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Modi’s Policies are downgrading India’s Major-Power Ambition in the International System

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India’s aspiration toward achieving a ‘major power’ status will only be achieved with the possibility of building a strong economy not being a contested factor. A stable economy can support with adequate funds to the defense department, stand with the government’s aspiration to strengthen its military but not by ruling the elites’ flaw words. The best example would be the double-digit growth of China’s economy during the 1980s and 2000s, which supported Beijing to allot the required resources to eject millions from poverty, and build a strong military.

The BJP got a clear mandate from the people in the 2014 general elections with the expectations of delivering inclusive growth. During that campaign, Prime Ministerial Candidate Narandera Modi’s large part of the message to the voters was on development agenda based on the Gujarat model. Moreover, he has successfully sold out this story to the Indian voters without explaining what the Gujarat model is. Therefore, he came to power. People of this country have enthusiastically been waiting for the last three and a half years expecting to get benefits from Prime Minister Modi’s administration on the basis of the so called Gujarat model of development; instead they are roasting by imposing of demonetization and without proper preparations they implemented the GST. Now people of this country gradually postulate the Gujarat model and have realized that Gujarat model means continuous lies and giving long speeches without any action. The funny thing was that the voters were completely disappointed while Modi missed his last chance in explaining about the model during the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections. Modi had spoken in more meetings and rallies in Gujarat but dare to pronounce that in any of the meetings about the Gujarat model of development. It undoubtedly demonstrates that Gujarat model is nothing but Modi’s deceived politics. Even the former BJP’s government finance and external affairs minister, Yeswant Sinha, has been rising specific doubts and slammed the finance minister in handling the Indian economy. This mismanagement and the alliance between Modi and the finance minister Arun Jaitley, completely erase the hope of India’s rise.

In this article I am analyzing how the policies of Prime Minister Narandera Modi and his government are downgrading India’s Major Power Ambitions.

Economy

The recent economic survey of 2017-18 under the Modi administration shows disappointments and has devastated the people’s hopes. It gave us a cautious warning and forced to presume that the finance minister had not delivered up to the expected line. P. Chidambaram, the former finance minister of India, underlined the economic survey and said, “It is a depressing report and the future course of the economy is conditional on many ifs.” It indicates the economy is not under the control of this government. This government’s visionary path has no clear agenda. Since the next year will be the election year, therefore, the ruling elites are in waiting to throw away the responsibility on the external environment if the expected growth rate does not reach out in the next financial year. If you look into the report by applying your mind more closely, you will draw a finale that the BJP government’s complete failure on health, education, employment and agriculture. Moreover, they are continuously in preaching on shadow development with extraordinary lies. The recent by-elections in Rajasthan demonstrate that the people of this country are not in a position to completely take these flaw words any more from the BJP leaders.

The recent budget did not consider the important sectors of the country: healthcare and education. A lot of decorations are dancing on the budget without legs. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s magic did not even take off during these four years. He got a wonderful opportunity to prove that he is better than the Congress Party economic captains. But so far the BJP economic manager has failed to attain that title. The announcement of minimum support price to agriculture sector raises many questions. “While China and Pakistan spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, India spends it on the allocation of accounts for just 1.58 percent of the GDP, which is the lowest in 50 years in terms of percentage of GDP” (firstpost.com). Many policy announcements are left without allotments of fund. In the last four years the fall in the global oil price was not allowed to be shared with the poor people of this country whereas it was effectively settled with the corporate tycoons. Hence, the budget considerably fails in keeping the spirit of the people those who have voted for Modi hopefully. This budget especially carries the increase of lip service of optimism but not walk the talk of Modi.

The average growth rate achieved in the UPA government was around 7.5 percent although the world was experiencing the impact of the ‘Lehman Brothers’ melting down in the United States. The economic team in the UPA government did a wonderful job in maintaining the constituency of the growth of the Indian economy. It means the economy was under the control of the UPA economic team, led by the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. For this reason the economy was not distracted; while the external environment, especially the world banking sector, was completely on the down fall since 2008.

