Islamophobia: Can Modi's India Afford to Alienate the Entire Arab Muslim Middle East?

Last week, two official spokespersons of India's ruling BJP party insulted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on an Indian television channel known for promoting Islamophobia. Mohammad Zubair, an Indian Muslim journalist, tweeted a video clip of the TimesNow primetime show featuring BJP's official spokeswoman Nupur Sharma attacking the Prophet (SAW) revered by more than a billion Muslims around the world. As the video clip went viral, a long a growing list of Muslim countries has officially protested to the Indian government. The UAE, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iraq, the Maldives, Jordan, Libya, Bahrain and Pakistan have now joined Kuwait, Iran and Qatar, calling Indian ambassadors to register their protest, and Saudi Arabia has issued a strongly worded statement. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokeswoman of the BJP,"  the Saudi statement said.

India's Ties to the GCC Nations. Source: Advaid


The BJP's entire domestic politics is built on the hatred of Islam and Muslims. At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who many hold primarily responsible for promoting Islamophobia in India, wants to have strong economic ties with the Arab Muslim Gulf states. This latest crisis has exposed the built-in contradictions in the BJP's domestic and international agenda.  Indian analyst Aakar Patel calls the ruling BJP party "a party of bigots". Here is his analysis of the situation:

"The (Modi) government has not bulldozed properties of Muslims for resisting rioting; it has conducted civic acts related to unauthorized construction. India is not targeting its Muslims through CAA-NRC pincer; it is only showing solidarity with non-Muslims from neighboring nations. Allowing mobs to prevent congregational prayers in designated spaces is really to ensure traffic flows smoothly. There can not be many who are innocent of what is going on. Certainly, there are none among the votaries of Hindutva. The problem is having democratized violence against Muslims across the country, and having been electorally rewarded for this, Modi must consider what it means for India. He has been given a taste of that this week, and as the sequence of events shows, he has not found it appealing. Trouble on this front will return unless Hindutva retreats and returns India to its normative secular state its Constitution prescribes. This is not going to happen under Modi, of course. The next best thing is to backpedal Hindutva a bit and calibrate Hindutva to a level where it pleases its constituency but doesn't offend the world. This will not be easy as we are about to find out". 

It is important to note that nearly 9 million Indians work in the Arab Gulf nations, 60% India's crude oil comes from the Middle East and the UAE is India'a third largest trading partner. Half of all remittances to India ( nearly $40 billion) come from just 5 Gulf nations of the GCC. 

The Hindu Nationalists led by Prime Minister Modi are particularly hostile toward Muslims but also other Abrahamic faiths and the West. American journalist Walter Russell Mead described it in a recent Wall Street Journal Op Ed as follows: "Many BJP supporters want the Indian government to defend India’s Hindu civilization and culture from Islam, Christianity and Western secular liberalism. This form of Hindu nationalism leads to controversial policy initiatives". The fact that the United Arab Emirates has joined to protest is particularly significant. The Arab Muslim UAE, a grouping of  seven Arab Muslim kingdoms, has now become the number one destination for education and employment of people from Hindu India, according to the government data from the two countries. 

India is now ruled by the right-wing Hindu BJP party headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose entire politics is based on extreme hatred of Islam and Muslims. In 2020, Emirati Princess Sheikha Hend bint Faisal al-Qasimi strongly criticized Islamophobia in India. She also expressed solidarity and sympathies with Indian Muslims and Kashmiris.

Indians Students Abroad. Source: Economic Times

Over 1.2 million Indian students are now studying overseas, twice more than a decade ago. The UAE has 219,000 Indian students, Canada 215,720, the US 211,930, Australia 92,383, Saudi Arabia 80,800, Britain 55,465, and Oman 43,600, according to the data from India's Ministry of External Affairs


UAE Expat Population. Source: Global Media Insight

In addition to students, there are millions of foreigners working in the UAE. Currently, the Indian population in UAE is the highest with 2.75 million, followed by Pakistanis with 1.27 million. The UAE has around 0.75 million Bangladeshi nationals, 0.56 million Filipinos, and 0.48 million Iranians. There are also people from Egypt (0.42 million), Nepal (0.32 million), Sri Lanka ( 0.32 million), China (0.21 million) and the rest of the world (1.79million).

Last year, India received $43 billion in remittances from the UAE. Total worker remittances to India reached $87 billion last fiscal year, making it the world's largest recipient of these remittances. 

The United States was the second largest destination for Indian students. China maintained its top position among the leading places of origin for international students, with 35% of all international students in the 2020-21 school year hailing from the country, according to the data released by the United States government.  The second most common place of origin was India (18%), followed by South Korea (4%) and Canada (3%). Some of these countries also experienced the largest year-over-year declines in the number of students who enrolled at US institutions. The largest such percentage decreases occurred in South Korea (-21%), China (-15%) and India (-13%).

Related Links:

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Spoof video shows Qatar Airways CEO offer plane to man who called for 'bycott' of airline
"Vashudev habibi, we are willing to give you one whole plane to make your TikTok videos, or maybe we can give you two litres of petrol free so you take this call for boycott back otherwise how will we survive?" CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker says in the spoof video.

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/current-affairs-trends/spoof-video-shows-qatar-airways-ceo-offer-plane-to-man-who-called-for-bycott-of-airline-8655771.html

After Qatar expressed strong objection to controversial remarks made against Prophet Muhammad by BJP members, "bycottQatarAirways" began to trend on Twitter on Tuesday.

The trend also brought to the front a spoof video posted by Twitter user Ahad (@AhadunAhad11111) in which the CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker appears to appeal to one of the Twitter users to take back his call to "bycott" the airline.

"I cancelled all my meetings and flew straight to Qatar because Vashudev is our biggest shareholder. And he decided to boycott our lines from his headquarters which is the terrace of his house," Al Baker appears to say in an interview with Al Jazeera. "He was having a powercut at that time in his neighbourhood and he made that devastating video."

The Qatar Airways CEO further goes on to reiterate, "Vashudev is our biggest shareholder with a total investment of Rs 624.5. We don't know how to operate anymore. I have grounded all the flights. Our flights are not operating anymore. We are requesting Vashudev to take this call for boycott back."

The video also did not hold back from pointing out the spelling mistake in the trending hashtag.


https://twitter.com/AhadunAhad11111/status/1534081319470256128?s=20&t=5CYFTD_p0HbRnBGVbY9QBA
Riaz Haq said…
Handle the India-U.S. Relationship With Care
The world’s largest democracy often sees things very differently than America.

By Walter Russell Mead

https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-handle-with-care-modi-china-russia-narendra-democracy-hindu-america-blinken-11654539987


Superficially, the U.S.-India relationship looks like a success. With both countries focused on China, business ties steadily deepening, and U.S.-Pakistan relations in a deep freeze, many of the old obstacles to the relationship have disappeared.

But an intense week of meetings in Bangalore and Delhi with politicians, think tankers, religious leaders and journalists made clear that while Americans and Indians share strategic and economic interests, and we both value democracy, we remain divided by important differences in values and perceptions. Unless managed carefully, these differences could derail U.S.-India cooperation at a critical time.

Americans and Indians often see the same problem in very different ways. India, for example, does not see Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a threat to world order. While Americans have been disturbed by India’s continued willingness to buy oil from Russia, Indians resent the West’s attempt to rally global support for what many here see as a largely Western problem in Ukraine. Pointing out that Europeans scarcely noticed China’s attacks on Indian frontier posts in 2020, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, last week that “Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems.”

More generally, Indians bristle when they sense Americans and Europeans getting together to write global rules. The more that American Wilsonians talk about a values-based international order, the more that Indians worry about Western arrogance. Many Indians want a strong Russia and, within limits, a strong China precisely to help guard against the kind of world order President Biden and many of his advisers want to build.

This is more than the postcolonial suspicion of Western intentions that India has long shared with many other non-Western countries. The Hindu nationalist movement that has replaced the long-ruling Congress Party with a new political system built around the Bharatiya Janata Party and its charismatic leader, Narendra Modi, has brought a new dynamism to Indian foreign policy. This new nationalist India wants to increase and develop Indian power, not submerge Indian sovereignty in Western-designed international institutions.

The domestic agenda of the Hindu nationalist movement can also cause problems for the U.S.-India relationship. For Hindu nationalists, the rule of the Muslim Mughal emperors, some of whom destroyed ancient Hindu temples and built mosques on their ruins, was as much a disaster as British colonialism for Indian civilization. It is not enough to send the British packing; the liberation of India means placing Hindu civilization back at the center of Indian cultural and political life. Many BJP supporters want the Indian government to defend India’s Hindu civilization and culture from Islam, Christianity and Western secular liberalism.

This form of Hindu nationalism leads to controversial policy initiatives. Tough restrictions on the ability of foreign organizations to fund civil-society groups in India threaten to disrupt the activities of American charities ranging from the Ford Foundation to the Catholic Church. Anti-conversion laws put obstacles in the path of both Christian and Muslim missionary efforts, and Hindu women wishing to marry out of the faith sometimes face severe social and governmental pressures. Communal violence, a problem in India since the days of the British raj, has risen in recent years. Indian Muslims often express fears for their personal security.
Riaz Haq said…
Should #US lower its expectations of #India? Instead of investing in #humancapital, #nuclear & #renewable energy, or #healthcare, #Modi’s gov't focus is on “correcting” history textbooks, attacking #Muslims, extoll #Hindu "virtues"! #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://thehill.com/opinion/international/3513889-should-the-us-temper-its-expectations-of-india/


By HUSAIN HAQQANI AND APARNA PANDE, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS

India is reprising its Cold War-era strategy of walking the tightrope between Russia and the United States. During the virtual summit between President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April, as well as the in-person Quad leaders’ summit in Tokyo in May, Biden requested India’s support on Ukraine. India has refused to stop purchasing oil from Russia, even if it has cancelled some Russian arms contracts.

India’s neutrality over Ukraine has dampened the enthusiasm even of those Americans who have projected India as the key American partner in its competition with China. Indians argue that they are only acting in their national interest and that even though their long-term interests remains tied to the U.S., they cannot forego the short-term advantage of neutrality towards Russia.

