Pursuing India’s Multi-Aligned Foreign Policy in a Multipolar World: Time for a Sister Souljah Moment?

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

India’s minister for external affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar forcefully summarized India’s foreign policy at a security conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, earlier this month.

Those remarks have been superseded by a firestorm of controversy throughout the Islamic world, accompanied by domestic Indian protests. These were triggered by offensive remarks made about The Prophet by the national spokesperson for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, Nupur Sharma, during a televised debate. Naveen Kumar, the BJP’s chief of its Delhi media unit, also tweeted further incendiary remarks.

The fallout from this issue threatens to deflect – although will likely not derail outright – the multi-alignment foreign policy course set by Jaishankar. Separately, the United States has issued another report condemning India’s record on religious freedom – and threatening further possible repercussions.

Interested readers might want to revisit three earlier posts, to establish context for Jaishankar’s remarks. In the first, I set out how India’s policy was outlined in 2020 by a book Jaishankar authored – long before Russian troops moved into Ukraine and India responded with a neutral policy (see India: Pursuing its National Interest in the Multipolar World).. In the second, I discuss India’s response to criticisms of its human rights record during meetings in Washington arranged in part to chew over India’s failure to impose economic sanctions against Russia  (see External Affairs Minister Jaishankar: India Has Concerns About U.S. Human Rights Record). In the third, I discuss Jaishankar’s criticism during a conference in Delhi of the selective concern for rules-based order Ukraine Western diplomats showed, after failing to muster  similar concern in the last decade over pressing foreign policy issues in Asia (see Jaishankar Calls Out Europe’s Selective Concern on Rules-Based Order).

For those who lack the time for such a review, the present post is intended to be a stand-alone post.

India continues to chart an independent policy of multi-alignment in its foreign policy, in spite of pressure from Western diplomats to adopt economic sanctions against Russia.  In his Bratislava remarks, Jaishankar picked up on familiar themes.

First, he rejected outright the premise that India should bow to Western pressure and curtail its economic relations with Moscow, else it might face the prospect of a lack of Western support if Indian relations with China further deteriorate to open hostilities at some time in the future. Permit me to quote extensively from The Wire’s report on Jaishankar’s Bratislava remarks, ‘Europe Has to Grow Out of Mindset That Its Problems Are World’s Problems’: Jaishankar.

India has a difficult relationship with China but it is perfectly capable of managing it, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said on Friday, rejecting the European construct that New Delhi’s position on Ukraine could impact global support to it if its problems with Beijing increases.

In an interactive session at a conference in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, Jaishankar also said that the “Chinese do not need a precedent somewhere else on how to engage us or not engage us or be difficult with us or not be difficult with us.”

….

The strong comments by Jaishankar came amid persistent efforts by the European countries to convince India to take a tough position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the argument that New Delhi may face a similar challenge from China in the future.

“In terms of the connection you are making, we have a difficult relationship with China and we are perfectly capable of managing it. If I get global understanding and support, obviously it is of help to me,” Jaishankar said.

“But this idea that I do a transaction – I come in one conflict because it will help me in conflict two. That’s not how the world works. A lot of our problems in China have nothing to do with Ukraine and have nothing to do with Russia. They are predated,” he said.

Jaishankar was asked why he thinks anyone will help New Delhi in case of a problem with China after it did not help others for Ukraine.

In response to that query, Jaishankar chided European diplomats for continuing to view the current state of the world through an exclusively European-focused lens. Per The Wire:

“Somewhere Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems. That if it is you, it’s yours, if it is me it is ours. I see reflections of that,” he said.

“There is a linkage today which is being made. A linkage between China and India and what’s happening in Ukraine. China and India happened way before anything happened in Ukraine. The Chinese do not need a precedent somewhere else on how to engage us or not engage us or be difficult with us or not be difficult with us,” he said.

“If I were to take Europe collectively which has been singularly silent on many things which were happening, for example in Asia, you could ask why would anybody in Asia trust Europe on anything at all,” he said.

Indian Foreign Policy Sideswiped by Furore Over anti-Prophet Comments by BJP Officials

Clear, concise, consistent: the erudite Jaishankar enjoyed a long career as a senior Indian diplomat, including stints in China, European capitals, and the U.S.. Some of these gigs – China, the U.S., saw him serve as his country’s  ambassador. He’s now well-positioned India to pursue its greater interests in the emerging multipolar world.

