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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 (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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South Asia

Will CPEC be a Factual Game Changer?

Asad Ullah

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Pakistan’s economy is shrinking, and shrink economy always needs reforms, reforms either political, social or economic can be an upright source of wherewithal to fight preceding challenges. Since independence Pakistan is swathed with many serious issues, these are the issues which extremely hamper Pakistan’s economic growth. Nearly every political leader since independence didn’t pay courtesy to deal with problems, however, every political leader has tried to snatch public wealth through different means. For domestic development and trade balance Pakistan always went towards IMF toabailout. Recently in 2019 Pakistan again bailout of almost US$ 6 billion for 39 months.

Pakistan faces long-term economic challenges, including high budget and the debt deficit, low-income mobilization, low external vulnerability and less spending on education, social, health and many other sectors. This imitates the birthright of the jagged and cyclical economic policies of current years aimed at stimulating growth, but at the disbursement of growing weaknesses and persistent structural and institutional weaknesses, Pakistan failed to boost its economy. Thanks to Chinese One Belt One Road Initiatives, which will help Pakistan economy to grow self-reliant under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC.

The question of whether the so-called CPEC will certainly help Pakistan’s shrink economy or will abundantly abolish the nascent economic system where the Chinese investor will hold the power of the industrial sectors. Most of the leaders see CPEC is another obliteration for Pakistan economy. Furthermore, they believe that the CPEC will destroy the usual exquisiteness, for the construction of the roads, and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), they will cut down thousands of trees, many agriculture lands will convert to buildings, roads, and the pollution level will twofold compare to the present. They refused to ignore that CPEC is a game-changer for Pakistan but rather destruction for the country contemporary status quo.

Such questions got much attention in public, and researchers are worried about the specific outcome. As argued by many intellectuals the CPEC is win-win game, if CPEC allow China to the warm-water of the Arabian-Sea for smooth trade with less coast and safe route to save billions of dollars, so as for Pakistan the CPEC will bring a vast amount of employment opportunities, as well as trade prospects to the domestic people which will minimalize the level of unemployment, poverty, besides most importantly will link all those isolated people and their small business to the industrial hub as well as economic-cantered. 

The CPEC according to most of the observers parting optimistic impacts on Pakistan economy. It believes that the CPEC has generated more than 60,000 jobs for Pakistani in 2015 and expected to generate more than 800, 000 job opportunities in near future 2025. A report released by the Think-Tan of South Asia Investors, the CPEC will offer about two million direct as well as indirect jobs, which will boost the economy and will raise GDP growth to 7.5% compared to 5% present.

Additionally, the data revealed by the World Bank, that the GDP of Pakistan has increased remarkably for $244 billion in 2014 to $300 Billion in 2017. To be more specific the annual GDP of Pakistan improved from 5.2% in 2018to 5.527% in 2019, viewing continuous improving with time being. Consequently, from the above facts, we conclude that CPEC is a game-changer for Pakistan, which will not only build the infrastructure but importantly will boost the economy and will add millions of jobs, unswervingly contributing toward the GDP growth of Pakistan.

The story isn’t finished yet. The CPEC, on the other hand, emphasis on Special Economic Zones (SEZs), under the CPEC agreement, there are eight SEZs has been planned. The important aims of special economic zones SEZs are to sustain trade balance, increase employment, create jobs and increase investment. These are the zones where the trade and other business’s laws are different from the rest of the states though SEZs are located inside the border of a nation. As far as SEZs are concerned China experienced successful stories of the so-called SEZs.

Fortunately, most of the SEZs are also in those isolated areas like Baluchistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Mohmand Agency, these areas are almost disregarded by many preceding governments due to the deficiency of pecuniary resources. The infrastructure, education, and the health system of these areas are self-same diminutives. Hence, after the construction of SEZs in these areas, will not only pave the infrastructure but health and the standard of living will rise along with education and many other amenities. In conclusion, all these SEZs will create thousands of jobs across the country which will raise thousands of people from poverty, unemployment as well as improve the standard of living.

Considering the fact that CPEC has a positive impact on Pakistan’s economy, such impacts are strongly related to trade and investment. Since a longtime, China is a major and important investor in Pakistan. But the flow of goods and services, as well as the investment, has risen up particularly after 2000. Trade is thus important for economic development. The CPEC has tremendous positive impacts on the trade relation between China and Pakistan, as well as the neighbour’s states. The CPEC will improve the trade relationship between Pakistan and the neighbour countries in addition to a general trade opportunity directly or indirectly, which will improve the economic condition of Pakistan.

Finally, it’s concluded that economically the CPEC is the combination of SEZs, infrastructures, gas, and pipeline which will, of course, help Pakistan to overcome energy shortage, infrastructure problem, unemployment, eradicate poverty up to some extent and will raise the GDP.