Instead of voicing frustration with India over its continued friendship with Russia, U.S. policymakers and commentators would do better to revise their expectations of India. The rhetoric about India being as important in U.S. plans for Asia as Great Britain was for standing up to the Soviet Union in Europe after World War II ignores India’s changing view of itself and the world.

Under Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, India is in the process of redefining its nationalism, away from the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. India’s rising Hindu nationalism (which has overtaken the secular nationalism of India’s early years) is centered on reviving India’s ancient Hindu glory. Ancient India was notoriously insular and not particularly interested in partnering with distant peoples.

While Modi’s India still wants to be recognized globally with respect, it hopes to earn that respect through celebration of an International Yoga Day, not through confrontation with China or Russia. That fundamentally different view of what is entailed in India becoming a global great power makes partnership with the West in accordance with Western expectations unlikely.

India’s economy is not growing at a rate that would position it to be China’s competitor. The expansion of India’s middle class has slowed down. Americans hoping to tap India as the next market of more than 1 billion consumers will have to wait to see that dream become a reality, both on account of its slower economic growth and its over-regulation.

Disappointment will be even greater for those expecting India to field its large military forces against China. Declining investment in military capabilities have made India’s military rather inefficient and inadequately modern. India might be able to face off against Pakistan, but it is still far from being in China’s league.

Around 60 percent of India’s military equipment is of Russian origin, and while India plans to purchase more equipment, it is keen on boosting indigenous capability and having a diverse basket of suppliers. That runs contrary to American expectations of being India’s supplier of choice.

Meanwhile, the U.S. expectation of an influx of orders for American-made nuclear reactors from India, which formed an important basis for the 2008 civil-nuclear deal, remains unfulfilled.

India wants to trade and acquire technology with the U.S. on its terms, which it believes are mutually beneficial. But is not about to become the western partner that successive U.S. administrations and many scholars have imagined.

Riaz Haq said…
Should #US lower its expectations of #India? Instead of investing in #humancapital, #nuclear & #renewable energy, or #healthcare, #Modi’s gov't focus is on “correcting” history textbooks, attacking #Muslims, extoll #Hindu "virtues"! #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://thehill.com/opinion/international/3513889-should-the-us-temper-its-expectations-of-india/


By HUSAIN HAQQANI AND APARNA PANDE, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS


Instead of investing in human capital, nuclear and renewable energy, or health care, the focus of Modi’s government has been on “correcting” history textbooks to change the portrayal of India’s Muslim and Western-colonial rulers while extolling the virtues of the ancient Hindu era.

Hyper-nationalism has also led to a new wave of protectionism and regulation, which impedes economic expansion. India has also lost the glow of being a success story for democracy and individual political rights. In 2021 and 2022 Freedom House downgraded India to “partly free,” citing attacks on religious minorities, suppression of media and weakening of institutions.

Comments by American officials about India’s direction inevitably attract charges from Indians of unwarranted interference in India’s internal affairs. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently released the State Department’s 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom and spoke about “rising attacks on people and places of worship” in India. He was widely criticized in the Indian mainstream and social media.

Blinken also described India as “the world’s largest democracy, and home to a great diversity of faiths,” reminding everyone that the image of India as a pluralist and open society might be its great strength in external relations. That image, and the hope that India would be a global great power once it realizes its full economic and military potential, have suffered because of the ideological obsessions of India’s current leaders.

But what is unpopular in the U.S. is popular in India. Modi and his party have been repeatedly rewarded at the ballot box for talking about their civilization’s glorious past. As India postpones building a modern future or chooses to do it at its own pace and on its own terms, western cheerleaders for India’s rise may have no choice but to modify their expectation that India will help fight alongside the world’s democracies against totalitarian China or Russia.
Riaz Haq said…
In response to arguments like lowering expectations of India (above), pro-India think tankers want the US to have a policy of what they call "strategic altruism"!

https://www.riazhaq.com/2019/09/ashley-tellis-wants-trump-to-continue.html

In a piece titled "The India Dividend: New Delhi Remains Washington’s Best Hope in Asia" published in Foreign Affairs journal, authors Robert Blackwill and Ashley Tellis argue that the Trump Administration should continue the US policy of "strategic altruism" with India that began with US-India nuclear agreement. They want President Trump to ignore the fact that the US companies and economy have only marginally benefited from this policy. They see India as a "superpower in waiting" and urge Washington to focus on the goal of having India as an ally to check China's rise. They see Chinese support for India's archrival Pakistan and China’s growing weight in South Asia and beyond as a threat to India.
Riaz Haq said…
India-Gulf row: Why Modi is in a double bind
CJ Werleman
8 June 2022 10:52 UTC | Last update: 15 hours 36 secs ago
After anti-Islam comments by senior officials, the Indian president must placate Middle Eastern leaders while quietly continuing to support his party’s vilification of Muslims

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/india-gulf-islam-row-modi-double-bind-why


For those familiar with Indian politics, the past week has been profoundly revelatory, marking the first time India’s ruling party has been caught embarrassed by its systematic mistreatment of its Muslim minority since riding into office on the back of a muscular Hindu nationalist agenda in 2014.

At the centre of Modi’s international diplomatic discomfort are moves by Gulf states to denounce and condemn his party for insulting the Prophet. In addition, Indian envoys in Qatar, Kuwait and Iran were summoned for a private scolding, while supermarkets in several Gulf states removed Indian products from their shelves. Social media hashtags calling for an economic boycott against India trended on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

To all this, Indian journalist Rana Ayyub commented: “Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar speaking in one voice. When was the last time the world witnessed this? Modi hai to mumkin hai [translated: Modi made this possible].”

The Indian government has responded by suspending the officials who made the derogatory remarks - and for the first time in the country’s 75-year history, it issued a statement to a foreign country (or in this case, a group of Muslim-majority countries under the umbrella of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).

“India was taken aback by the response,” Kabir Taneja, a fellow with the Observer Research Foundation think tank, told CNN. “Communal issues are not new in India and in previous cases, we have not had such a response [from Arab states].”

Turning a blind eye
But it’s hardly surprising the Modi government has been caught off-guard here, given that Arab states have willingly turned a blind eye to any number of India’s persecutory actions against Muslims, including an amnesty law offering citizenship rights only to non-Muslim migrants; bans on students wearing the hijab; discriminatory laws premised on anti-Muslim conspiracies; support for economic boycotts against Muslim-owned businesses; and revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.

Arab Gulf governments have also remained tight-lipped as members of Modi’s party have other-ised Muslims as “termites,” “pests” and “terrorists”, while Hindu nationalist groups allied with the BJP have urged their supporters to commit a Muslim genocide - a plea now heard on a near-daily basis. They have also said nothing as Muslims have been lynched, and their homes, businesses and mosques vandalised, by radicalised mobs in broad daylight, and often in the presence of police.

Nevertheless, these governments and Islamic leaders in the Middle East now have Modi’s undivided attention, particularly those calling for “all Muslims to rise as one nation” against India - a plea made by Oman’s chief religious figure, Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmad bin Hamad Al-Khalili, who also announced a boycott of Indian products.

While the Modi government was able to strike an indignant tone against the United States, accusing it of indulging in “votebank politics” after the Biden administration accused New Delhi of mistreating its religious minorities earlier this month, it knows it must be far more conciliatory towards Arab Gulf countries, given that around two-thirds of India’s crude oil imports flow from the Middle East.


But the spigot is not the only potential pinch point. A bigger issue is the millions of Indian expatriates who live and work across the Gulf states, putting at risk the tens of billions of dollars India receives in remittances from its citizens in these countries.

Riaz Haq said…
India-Gulf row: Why Modi is in a double bind
CJ Werleman


https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/india-gulf-islam-row-modi-double-bind-why

Massive political crisis
If Arab Gulf countries were even to threaten the deportation of Indian migrants, or a halt on visas for Indian workers, it would create a massive political crisis for the Modi government - at a time when it can least afford it, given the Indian economy has struggled to grow and a fuel price shock is hitting millions.

According to one Indian observer, India’s trade relationship with Gulf countries bears two-fold significance: oil dependency and a potentially large export market for India. India's bilateral trade with all six GCC group countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has increased significantly in 2021-22 with Indian exports to the GCC increasing by over 58 percent reaching $44bn.


Ultimately, this leaves Modi trapped in a double bind. On the one hand, he knows he must walk back his party’s hostility towards Muslims to appease India’s Arab Gulf partners. On the other, he’s acutely aware that the BJP’s efforts to scapegoat and vilify Muslims have helped him and his party to evade responsibility for an economy reeling from Covid and inflation.

“To keep winning elections, it needs to keep polarising Hindu voters against Muslims, and spinning ever more outrageous campaigns to demonise Muslims,” said Debasish Roy Chowdhury, coauthor of To Kill A Democracy: India’s Passage to Despotism.

This is why Modi will walk this tightrope by speaking out of both sides of his mouth, telling Middle Eastern leaders what they want to hear, while quietly offering his full support to those within his party who insult the Prophet Muhammad and abuse Muslims.
Riaz Haq said…
Seema Chishti
@seemay
“Bigotry is not easy to calibrate, as the PM is learning this week. Many interesting things emerge from the manner in which the BJP attempted to handle the fiasco created by its spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal”
@Aakar__Patel
in
@TheIndiaCable
today.

https://twitter.com/seemay/status/1534542973450346496?s=20&t=5G3CEwvNxsMpfesNRrsfMg


----------------


See new Tweets
Conversation
Aakar Patel
@Aakar__Patel
bjp is a party of bigots. indeed the bjp is bigotry. it operates under a nehruvian carapace abroad. the secular aspirations of the indian state before modi give him the cover on days like today

https://twitter.com/Aakar__Patel/status/1533475176414752769?s=20&t=-Oe5u_fonDjbackwPd5HXw

-------------

Aakar Patel:


"The government has not bulldozed properties of Muslims for resisting rioting; it has conducted civic acts related to unauthorized construction. India is not targeting its Muslims through CAA-NRC pincer; it is only showing solidarity with non-Muslims from neighboring nations. Allowing mobs to prevent congregational prayers in designated spaces is really to ensure traffic flows smoothly.