My recent writings have focused on the Modi government’s foreign policy, and I have barely addressed the Hindutva cast of its domestic policy. In fact, the Modi government has tried to pursue a two-siloed policy, of aggressive pro-Hindu policies domestically, while attempting to maintain and extend relations with many Muslim-majority countries, especially in the Gulf. Not only does India rely on mid-Eastern countries for oil and natural gas supplies, but it sends legions of its nationals abroad as guest workers, who largely labor in the construction, hospitality, and tourism sectors.

For nine days, the communications made by Sharma and Kumar at first attracted no official BJP response. That’s not altogether surprising because in form – if perhaps not in degree – they were part and parcel of Modi ’s policy of maintaining separate silos for foreign and domestic affairs. More on that theme in a moment. Only after the comments went viral – sparking calls for boycotts of Indian goods and services in Kuwait and Qatar, and leading to condemnation of the remarks by at least twenty countries and bodies –  was any action taken against Sharma, who was then suspended from her position. Kumar ’s punishment was more severe. He was expelled from the BJP (see The Wire, The Full List of 20 Countries and Bodies That Have Condemned the BJP Leaders’ Remarks). Several of these countries summoned their respective Indian ambassadors and subjected them to official dressing downs.

Separate Silos for BJP Foreign and Domestic Policy

Prior to these events, BJP policy has been to try and run India’s foreign and domestic policies out of separate silos. Writing in The Wire in After Outrage in the Islamic World, the Modi Government Could Be at Point of No Return, former Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emorates (UAE) and Iran, and retired as secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, K.C. Singh wrote about how BJP officials fanned the flames of Hindu extremism domestically while seeking to limit any negative impact on India’s foreign relations:

But all this while, the BJP spokespersons in television studios nightly kept up their Muslim-baiting to polarise voters before the vital upcoming state elections, especially in the prime minister’s own state, Gujarat. Most television channels, chasing higher viewership ratings and the government’s goodwill, devised guest panels and issues for maximum confrontation and verbal duels.

For years, this writer had warned that domestic and foreign policies could not be relegated to separate silos. But four years of former US president Donald Trump, who jettisoned climate change and liberal democracy as issues traditionally relevant to US diplomacy, encouraged the Indian government to believe that diplomacy was unaffected by BJP’s Hindutva project. The pace was accelerated after the 2019 re-election of Narendra Modi to move India from constitutionalism and liberal democracy, as envisioned by India’s founding fathers, to majoritarianism and a reconstructive Hindu Rashtra.

Such siloing no longer seems possible, especially as the United States continues to oppose Jaishanker’s attempt to follow a foreign policy of multi-alignment. Singh noted in The Wire:

…Joe Biden’s victory, after Modi’s unwise, subtle endorsement of Trump, raised concerns that the state of domestic play in India may invite US attention. Jaishankar’s unwise snubbing of Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-origin Democrat member of the US Congress during the Trump presidency, was also a cause for concern. But China, climate change and now Ukraine have made the US  harbour doubts about the Modi government’s commitment to liberal democracy.

As I wrote in my post cited above, Jaishankar tried to deflect release of a negative state department human rights report during his Washington visit with quips about the human rights record of the United States (see External Affairs Minister Jaishankar: India Has Concerns About U.S. Human Rights Record). Excellent point, but not one usually made by a ‘friendly’ diplomat. (I note that Jaishankar certainly understands that nations don’t have friends, only interests.)

The main goal of that visit for India was to reiterate its decision not to fall in line behind the West’s policy on Russian economic sanctions.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its 2022 annual report the state of global religious freedom  (USCIRF). which singled out India for especial criticism.  Retired career Indian diplomat Dr. M.K. Bhadrakumar, posted on his blog, Indian Punchline, USCIRF report is a writing on the wall:

In particular, the report recommends that India be designated as a Country of Particular Concern,  a country that engages in “particularly severe” violations of religious freedoms and on which sanctions be imposed on individuals and entities responsible by freezing their assets and barring their entry into the US. It calls on the USG to promote human rights of all religious minorities in India; raise this issue through bilateral & multilateral forums “such as the ministerial of the Quadrilateral,” and take it up in the bilateral relationship as well as highlight the US’ concerns through Congress. [Emphasis added by Bhadakurmar]

The report is direct, explicit and forceful in targeting the Modi Govt and the BJP — “The BJP-led government, leaders at the national, state and local levels, and increasingly emboldened Hindu-nationalist groups have advocated, instituted and enforced sectarian policies seeking to establish India as an overtly Hindu state, contrary to India’s secular foundation and at grave danger to India’s religious minorities.”It leaves no scope for misinterpretations.

