In recent days, a medley of episodes has occurred abroad, the significance of which merits deeper analysis.
Just days ago, the effective mouthpiece of the British establishment, the Financial Times, abused Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a fascist, by using a well-known hack, the son of a former Lord Chamberlain to the Queen. However, his alleged expertise on India was woefully missing in a book he wrote on the country that had won accolades from the usual suspects, including the octogenarian economics Nobel Laureate of tiresome omniscience. This egregious libel had been preceded a few days earlier by another tired hack repeating the cliché about Netaji Subhas Bose as ‘pal of Hitler’, merely exposing his own inability to engage in credible posthumous libel because the evidence of Bose’s unsparing opposition to Nazism is well-documented. But the imperatives of career and lucre apparently trump honour and professional competence for someone groomed over decades by foreign masters for deployment against India.
These two ineffectual barbs of insignificant moment were preceded by a Pakistani ISI organisation getting India’s former vice president, Hamid Ansari, to lustily slander in Washington a country that has accorded him innumerable evidently undeserved privileges.
A number of other episodes are worth noting to grasp the emerging pattern which is reaching a shrill crescendo of brazen denunciations as well as significant policy actions abroad, aimed against Narendra Modi’s elected government. Most Indian commentators on British and American policy apparently lack serious knowledge and grasp of their domestic and foreign policies, which is why they failed to apprehend the political context of the passage of the infamous Islamophobia Bill in the US Congress.
The Islamophobia bill, aimed singularly against India, would require the disreputable USCIRF, dominated by evangelists, to report India’s alleged depredations against its Muslim population.
The passage of the Bill, even as Islamists renewed assaults against the US homeland, was the outcome of concerted efforts of US government agencies and the Pakistani ISI, which only required US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to place it before the Congress.
Disappointingly, the Bill received the backing of the entire Democrat Jewish caucus and was later applauded by the White Houses and it now only remains to be passed by the US Senate, which is evenly split between the two political parties and the outcome will be decided by the casting of a US Vice President, Kamala Harris, notorious for anti-India prejudices.
Two minor episodes of greater underlying significance should also be noted. An important legal action on caste discrimination has been launched by the California Department of Fair Employment and Fair Housing against an Indian entrepreneur in the US Silicon Valley. It is shockingly being cited widely to denounce Hindu India’s allegedly innate racist caste prejudices, though there is no evidence whatsoever to support the allegations in this particular legal action. But febrile caste insinuations have entered US political consciousness, with an unpardonably unscholarly book on caste being praised by former president Barrack Obama and the University of California gratuitously including caste as a ‘protected category’ in relation to discrimination, partly due to the unproven Silicon Valley accusations, which defence representations highlight have no merit.
More concerning is intelligence from a high-level source that apart from the intensifying and public animus of US Democrats against emerging India, senior Republicans are also voicing supposed unease about Modi’s alleged anti-minority policies against Muslims, Christians and Dalits, the rainbow alliance sought by India’s political Opposition to corner the BJP. The degree of international coordination of attacks against the Modi government on similar issues was underlined by a shameful broadcast by the BBC a few weeks ago, accusing Prime Minister Modi of being the ‘fountainhead’ of what was implied is a developing pogrom against Indian Christians.
Quite clearly, the foreign campaign to destabilise the Modi government and impact India’s electoral politics has gathered momentum in recent weeks with the approach of nationwide state Assembly polls. Of course, the cynical international agents have joined hands openly with a disgruntled domestic Opposition that fears permanent political oblivion, if a second or third election is lost, with its implications for acquiring funds while in office.
The international campaign against the incumbent Modi administration is mainly sponsored by Western governments as well as the Sino-Pakistani alliance even if the visible face of the downstream protagonists may appear more innocuous.
What they all share in common is the conviction that undermining India and its government by military action at its border is a difficult proposition and the primary endeavour must be to subvert it from within by acting in concert with India’s domestic political opposition. The goal regarded as feasible is to abet the ascent of a weak and pliable government in India that can be forced to bend to the will of foreign powers. What is desired is the counterpart of the Manmohan Singh government, with a thoroughly compromised Rahul Gandhi and his acolytes heading it.
It is this context that explains the multiple apparently unrelated episodes that have occurred in recent days though preceded by much more serious actions to which the beleaguered Modi government felt obliged to respond with defensive countermeasures. It retreated from laudable policy measures legitimately enacted by parliament and desisted from justifiable police and penal action against outright criminality. These retreats by the government included the rescinding of the farm laws that had virtually universal acclaim of policy analysts and were indeed proposed by the political Opposition that subsequently repudiated them. Other self-preservatory government responses include tolerating the outrageous violation of the law by CAA protesters, followed by orchestrated lethal riots.