"There can not be many who are innocent of what is going on. Certainly, there are none among the votaries of Hindutva. The problem is having democratized violence against Muslims across the country, and having been electorally rewarded for this, Modi must consider what it means for India. He has been given a taste of that this week, and as the sequence of events shows, he has not found it appealing. Trouble on this front will return unless Hindutva retreats and returns India to its normative secular state its Constitution prescribes. This is not going to happen under Modi, of course. The next best thing is to backpedal Hindutva a bit and calibrate Hindutva to a level where it pleases its constituency but doesn't offend the world. This will not be easy as we are about to find out.
Riaz Haq said…
Employees of Google during an internal monthly meeting on Thursday, 2 June, questioned executives why the anti-bias talk by Thenmozhi Soundararajan was cancelled.

https://www.thequint.com/news/world/google-employees-question-cancel-talk-dalit-activist-thenmozhi-soundararajan-caste-social-media

The company’s top diversity officer responded that it was cancelled because it “was actually pulling employees apart,” reported Insider, based on an audio recording of the meeting that was leaked.

This news comes just days after Tanuja Gupta, a senior manager at Google, resigned from the company on 1 June, to express solidarity with a Dalit rights activist who was not allowed to give a presentation on caste.

In April, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder of Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organisation, was scheduled to give a lecture to employees of Google News during Dalit History Month. However, it was called off after several Google employees called Soundararajan "Hindu-phobic" and "anti-Hindu" in emails to company heads.

During the all-member meeting on Thursday, the question of whether Google wanted to alter more diversity initiatives to “not cause others discomfort,” in light of the anti-bias event’s cancelation was raised. Employees had reportedly asked how they can discuss discrimination at Google considering the retaliation Gupta faced.

"Retaliation is a normalised Google practice to handle internal criticism, and women take the hit," Gupta had written in her resignation email.

Google’s chief diversity officer, Melonie Parker, responded that the company was “deeply opposed” to caste discrimination, and that “it has no place here or anywhere,” Insider reported.

“And in fact, a large group of employees felt that they were being vilified. And this resulted in a lot of internal concern, heated threads, as well as escalations," he said.

Meanwhile, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), also informally referred to as the Google Union, has expressed solidarity with Soundararajan and Gupta.


They demanded that Soundararajan's talk must be reinstated at Google News and the company should have a continued commitment to bring in Dalit and caste-oppressed speakers to address caste discrimination. Google must immediately add caste to all of its HR policies in all locations, the tweet read.

Sundar Pichai, Google's chief operating officer (CEO), said that the company should take into account “all types of issues people face, and we should strive to make a difference in all of the areas, including caste discrimination” as part of its DEI work, quoted Insider.

However, Soundararajan who had appealed to Pichai to allow her to give her presentation, has still not received a response.

"He is Indian and he is Brahmin and he grew up in Tamil Nadu. There is no way you grow up in Tamil Nadu and not know about caste because of how caste politics shaped the conversation," said Soundararajan, who is also a Dalit, reported The Washington Post.

“Even a consultant like myself is facing casteist smears in the company you lead. Imagine what a caste-oppressed worker at Google would face if they dared to come forward,” her statement read.

Several prominent personalities and people took to social media to slam the "blatant casteism" at the workspace.


Some Netizens Claim She Has 'Hatred for Everything Hindu'
Meanwhile, several other netizens have hailed the decision stating that she was "anti-Brahmin" and was "bent on creating caste diversion."


HinduPACT, a Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective USA, accused Soundararajan of peddling "a vicious and well-resourced influence operation."

"What drives their campaign is a shared hatred for everything HINDU and a well curated agenda to defame and de-platform any representation of the Indian American diaspora or Hindu Americans in the future of America. Sinister and Goebelessian," the tweet read.

Riaz Haq said…
USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom)
@USCIRF
#Indian officials and non-state actors have used social media platforms to intimidate and spread hatred and disinformation against religious minority communities, contributing to numerous violent attacks. Read more in the I2022 Annual Report India Chapter.

https://twitter.com/USCIRF/status/1534645800726319112?s=20&t=NLmIUfGgQA2h3mdo5iLWJg

--------
India
USCIRF–RECOMMENDED FOR COUNTRIES OF PARTICULAR CONCERN (CPC)

In 2021, religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened. During the year, the Indian government escalated its
promotion and enforcement of policies—including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda—that negatively affect Muslims,
Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities. The government continued to systemize its ideological vision of a Hindu
state at both the national and state levels through the use of both
existing and new laws and structural changes hostile to the country’s religious minorities.


https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2022-04/2022%20India.pdf

Attacks on Religious Communities
In 2021, numerous attacks were made on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, and their neighborhoods, businesses,
homes, and houses of worship. Many of these incidents were violent,
unprovoked, and/or encouraged or incited by government officials.
Both officials and nonstate actors have used social media platforms
and other forms of communication to intimidate and spread hatred
and disinformation against religious minority communities. The quick
spread of misinformation online has contributed to violent attacks. In
October, mobs attacked mosques and torched properties of Muslim
residents in Tripura, which borders Bangladesh. USCIRF received
documented reports of at least 50 incidents between June and
October 2021 targeting the Christian community in the state of Uttar
Pradesh alone.
Violent attacks have been perpetrated across the country
under the guise of protecting cows in line with India’s constitution
and laws in 20 states (and growing) criminalizing cow slaughter in
various forms. Vigilante mobs, often organized over social media,
have attacked religious minorities—including Muslims, Christians,
and Dalits—under suspicion of eating beef, slaughtering cows, or
transporting cattle for slaughter. Most such violent incidents are
reported in states where cattle slaughter is banned. For example,
in June 2021, three Muslim men were lynched on suspicion of cow
smuggling in Tripura, and a vigilante mob beat two men they accused
of smuggling cattle, resulting in one’s death and hospitalization of
the other in Madhya Pradesh.

Riaz Haq said…
After Outrage in the Islamic World, the Modi Government Could Be at Point of No Return
The BJP is not likely to learn from this and temper its majoritarianism though it may rework its agenda.

by KC Singh, Ex Indian Ambassador to UAE

https://thewire.in/government/modi-islamic-world-outrage-point-of-no-return

Firstly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been cynically stirring the anti-Muslim cauldron since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election in 2019 and getting away with it internationally. Grumbling was limited to the Western world, consisting mostly of pro forma criticism in annual reports or from individual party members i.e. from the liberal wing of the US Democrats.

---
Secondly, the government assumed that the Islamic world was distracted by their many mutual differences to confront a big nation. Their silence on the repression of Ugyhurs in China showed that economic interests trumped religious affinity. Prime Minister Modi had also managed to woo the de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia, which normally gave lead to the Islamic world’s angst, and the diplomatically assertive United Arab Emirates (UAE). These two had also been traditionally close to Pakistan. In fact, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had in recent years been less than zealous in its anti-India assertions on Kashmir or the treatment of Muslims in India.

Smugness prevailed in the BJP and the government, but the recent remarks of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, on the need for moderation in interfaith relations also indicated concern within the Sangh. Some recognition was dawning that post-Gyanvapi mosque controversy, the red-lines for their followers needed re-drawing.


But all this while, the BJP spokespersons in television studios nightly kept up their Muslim-baiting to polarise voters before the vital upcoming state elections, especially in the prime minister’s own state, Gujarat. Most television channels, chasing higher viewership ratings and the government’s goodwill, devised guest panels and issues for maximum confrontation and verbal duels.

For years, this writer had warned that domestic and foreign policies could not be relegated to separate silos. But four years of former US president Donald Trump, who jettisoned climate change and liberal democracy as issues traditionally relevant to US diplomacy, encouraged the Indian government to believe that diplomacy was unaffected by BJP’s Hindutva project. The pace was accelerated after the 2019 re-election of Narendra Modi to move India from constitutionalism and liberal democracy, as envisioned by India’s founding fathers, to majoritarianism and a reconstructive Hindu Rashtra.

The calculus rested on Modi having successfully divided the bigger Islamic nations and engaged the West, especially the US under Trump, who abandoned the defence of liberalism and democracy. However, Joe Biden’s victory, after Modi’s unwise, subtle endorsement of Trump, raised concerns that the state of domestic play in India may invite US attention. Jaishankar’s unwise snubbing of Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-origin Democrat member of the US Congress during the Trump presidency, was also a cause for concern. But China, climate change and now Ukraine have made the US harbour doubts about the Modi government’s commitment to liberal democracy.

--------

Will the BJP learn from this and tamp down its majoritarian Hindu Rashtra agenda? Probably not, though they would reassess their tactics to devise approaches that distinguish between targeting Indian Muslims and demonising Islam per se and especially the Prophet and his family. The damage to Indian reputation in the Islamic world is containable though not reversible, unless PM Modi decides to emulate Vajpayee, and explores a middle path between Hindutva and classical Hinduism, as honed by philosophers and saints over many millennia. The Modi government could be at a turning point or a point of no return. India holds its breath as the world watches.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #BJP, #RSS have long used Pakistan as a punching bag and lambasted #Mughals. They have now crossed a redline by insulting #ProphetMuhammad. Now #Gulf #Arabs states #UAE #Qatar #Saudi must put pressure on #Modi to stop attacks on #Indian #Muslims https://www.dawn.com/news/1693575

FOR long, the Sangh Parivar in India has used Pakistan as a punching bag, while also lambasting Muslim emperors and sultans that ruled the subcontinent centuries ago. But when officials linked to India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party publicly started attacking Islam’s sacred figures, a red line was crossed.

The vile comments directed at the Holy Prophet (PBUH) coming from two BJP spokespersons were no mere slip of the tongue. They were the result of decades of anti-Muslim poison spewed by the hard right in India; now the anti-Islam discourse has been mainstreamed, with people in power feeling free to attack the revered figures of other religions to please their rabid vote bank.

