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“Modi Go Home”: India’s soft power credibility in danger

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Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s April 19, 2018 visit to London to attend the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was much anticipated and discussed in the public domain for two reasons. First, the non resident Indians’ (NRIs) bold protest against Modi was unexpected in the Westminster Streets of London and across the Western capitals. And second, Modi’s double stance was exposed the way he has spoken against the Congress Party when he was the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP with regard to the (December 2012, Nirbhaya incident) and now in the ruling side he responds determinedly tied his mouth to the similar cases.

Where has the 56 inch chest gone? Now people are asking why Modi is silent by watching the increasing attacks on women under his leadership. In the London streets, people were gathered raising slogans ‘We stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed’ with antagonism holding the banners ‘Modi Go Home.’ A big poster of Modi with a Nazi’s symbol carry the message of ‘Modi not welcome’ was fixed next to the UK Parliament building occupied every tourist walk on the Westminster Bridge crossing River Thames in the city of London. It indicates his deceptive politics are now realized internationally among Indian diasporas. Doesn’t he think this would tarnish India’s image in abroad?

In this article, I am analyzing how artificially created fame to Modi, one time he was falsely adorned by the NRIs in London and now brought shame to all Indians by the message of “Modi Go Home” in the world financial capital London.

Modi’s silence!

At the moment Prime Minister Modi is feeling the heat of his leadership failures one after other. One of the ‘hard-power’ recourses in the international power system is ‘economic power.’ His finance minister demonstrated the fact that Modi’s administration has no clue in managing India’s economy in these four years. The complete failure in articulating diplomacy and foreign policy of this government exposed their inability to keep India’s interest alive in international relations but also fails to hold our neighbors with us.

At this juncture Modi is facing an unexpected assertiveness from the NRI’s to take extraordinary efforts in registering their protest. Modi’s Government strategic restraint in arresting the criminals who raped and their stand behind the culprits exposed the original face domestically and abroad. Watching this brutality, India cried and the people were angered. Moreover, this situation gave a perception to the world to take a conclusion that India is against women under Modi’s leadership. The Congress Party led by Shri Rahul Gandhi organized candle light processions across India along with the public to give pressure on the BJP government to take appropriate action against the perpetrators.

After pressure mounted domestically, Modi got up from a week of silence and stated, “I want to assure the nation that no culprit will be spared. Our daughters will get justice”. Now the CBI arrested the BJP party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with Unnao rape incident and link to the victim father’s custodial death. The important thing is the Unnao MLA raped his own constituent.

In the other case in Kathu of Jammu and Kashmir, eight-year-old Asifa was gang raped by a caretaker of a temple, and was finally murdered. You cannot imagine the amount of cruelty the girl experienced. The ugly part of the story was the two BJP ministers Lal Singh and Chandar Prakash Ganga from Jammu and Kashmir state government have participated in a rally conducted in supporting the accused in connection with the Asifa case in Kathu.  In these two incidents, the atrocities against children are not by the common men but by a Uttar Pradesh (UP) BJP MLA and the BJP party’s well wishers respectively. In the last ten years many BJP leaders are accused for their atrocities against women. Listing more than 21various atrocities unleashed by the BJP leaders across India on women ‘Human Rights Activist’ Karthik Navayan says, “Time to change the party name to Balatkari Janata Party?” (karthiknavayanwordpress.com).

‘Go Home Modi’

The central authority of the BJP now could not face the recent embarrassments like scientific corruptions by the BJP leader’s heirs, bank looters are allowed to escape with the support of Modi’s government, social disorder, self-proclaimed God-men and God-women are threatening the society, injustice to women and children. Moreover, one side the people of this country are in anger for being cheated by the false promises of Modi and now the other side women are worrying about their security under this leadership. But Modi says these matters should not be politicized. From his silence over these atrocities we can presume that his mind is more concerned about the Karnataka assembly elections.

In this scenario Modi’s recent visit to London got the attraction of the protestors instead of more plug cards to welcome Modi in the London streets. The streets flooded with the placards of “Go Home Modi” made the prime minster red-faced. The protesters stood strong against Modi due to his mute approach by not acting against his fellow party men involved in these two incidents now gradually loosing the support of India’s expatriates.