To rub salt into the wound, while releasing the document in Washington on June 2, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an acerbic remark that “For example, in India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we’ve seen rising attacks on people and places of worship.”

Bhadrakumar notes that India was especially singled out for the deterioration of religious freedom during 2021, even though other countries perhaps had far worse records on this score:

On closer look, however, it transpires that in comparison with all othercountries that have been mentioned as “countries of particular concern” by the USCIRF, it is only India where conditions are deemed to have “significantly worsened” during 2021 —curiously, alongside Taliban-run Afghanistan and the military dictatorship in Myanmar.

He attributes this spotlighting of India to benign U.S. concerns:

The point is, India’s democratic backsliding is as much on the US radar today as the human rights issues. Furthermore, in what can be called other “technocratic issues” — such as the UN forums, G-20, data localisation rules, cyber issues, climate change, and so on — Indian stance happens to be more in harmony with China’s or Russia’s than with the US.

Succinctly put, India is paying a price for its pretensions to have a “value-based relationship” with the US and to be sharing a commonality of interests with regard to the “rules-based order.” You can’t have the cake and eat it, too! The US has every right to hold the bar high for India in comparison with, say, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia or Russia and China. And on its part, India ought to have every obligation to clear that bar of democracy. At least, India must make a genuine effort.

Yes, all true of course, but I assert  the main reason the U.S. is  now focusing on India’s human rights and religious freedom transgressions is due to the Biden administration’s continued consternation over India’s failure to toe the U.S. line on Russia sanctions.

The Question for Modi et al. : What is to Be Done?

I close by again quoting Jaishankar’s: Europe’s problems aren’t India’s problems. Yet the institutional configuration of Indian foreign policy still skews heavily towards Europe and the U.S. In a different Indian Punchline blog post, An appalling slur on the civilisation state that is India, Bhadrakumar outlines necessary next steps:

… First and foremost, this moment must be taken seriously as a wake-up call as regards the dangers of the BJP nurturing bigotry for reasons of political expediency. Second, India’s unique status as a country with one of the largest Muslim populations in the world (and yet its exclusion from the [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation] ) poses severe challenges to Indian diplomacy.

Our approach is insufficient and archaic — and episodic. Such excessive attention to Europe and America in South Block’s diplomacy is not only unwarranted but also risks neglect of India’s “near abroad” where India has vital interests. Surely, there must be some way India can take advantage of the Saudi and Iranian goodwill? Emulate Chinese and Russian diplomacy.

In other words, a policy of multi-alignment mandates that India needs  look beyond Europe and the United States to step up its diplomatic campaign to the emerging centers of power in the multipolar world.

The Modi government seems to recognize the seriousness of the diplomatic situation.  He’s announced a visit to the UAE as part of his itinerary for attending the G7 summitin Germany at the end of this month, according to Telangana Today, PM Modi to travel to UAE to pacify in Nupur Sharma controversy   Mere face time may not be sufficient, however. Stepped up diplomacy, particularly with an eye to looming global food shortages, might be on the cards. So far, India has suspended wheat and sugar exports, but to date, continues to export rice.

Today, the Indian Express ran an article in which BJP sources critiqued Sharma and Kumar’s comments as going too far – which only the most extreme Hindutva partisans would publicly deny, given the international uproar they’ve provoked and the domestic protests that have burgeoned (see A new red line: What Nupur Sharma moment means for the BJP). The paper followed with a story reporting on what might be construed as a gag policy on the Sharma contretemps (Nupur Sharma fallout: BJP spokespersons, leaders in states asked to steer clear of rows)

So far, not a peep out of Modi himself.

Is it perhaps time for a Sister Souljah – so named for when Bill Clinton dissed the entertainer Sister Souljah during the 1992 presidential campaign?

My Indian contacts would say it’s impossible for Modi to borrow from this playbook.

Is it? Does Modi have it in him?

Isn’t the point of a Sister Souljah moment for a politician to go where his most committed supporters never envisioned s/he would venture?