The reaction from many Muslim states has been swift against the outrage. Kuwait, Qatar and Iran summoned Indian diplomats to register their protest, while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have also issued stern denunciations against the provocative statements.

For its part, the BJP has expelled one character in this sordid saga, while suspending the other. It has also issued a lukewarm clarification stating that it “is strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion”. If this were so, hard-core Muslim-baiters and demagogues, such as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and the Indian home minister, would not be key cogs in the ruling apparatus.

The prime minister of India himself has a dark communal history, as the ghosts of Gujarat will testify. Moreover, the reaction to the comments has been disingenuous on part of the Indian state. While responses to the controversy by Indian missions in Kuwait and Qatar were conciliatory, distancing themselves from the “offensive tweet”, the Indian external affairs ministry’s reactions to the OIC generally and Pakistan’s concerns over the matter were combative and thoroughly undiplomatic.

Perhaps the feeling in New Delhi is that the billions of dollars worth of trade and remittances from the Gulf states cannot be lost over the controversy. Already there are campaigns underway in the Gulf calling for boycotts of Indian goods.

All religious minorities in India, including Christians and Dalits, have been feeling the heat as Hindu extremism has gained strength. But Muslims have been on the receiving end of the most hateful campaigns, with their loyalty to the state questioned, their cultural and religious practices restricted, and now their sacred figures attacked.

With the latest provocation, the Sangh Parivar is playing with fire. Already there has been violence in some areas, and unless efforts are made to rein in the hate-mongers, especially those who enjoy political and official patronage, the situation can deteriorate very quickly.

The international community, especially the Muslim world, needs to continue to call out India for its anti-Muslim and anti-Islam provocations. Perhaps sensitive to censure by foreign states, and fearful of damage to economic ties, New Delhi may change its attitude and seriously address these reprehensible incidents.


Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu #Nationalism Threatens #India’s Rise as a Nation. It’s not smart #geopolitics to have officers of the leading party ridiculing the religion of the country’s key #trading and #strategic partners. #Hindutva #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia #ProphetMuhammad https://www.wsj.com/articles/hindu-nationalism-threatens-india-nation-muhammad-muslim-gulf-states-sharma-jindal-11654810622?mod=opinion_featst_pos2

Could India’s fraught domestic politics hinder the country’s transformation into a leading global power? The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s increasingly shrill brand of Hindu nationalism has inflamed religious animosity within the country. It’s now complicating relationships outside Indian borders as well.

The problem’s latest incarnation: disparaging comments BJP officeholders recently made about the prophet Muhammad. These remarks have angered Muslim-majority countries in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere with which India seeks closer diplomatic relations.

The controversy began in a television debate late last month, when Nupur Sharma, a BJP spokeswoman, castigated the prophet Muhammad for marrying his wife Ayesha when she was still a child. On Twitter, another BJP official, Naveen Kumar Jindal, then suggested that the marriage made Muhammad guilty of rape. The comments quickly brought protesting Indian Muslims to the streets. In the northern city of Kanpur, Hindus and Muslims hurled stones and crude bombs at each other after Muslims attempted to shutter a market in protest. The police have detained more than 50 people.

The issue took on an international dimension. On Sunday the governments of Qatar, Kuwait and Iran summoned the Indian ambassadors for an explanation. The hashtags #BoycottIndiaProducts and #StopInsulting_ProphetMuhammad started trending on Twitter in Gulf countries. Supermarkets in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia began to remove Indian products from their shelves. The grand mufti of Oman declared that “the insolent and obscene rudeness” of the BJP officials amounted to “a war against every Muslim in the east and west of the Earth.”

The BJP has suspended Ms. Sharma from the party and expelled Mr. Jindal, but this hasn’t quelled the Muslim world’s anger toward India. At least 15 Muslim-majority nations have condemned the BJP leaders’ remarks. Ms. Sharma has apologized. She and Mr. Jindal have both been booked under the Indian Penal Code for their remarks and could face prison time.

As India’s ruling party faces criticism abroad, it’s been lambasted by supporters at home for cutting Ms. Sharma and Mr. Jindal loose. Critics point out that Ms. Sharma’s taunts about the prophet’s marriage to Ayesha were factual, backed by authoritative Islamic scripture. Moreover, such countries as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are in no position to lecture India on respecting all faiths. And their outrage has been joined by violent Islamists. In a statement, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent warned of suicide bombings against “those who dare to dishonour our Prophet.” Caving in amid death threats allows Islamists to set the boundaries for speech in India.

But none of that makes BJP representatives publicly ridiculing Islam an intelligent geopolitical strategy.

For starters, Ms. Sharma and Mr. Jindal are hardly champions of Enlightenment values. BJP state governments routinely arrest people for insulting Hindu sentiments, and many party supporters cheer these arrests. Last week, while releasing a report on international religious freedom, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out India for “rising attacks on people and places of worship.”

Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu #Nationalism Threatens #India’s Rise as a Nation. It’s not smart #geopolitics to have officers of the leading party ridiculing the religion of the country’s key #trading and #strategic partners. #Hindutva #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia #ProphetMuhammad https://www.wsj.com/articles/hindu-nationalism-threatens-india-nation-muhammad-muslim-gulf-states-sharma-jindal-11654810622?mod=opinion_featst_pos2


For starters, Ms. Sharma and Mr. Jindal are hardly champions of Enlightenment values. BJP state governments routinely arrest people for insulting Hindu sentiments, and many party supporters cheer these arrests. Last week, while releasing a report on international religious freedom, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out India for “rising attacks on people and places of worship.”

But even if the BJP were a good steward of free speech—rather than selectively intolerant—India would still face the stark reality that it can’t afford to antagonize the Muslim world. For starters, about two-thirds of Indian citizens abroad—8.9 million of 13.6 million people—live in the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, in recent years GCC countries have accounted for more than half of India’s roughly $87 billion in remittances.

The Gulf is also among India’s largest trading partners. Last year, two-way trade with the six GCC countries was $87.4 billion, which is more than India’s bilateral trade with the European Union or Southeast Asian countries. The Middle East supplies more than half of India’s oil and gas imports.

New Delhi also has close strategic relationships with some of these countries. As India has grown closer to the U.S. in recent years, it has also stepped up cooperation with such American allies as Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. The Saudi government has extradited terrorism suspects to India. In 2019 the U.A.E. bestowed its highest civilian award on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Four years ago, Oman, with which India has close strategic ties dating back to British rule, granted the Indian navy access to one of its ports. This gives India a foothold in a region where China has made inroads with its Belt and Road Initiative.

All this means that even if it were not hypocritical for BJP supporters to lambast penalizing Ms. Sharma and Mr. Jindal, it would be foolish for ruling party officials to insult revered Islamic religious figures. Hard-line Hindu nationalists may hate the idea of India’s kowtowing to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but Mr. Modi knows better than to pick a fight that he can’t win.

Riaz Haq said…
Spotlight on Two Nuclear Powers: India and Pakistan
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics

https://impakter.com/spotlight-two-nuclear-powers-india-pakistan/

Why look at India and Pakistan when much of the world is focused on Ukraine? Because of the possibility of the war in Ukraine escalating to the point where the Russians choose to use a nuclear weapon: This would most likely be for tactical gain and psychological effect to force the Ukrainian Government to sue for “peace”.

Yet, if such were to happen, it would be the first time since World War II that nuclear weapons have been used in a conflict since they were successfully banned 75 years ago. It would change the boundaries of confrontation, conceivably forever, as other countries might be encouraged to consider using their nuclear power, and, among the (still) restricted group that has it, India and Pakistan are among those most inclined to do so.

Nuclear weapons analysts estimate that there are currently nine nuclear states — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and these numbers are likely to grow.

Possible newcomers include Iran, and Saudi Arabia, the former seen as purposefully seeking nuclear weapon capability, the latter pursuing nuclear development ostensibly for civilian purposes, but notably with the assistance of Pakistani experts, the same country that supported the North Korean weapons program.

The Saudis have not sworn off nuclear weapons and are the largest funders of Pakistan, which became a nuclear state primarily because the Netherlands allowed a nuclear physicist working at the Urenco labs in the Netherlands, Dr. Abdul Quadeer Khan, to take the blueprints of the Dutch nuclear enrichment and centrifuge technology and develop the Pakistani program.

Three countries “voluntarily” gave up their nuclear capability, namely South Africa, Libya, and Ukraine.

With respect to these latter two, their histories probably would be very different today if they had not done so. They serve as warnings for other countries that might think about giving up such capacity.

Overall, few regions of the world– maybe South America– are currently “nuclear arms-free” if you will

A Russian breach of the ban will have implications for all other nuclear-capable or “wannabe” countries, especially those facing confrontation with neighbors—which are nearly all countries.

Examples of neighbor disputes are numerous and include the Arctic, China and Japan, Colombia and Venezuela, and the Western Sahara pitting Morocco and Mauritania, to name just a few.

South Asia is very much such a region with India and Pakistan both nuclear-armed, and with the three largest nuclear powers, China, Russia, and the United States having clients, and chosen sides. Then there is the neighboring failed island state of Sri Lanka, in default and with a history of civil war that had drawn its neighbors into its disputes in the past.

Add to the geopolitical tensions, this comes at a time the region is experiencing unbelievable heat waves, affecting their economies and daily lives.

Everywhere, but surely here, the costs and availability of food, fertilizer, fuel, and access to concessional financing, along with an ongoing Covid pandemic, have created very difficult challenges for any government.

Into this mix are the political and religious differences between India and Pakistan (and China), and religious divide and territorial disputes over Kashmir, which have brought them in the past to armed conflict and lingering mistrust.

India and Pakistan never-ending disputes, plus China and Russia in the mix
India and Pakistan have been at odds since independence in 1947 from Great Britain and have fought four wars over the Kashmir region.


Riaz Haq said…
Spotlight on Two Nuclear Powers: India and Pakistan
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics

https://impakter.com/spotlight-two-nuclear-powers-india-pakistan/

India and Pakistan never-ending disputes, plus China and Russia in the mix
India and Pakistan have been at odds since independence in 1947 from Great Britain and have fought four wars over the Kashmir region.