The expected growth rate of the last financial year was not achieved. Hence, there is no policy guarantee that the projected growth rate will be reached out in the next financial year. The policy of demonetization killed more than 100 innocent people and destroyed local businesses, which led millions to be kicked out from their jobs. It fails to serve its purpose but Modi has not yet apologized to the people of this country with regard to the imposition of demonetization. The large youth that once supported Modi’s development model are now pushed to sell ‘Pakodas’. Modi had promised to the youth of this country during the campaign that his government will produce two crores jobs annually. The Congress Party raised this question in the parliament but no direct answer was given from either Arun Jaitley or Modi. Instead, Modi unleashed a one-hour preaching session with wrong inputs from history. But the youth of this country are asking for jobs and not unwanted words. The civil war in Syria leads to 10 lakhs of its citizens to migrate to Europe as refugees. The poor administration of the BJP ruling states leads to internal migration, shoving the daily wage workers to get away from their home states for their livelihood, forced to work for lesser salaries and in a low quality of work atmosphere in other states.

Continuous False promises and deception politics

Who said this government is free from corruption? Modi had promised that his government will be free from corruption. Mr.Yediurappa, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, is facing serious corruption charges however; the BJP has proposed him as the chief minister candidate for the upcoming 2018 assembly elections. The ill-advisedly implemented demonetization itself is an organized loot. Urging to implement unsustainable port projects is raising serious doubts on its economic feasibilities. How has Amit Shah’s son’s profit increased to 300% in these three and a half years? Modi had said all the black money from the Swiss Bank will be brought to India and 15 lakhs will be deposited in every poor Indians account. What happened to this promise? Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi and now Nirav Modi are allowed to loot India’s banks under this administration and show a smooth exit to escape from this country. The former Union minister, Kapil Sibal, says, “The banking system is drift, core baking had escaped the SWIFT and depositors are truly miffed.” Why the increase in Rafael deal has no answer from the Prime Minister? Scams after scams darken the face of this government. Therefore, they are declining to face the opposition’s questions with regard to corruptions.

The BJP government is run by bureaucrats and not by elected representatives. It is really funny that a minister who has failed to achieve to improve India’s exports is appointed as Defense Minister. You cannot simply say by appointing a woman, it means she’s equal to Indira Gandhi. It is true that the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi said in his interview to the National Herold – the BJP led NDA’s ministers capacity cannot be compared with the Congress led UPA’s minister’s capabilities. Commonsense, rationality and wider consultations are missing and replaced by ill thoughts, arrogance and foolishness. ‘Gau Rakshaks’ are getting more respects than a investor in the BJP ruling states.

China Factor and Immediate Neighbors

Trade deficit with China is an issue but this government doesn’t have a solution since 2014. The way the Dokulam standoff was diffused indicating our vulnerability. Why do Indian troops withdraw first from the tri junction? We are still receiving information that the Chinese deployment in the tri junction was not completely windup. Modi’s recent visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh was reacted by the Chinese mouthpiece but amicable response from New Delhi would not be a strategic response to the assertive China.

Last three and a half years ceasefire violations have been demonstrated by Pakistan and we lost more brave soldiers. I can strongly accuse this administration without any hesitations by saying Modi has allowed the cross border trade to be replaced by increase in cross border terrorism. The BJP’s highly politicized for political gains ‘surgical strike’ should have been demonstrated again. Why the government did not go for another ‘surgical strike’?  Does the prime minister have any policy to contain Pakistan? Under Modi’s leadership witnessed India’s relations with Pakistan completely down to an unprecedented new low.

Maldives crisis would be an opportunity for India to demonstrate to the world that we are serious to gain our scores in the international power system.  So far the Maldives issue is concerned that the Modi government’s approaches are not commendable, and gradually spares spaces for the Chinese to intrude in the East Indian Ocean, which is a big policy mistake. This is the Chinese provocative approach. Any part of the Indian Ocean is not part of the disputed South China Sea. This is our theater and it is our responsibility to uphold the law and order in and around this region.

In all these issues the world and the other major powers in the Asia region and in West are seriously watching and keeping their eyes on us about the way we demonstrate our responsibilities in maintaining the order in our region. If we fail to restore democracy in Male, this will send an unprecedented wrong wave that if anyone of these nations dethroned their democratic setup would be safe without any third party interference because New Delhi has no strategic trajectory to respond China.