The Modi government subsequently allowed the capital to be held hostage for a whole year and then burn on Republic Day, with police in the national capital thrashed mercilessly. It may be sadly judged that the Modi government had rightly chosen not to precipitate bloodshed with firm action, which is exactly what the sponsors of the chaotic criminality had hoped for.
An absolutely key role has been accorded by India’s foreign adversaries to Khalistanis because of Modi’s presumed personal reluctance to act forcefully against them for fear of spilling blood that would only promote their separatist goals. The volatility of Punjab, India’s critical border state, offers a golden opportunity to cause a massive setback to India that is difficult for its foreign adversaries to ignore. Too much of this issue is in the public domain to require further elaboration, but some unpleasant hard facts need to be understood by Indians.
There is evidence on Indian government files that the bombers of Air India’s Kanishka were sent from Pakistan and trained at Fort Langley by the CIA and suggests that US agencies have outsourced support to Khalistani activism against the Indian Union to a supine Canada. In addition, Indian diplomats and editors are being taken for a ride by Indian-origin British spokespersons, with official ties, who are desperately trying to play down the level of Khalistani activism in the UK by imparting misleading impressions.
India’s unstoppable rise to power is alarming for many. Regional powers like China and Pakistan are threatened because it would alter the balance of power, ending China’s historic aspirations for regional imperium and threaten the very survival of the artificial entity that is Pakistan. At a more general international level, India’s rise would end European dominance of the world that began with Christopher Columbus’ voyages in the late fifteenth century. Such a scenario prompts intolerable psychic angst and the fear is that India and China might find it wise to cooperate rather than persist with self-destructive mutual rivalry, a potential setting pregnant with adverse implications for the new Pax Romana that came into existence with European conquest of the Americas.
Within this larger picture of global geopolitical dynamics, some specific issues are prompting the growing Western hostility towards India, of which the installation of Netaji Subhas Bose’s statue at India Gate is a major unsuspected contributor. It appears that the deeper and hugely significant implications of installing Netaji Subhas Bose’s statue at the iconic India Gate national memorial have not been grasped by Indians. His statue there will dominate the consciousness of future generations of India and constitutes the abandonment of the default of the national ethos of non-violence implanted by Gandhi though mostly honoured in the breach since India’s 1962 Himalayan debacle.
It is now being replaced by Bose’s espousal of violent action to defend the nation, the issue which divided him from Gandhi and his acolytes and prompted the thwarting of his Congress Presidency in 1938. This is huge and Modi has quietly delivered, in his usual inimitable subtle way, a massive psychological incendiary that will reverberate through India becoming Bharat for generations to come. It is going to restore the exhortation, enjoining violent resistance to adharma, of the Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
Finally, a specific recent policy enactment of the Modi government has galvanised the immediate Anglo-American and European hostility, which accounts for the timing of the spread of canards against him. Of course, the electoral schedule from 2022 to 2024 also has a bearing on the swelling foreign hysteria though its shrillness also indicates a degree of impotence to stop Modi’s popular juggernaut.
For Pakistan, it is mostly about Jammu and Kashmir and the fear instilled by Modi’s willingness to engage in retaliatory military action not just across the LoC, which India had desisted from in the past, but across the international boundary itself. But buried in the revised FCRA of 2020 are stringent provisions that severely hinder the use of foreign funds for religious proselytism in India and interference in its domestic affairs, of the kind over Kundakulum revealed by Wikileaks.
This is a matter of the utmost importance for global evangelists and their ultimate political state patrons because the Modi government has thrown up a veritable ‘bund’ against religious conversion without legislating specifically against it. This is very ‘big deal’, to put it colloquially, since the US has long perceived religious conversion as the vehicle for taming India by creating a loyal constituency within it. Hence, the unending abuse of all things Hindu on the basis of prodigious quantities of a contrived academic research focus on caste to enhance and create further socio-political divisions within Indian society and relentless propaganda as well to promote the fabrications.
The rewards evangelists reaped during India’s acutely compromised UPA government of 2004-14 was religious conversion en masse of Andhra Pradesh and its further consolidation in Tamil Nadu, masquerading under the counterfeit guise of political atheism. India had also given the green light for turning Nepal into a loyal Christian outpost (a third already Christian converts), like India’s Northeast, whose legendary fighters can then be deployed as cannon fodder against China through Tibet. It is this terrifying surrender of Indian sovereignty to which Modi put a stop in 2014, much to the chagrin of its adversaries and frenemies.
The author taught international political economy for more than two decades at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Views expressed are personal.