With regard to nuclear policy, India initially declared a No First Use policy, vowing to never use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. However, in 2019 India signaled it was reconsidering this policy.

Unlike India, Pakistan has never declared a No First Use policy and has proceeded to emphasize smaller battlefield or “tactical” nuclear weapons as a counter to India’s larger and superior conventional forces.

Even a small nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could kill 20 million people in a week.

If a nuclear winter is triggered, nearly 2 billion people in the developing world would be at risk of death by starvation.

India and Pakistan are at odds on many fronts but certainly exacerbated by religious differences, in each case supported by large political majorities, and ultra-national sub-groups, which morph into exclusionary national identity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been actively persuading India’s 80% Hindu population that they are under threat—and will only prosper if they support the ideology of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism.

Recent public comments on air by a high-level BJP official disparaging the Prophet Muhammad have exploded across the Moslem world. Despite efforts to distance itself, the actions taken may not be enough to quell what is a diplomatic crisis for India’s relations with countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

For its external big power support, recently India has moved its alliances more to the United States, and away from Russia, its past primary military hardware supplier.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is officially the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the second-largest primarily Sunni Muslim population in the world. A new Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif was elected in April 2022 and in his first address said, “he will expedite the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and rebuild broken ties with partners and allies.”

Pakistan’s ties to China go back to the time China chose sides in the 2019 India-Pakistan dispute when India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019 and sought to incorporate parts of “Xinjiang and Tibet into its Ladakh union territory,” which China considered violating its own dominion of Tibet.

Mass disenfranchisement of Kashmiri Muslims, deteriorating security, economic backsliding, and a contentious political agenda are causing ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan, building on historical friction in the region.

On its parallel track, Pakistan strengthened its relations with Russia, which has continued despite international condemnation of its invasion of Ukraine. An alliance with Russia had been agreed to by former governments, and now goes forward with the Pakistan Stream Gas Project, also known as the North-South gas pipeline, a multi-billion effort to be built with Russian financing and in collaboration with their companies.

In short, territorial, and ethnic tensions remain high, the two countries have chosen different global “sugar daddies,” with both having significant nuclear arsenals.

Not a promising picture for peace.

Two other factors adding to nuclear risks: climate change and pandemics
India and Pakistan are located in a part of the world that is particularly exposed to the threats of climate change and given huge populations and poor health systems are vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases.

Riaz Haq said…
Spotlight on Two Nuclear Powers: India and Pakistan
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics

https://impakter.com/spotlight-two-nuclear-powers-india-pakistan/

Two other factors adding to nuclear risks: climate change and pandemics
India and Pakistan are located in a part of the world that is particularly exposed to the threats of climate change and given huge populations and poor health systems are vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases.

Here is what you can expect in terms of impacts on both countries.

South Asia Feels the Heat: On most climate maps, this is the hottest region on the planet. Scorching temperatures were already reached in March 2022 at degrees not usually happening until June.

This current heat wave in India and Pakistan is not a lone event; on the contrary, with the acceleration of global warming, it is estimated to be 30 times more likely than compared to preindustrial times. And it has led to a deep reduction in agricultural output, as wheat crops withered, and mango crops were lost, exacerbating food insecurity, and threatening Indians and Pakistanis with limited income.

Those at or near the poverty levels have limited alternatives to cooling themselves, with millions of villages without any access to basic electricity, and for those living in urban slums, many are too poor to afford it even if it were available.

Roop Singh, a climate risk adviser with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, makes the point that with more middle-income households having air conditioning, this means widespread power outages in part because the need for more cooling strains the electrical grids, and in part because of a coal shortage in India. “This is particularly impactful for people who might have access to a fan or to a cooler but might not be able to run it because they can’t afford a generator,” she said.

Medical and climate scientists have determined there is a “hard limit” when human tolerance is breached, the ‘wet-bulb’ temperature beyond which the human body is no longer viable. The wet-bulb temperature reflects not only heat but also how much water (humidity) is in the air.

“If the wet-bulb temperature reading is higher than our body temperature, that means that we cannot cool ourselves to a temperature tolerable for humans by evaporating sweat and that basically means you can’t survive,” said Tapio Schneider, a California Institute of Technology climate scientist and professor.

A recent Science Advances study found that some places have already experienced conditions too hot and humid for human survival, including Pakistan where there has been a wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. “That kind of temperature would make it impossible to sweat enough to avoid overheating, organ failure and eventual death.”




According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, should global emissions continue as they are, places in India and Pakistan will approach these limits in this century.

Even before reaching “hard limits” at “adaptation levels”, the impact of unbelievably high heat levels is increasingly threatening living conditions throughout South Asia.

Recalling the lessons in Gunnar Myrdal’s historical work “Asian Drama”, when large numbers of people and communities are incapable of dealing with daily life and it becomes intolerable and without hope, the inevitable consequence is that social peace disintegrates.

Riaz Haq said…
Spotlight on Two Nuclear Powers: India and Pakistan
Factors increasing both countries’ confrontational risks include the war in Ukraine, rivalries with China and Russia, climate change and pandemics

https://impakter.com/spotlight-two-nuclear-powers-india-pakistan/


Recalling the lessons in Gunnar Myrdal’s historical work “Asian Drama”, when large numbers of people and communities are incapable of dealing with daily life and it becomes intolerable and without hope, the inevitable consequence is that social peace disintegrates.

This translates into civil disorder and widespread popular anger directed at their leaders. And often when leaders are not able or unwilling to provide meaningful assistance, they evoke external threats (real or imagined) and blame outsiders as a way to both distract and unite their subjects.

When disastrous living conditions occur in both urban and rural areas, political leaders in weak governments look to external escapism politics, a scenario with a high realism index in today’s South-Asian sub-continent. And with an obvious fallout on Pakistan’s and India’s nuclear policies.

The COVID Factor: The current pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of human activity, including international efforts in nuclear arms control and disarmament, and the work of the 1968 Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT).

In South Asia, there was no official ongoing India–Pakistan, China–India, or China–Pakistan nuclear dialogue prior to Covid. The pandemic effectively stopped all in-person, non-official contacts which might have led to such engagement.

The pandemic and its accompanying worldwide panic shed light on why it is a mistake for governments to expend huge sums on building nuclear arsenals and war-fighting capabilities at the expense of basic economic and social needs.

The prospect of new variants of Covid-19, such as Omicron, and/or another potential readily transmissible virus underscores the fact that these can be very costly and destabilizing events, epidemics, and pandemics that undermine stability and even nations’ survival.

Covid infections in India– at least during the first two years– went massively unreported both in terms of morbidity and mortality. In Pakistan, both numbers were and have been considerably lower than its neighbor, but massive underreporting is likely there as well.

According to recent data, these figures in both countries have declined. As of April 2022 reported cases in Pakistan were down while in India, by the end of May 2022, an average of 2,574 cases per day were reported, with deaths having decreased by 11 percent.

The reported drop in COVID-19 infection rates at present has meant less attention in the public space in both countries—at least for the moment.

Again, there is no assurance that new variants and a wave of infections will not happen, which could cumulatively add to inter-country political tensions, especially if there are accusations that new infections came from across the border.

It all adds up to a worrying picture
Overwhelming heat currently affecting South Asia means that tens of millions are living with very harmful dehydration, exhaustion, food insecurity, and the possibility of added infectious disease from the ongoing Covid pandemic.

Such conditions potentially pose a level of political unrest which very well may influence the political class of these two nuclear countries.

With fanatic groups on both sides of their borders looking for ways to undermine stability, it will not take much for either India or Pakistan leaders to feel pressed to react, then counter-react, each step bringing them to the brink of choosing nuclear.

Let us hope such a tipping point is never reached, that both cooler weather and heads prevail.
Riaz Haq said…
#China taking hardline along border with #India: #US Defence Secretary.“I am especially thinking of India, the world’s largest democracy. We believe that its growing #military capability and technological prowess can be a stabilizing force in the region.” https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/china-hardening-its-position-along-boundary-with-india-us-defence-secretary-403106#.YqVP-lc_urI.twitter

New Delhi, June 11

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J Austin on Saturday said, “Beijing continues to harden its position along the border that it shares with India.”

Austin was speaking on Day two of the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fanghe is scheduled to speak tomorrow at the same dialogue.

This is the second such observation about the LAC by a senior US official within this week. Earlier on June 8, US Army’s Pacific Commanding General Charles A Flynn, on a visit to India, said infrastructure being created by China near its border with India in Ladakh was “alarming”, calling the Chinese activity in that region as “eye-opening”.

Today in Singapore, Austin speaking on expanding territorial claims of China, said, “It’s important as the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims.”

In the East China Sea, the China’s expanding fishing fleet is sparking tension with its neighbours. In the South China Sea, the PRC is using outposts on manmade islands bristling with advanced weaponry to advance its illegal maritime claims, Austin said, adding, “We’re seeing PRC vessels plunder the region’s provisions, operating illegally within the territorial waters of other Indo-Pacific countries.”
Riaz Haq said…
Is #India Really a #Democracy? #Modi's #Hindutva has left millions of #Indian citizens fearing what may happen to them as they see what is being done to their kind. #Muslims are being targeted. #Islamophobia_in_india #Fascism #HindutvaTerror #demolitions https://thewire.in/rights/nayantara-sahgal-india-democracy-rights-freedom

Songs have a way of staying in the mind. Songs stay ready to be remembered, and never more powerfully than when their words bring to mind the times we are living in. One such song is Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’:

‘How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry;
how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died;
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind. . .’

Why do these words remind me of India today? Is it because I am standing on the same soil, but around me is an unfamiliar country? I keep hearing that India is a democracy but in a democracy, it is criminals who are in jail – not citizens who have committed no crime but to disagree with the ruling power. In what number these have been incarcerated we don’t know. So can we call India a democracy?

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.