Last time when Modi visited London, his speech was attended by a crowd of 60,000 NRIs at Wembley Stadium. The cheerful Modi gave a long sermon which was neither converted to policy nor helped the expatriates in any way. In that visit Modi enjoyed the support from the NRIs and he was greeted from both sides of the London streets. He was admired for his dress, style, and voice and for his speeches. However, his visits abroad are more concentrated on himself in self-proclamation among the Indian expatriates than in articulating India’s interest with the specific countries. This time also Modi was expecting the same from the NRIs of UK. Like Indians domestically, the NRIs across the world also trusted his words blindly. Gradually watching his party regressive actions in India makes the NRIs irritated. At the end of the day they realized that all his words are utter lies, further no worthy in listening anymore because it doesn’t have any life. Now Modi looks trembling to face the Indian diasporas abroad after his recent visit to London was not a surprise.

Modi is very selective in receiving information from outside. He will only take a message that admires him. Well, he can be selective but he should not forget that the message failed to be received by him will react in the public domain. This is because Modi is the prime minister of this country for every Indian, but demonstrates that he is the prime minister for a selective section of people. He is very happy not to be the prime minister of minorities, women, dalits, adivasis and the devastated poor. After the London incident, Modi has added the NRIs also in this list. Hence, he will not lend his ear to these people.

Under Modi’s administration India’s soft-power credibility in danger

Our past prime ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru understand India’s credentials in soft-power. Hence, they used soft-power approach to promote India’s influence in abroad extensively. Prof. Nayar and Paul in their book acknowledge this and stated, “In terms of soft-power indicators, India’s position is significantly high in some areas while it has considerable potential in others.” In the last four years Modi is using ‘soft-power’ as his doctrine for foreign policy articulations.

In all his state visits he proclaimed to the world that we are a nation living together in peace and respecting each other though we are diverse. Although the prime minister is speaking this core values in his abroad visits, his party affiliates and him fail to practice this domestically. Our principle of unity in diversity is under attack from the BJP and RSS. Today in India, under Modi’s leadership our various institutions are facing huge challenges in discharging their duties. Difference of opinions are not accepted or tolerated by this government. It deeply pains us that the outfits of BJP threaten our different cultures, languages and religious practices but the prime minister of this country is demonstrating only a spectator. The world is watching our prime minister’s words and his actions very closely. Our ‘state capacity’ would be questioned soon if the prime minister is keeping a mute approach for these atrocities against women and minorities. Modi should understand that nationalism without normative concern would not help to build an inclusive national leadership. In his four years as a prime minister he always delivers the one-way communication. He never accepts views from the other side. These unfortunate situations would damage our soft-power credibility while we claim for a global leadership role.

Conclusion

In the international arena protest against war, liberalization policies and Western culture are common. This would be the first time an Indian prime minister was greeted abroad with a message of ‘Go Home’ (go to Delhi) for not listening to the cry of Indian women. Few days back Modi faced the same challenge from the people of Tamil Nadu state collectively raised the slogan ‘Modi Go Back’ (go to Delhi) for not abiding the Supreme Court order to constitute Cauvery Management Board. The memes about ‘Modi Go Back’ occupied the social media for a week. This approach has now been hijacked by the Indian diasporas in London to raise their voice against Modi. One Indian tweeted that, “Please don’t send Modi to Delhi. Kindly keep him in London.” Would Modi lend his ear to these voices?

It is not a surprise that artificially created image of brand building will be grounded by naturally raised anger. Once the Indian diasporas in the UK and other parts of the world thought that Modi has the capacity of inclusive leadership would deliver by his words. But the recent incidents force the Indian diasporas to rethink that Modi is a loud mouth piece of the RSS, voice of the one section of the society and just a specialized orator in spreading lies to cheat the voters. The youths of this country now feel betrayed, ashamed and frustrated with the way Modi’s government fails to give importance for Human Rights. Rape and lynching are unleashed under his rule in the name of ‘Gau Rakshak.’ The self-styled right wing activists are protecting the cows but not considering to feed the humans who are actually suffering. Watching this arrogance in our society under Modi’s leadership, a child who participated in a ‘justice for Asifa’ rally came with a poster that read, ‘Cow is safe, Deer is safe…Mr. Prime Minister …why I am not safe?’

It clearly indicates that all Indians understand the stance of Modi and his party’s regressive agenda. Lies after lies and breaking the rule of law they try to build the BJP’s government across the country now perceived by the people that BJP is against the idea of India. The day is not far – soon the Indian voters will convert Modi’s slogan of ‘Mukth Congress’ to ‘Mukth Modi’ in removing him from the prime minister chair.

Antony Clement is a Senior Editor (Indo-Pacific), Modern Diplomacy, an online journal. He is a researcher in Indian Foreign Policy. He is currently working on two books - “The Best Teacher” 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. His recent book is “Discover your talents.”

