on politics is only becoming firmer. Unless that changes, the United States will not be able to treat India as it treats Japan, South Korea, and NATO allies in Europe. It must instead treat India as it treats Jordan, Vietnam, and any number of other illiberal partners. It must, in other words, cooperate with India on the reality of shared interests, not on the hope of shared values.
Riaz Haq said…
India’s Worsening Democracy Makes It an Unreliable Ally

by Salil Tripathy

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the United States on 21 June, which is World Yoga Day. Asserting India’s soft power, he will participate in a yoga demonstration at the United Nations headquarters in New York, while the Biden administration will be laying out the red carpet in Washington. On the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Japan last month, Indian media claimed President Joe Biden reportedly quipped to Modi that that his staff was struggling to cope with the demand surge for invitations to the State dinner he will host. Modi will also address a joint session of the Congress.

World leaders visit Washington all the time, but the hyper-nationalist Indian media sees American eagerness in welcoming Modi as a sign of India’s arrival on the international stage. The drum roll began in April, when commerce secretary Gina Raimondo gushed over Modi, anointing him as the world’s most popular leader, calling him “unbelievable” and “visionary.” The White House called India “a vibrant democracy.”

India’s pliant media is projecting the visit as unprecedented. Don’t rule out stories that count the number of times Congress members will applaud Modi, whether they stand up when they clap, measure the duration of the applause, and compare it with responses to similar addresses by former Indian leaders, hoping that Modi will set a record. For Modi likes adulation and believes in superlatives, and the bulk of the Indian media today aims to please him.

To be sure, India has arrived. The U.S. wants closer, stronger, and more meaningful relationship with India as a destination of investments, as a strategic ally, and as a bulwark against the rise of China. India is now the world’s most populous country. As it regularly holds elections, India is called the world’s largest democracy, although most indices that measure human rights or democracy show the precipitous decline in India’s record on both counts in the nine years Modi has been in power. Depending on how you measure economies, India is now the world’s fifth-largest—according to the World Economic Forum, it overtook its former ruler, the U.K., last year. While some international economists are skeptical over India’s public statistics, its chief economic adviser claimed in March that India’s economy grew 7.2% last year. It remains among the top ten destinations for foreign direct investment in the world.

No doubt India is a military power, and it is part of the Quad, a diplomatic alliance including Australia, Japan, and the United States, ostensibly intended to spread stability and prosperity in Asia-Pacific, but really a thinly-veiled alliance to rival China. Surely India is an ally of western democracies?

Not so fast. India unequivocally defended anti-colonial struggles until the end of the Cold War (it was one of the earliest countries to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa, and supported Palestine and many African liberation movements). But it has dragged its feet in supporting democracies since. The generals who annulled elections in Myanmar consider India a steadfast friend. It has issued only tepid, pious platitudes for peace in response to Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine. Its trade with Russia has not stopped, and it is accused of selling Russian oil in international markets undermining sanctions. It is wary of China, but only with regard to its disputed border; it has abstained U.N. resolutions on the treatment of Uyghurs and is unlikely to say anything meaningful if China invades Taiwan.
Riaz Haq said…
India’s Worsening Democracy Makes It an Unreliable Ally

by Salil Tripathy

India’s interpretation of its own interests are therefore not aligned with western interests, and if its positions align with certain western positions, those have less to do with any perception of shared values, and more with defending its own perspective. Even if India’s non-alignment was never consistent, and John Foster Dulles in fact called it immoral, India saw it as a practical response in a polarized world. And the Modi administration’s differences with earlier Indian governments are only a matter of degree, and not of kind.

Western wooing of India is real. There is the roadmap of defense collaboration with the U.S., the proposed submarine deal being negotiated with Germany, and France has invited Modi as a guest of honor on Bastille Day this July. These measures suggest a qualitatively different relationship, for India wants to diversify its defense procurement, which is still overwhelmingly reliant on Russian weapon systems. But the ties with Russia are historic, and China is a formidable neighbor which occupies vast stretches of territory India considers its own, and Chinese incursions have only increased in recent years. And yet, other than cosmetic steps like banning Tik Tok, India has not retaliated. Bilateral trade has grown to $136 billion (an 8% increase over the previous year) and its trade deficit with China has widened to $100 billion. While India would love to attract investors who look for alternate destinations other than China as part of their de-risking strategies, other countries in Asia are also looking to attract the same investments.