Recently I heard that the government wants a strong opposition. But when members of the opposition such as the Elgar Parishad prisoners, to name one case, are in jail for criticising some official measure or not falling in line with the ruling ideology, is this the way that a democracy treats dissent?

In all the decades since independence in 1947, there have been robust fights between opposition and government over every conceivable issue, inside and outside parliament. No one was sent to jail for loud and clear denouncements of some government action or government policy. India’s vigorously functioning democracy was admired the world over as an example to other Asian countries. Why is this example not being followed in present-day India itself?

We need to face the terrible truth that though prisoners in a democratic country have rights, these have not been observed here under governments past and present. It is a matter of shame that prisoners in Indian jails are routinely tortured to extract confessions, and selected political prisoners have been singled out for vicious treatment including denial of bail even when bail was desperately needed for medical or family reasons. Some have died of their treatment in jail. One well-known victim was the Catholic priest Father Stan Swamy who was eventually released only to die on his release. How many unknown political prisoners may have suffered a like fate we do not know. Does this sound as if the government wants a strong opposition?

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.
Riaz Haq said…
WaPo Editorial: The #US must oppose #India’s rising #Islamophobia. #HateCrimes against Indian #Muslims and other religious minorities number in the hundreds each year, as local and state #BJP officials engage in #hatespeech themselves. #Hindutva #Modi https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/06/14/us-must-oppose-indias-rising-islamophobia/?tid=ss_tw

India’s relations with majority-Muslim countries have been strained this month after two officials in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made demeaning comments about the prophet Muhammad. Stores in countries such as Kuwait pulled Indian products off their shelves, and protesters continue to call for boycotts of Indian-made goods; more than a dozen governments in majority-Muslim countries and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the comments. Good. Religious intolerance under Mr. Modi has gone unchallenged long enough.

The backlash produced some modest results. In response, the BJP suspended spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and expelled spokesman Naveen Jindal. The ruling party also issued a statement June 5 denouncing the “insult of any religious personalities of any religion,” stating that the BJP opposes “any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion,” as the party “respects all religions.”

This is not how Mr. Modi or the BJP has governed. India, founded as a secular nation despite its 79 percent Hindu majority and 15 percent Muslim minority, has slid toward Hindu nationalism under BJP rule. Bulldozers have razed houses in majority-Muslim neighborhoods under dubious pretenses, with local officials even boasting of the demolitions. The BJP-run state government of Karnataka banned hijabs in schools, a motion the state court upheld in March. Hate crimes against Indian Muslims and other religious minorities number in the hundreds each year, as local and state BJP officials engage in hate speech themselves. Amid all this, Mr. Modi and the national BJP have been quiet — until now.

Given this history, it seems unlikely the BJP’s nice-sounding statements reflect a sudden concern for religious tolerance. Indeed, two people were killed and dozens more injured as police charged a crowd of protesters last Friday.

That India’s ruling party did anything to condemn religious intolerance probably reflects concern about alienating Middle Eastern states, on which India depends heavily for natural gas, economic cooperation, infrastructure projects, counterterrorism and intelligence. Millions of Indians work and live in the Persian Gulf region, sending home remittances. Mr. Modi wants to make India a leader on the global stage; the recent backlash shows that he and his party might respond when other countries object to rife anti-Muslim sentiment in India, tolerated or encouraged by his party.

The United States should increase the pressure. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in April that the Biden administration is monitoring human rights abuses in India; this month, he named India as a country with deteriorating religious freedoms. But the White House has been silent as this most recent controversy has unfolded. India could be a pluralistic democracy or a country defined by a dark, intolerant nationalism. The United States should work actively in favor of the former.

Riaz Haq said…
As Prophet, BJP & ‘Fringe’ Battle Rages in India, Diaspora in US Grows Divided
It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach.


https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/prophet-bjp-fringe-india-nupur-sharma-us-washington-diaspora#read-more

Snapshot
In Washington, Muslim activists are busy organising “briefings” on the situation in India to gain more traction on Capitol Hill.

Hindu groups are angry for a different reason. The sidelining of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal is seen as abdication, not course correction.

The diaspora stands further divided. Starting from 2015, the BJP’s overseas supporters had begun using the term “Hindu Americans” instead of Indian Americans.

A significant percentage of voters in western societies, which are themselves battling racism, gun violence and police brutality, want their governments to treat minorities fairly and humanely.

----------

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the larger Sangh family face a critical question in the wake of the Nupur Sharma controversy: change course and moderate the message or stay the course and brazen it out because this, too, shall pass?

Yes, it grates that instead of listening to countless appeals from their own citizens to stop the everyday toxicity, the government acted only in response to pressure from Muslim countries where democracy and debate are not in fashion. But the sheikhdoms know how to use their muscle – they made the BJP watch its own show bomb slowly at the box office.


As Prophet, BJP & ‘Fringe’ Battle Rages in India, Diaspora in US Grows Divided
It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the larger Sangh family face a critical question in the wake of the Nupur Sharma controversy: change course and moderate the message or stay the course and brazen it out because this, too, shall pass?

Yes, it grates that instead of listening to countless appeals from their own citizens to stop the everyday toxicity, the government acted only in response to pressure from Muslim countries where democracy and debate are not in fashion. But the sheikhdoms know how to use their muscle – they made the BJP watch its own show bomb slowly at the box office.

Snapshot
In Washington, Muslim activists are busy organising “briefings” on the situation in India to gain more traction on Capitol Hill.

Hindu groups are angry for a different reason. The sidelining of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal is seen as abdication, not course correction.

The diaspora stands further divided. Starting from 2015, the BJP’s overseas supporters had begun using the term “Hindu Americans” instead of Indian Americans.

A significant percentage of voters in western societies, which are themselves battling racism, gun violence and police brutality, want their governments to treat minorities fairly and humanely.

In Washington, Muslim activists are busy organising “briefings” on the situation in India, using the bonanza of fiascos – the latest being the demolition of an activist’s home in Prayagraj – to gain more traction on Capitol Hill. Their anti-BJP campaign morphed into an anti-India campaign some time ago.

Hindu groups are angry for a different reason. The sidelining of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal is seen as abdication, not course correction. Some have started talking in terms of “naram dal” (soft groups) and “garam dal” (tough groups) to distinguish between real Hindutva leaders and others. They don’t want to discuss the high stakes involved in India’s relations with Arab countries.

'Hindu Americans', Not Indian Americans
The diaspora stands further divided, a process that started around 2015 as BJP’s overseas supporters gained new energy and began using the term “Hindu Americans” instead of Indian Americans. The long-term impact of such fracturing of the community cannot be a net positive for India’s goal of harnessing their power.


Riaz Haq said…
As Prophet, BJP & ‘Fringe’ Battle Rages in India, Diaspora in US Grows Divided
It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach.


https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/prophet-bjp-fringe-india-nupur-sharma-us-washington-diaspora#read-more

It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach. The message from the Arab world was clear: enough is enough. As statements poured in to condemn Sharma’s provocative outburst against Prophet Muhammad, the government had no choice but to take action.

As Prophet, BJP & ‘Fringe’ Battle Rages in India, Diaspora in US Grows Divided
It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the larger Sangh family face a critical question in the wake of the Nupur Sharma controversy: change course and moderate the message or stay the course and brazen it out because this, too, shall pass?

Yes, it grates that instead of listening to countless appeals from their own citizens to stop the everyday toxicity, the government acted only in response to pressure from Muslim countries where democracy and debate are not in fashion. But the sheikhdoms know how to use their muscle – they made the BJP watch its own show bomb slowly at the box office.

Snapshot
In Washington, Muslim activists are busy organising “briefings” on the situation in India to gain more traction on Capitol Hill.

Hindu groups are angry for a different reason. The sidelining of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal is seen as abdication, not course correction.

The diaspora stands further divided. Starting from 2015, the BJP’s overseas supporters had begun using the term “Hindu Americans” instead of Indian Americans.

A significant percentage of voters in western societies, which are themselves battling racism, gun violence and police brutality, want their governments to treat minorities fairly and humanely.

In Washington, Muslim activists are busy organising “briefings” on the situation in India, using the bonanza of fiascos – the latest being the demolition of an activist’s home in Prayagraj – to gain more traction on Capitol Hill. Their anti-BJP campaign morphed into an anti-India campaign some time ago.

Hindu groups are angry for a different reason. The sidelining of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal is seen as abdication, not course correction. Some have started talking in terms of “naram dal” (soft groups) and “garam dal” (tough groups) to distinguish between real Hindutva leaders and others. They don’t want to discuss the high stakes involved in India’s relations with Arab countries.

ADVERTISEMENT

'Hindu Americans', Not Indian Americans
The diaspora stands further divided, a process that started around 2015 as BJP’s overseas supporters gained new energy and began using the term “Hindu Americans” instead of Indian Americans. The long-term impact of such fracturing of the community cannot be a net positive for India’s goal of harnessing their power.

It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach. The message from the Arab world was clear: enough is enough. As statements poured in to condemn Sharma’s provocative outburst against Prophet Muhammad, the government had no choice but to take action.


The BJP suspended Sharma, the national spokesperson, and expelled Naveen Kumar Jindal, former chief of BJP’s Delhi media unit, who had jumped into the controversy to add insult to injury. Both were temporarily deemed “fringe elements” by innovative spin doctors, a feint that was a second self-goal.
Riaz Haq said…
As Prophet, BJP & ‘Fringe’ Battle Rages in India, Diaspora in US Grows Divided
It’s obvious that the BJP’s domestic agenda is impacting India’s foreign policy goals and outreach.


https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/prophet-bjp-fringe-india-nupur-sharma-us-washington-diaspora#read-more



BJP's Free Agents of Chaos and Violence
Governing India requires an exquisite balancing act at the best of times, and these are the toughest of times where support from, solidarity and “sambandh” (relationship) with international partners are of paramount importance. Editorial writers have suggested that cold calculations, if not good sense, should force the BJP to rethink.

It seems some amount of rethinking is afoot, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, wouldn’t have advised caution. He recently told supporters that there was no need “to look for a Shivling in every mosque” and create a new dispute every day.