No one imagined, for example, that Nixon would go to China, either.

One final thought: Perhaps this isn’t a good time for those in charge to be razing homes belonging to protestors, as The Wire reported officials have so ordered in Uttar Pradesh (‘Rule of Law Lost in Rubble’: Protests, Disbelief After UP Authorities Raze Afreen Fatima’s House). Merely tamping down rhetoric  and scheduling additional foreign visits by themselves may not quell tensions.

.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

18 comments

  1. RobertC

    MKB recommendation “Emulate Chinese and Russian diplomacy.

    This a straight-on shot to the foreheads of Modi and Jaishankar telling them to think through their non-aligned alignment. MKB already told them to leave the Quad. While I don’t know if he’s explicitly said for India to recognize it’s future lies with the re-energized RIC, I have in several posts. But I think India has lost its way. And its future.

    1. RobertC

      A personal perspective at Bloomberg Why I’m Losing Hope in India

      My generation of Indians has often been disappointed in our country, and we have sometimes despaired about the direction it was taking, but it’s been impossible for us to stop hoping.

      …A disturbing arbitrariness has crept into policymaking, institutions have decayed and the economy’s structural deficiencies have worsened. Animal spirits have been sucked out of all but a handful of firms. Zombie business groups are perched atop the debris of debt-fueled expansion, waiting for politicians to signal what role they still have, if any. The defeatist slogan of self-reliance, which blighted our parents’ generation, is back. Politicians are using religious discord and caste conflicts to drive a wedge in the society.

      …Yes, there’s time. If India stops turning inward and embraces an open, transparent partnership with global investors, hundreds of millions more would get a shot at prosperity. A stagnant world economy could tap a new source of future demand. The West might win a strong and reliable security partner in Asia. The ’90s optimism will renew itself. But if India remains stuck in a middle-income trap, people will soon stop asking if it could be the next China. My generation already has.

      …Call it buyers’ remorse. Those of us who thought that muscular leadership would revive India’s dream of mimicking Chinese-style double-digit expansion are not just disappointed. For many of my generation, our long-cherished hope for a better, greater India is all but gone. We wanted to trade some of our democratic chaos for a little bit more growth. We ended up with less of both.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Well before COVID arrived, and the Ukraine disruption, Modi et al. scored two spectacular own goals, demonetisation (2016), followed by a botched roll-out of a goods & services tax on businesses shortly thereafter.

        The Indian economy hadn’t yet recovered from those two shocks before COVID struck.

        Reforms are necessary, but I don’t think ‘[embracing ]an open, transparent partnership with global investors’ is the best solution either. We all know what that translates into in reality.

        1. RobertC

          The most important reform is for India to take a hard look at a topographical map and a hard look at a resources map and a hard look at the effects of climate change to decide if the prestige of a “First World” economy is more important than the livelihood of its 1.4B citizens.

          The opportunity for India to have its “Deng Xiaoping” moment has passed but there are other paths. For instance, I believe the permafrost loss in Russia will require rebuilding 11 time zones of infrastructure. India can let the Turks do it or jump in with a whole-of-nation RIC-framework approach: Russian (commodities-based) money, Indian labor and Chinese technology.

          China has reached out to India to re-animate the Russian-designed RIC. Will (can) India respond in kind?

  2. ChrisRUEcon

    The unfortunate flip-side of this shift to a multipolar world as a counterbalance to US and European hegemony is that it’s making “heroes” of miscreants like Modi’s government.

    In time, though …

  3. The Rev Kev

    I think that even Modi recognizes the danger of inviting in the US and the EU to help India “manage” their relations with China. He can see what is happening with eastern Europe. And keeping domestic and international issues is usually a pretty smart move. But this idea of turning India into some sort of Hindu Superstate is just not going to fly as India has far too many minorities that will refuse to be sidelined. So long as this idea remains in Modi’s government, it will be an ongoing, festering problem that other nations and other interest will be able to take advantage of and provide leverage against India and its development.

    1. Oh

      Modi’s BJP came to power because it openly supported Hindu nationalism. On other fronts he made a lot of promises (cleaning up the ganges, build millions of toilets, make products indegenously, etc) but he’s kept none of them. I think the Indian population may get tired of the rhetoric and marginalize the BJP in the next elections.