Conclusion

Keeping the 2019 general elections in mind, Modi has started generating new lies. Now he has shifted his goal post from Gujarat Model to ‘New India.’ Again no one knows what he means. However, this new catchphrase has lost its sound due to the recent Gujarat state election results. The Prime Minister failed to understand a stable economy only support a country’s defense posture not by his blank narratives. His long sermons are now boring the youth of this country and all of his holiday visits abroad will not give any breakthrough in keeping India’s interest alive in the international power system. Inadequate funds to defense modernization, loss to the exchequer in the major defense deals, scientific loots, and incapable ministers in the Modi’s cabinet gradually expose its inability to face the challenges. Now the point is very clear – in these four years Modi’s government and his political managers proved they are the kings of verbal singers not suitable for policy articulations.

Finally, to sum up our discussion on the above analysis demonstrating that Modi’s deception politics will not stay longer: Soft speaking approaches with wise policy implementations are more trust worthy than deceptive loud speaking voices in the international system. The flaw policies of this government causes heavy damages to the economy, the assurance of corruption free governance is under scanner, continuous false promises like ‘Ache Din’ to ‘New India’ slogans, trust deficit created to security matters in maintaining tranquility and peace in our western borders, setbacks in articulating diplomacy in responds to China and the failures in keeping our immediate flocks closely with us have proved the ruling elites incompetence to run a government. Hence, under this government the projection of India’s ‘Major Power’ aspiration is really downward sloping.

Antony Clement is a Senior Editor (Asia-Pacific), Modern Diplomacy an online journal. He is a researcher in Indian Foreign Policy. He consults on academic development and he is currently working on two books - “Discover your Talents” and “Diplomacy in Tough Times”. His research centres on India’s diplomacy & foreign policy and extends to domestic politics, economic policy, security issues, and international security matters, including India’s relations with the US, the BRICS nations, the EU and Australia.

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Afghanistan: the US and NATO withdrawal and future prospects

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On April 14, the United States of America announced that it would withdraw all its troops stationed in Afghanistan from May 1 to September 11, 2021. On the same day, NATO also said it would coordinate with the White House military to initiate the withdrawal.

The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has actually been going on since the Soviet invasion of that unfortunate country on December 24, 1979.

What are the plans of NATO and the United States? How will the situation in Afghanistan change in the future?

Regarding the US announcement of the deadline for troop withdrawal, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan government respects the US government’s decision to withdraw its troops by the agreed date.

According to the Associated Press, there were 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan before May 1, far below the peak of over 110,000 in 2011.

According to the websites of the Financial Times and theDeutsche Welle, some ten thousand soldiers from the 36 NATO Member States and other US allies are currently stationed in Afghanistan, including as many as 895 Italian soldiers, as well as 1,300 Germans, 750 Brits, 619 Romanians, 600 Turks, etc.

President Trump’s previous Administration signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan in February 2020, setting May 1, 2021 as the deadline for NATO to begin withdrawing from that country. The Washington Post reported that after the current US government issued the withdrawal statement, the Taliban immediately said that if the United States violated the peace agreement and did not withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, the situation would get worse and one of the parties to the agreement would take responsibility for it.

This year is the twentieth since the United States started the war in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The war in Afghanistan is the United States’ longest overseas war, and has killed over 2,300 US soldiers and wounded some 20,000 people, at a cost of over 1 trillion US dollars.

Although the United States and its allies attacked the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the situation in Afghanistan has been turbulent for a long time, with over a hundred thousand Afghan civilian casualties in the fighting.

According to The New York Times, both Parties’ members of the US Congress have differing views on the consequences of withdrawal. According to the newspaper, Republicans and some Democrats believe that the troop withdrawal will encourage the Taliban insurgency, while others believe it is necessary to put an end to this indefinite war.

But what considerations can be made for the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan?

It is well known that the purpose of the United States in taking the war to Afghanistan was a very heavy measure of retaliation against al-Qaeda, which had organised the terrorist attacks of September 11, and against the Taliban regime that protected the top leaders of that terrorist organisation. Although al-Qaeda has not been destroyed, it is unlikely to create similar problems. The United States has achieved its strategic goals and is no longer involved in East Asia’s tactics and strategy.

The interests of NATO (considering its individual Member States) in Afghanistan are fewer than those of the United States. As a military alliance with the United States, the achievement of US strategic goals means that NATO’s equal strategic goals have also been achieved. Hence, rather than continuing to run the risk of confronting the Taliban and al-Qaeda after US military withdrawals, NATO is more willing to remove the “political burden” as soon as possible.