But more such messaging by Modi and other top leaders is needed to prevent further embarrassment. To put the genie back into the bottle will be tough if not impossible, but what about some discipline?
Creating an impenetrable aura around Modi may have worked initially to inspire awe among the untrained and unrestrained supporters. But over time, they have become free agents of chaos and violence. They cross red lines with aplomb without a care in the world, leaving a mess for overworked diplomats to clean up.

Modi and his top advisors may want to conduct a series of “chai pe charcha” with grassroots supporters and second- and third-tier leadership to rein in the ugliness. The current state of affairs is unsustainable. The IT cell has surely monitored and sent the “feedback” on social media in favour of Sharma and Jindal.


Far From 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'
Western governments understand to some extent that Hinduism is resurgent in India as they watch their own societies struggle with White supremacy, racism and police brutality. They can’t preach beyond a point, except to read out the press release on tolerance. But we should note that a significant percentage of voters in western societies want their governments to treat minorities fairly and humanely.

In India, the dominant narrative seems to be to crush critics, marginalise minorities and use the bulldozer. This is not the “Vishwa Guru” (world leader) template that India can sell to others. Right now, the government is fighting to save the jobs of nearly 9 million Indian citizens working in Gulf countries. They are critical to the Indian economy – they send a hefty $35 billion in remittances. Around 40 million family members back home depend on those workers.

Here’s the thing. The BJP could have actually done “sabka saath, sabka vikas” and included India’s 200 million Muslims in the project of a resurgent India. More than 90% would have joined hands to rebuild, reconstruct and reimagine India. Inclusion doesn’t mean “appeasement,” it means cohesion and strength.
But if the starting point is abuse, insult and violence, it’s natural for Muslims to go into their religious cocoon. After eight years of badgering and demonisation, the Islamist elements are strengthened, Friday prayers have become more politics than worship, and Muslim women are more prone to the Saudi hijab than the good old dupatta.

Can Modi Clear the Toxicity?
The less said about TV anchors who excel in multiplying hate, the better. The liberal media – self-conscious and self-righteous as many of its members have become – would also do well to introspect and figure out new ways to engage and convince rather than preach to the converted with a daily dossier on government failures.

India’s international partners want the country to get its act together and move forward instead of being mired in a million mutinies. If Modi won’t use the bully pulpit and his mandate to clear the national windscreen of toxicity, India could recede into the rear view mirror for others.
Riaz Haq said…
India is miles away but its tyranny is shaking, shaping American politics
American supporters of the BJP and its affiliated ultra right-wing, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh manage to steamroll anyone who calls out India’s abysmal treatment of Muslims, oppressed castes and other minorities.
By Rummana Hussain Jun 18, 2022, 2:00am PDT

https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2022/6/18/23170018/india-illinois-modi-politics-raja-krishnamoorthi-pieter-friedrich-bjp-rss

Last weekend, a Muslim activist in India was arrested and had his house bulldozed by authorities who suspected him of orchestrating demonstrations that turned violent in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Javed Muhammad, whose daughter Afreen Fatima is also an organizer, wasn’t the only one whose family’s property was destroyed. At least two others protesting Islamophobic remarks made by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party had their homes razed.

“Bulldozer justice” has recently become commonplace against Muslim activists and business owners in India.

Meanwhile, American supporters of the BJP and its affiliated ultra right-wing, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh verbally steamroll and harass, like a swarm of agitated bees, anyone in the United States who dares to call out India’s abysmal treatment of its religious minorities, oppressed castes and other marginalized groups.

Then they retract their stingers in the presence of politicians and community leaders and lure them into a honey trap, convincing them that any criticism of India is offensive and divisive.

This is exactly how many City Council members were persuaded last year into shooting down a non-binding, bare-bones resolution that simply said discrimination in India is wrong. Chicago leaders shouldn’t weigh in on international matters, some argued. But less than a year later, a resolution supporting the “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” was passed by the City Council without controversy.

Many South Asians of all faiths, horrified by the bloodshed and bigotry overseas, believe a similar playbook has been pulled out with the recent statements issued in defense of U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who has upset many of his former supporters for cozying up to Modi and other BJP/RSS leaders.

“The days ... of making threats against non-white people, especially because of the color of their skin, their religious affiliation, or their country of origin must remain behind us,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted after writer and activist Pieter Friedrich stood outside the congressman’s Schaumburg office on May 21 and said, “Nazis out, Raja must go” and a desi slogan that offended Krishnamoorthi.

Friedrich has been a thorn in Krishnamoorthi’s side since he moved to the western suburbs from California last month to shine a light on the influence of right-wing India in local politics. Friedrich’s style is brash, and his Nazi references can hurt the cause of Muslim rights.

Riaz Haq said…
India is miles away but its tyranny is shaking, shaping American politics
American supporters of the BJP and its affiliated ultra right-wing, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh manage to steamroll anyone who calls out India’s abysmal treatment of Muslims, oppressed castes and other minorities.
By Rummana Hussain Jun 18, 2022, 2:00am PDT

https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2022/6/18/23170018/india-illinois-modi-politics-raja-krishnamoorthi-pieter-friedrich-bjp-rss

The issue, though, isn’t about him. It’s about the persecution in India that has been swept under the rug by many American leaders because of the handiwork of their BJP/RSS-supporting donors.

Jackson said he took issue with language Friedrich used.

Curiously, Jackson’s four-part tweet echoed the talking points of Indian Americans who fought against the City Council resolution and failed to mention Friedrich has been speaking out against oppression in India.

Krishnamoorthi accused Friedrich of making death threats for chanting “Krishnamoorthi murdabad.”

Murdabad literally translates to “death to” in Hindi and Urdu.

However, when used in political discourse in India and Pakistan, murdabad means “down with,” according to Tyler Williams, an associate professor of South Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago. “It is absolutely not a death threat,” Williams said.

Friedrich maintains he only referenced Hitler’s party because the most influential RSS leader was inspired by Nazi Germany.

Friedrich went on to say the homophobic and anti-abortion remarks Equality Illinois and Secretary of State Jesse White denounced him for in their support of Krishnamoorthi were made when he was a Christian fundamentalist as a teenager. “I own them and bear responsibility but I repudiate these views now,” said Friedrich, 36.

Krishnamoorthi, meanwhile, told me he is “very concerned” about the rhetoric being used against Muslims and other minorities by the BJP/RSS and that he condemns any violence carried out by them.

The congressman did rush out to O’Hare Airport in 2017 to join protesters and immigration lawyers when Donald Trump issued the “Muslim ban.” He also put out statements condemning the derogatory comments made about Prophet Muhammad by leading BJP members and the call for a genocide of Muslims at a conference in India earlier this year. Much appreciated.

But it is hard to ignore Krishnamoorthi’s reported attendance at several events organized by Hindu nationalists, including a 94th birthday commemoration of the RSS, a group Williams described as the Indian equivalent of the Proud Boys.

You can’t stand against someone when you are standing with them.

Krishnamoorthi is on the right side on domestic matters — Black Lives Matter, the environment, etc. — but when it comes to India, he’s “cheerleading for the Modi government” said Nikhil Mandalaparthy, the advocacy director of Hindus for Human Rights.

Krishnamoorthi said he is willing to meet with those worried about the tyrannical hold that has taken over India and conceded, “I need to do more in continuing to speak out.”

We’ll be waiting.

Riaz Haq said…
Thousands ransack #Indian #railway station as #protests intensify over #India’s #military hiring plan. In a bid to contain the outrage, #Modi gov't has announced concessions for those who will serve under the #AgnipathScheme. #BJP #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/19/thousands-ransack-railway-station-as-protests-intensify-over-indias-military-hiring-plan?CMP=share_btn_tw

Protesters in India’s eastern state of Bihar have damaged public property and ransacked offices in a railway station, expressing outrage at a new military recruitment plan and demanding the government reverse course.

The government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has introduced a scheme called Agnipath, or “path of fire”, designed to bring more people into the military on four-year contracts to lower the average age of India’s 1.38 million-strong armed forces.

A top military general, Lieut Gen Anil Puri, told the NDTV news channel that the aim of the plan was to make the military more modern and effective.

Analysts said the new scheme would also help cut burgeoning pension costs, but opponents believe it would limit opportunities for permanent jobs in the defence forces, with implications for salaries, pensions and other benefits.

One person was killed this week and more than a dozen have been injured in a series of protests in some regions of the country against the new scheme.

Thousands of young men attacked train coaches, burned tyres and clashed with officials at a railway station in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, on Saturday.

Authorities cancelled 369 trains nationwide, many of them running through areas witnessing unrest.

Sanjay Singh, a senior police official overseeing law and order in the state, said at least 12 protesters were arrested and at least four policemen injured in clashes.

“Around 2,000 to 2,500 people entered the Masaurhi railway station and attacked the forces,” he said.

In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, police arrested at least 250 people under what are called preventative arrests. Some demonstrators accused the police of using excessive force.

In a bid to contain the outrage, the federal government on Saturday announced concessions for those who will serve under the scheme.

The federal home ministry announced it would reserve 10% of vacancies in the paramilitary forces and Assam Rifles, a unit in the Indian army, for those who have passed out of the army after the four-year period mandated in the scheme.

The defence ministry stated it would reserve 10% of its vacancies for those who have completed the scheme.

“Perhaps because it is a new scheme, people have misunderstood it, but we have been discussing this with everyone, including ex-servicemen,” the defence minister, Rajnath Singh, told a conference on Saturday.

The scheme calls for retaining 25% of the recruited soldiers after four years of service, with the rest getting priority for other jobs, such as with the state police.

The navy chief said on Friday the protests were unexpected and probably the result of misinformation about the new system.

“I didn’t anticipate any protests like this,” Admiral R Hari Kumar told ANI. “It is the single biggest human resource management transformation that has ever happened in the Indian military.”

The scheme is not open for women in combat roles and there are no current plans to change this.