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South Asia

The Rise of Non-State Actors in Afghanistan: A Consequence of Political Vacuum

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In recent years, Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in the influence of non-state actors such as the Taliban and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). These groups have exploited the political vacuum in the country to carry out acts of violence and terrorism, creating instability and insecurity for the Afghan people and neighboring countries.

Introduction:

The history of Afghanistan is marked by political instability and conflict. In the 1990s, the country was torn apart by a civil war between rival factions, which created a power vacuum that was eventually filled by the Taliban. The Taliban regime was eventually overthrown in 2001 with the help of international forces, but the country has since struggled to establish a stable and effective political administration.

The absence of a recognized political administration in Afghanistan has led to a power vacuum that has allowed non-state actors, such as the TTP, to exploit the situation and use Afghan soil to launch attacks against Pakistan, thereby threatening its security and stability.

The Political Vacuum in Afghanistan:

In the absence of a recognized political administration, non-state actors have been able to take advantage of the situation to establish themselves as power brokers in the country. The Taliban, for example, has been able to regain control over large swathes of territory and carry out acts of violence and terrorism against the Afghan government and international forces. The TTP, which operates primarily in Pakistan, has also taken advantage of the political vacuum in Afghanistan to use the country as a base for launching attacks against Pakistan.

The situation in Afghanistan highlights the importance of having a recognized political administration in place. A stable and effective political administration is essential for maintaining peace and security in the country and preventing the rise of non-state actors like TTP. It is also essential for preventing the country from being used as a base for launching attacks against neighboring countries.

Furthermore, the lack of a recognized political administration in Afghanistan has made it difficult for the international community to effectively address the challenges facing the country. The international community has been working to support the Afghan government in its efforts to establish a stable and effective political administration, but progress has been slow. The rise of non-state actors like TTP has only added to the challenges facing the international community and made it more difficult to find a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

To address the challenges facing Afghanistan, the international community needs to continue to support the Afghan government in its efforts to establish a stable and effective political administration. This can be achieved through providing financial, technical, and diplomatic support, as well as through helping to build the capacity of Afghan institutions and encouraging the development of civil society. The international community must also work to address the root causes of the conflict in Afghanistan, such as poverty, lack of access to education, and political instability.

The international community must take a firm stance against non-state actors like TTP, who seek to destabilize the region and carry out acts of violence and terrorism. This can be achieved through targeted sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and military operations if necessary. The international community must also work to disrupt the networks and financing mechanisms that these groups use to carry out their activities.

The Threat to Pakistan:

Pakistan, a country with a rich history and culture, is facing a serious threat from non-state actors operating within its borders. One such group is the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has been using the soil of Afghanistan to launch attacks against Pakistan. This has had a severe impact on the security and stability of the country, making it imperative for a coordinated effort to be made to address this issue.

The TTP, a militant group based in Afghanistan, has been using the country as a safe haven to launch attacks against Pakistan. From Afghanistan, TTP has been able to plan and coordinate attacks on Pakistan, causing death and destruction. The porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has made it easy for TTP to cross over and carry out these attacks. This has resulted in a serious threat to the security and stability of Pakistan, putting the lives of its citizens in danger.

The actions of TTP have had a profound impact on the security and stability of Pakistan. The group’s attacks have resulted in the loss of innocent lives, causing grief and distress to families and communities. TTP’s actions have also had an impact on the economy, as businesses and industries have been forced to shut down due to the insecurity. This has resulted in job losses and economic instability, putting a strain on the country’s already fragile economy. The threat posed by TTP has also had a negative impact on the country’s reputation, as it is seen as a country unable to control its own territory and protect its citizens.

The threat posed by non-state actors like TTP cannot be addressed by a single entity. A coordinated effort between the government, military, and other relevant organizations is necessary to address this issue. The government and military must work together to secure the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to prevent TTP from crossing over. The government must also take steps to tackle the root causes of extremism, such as poverty and ignorance, to prevent the rise of such groups. International organizations must also play their part in addressing this issue, by providing support and resources to help combat the threat posed by TTP.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the rise of non-state actors like TTP in Afghanistan is a direct result of the political vacuum in the country. The use of Afghan soil by TTP to launch attacks against Pakistan has had a severe impact on the security and stability of the country. The situation highlights the importance of having a recognized political administration in place to maintain peace and security and prevent the rise of these dangerous groups. The international community must continue to support the Afghan government in its efforts to establish a stable and effective political administration, and work together to prevent the country from becoming a breeding ground for non-state actors like TTP.