      India’s foreign policy seems to be working because it buys arms from all countries and plays one large country against another. Jaishanker seems to be a very smart individual but there doesn’t seem to be any other like him in Modi’s cabinet.

  4. John Zelnicker

    “If I were to take Europe collectively which has been singularly silent on many things which were happening, for example in Asia, you could ask why would anybody in Asia trust Europe on anything at all,” he said.

    And there it is.

    Neither the US nor Europe has any credibility left. The collective West has truly screwed itself diplomatically. Blinken, et. al., are getting desperate because all they have left are sanctions, jawboning, and indirect threats of violence, e.g., China vs. India.

    I’m encouraged by India’s holding firm and not acceding to the US demands.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Jaishankar laid out his thinking clearly as to what he sees India’s interests to be in his 2020 book – which I’ve referred to before – and I remain bemused that it’s not mentioned more often. It’s an excellent piece of work- well worth a read. He continues to speak plainly and calls things as he sees them.

      None of what India is doing in foreign policy should come as a surprise to anyone

  5. Latecut

    I think your assessment falls short. BJP or the Modi government hasn’t had a Hindutva policy. In fact none of their policies has encouraged Hindus or discriminated against Muslims. All he has done is correct the course where There was a separate law for Muslims which discriminated against Muslim women and separate law for the rest of the population which was in force since independence. This followed by famous Shah Bano case in 1984 where congress government decided to stop alimony money after divorce through just saying talaq 3 times. Though even this hasn’t been passed as a law till now. They have not passed any bill discriminating against Muslims. Previous congress government discriminated against rest of religions by favouring Muslims.
    In fact Modi has awarded Muslims with Padma vibushan , Indias highest award and that too poor people. He is more inot helping poor people rather than one religion
    If you know of any bill passed by BJP government which discriminates against any religion please publish it.

  6. Latecut

    Again the above analysis is giving a slightly false picture about what happened. In the TV Debate Muslim spokesperson said something derogatory about Hindu gods to make fun of them to which Ms Nupur Sharma replied we can say something similar about the prophet as well and then she said and rest is history. The outcome of that has been that there has been death threat against her, Muslims in India have been rioting in every state throwing stones and burning places demanding her death or beheading. There are numerous youtube videos demanding her Beheading or threatening rape and killing of her. Whatever said and done, how fair is it that she is being threatened with death and rape when no one responded like that when Hindu Gods were made fun of. That is the crux of the problem.
    Still BJP government has removed her from party membership and also apologised about her speech. No one heard apologised from Muslims side.
    This is what is happening at the moment.
    Hence we can only presume is BJP government is not Anti Muslim but just pro-India.

  7. Expat2Uruguay

    It appears impossible to find the text of the actual remarks. I understand it’s a sensitive issue, but …
    Well if these remarks are so terrible, I’d like to know what they constitute exactly. This idea that to report the remarks is to engage in hate speech lacks a certain clarity. How am I to understand the importance of the offense when I don’t have the context of the actual remarks? How am I to avoid making such remarks? Am I supposed to just limit all of my speech and thought that might be critical of Muslims and their religion? I wish the discourse had a certain detached intellectual component that could be divorced from the emotional charges of racism and bigotry… It’s a tough nut to crack, but apparently the people in Muslim nations and the people in India know the actual text of the remarks? Or no? I’m confused. Very simply we are told that the remarks were offensive but we are not trusted to actually hear them for ourselves and develop a better understanding of the exact nature of the issues.

    1. Skk

      It’s commonly known modern day ridiculed by some/criticized by some/unmentionable by some stuff written in the Hadith. Stuff like flying horses and the age of Aisha when was betrothed to Mohammed and when she went to his home and thus marriage consummation (6 and 9). When it started becoming objectionable, 150 years or so, some religious scholars have worked out older, more modern day acceptable ages.
      The true/ false aspect isnt the issue, this wasn’t a Islam study group conversation, it’s just poo flinging, in a tv debate by a party spokeswoman. The real context of this is land, whether Hindus have hindu prayer rights in an ancient mosque, possibly built on a destroyed hindu temple.

      The real real context, imo, is India, like other ex-colonies instead of an organic multi century growth into a nation with an evolving ideology and national myths and history creation got the secular model jammed into it by its western educated elite. Now it’s working out its own path.