Riaz Haq said…
Pieter Friedrich
@FriedrichPieter
Just so we’re clear, #BJP views the new #AgnipathScheme of creating #Agniveers as it’s path to generating India’s Brownshirt movement.

https://twitter.com/FriedrichPieter/status/1538677176379359232?s=20&t=Wt7CG67IC4iigaPmwpbffA
Riaz Haq said…
Sushant Singh
@SushantSin

The motivations for bringing in the short-term contractual recruitment of (Indian) soldiers are financial but its consequences will be borne by the military and the society. Agnipath scheme belies any understanding of soldiering as a profession of honour. My piece in today's
@the_hindu


https://twitter.com/SushantSin/status/1538000288061067264?s=20&t=6pCpevB_ZI6AC0tolj3KqA

Agnipath scheme for recruitment of short-term contracted soldiers was announced. The driving factor for this U turn — from ‘One Rank One Pension’ to ‘No Rank No Pension’ might be economic.



Relevance
GS-II: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Dimensions of the Article
Financial motivations
Damaging consequences
Political, and social implications
Way Forward
Financial motivations
The OROP demand became tricky to fulfil but it was officially instituted in November 2015 for more than 25 lakh defence pensioners.
It came with an immediate annual financial implication of ₹7,123.38 crore and the actual arrears from July 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015 were ₹10,392.35 crore.
The financial burden increased cumulatively over time and has substantially increased the budgetary expenditure on defence pensions.
In the current financial year, ₹1,19,696 crore has been budgeted for pensions, along with another ₹1,63,453 crore for salaries —that is 54% of the allocation for the Defence Ministry.
It has been argued that the savings in the pensions bill — which will show up on the books only after a couple of decades — would be directed towards the modernisation of defence forces.
The armed forces do not have that kind of time available to them to postpone their already long-delayed modernization.
The Indian Air Force is already down to 30 squadrons of fighter jets against the 42 squadrons it needs, and the Indian Navy is at 130 ships when its vision was to be a 200 ship navy; the Indian Army is already short of 1,00,000 soldiers.
The announcement of the Agniveer scheme is an implicit acknowledgement that the Indian the economy is incapable of supporting the armed forces that India needs.
It faces an active military threat from two adversaries, China and Pakistan, and the internal security challenges in Kashmir and the northeastern States.
Hence we must not resort to shrinking the military and rather must expand the economy to support the military and its needs.
Damaging consequences
The policy has neither been theoretically drafted nor applied as a pilot project which brings uncertainty in its consequences post-implementation.
Delayed consequences might be seen at operational levels of the Military especially the Navy and the Air Force which requires specialization in various areas.
The training infrastructure, administrative working, etc. might be insufficient currently to the handle retention, release and recruitment of huge number of young soldiers.
In the Agnipath pral, the class-based recruitment has been replaced with an all-India all-class recruitment. The reasons for this will strike at the core of the organizational management, leadership structures and operating philosophy of the Indian Army.
Replacing the social identity of the soldiers with a purely professional identity would bring its own challenges in  a tradition-bound army.
There will be major problems in training, integrating and deploying soldiers with different levels of experience and motivations.
The criterion of identifying the 25% short-term contracted soldiers to be retained could result in unhealthy competition.
Riaz Haq said…
The motivations for bringing in the short-term contractual recruitment of (Indian) soldiers are financial but its consequences will be borne by the military and the society. Agnipath scheme belies any understanding of soldiering as a profession of honour. My piece in today's
@the_hindu


https://twitter.com/SushantSin/status/1538000288061067264?s=20&t=6pCpevB_ZI6AC0tolj3KqA

Agnipath scheme for recruitment of short-term contracted soldiers was announced. The driving factor for this U turn — from ‘One Rank One Pension’ to ‘No Rank No Pension’ might be economic.


The criterion of identifying the 25% short-term contracted soldiers to be retained could result in unhealthy competition.
An organisation that depends on trust, camaraderie and esprit de corps could end up grappling with rivalries and jealousies amongst winners and losers, especially in their final year of the contract.
just like the OROP issue, this could become a politically attractive demand for longer tenures and pensions to be picked up by the Opposition parties. Over time, this will lead to the salary and pension budget creeping back up again.
Political, and social implications
The Agnipath scheme also does away with the idea of a State-wise quota for recruitment into the Army, based on the Recruitable Male Population of that State which was implemented from 1966. This prevented an imbalanced army, which was dominated by any one State, linguistic community or ethnicity.
Academic research shows that the high level of ethnic imbalance has been associated with severe problems of democracy and an increased likelihood of civil war.
Coupled with this is the lack of hope in India’s economy, where over 45 crore Indians have stopped looking for jobs, there are
high levels of unemployment and underemployment.
It is to this mix that these few thousand young men who have been trained in inflicting organized violence will be thrown up every year.
From erstwhile Yugoslavia to Rwanda — and closer home, during Partition — there are numerous examples of demobilised soldiers leading to increased violence against minorities.
Way Forward
In India, the Indian Army has so far provided salary, uniform and prestige, an inheritance of the British who took care of the living conditions, facilities for the soldiers’ families, and postretirement benefits and rewards, such as grants of land. A short-term contractual soldier, without earning pension, will be seen as doing jobs after his military service that are not seen to be commensurate in status and prestige with the profession of honour. It will reduce the motivation of those joining on short-term contracts while diminishing the “honour” of a profession which places extraordinary demands on young men. The Government’s yearning for financial savings runs the risk of reducing the honour of a profession, the stability of a society and the safety of a country.

Source – The Hindu

Riaz Haq said…
Arundhati Roy: "The damage to Indian #democracy is not reversible...#India's tragedy is not that it's the worst place in the world -- it's that we are on our way there. We're burning down our house". #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia #BJP #hindutvaterrorists https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/22/opinions/bjp-hindu-muslim-democracy-modi-arundhati-roy/index.html

When two spokespeople from India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed last month, it prompted an international firestorm.

The incident led to protests among India's Muslim minority in several states. Some Muslim-majority nations summoned their India ambassadors. India's foreign ministry said the comments did not reflect the views of the government, and the officials involved -- one of whom later withdrew her remarks -- faced disciplinary action.
But for India's 200 million Muslims, these comments were not an isolated incident.
Rather, they were the culmination of the BJP's "engineering hatred of a common enemy," says bestselling Indian author Arundhati Roy.

"India's tragedy is not that it's the worst place in the world -- it's that we are on our way there. We're burning down our house. India is an experiment that is failing dangerously," she told CNN.
"Many, many of my beloved friends -- poets, writers, professors, lawyers, human rights activists and journalists -- are in prison, most of them charged under a dreaded law called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, all of them for speaking up for minorities, Dalits and forest-dwellers facing displacement and state terror.

"Among them are people I consider to be India's most important minds. It makes one wonder what living as a free person in the time of fascism means. What does it mean to be a bestselling author when the world is breaking?" writes Roy.
In this email interview with CNN Opinion, Roy says Indian politics has something in common with the US Capitol riots, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is stoking hatred, and talks about who the real power in India lies with.
CNN: What does this incident involving BJP officials' comments about the Prophet Mohammed reveal about Indian politics today?
Roy: It reveals how successfully the clear and present existential threat posed by Hindu nationalism in India has been masked by the face it presents to the outside world. You know the people in strange clothes, the man in furs and antlers who stormed the US Capitol? We're being ruled by their equivalent here. The difference is that they are not a collection of random lunatics. They are members of the most powerful organization in India -- the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), whose founding ideologues openly admired Hitler and likened the Muslims of India to the Jews of Germany. RSS is the real power in India.
CNN: What is the connection between the BJP and RSS?
Roy: The ruling party, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), considered to be one of the richest political parties in the world, is only the front office of the RSS. Founded in 1925, the RSS, traditionally controlled by a handful of Brahmins, now has millions of members including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been a member since his teenage years, and most of his cabinet ministers.
It has its own vast militia, its own schools, labor unions and women's organizations. It's not a political party, it's something of a shape-shifter, a master of double-speak, its sources of funding are amorphous and leave no legal trail, it works through an array of affiliates, but it's a nation within a nation.
The RSS believes that India should be declared a Hindu nation, just as Pakistan, Iran and several countries in the Persian Gulf are Islamic nations, just as Israel is legally the "nation-state of the Jewish people."
Riaz Haq said…
‘#Hindutva pop’: The singers producing anti-#Muslim music in #India. “India is for #Hindus, Muslims go to Pakistan.” These lyrics are typical of a growing pop music movement in India: far-right anti-Muslim songs. #Islamophobia_in_india https://aje.io/4dzwak via @AJEnglish
Riaz Haq said…
#US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduces House resolution over #India’s human rights record:“Grave concern about the worsening treatment of religious minorities in India”. it calls on @ABlinken to designate India as a “country of particular concern” #Modi https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/us-ilhan-omar-introduces-house-resolution-over-india-s-human-rights-record-101655969877657.html?utm_source=twittertktm

Expressing “grave concern about the worsening treatment of religious minorities in India”, the resolution calls on the Secretary of State to designate India as a “country of particular concern”, a recommendation also made by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The introduction of the resolution does not mean it will be taken up for active consideration, or passed.

Omar, a Somali-American who has in the past taken a critical position against India, visited Pakistan, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in April 2022.

In response, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said, “We have noted that US Representative Ilhan Omar has visited a part of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir that is currently illegally occupied by Pakistan. If such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that may be her business. But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty in its pursuit makes it ours. This visit is condemnable.”

There are three co-sponsors of the resolution. Among them is Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Congresswoman from Michigan who, along with Omar, is part of a grouping popularly called ‘the Squad’, a Left-wing cohort within the Democratic Party. Both are the first two Muslim women to be elected to the House.

Another co-sponsor is Jim McGovern, a Congressman from Massachusetts, member of the Democratic progressive caucus in the House, and also the co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus of the House.

The third co-sponsor is Juan Vargas, a Congressman from California who, after college, joined the Jesuits working in El Salvador, served in the California State Senate, and got elected to the House in 2012.

Popular posts from this blog

Olive Revolution: Pakistan Joins International Olive Council

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

Pakistani-American Banker Heads SWIFT, The World's Biggest InterBank Payments System