Today's India can handle sniping by a polarised, intolerant West
Today's stronger India can handle this sniping by a West that is grappling with a crisis in its democracy, with deeply polarised politics
Criticism of the revision of Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by western circles should be taken in our stride, as we have successfully faced such diplomatic challenges before. Today’s stronger India can handle this sniping by a West that is grappling with a crisis in its democracy, with deeply polarised politics, rising intolerance towards immigrants, especially Muslims, revival of right-wing nationalism and economic slowdown.
Regrettably, the deeply anti-Modi/BJP/RSS political, media and civil society lobbies in India are ready to damage Modi’s image internationally in a bid to discredit his domestic agenda by using epithets calculated to raise western antipathy, such as nazism, fascism, genocide, nationalism, majoritarian, anti-minority.
The negative coverage in the so called liberal western press (Indian contributors write the most vicious anti-government articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post) is then cited to caution the government against pursuing policies that are harming India’s International image and could affect foreign investor sentiment.
India’s position on Kashmir continues to be contested in western circles. Pakistan’s role in sponsoring terrorism in J&K, the anomaly of an increasingly Islamised Kashmir enclave in a secular India, and the related ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri pundits from the Valley are played down by “liberal” opinion at home and abroad. The focus of human rights lobbies tends to be too one-dimensional in complex situations, and with the definition of human rights expanding unreasonably, responsible governance is thwarted.
The West is cognizant of the social media’s role in promoting unrest and is grappling with fake news and online radicalization. Pakistan has publicly countenanced blood shedding in Kashmir once the restrictions are eased. Yet, the prolongation of internet restrictions to prevent terrorist violence in Kashmir is being built up as a major human rights violation by western lobbies.
There is deplorable interference in India’s internal affairs, with disrespect for its democracy, even by the UN Secretary General who is violating the UN Charter by gratuitously commenting on Article 370, the CAA and even police action against violent protestors. The US State Department has called for very specific administrative steps in Kashmir, even when India does not presume to tell the US how to handle its immigration and gun-related excesses.
The US Congress deplores interference by foreign powers in US domestic politics, yet pronounces on constitutional changes in J&K with parliamentary approval. US Congresswoman Jaypal, representing the dark side of the Indian diaspora, was rightly snubbed by External Affairs Minister when the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which she is not a member, invited her especially to continue her India baiting to please her domestic constituency.
Sadly, once again some choose to stand with India’s foreign adversaries and not one of their own by criticizing Jaishankar. A bipartisan consensus in the US Congress in India’s favour is a plus, but we have faced bipartisan animus towards India in the past. The US too has stakes in India that go beyond Article 370 and the CAA. On the purely internal matter of creating an authentic data base of Indian citizens, hitherto lacking, any commentary by western lobbies that also endorses the twists being given to the exercise by domestic political forces is unacceptable.
India should continue with the requirements of normal diplomacy by explaining the rationale of its policies to those who are willing to understand and not pay too much attention to those who are not. Any external scrutiny of domestic policies of a democratic government made transparently through internal debates and subject to judicial review must be rejected.
(The Writer is a former Foreign Secretary)