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Kashmir – Beyond Solidarity

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Kashmir, a region located in the northern part of India and southeastern part of Pakistan, has a long history of conflict and political disputes. One of the core issues in the region is denial of peoples Right of self-determination guaranteed by 13 UNSC resolution. The situation in Kashmir has further escalated in recent years,when India revoked the autonomous status Under Article 370 and Article 35-A of Constitution in August 2019 and initiated a demographic changes of Muslim majority region. After this unilateral and illegal annexation of occupied territory, India has doubled the war crime and crimes against humanity in the region.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan- a party to the Kashmir dispute marks February 5th, the annual Kashmir Solidarity Day, to express support for the people of Kashmir and their Just struggle for self-determination. The right to self-determination is a principle enshrined in international law that recognizes the right of a person to freely determine their political status and pursue economic, social, and cultural development. To achieve this fundamental Right of Self-determination, the people of Kashmir have been struggling for more than seven decades and the Indian government has used excessive force and resorted to war crimes against the Kashmiri for suppression of this inalienable right.  

In last 75 years and particularly since 1989 when Indian occupational authorities closed the peaceful and democratic means seeking UN guaranteed Right of self-determination for region. India started mass massacres and multiple abusive mechanization against the civilians and pro freedom politicians. Human rights organizations have documented the widespread use of torture, extrajudicial killings, and other forms of violence by Indian armed  forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir. These actions have resulted in the death of thousands of Kashmiri civilians and the displacement of many others. The Indian occupying forces have also imposed strict restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly in the region, leading to the suppression of dissent and the stifling of Pro freedom political activism.

The new war strategy against the Kashmiris by Indian government is a massive demographic engineering by settling non-Kashmiri Indians in the territory, confiscating their land ,properties  and the ongoing demolition to pave the way for outside industrialist with the aim to change the disputed status of Kashmir, which has been guaranteed Plebiscite by UN and then Indian parliament.

The situation in Kashmir remains a complex and volatile issue that requires the international community’s attention and action. The people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination and must be protected from violence and human rights abuse perpetrated  by 900,000 Indian armed forces occupying the territory . Moreover, the selective approach of international organization on Kashmir & Palestine questions the basic structure of UN Charter which pledges to safeguard the ‘Humanity’ from the wrath of aggressor.  The international community has largely been silent on the issue of Kashmiri self-determination and violence committed by Indian armed forces in the region. Some international organizations and countries have called for an end to violence and for the protection of the human rights of the Kashmiri people, but these calls have been rhetoric which has been rejected by the Indian government.

The responsibility of Pakistan towards Kashmir must be beyond diplomacy and geo-economic interest. On this Kashmir Solidarity Day, we must come together to draw a new road map liberating the people of Kashmir from the Illegal occupation of India and also support their Just Struggle for justice, freedom, and self-determination.

The majority of Kashmirs in the IIOJK consider their struggle against India for the unfinished agenda of Partition and it is a moral responsibly of every Pakistani to become part of their legitimate struggle.

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The U.S. raising Engagement in South Asia: New Battlefield of Sino-US rivalry

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Victoria Nuland, the United States undersecretary of state for political affairs, calls on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal at the latter’s residence in Baluwatar of Kathmandu on Monday, January 30, 2023. Photo: Dahal’s Secretariat

With the new year 2023, the visits of top American diplomats to South Asian countries have increased.  These recent visits are concluded as the counter steps of the US against the Chinese influence in the region.

Recently, from the end of January to a few days in February, the American Under Secretary Victoria Newland visited three countries in South Asia and headed toward Gulf. Recently, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland visited to three South Asian nations including Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and the gulf nation Qatar for a week starting from Jan 28-Feb 3.

Before her, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had traveled to India and Bangladesh from January 12-15. Within the span of a week, another senior official from the Biden Administration, Samantha Power, administrator of the USAID is scheduled to Visit Nepal.

Soon after Power’s return, Afreen Akhter, Deputy Assistant Sectary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) for Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and the Maldives, as well as the Office of Security and Transnational Affairs set to visit Nepal.

These engagements and activisms by the US in Nepal and South Asian Region are focused on Countering Chinese influence and encircling from the South.

Review of Recent Visits

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, the visit was centralized with US-Indo Pacific Strategy and its framework. It was the first visit of any senior US official after the formation of a Leftist dominated government led by Puspa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachand’, the Chair of CPN (Maoist Center). During her Stay in Nepal, she met with Prachanda, foreign minister Bimala Paudel Rai, former Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, and KP Sharma Oli.  During these meetings, she proposed a collaboration to fight against China and Russia.

Let me quote her from the meeting with the press in Kathmandu, “We can see authoritarians from all over the world trying to force them to enforce the rules around the world.” Though she didn’t mention China, her indication was toward China. “So we have to work together to protect democracy,” she purposed to the leaders in Kathmandu. In the term “Urgent Global Issue” all her meeting was focused on China and obviously on Russia too.