Realpolitik apart, the U.S. does speak of building ties based on values, such as democracy and human rights. First, India has always been a flawed democracy, but its human rights record has worsened significantly during Modi’s tenure. Researchers Suchitra Vijayan and Francesca Recchia have identified about 250 non-violent political prisoners who were put in jail without being formally charged or tried between May 2014, when Modi came to power, until July 2022, in their forthcoming book, How Long Can The Moon Be Caged?. The detained prisoners include lawyers, writers, human rights activists, and other socially-conscious dissidents. According to watchdog Access Now, India leads the world in network shutdowns, and as western tech companies have learned, India browbeats telecom and social media companies to take down content and threatens them with police action if they don’t comply.

The treatment of Muslims, who form 14% of India’s population, has worsened. A 2019 report by Human Rights Watch documented 44 murders (36 of them being Muslim) by lynch mobs who killed people they suspected of possessing beef, consuming it, or trading cows. Muslims find it hard to buy or rent property, are denied permission to build mosques in some cases, and prevented from praying in public. Vigilantes prevent Muslims from praying at home. Female Muslim students in one state were banned from wearing head-scarves. A senior politician from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had welcomed convicted cow protectors with garlands. BJP-ruled states have passed laws to make it harder for inter-faith marriages from taking place. Right wing Hindus celebrated the early release of 11 men who were convicted of having raped a Muslim woman and murdered some of her family members during the massacres of 2002. Those incidents occurred when Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister and had failed to stop Hindu violence against Muslims. Modi was then barred from entry into the U.S. or the E.U. until India’s Supreme Court said Modi did not have a case to answer. A recent BBC film which blamed Modi for complicity, is banned in India.
Riaz Haq said…
India’s Worsening Democracy Makes It an Unreliable Ally

by Salil Tripathy

Organizations that measure democracies have concluded that India’s democratic record has worsened. Freedom House has down-graded India to ‘partly-free’ status. India has fallen from 27 in 2014 to 46 in 2022, as per the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index. The V-Dem project of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has relegated India to “electoral autocracy.” The Civicus Monitor calls India’s civil society environment to be “repressed.” The Pew Research Center survey shows India’s social hostility score has worsened. And the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders places India at 161, a historic low, down from 150, of the 180 countries it surveys. In the global impunity index of the Committee to Protect Journalists, India ranks 11th, with 20 unsolved murders of journalists.

More broadly, India’s rank in the U.N.’s Human Development Index has fallen slightly, from 130 the year Modi took office to 132, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s world hunger index shows India ranked at 107 out of 121 surveyed countries. the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index shows India ranked 135th of the 146 surveyed countries. Thomson Reuters Foundation calls India the world’s most dangerous country for women. Unsurprisingly, Cato Institute, which measures human freedom, downgraded India between 2015 and 2022 from 75 to 112.

These organizations are drawn from different countries, use different methodologies, and are not ideologically aligned. Yet, they present a consistent image of a country where freedoms are under peril. No doubt, such rankings can be arbitrary and subjective, and there may indeed be some methodological problems. For its part, India disputes many such findings.

This is hardly a report card any government should be proud of. But while such report cards annoy Modi, and his feisty foreign minister Dr S Jaishankar dismisses them pithily, Modi realizes two things: these organizations do not matter in India, and western governments note these concerns and privately might even agree, but publicly they are not about to challenge India. And so he goes on, his party members whip up religious passions to divert attention and he organizes picture-perfect spectacles. By raising the toast for Modi this week, the U.S. is helping him write the script of his re-election campaign and providing him excellent visual footage, which Modi will use to silence critics back home as his party prepares the script for the elections in 2024.

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