While announcing the terms of the withdrawal, the White House has stated that the threat of extremist organisations such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab and ISIS is spreading globally and it is therefore meaningless to concentrate forces in Afghanistan, with a steady expansion of its military cycle. At the same time, however, the White House has stated that after withdrawal, diplomatic and counter-terrorism mechanisms will be reorganised in Afghanistan to face security challenges. Hence, from the US perspective, there is currently a greater terrorist threat than al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The prospectsfor advancing the Indo-Pacific regional strategy to oppose China also means that it would be counterproductive for the United States to remain in Afghanistan any longer. Even after the troop withdrawal, there will be insecurity in Afghanistan. That being the case, however, the United States will still find ways and means to support the Afghan regime and the armed forces of the Kabul government.

The Washington Post has also reported statements by a Pentagon official who has stressed that Afghanistan is a landlocked country: consequently, once US and NATO forces withdraw, one of the biggest challenges will be how to effectively monitor and combat extremist organisations and resist threats to US security: at that distance it will be even more difficult without sea landings.

According to Reuters, the CIA predicts that the possibility of a further US-Afghan peace deal is little and has warned that once the United States and its allies withdraw, it will be difficult to stop the Taliban.

The Afghan government forces currently control Kabul and other large cities, but the Taliban are present in more than half of the country’s territory and rural areas. In the future, the possibility of a Taliban counter-offensive cannot be ruled out.

Great Britain’s The Guardian has commented that the years of war have generally made Afghans feel a strong sense of insecurity and the withdrawal of troops will not bring much comfort to the local population. According to the London-based newspaper, for the United States this is yet another war that cannot be won.

According to experts, there are two extreme possibilities in the future situation in Afghanistan. The excellent situation is the one in which the less extremist wing of the Taliban mediates so that, once the United States withdraws, the Taliban can gradually move from being an extremist organisation to being an internal administrative one and then negotiate with the legitimate government supported by the United Nations: this would mean a long-term peace after forty-two years of war.

Under extremely unfavourable circumstances, instead, the Afghan government forces would overestimate their military strength and intend to continue the war alone against their traditional opponents, at which point peace negotiations between the two sides would break down.

This would mean falling again into a prolonged civil war and into eternal war.

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Bhashan Char Relocation: Bangladesh’s Effort Appreciated by UN

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Bhashan Char. Image source: dhakatribune.com

Bhashan Char, situated in the district of Noakhali, is one of the 75 islands of Bangladesh. To ease the pressure on the digested camps in Cox’s Bazar and to maintain law and order, Bangladesh has relocated about 18,500 Rohingya refugees from the overcrowded camps to the island since December last year. The Rohingya relocation plan to Bhashan Char aligns with the Bangladesh government’s all-encompassing efforts towards repatriation. The initial plan was to relocate 100,000 of the more than a million refugees from the clogged camps to the island. From the onset of the relocation process, the UN and some other human rights organizations criticized the decision pointing to remoteness and sustainability. UNHCR showed their concern over the island’s susceptibility to seasonal storm and flood. They proposed for a “technical assessment” of the Bhashan Char facilities.

An 18-member UN delegation visited Bhashan Char Island on March 17 this year to have a first-hand assessment of the housing facility for the Rohingya forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMNs). Shortly after the UN’s visit, a team with 10 diplomats including heads of missions of embassies and delegations from Turkey, the EU, US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands also went to the island on April 3 to appraise the facilities. All the members of the technical team opined that they are ‘satisfied’ with the facilities in Bhashan Char. The experts of the UN told, they will hand over a 10-page report of their annotations and they have already submitted a two-page abridgment. On April 16, they released the two-page synopsis after a month of the visit.  After the three-day study of Bhashan Char by the UN delegates, they recommended the Bangladesh government to continue the relocation process to the island in a ‘phased manner’. The team twigged three points – education for Rohingya children, increasing heights of the embankments and better communication system. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A. K. Abdul Momen concerted to take the necessary measures to create a safe and secure environment for the Rohingya refugees until the repatriation takes place. The relocation is not the solution of the Rohingya crisis rather the over emphasis of the relocation and facilities inside Bangladesh is protracting the crisis and distracting the attention from the broader emphasis on the repatriation to Myanmar.