In previous ten years, the country experienced political instability which blowout many domestic social, economic as well as a political problem, resulting in the high inflation rate, corruption, poverty, social isolation because of poverty and unemployment. These kinds of problems which up to a great extent affect the country’s economic and social system are predictable to change under the CPEC contract. This contract will not only boost the economy but will also change the social and cultural ways of life. People to people communication, adopting a new culture, the rise of the living standard are all related to the CPEC.

The CPEC will also bring socio-cultural changes such as educational exchange, training and skill exchange, media exchange and business exchange. Thus, the CPEC is a real game-changer for Pakistan, which will increase regional cooperation, peace and stability in the region, diverse investment opportunities, socio-economic development (education, water and gas supply, medical treatment, poverty alleviation), educational exchange, professional drill, and will improve safety and constancy in the areas.

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Post-UNGA: Kashmir is somewhere between abyss and fear

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Hailed as a hero for calling out New Delhi’s draconian measures in occupied Kashmir, Imran Khan warned the world of a “bloodbath” once India lifts its lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir. He persuaded global leaders to denounce the brutalities and human rights violations unleashed on Kashmiris ever since the disruption of the decades old status quo, which had been granted by the symbolic autonomy of Articles 370 and 35(A) within the Indian constitution. The constitutional coup d état ensures the alienation of Kashmiris in IOK beyond the point of redemption with massive spillover effects across the LOC. Pakistan is home to 4,045,366 self-governed and independent Kashmiris as per the 2017 census, who are desired of more than a political and diplomatic support for their brothers in IOK. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars on the Kashmir issue.

Focusing on the brazen denial of core human values, Imran Khan prognosticated a more radicalized world as the scourge of radicalism finds more fodder in a discriminated society. If climate change is ignored, the clichés of religious affiliation continues and the inherent right of self-determination remains disregarded, violent reaction is inevitable. He said, “we all know that marginalisation leads to radicalization”… “No one did research that before 9-11, the majority of suicide bombers in the world were Tamil Tigers. They were Hindus”, but Hindus rightly escaped the blame since belief and religion has nothing to do with desperation.

Imran Khan talked more like Gandhi than the nation of Gandhi itself. He reminded the world of the reincarnation of the progrom and racial ridden medieval periods when religion and state were inseparable .It has reshaped and now resides more in inter-state relations while negatively stirring regional cooperation and globalization. Already enwrapped in a world of deprivation, the fifth largest population of South Asia is fearfully seen at the brink of a nuclear war with there being very few options left for a seven times smaller nuclear state of Pakistan, which has been already driven to the wall. The speech was well received and touched a chord with many Kashmiris reeling under the unprecedented communications blackout and travel restrictions in place since August 5.

“It felt like there is someone to watch our back. It felt that someone is talking for us, that we are not alone”, was the feeling commonly displayed. Hundreds of affected Kashmiri stakeholders came out of their homes, shouting slogans in support of Imran Khan and calling for the independence of Kashmir despite the movement restrictions and deployment of additional force by India in Srinagar.A fresh charge sheet has also been filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India against the chief of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, (JKLF) Yasin Malik, and other leaders including Asiya Andrabi, and Masarat Alam on October 4, 2019.

Conjuring up his dystopian vision, Prime Minister Modi made no mention of the disputed region of Kashmir in his read-out speech at the UN along the lines of diplomatically bureaucratic explanation. He only ticked the fanciful boxes of development, progress, and world peace, annihilation of terrorism and protection of environment. This speech however, was soon followed by a threat from his own government’s defence minister calling for the liberation of Pakistani Administered Kashmir as the next step in India’s quest for regional dominance.

Moreover, Imran Khan has also expressed his fears in his erstwhile meetings with Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the General Assembly session. Trump has offered mediation, but only if both Pakistan and India agree. A senior US diplomat for South Asia called for a lowering of rhetoric between India and Pakistan, while saying that Washington hoped to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there. Similarly, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi, in his address to the General Assembly on 27 September stated that,;”The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”

Nonetheless, an arrogant denial by India to the support of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir by Turkey and Malaysia is more of an inept understanding of diplomacy and international commitment. India needs to step out of the skeptical comprehension of the role of the UN that was pronounced by Ms. Vidisha Maitra India’s Permanent Mission to the UN. The sway of diplomatic terms espoused with preconceived historical interpretations could be misguiding for political leaders. Modi needs to keep his ears close to the ground to save his political future. It is an extensional battle for Kashmiris. No concertina wire can blur the contradiction in his approach to the issue, “when they are in India they say it is an internal issue and when they are on the international forums, they consider it a bilateral issue,” said one of the residents of Srinagar. Confusion exacerbates the fear, which consequently becomes a forerunner to terrorism. Same goes for the US whose mediator’s role gets paradoxical by Trump’s close alliance with Modi in his perusal of Asia-Pacific policy. Though, Imran Khan is perpetually using his political and diplomatic influence proactively, to mobilize both the international community and his own people, the anti-India feeling, the pro-militancy sensitivity and the general sense of despair — is stronger than before in Kashmir.