In New Delhi, Under Secretary Victoria co-chaired the annual meeting of the India-US Foreign Office Association (FOC). Within the umbrella term “India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership” the meeting was focused on US’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The statement by the Ministry of External Affairs mentioned that both sides have made their commitment to a free, open, and equitable Indo-Pacific region and discussed in the Quad, Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative (IPMDA). All these forums are led by the US against China.

The Quad is an informal security alliance comprising India, Japan, and Australia, led by the US. While The IPEF and IPMDA are the ‘framework’ unveiled by US President Joe Biden during his visit to Japan on May 23 last year. The White House’s fact sheet states that the United States is an economic power in the Indo-Pacific region and aims to expand American leadership in the area. India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries are included in this framework.

China had strong opposition to such a framework. On the geopolitical strategy, these frameworks are designed as the new weapon by the US to counter China.

“The IPEF is designed to advance US geopolitical strategy. In the name of cooperation, the framework seeks to exclude certain countries, establish US-led trade rules, restructure the system of industrial chains, and decouple regional countries from the Chinese economy,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on May 25, 2022, had lamented the framework.

Mahathir Mohamad, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, a member nation of the IPEF had criticized a new U.S.-led economic grouping, saying it is intended to isolate China, and won’t benefit regional economic growth without Beijing. This show that the visit of Under Secretary Victoria was solely focused on US-IPS, and rheostat the Chinese influence in the region.

Colombo was the third and last stop of this visit in South Asia. It was the second visit of Under Secretary Victoria to Sri Lanka, which they called the victims of China’s “Debt Trap”. She with Assistant Secretary Donald Lu and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Amanda Dory visited Colombo last year in March.

Sri Lank a member of BRI, had rejected the US assistance program MCC. The US used to accuse Chines investment in Sri Lank as a “Debt Trap”. the cause of the “debt-trap diplomacy”, Sri Lanka lost Control of a major port- read the report entitled “The Elements of the China Challenge” state.  But, Sri Lank had rejected the western accusations of the “Debt Trap”.

On January 12-15, the US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu had his visit to India and Bangladesh. This visit was also aimed at expanding bilateral relations and preventing Chinese influence from the relevant countries.

It is a controversial interview with an Indian Television, Lu directly accused China of being Aggressive towards Indian Border. “We have said that the border dispute between India and China Should be solved peacefully through negotiations directly between the two parties. Having said that we haven’t seen PRC has taken good faith steps to resolve this border conflict,” he stated.

His Next Stop was Dhaka, where the Newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang was stepped in a week before. Though it was called “Technical Stopover” by China, it was his first foreign stop after holding the position. They stopped after a day, US Senior Director for South Asia, National Security Council Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher landed for four days visit to Dhaka.

Bangladesh, with close ties with China holding an election next year. The United States has imposed sanctions on the Bangladesh Paramilitary Forces ‘Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)’ on charges of human rights violations since 2021. Previously, Bangladesh was not invited on the Summit for Democracy held by US President Joe Biden on December 9 and 2021. During this visit to Dhaka, US Assistant Secretary of State Lu praised the RAB and hinted to lift the ban.

He also held talks with Bangladesh to participate in the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

South Asia as New Battlefield of Sino-US rivalry

These high-ranking US officials’ visits to South Asian countries are in line with the strategy to encircle China, while Taiwan Straits Crisis is ragging the Sino-US tension. The US has a clear interest in South Asia with its defense strategy of IPS. In this case, it seems that the small countries of South Asia will be in the strategic grip of the power centers. India is competing with China as a member of the IPS. The three-tier economy and the Power Centre are competing against south Asia.

The rise of China has challenged the US’s hegemony in global affairs. China plans to overtake the position of the US by 2050. The US fears that Beijing could overtake the US’s global leadership role. To stop China from achieving its goals of 2050, the US has deployed its IPS toward South Asia too.

The center stage of the global affair is shifting towards Asia. And, when the world is divided into two poles, it will have an adverse effect on the small countries of South Asia directly. The US is talking about peace and stability in the region, isolating China, with the largest population in the globe. China is also moving forward to expand its influence in the Asian region. India is an emerging economy in itself, which has supported the US to stop China. India wants to maintain its domination in South Asia by stopping China.

In the rivalry between the three-tier economy and the two polar power centers, underdeveloped South Asian countries have opportunities to gain economic and infrastructure development. Side by side the three are chances of losses of balance and risk of becoming the battlefield of Sino-US rivalry. 

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