The UNHCR and other concerned parties should plan for a long run repatriation process. Repatriation is the only durable solution, not the relocation of the Rohingya refugees. For the time being, resettlement under the Asrayan-3 project is an ease for the FDMNs but in the long run the Rohingya crisis is going to turn as a tremendous threat for regional peace and stability. Besides, resentment in the host community in Bangladesh due to the scarce resources may emerge as a critical security and socio-economic concern for Bangladesh.  It is not new that the Rohingyas are repatriated in Myanmar during the Military rule. Around 20,000 Rohingya refugees were repatriated to Myanmar in the 2000s. The focus of the world community should be creating favourable conditions for the Rohingyas to return safely regardless who is in the power seat of Myanmar-civilian or military government. The UN should largely focus on repatriating the Rohingya refugees in a “phased manner”, let alone deciding their concern in the camps and the Bhashan Char. After the praiseworthy relocation plan, they should now concentrate on implementing speedy and durable repatriation. Proactive initiatives are essential from all walks for a safe and dignified return of the FDMNs. To be specific, the relocation is a part of the repatriation, not the solution of the problem. 

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Afghan peace options

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President Biden’s decision to withdraw unconditionally all foreign forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 will leave behind an uncertain and genuine security concerns that ramifications will be born by Afghanistan as well as the region.

The Taliban seems least interested in peace talks with the Afghan government and appear determined to take control of the entire afghan government territory by force during post-withdrawal of American forces. Short of the total surrender, Afghan government has no possible influence to force the Taliban to prefer talks over violence. Resultantly, the apprehensions that Afghanistan could plunge into another civil war runs very high.

The consequences of yet another civil war will be deadly for Afghanistan and the whole region as well. Among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan will bear the severe burnt of an escalation of violence in particular. A civil war or possible Taliban takeover will surely upsurge and reinvigorate the Islamic militancy in Pakistan, thus threatening to lose the hard won gains made against militancy over the past decade.

The afghan and Pakistani Taliban, nevertheless, are the two sides of the same coin. Coming back to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan is surely emboldened and revives Pakistani Taliban and other militant outfits. Moreover, spread of violence not only reduce all chances of repatriation of refugees but possibly increase the inflow of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Furthermore, worsening of the security situation in Afghanistan will jeopardize the prospects of  trade, foreign investment and economic development initiatives such as china-Pakistan economic corridor. The chances of Gawadar and Karachi port to become a transit trade route for the region and link the energy rich region of central asia will become bleak until a sustainable peace and stability is achieved in Afghanistan.

It is against this background that the successful end of the intra-afghan talk is highly required for Pakistan, for its own sake.  Officially, Islamabad stated policy is to ensure the afghan-led and afghan-owned peace solution of the afghan conflict. It helped in bringing the Taliban on the negotiation table, which finally resulted in the signing of the Doha deal between US and Taliban. Further, Pakistan has time and again pressurized the Taliban to resume the dialogue. Moreover, Islamabad holds that, unlike in the past when it wanted a friendly regime in Kabul, it aims to develop a friendly and diplomatic relation whoever is on the power in Kabul.

Notwithstanding the stated policy and position of the Islamabad, the afghan government and the many in the US remains dubious of Pakistan’s commitment. Against these concerns, Islamabad categorically stated that it does not have complete control over the Taliban.

The success of the peace process will require coordination and cooperation among the all regional actors and the US and afghan government. Pakistan’s role is of an immense significance because of its past relation with the Taliban. There is no denying of the fact that Pakistan has not complete control over the Taliban. Despite, it has more leverage than the other actors in the region.

The Islamabad’s willingness to use its influence over the Taliban is her real test in the achievement of peace process. However, Pakistan has successfully used its leverage and brought the Taliban on negotiations table. Although, history is the testimony of the fact that mere cajoling won’t dissuade the Taliban from unleashing violence.

The prospects of intra-afghan talks will develop in success when the cajoling strategy is backed up by with credible threats of crackdown which may involve denial of safe heaven to militant leaders and their families, stopping medical treatment, and disruption of finance etc. on the other hand, strong arm tactics fail to bring the Taliban to the table, then Pakistan should make sure that its territory is not used to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

The afghan peace process has an opportunity for Pakistan to bury its hatchets with Afghanistan and start its diplomatic journey with a new vigor. While Kabul every time attach its failure with the Pakistan and shun away from its responsibility of providing peace to people of Afghanistan, it has a fair point about our pro Taliban afghan policy. Now that the US is leaving Afghanistan, it is high time that Pakistan bring forth a shift in its Afghanistan policy. Sustainable peace in Pakistan, especially Balochistan and ex-fata region is unlikely to achieve without Pakistan contributing to peace in Afghanistan.    

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