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Kashmir Issue at the UNGA and the Nuclear Discourse

Haris Bilal Malik

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The Kashmir issue has more significance in view of the nuclearization of South Asia as many security experts around the world consider Kashmir a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan. The revocation of the special constitutional status of Kashmir by the BJP government on August 5, 2019, also referred to as Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and the subsequent lockdown in Kashmir has since considerably increased political and diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan. India’s recent moves and actions in Kashmir have once again internationalized the Kashmir dispute. This was evident during the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session, where the Kashmir issue remained a crucial agenda item for several countries.

During this year’s session prominent leaders of the world condemned Indian brutalities in Kashmir. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the international community for failing to pay attention to the Kashmir conflict and called for dialogue to end this dispute. Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Kashmir “has been invaded and occupied” by India despite the UN resolution on the issue. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also discussed the issue and called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute based on the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions. Based on the grave importance of Kashmir as a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the UNGA warned the world community about the dangers of a nuclear war that according to him might break out over Kashmir due to Indian atrocities. The current situation appears to be the most critical time for both the countries and the region as both countries are nuclear-armed.

However, unfortunately, the Indian leaders and media perceived Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning as a nuclear threat and termed it as ‘brinkmanship’. Contrary to this perspective, it is worth mentioning here that the Indian leadership itself is involved in negative nuclear signaling and war hysteria against Pakistan in recent months. For instance, the 2019 Indian General Election campaign of Prime Minister Modi was largely based on negative nuclear signaling comprising of several threats referring to the possible use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan. Furthermore, as an apparent shift from India’s ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy, on August 16, 2019Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while on a visit to the Pokhran nuclear test site paid tribute to the late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and asserted that India might review its NFU policy. He stated that a change in future circumstances would likely define the status of India’s NFU policy. Since then there is no official denial of this assertion from India which indicates that India might abandon its NFU policy.

Moreover, India’s offensive missile development programs and its growing nuclear arsenal which include; hypersonic missiles, ballistic missile defence systems, enhanced space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance and the induction of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile-capable submarines clearly indicate that India’s nuclear weapons modernization is aimed at continuously enhancing its deterrence framework including its second-strike capabilities vis-à-vis Pakistan. This is also evident from India’s military preparations under its more recent doctrines such as the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD)which are also based upon more proactive offensive strategies and indirect threats of pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan.

As evident from the above-mentioned developments, it seems likely that India aspires to increasingly project itself as a regional hegemon and a potential superpower. The BJP government under Prime Minister Modi inspired by the Hindutva ideology is taking offensive measures under the notions of ‘a more Muscular or Modern India’ based on strong military preparedness. In such circumstances, Pakistan’s threat perception would likely remain increasingly inclined towards its eastern border. Pakistan due to its economic constraints would also likely face considerable difficulties in competing with India toe to toe with respect to its military modernization plans. Pakistan is already punching well above its weight, and nuclear deterrence would be the only way through which Pakistan can maintain a precise balance of power to preserve its security. This could only be carried out by deterring India with the employment of both minimum credible deterrence and full-spectrum deterrence capabilities. This posture clearly asserts that since Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes in principle, they are aimed at deterring India from any and all kinds of aggression.

Hence, at the present India’s forceful annexation of occupied Kashmir and the resultant nuclear discourse at the UNGA has further intensified Pakistan-India tensions. Under present circumstances, the situation could easily trigger another politico-military escalation between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi has bet his political reputation on his move to annex the region and his political career is on the line. The same way Pakistan’s politico-military establishment is equally unlikely back down from its stance on Kashmir. It would be difficult for both countries to come down from the escalation ladder because politico-military reputations would be at stake at both ends. Consequently, Pakistan might be forced to take action before India’s modernization plans get ahead and might respond even sooner.

The nuclear discourse in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech against the backdrop of the Kashmir crisis at such a high forum like UNGA would likely keep the issue internationalized. The situation demands the UN fulfill its responsibility of ensuring peace and to prevent billions of people from the dangers of a nuclear war. However, Indian blame game, aggressive behavior and offensive nuclear signaling against Pakistan all present a clear warning of nuclear war. It would greatly limit the prospects for international mediation especially by the United Nations whose resolutions on Kashmir clearly provide a right of self-determination to decide Kashmir’s future.  

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