      1. Expat2Uruguay

        Thank you, that was quite illuminating. I could easily insult someone without knowing it, given the specifics involved here. Now I feel better prepared to avoid misunderstandings. You’re right, it’s not a matter of whether it’s true or false, for me it’s a matter of understanding the thing that is verboten, so as to not unknowingly cause great offense.

        My situation was as if I didn’t know what the n-word was, but I knew “*n*” was very offensive. My lack of understanding would require me to not speak any words with n’s if I didn’t want to offend. Previous to your explanation, the only thing I have known that was offensive was cartoons of the prophet… so I truly didn’t know what was going on at a fundamental level in this. Thank you again for the thoughtful response.

        You’re further elaborations on access issues involving prayer sites and the force-fitting of cultural integration in formally-colonized lands: also appreciated. Given the otherwise excellent article, I did understand that poo-flinging for political purposes was involved and now I can kind of imagine the types of things that were said.

        The whole article is fascinating in its description of the interplay of domestic political content and foreign political content. I feel quite heartened by the non-alignment strategy espoused by India in this moment, and I believe it’s an important development on the global stage. But I was unaware of the way in which the Modi government has consolidated its support, and that general ignorance is alluded to in the article. So, thank you Jerri-Lynn as well!

        1. Skk

          Since you mentioned your knowledge base, For the Islamic insults issue, in my lifetime it starts with Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie’s (Muslim origin, Indian origin, British American )couple of chapters in the book Satanic Verses, 1989. If you like Marquez style magic realism, you may like this. Gosh it’s almost 35 years ago.
          The chapters very directly discuss certain known , but often not discussed but reasonably well known amongst readers central stories in the Islamic mythology.

  8. Chronicler of Maladies

    Jerri-Lynn Scofield – first off, excellent analysis.

    India’s history is complicated. During partition in 1947, Muslims migrated to Pakistan, and Hindus decamped to India. However a combination of Gandhi and Nehru encouraged Muslims to remain in India. This enabled over 200 Muslims to exist in India in an uneasy peace with over 800
    Million Hindus. There have been riots since 1947 into the present day, and a segment of Hindu and Muslim, esp the older generations harbor animosity to each other. Mobs lynch couples who dare to profess inter-religion trysts.

    What unites india is often a mysytery. Too many languages, religions, customs, cultural artifacts. BJP and their predecessors the RSS rose to infamy with the demolition of a Muslim mosque in Ayodhya. The point is that Muslim baiting and flexing the Hindutva (Hindu superiority) is part of the DNA. Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat state when Hindu and Muslims clashed, a Muslim Member of Parliament was murdered by the mob, and Muslims were killed at 10 times of Hindu murders. A mess that Modi never cleared and few perpetrators were brought to justice.

    India under BJP is a Hindu nation. This is what gets them the votes and unites an otherwise diverse India against a common demonized enemy, Muslim and other minorities.

    On the other hand it’s a hoot that the US condemns India while extending an olive branch to Saudi Arabia after being implicated in the murder of Jamal Kashoggi. As you pointed out, this is simply punishment for not toeing the line on condemning Russia.

    If the Chinese display the wisdom to become the Middle Kingdom they do desire, they need to resolve the disputes with India post haste and poke holes in the QUAD alliance, offering an alternative with Russia India and China, even if this means giving up claims on disputed territory.

    1. RobertC

      Maladies — “If the Chinese display the wisdom to become the Middle Kingdom they do desire, [1] they need to resolve the disputes with India post haste and [2] poke holes in the QUAD alliance, offering an alternative with Russia India and China, even if this means giving up claims on disputed territory.

      [1] China has reached out to India but India has lost its way RobertC March 11, 2022 at 6:22 pm, RobertC March 23, 2022 at 5:11 pm and RobertC March 28, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      [2] India Should Quit Quad Now!

  9. Chanakya

    The genesis of the current bout of India baiting was a court case filed in Varanasi by 5 Hindu women devotees who wanted daily rights to pray in a section of the Gyanvapi mosque (which is now open to them a few times a year). Over 30 years back, women had regular access which was curtailed in the lead up to the demolition of the Babri mosque.

    The court ordered survey of the mosque premises has found evidence of the earlier temple and idol ,demolished on Aurangzeb’s (late 17th century) orders, with no dispute around it (like in the case of the Babri mosque) with his orders well recorded in his archives. The TV debate was around whether court orders restricting access to the mosque are fine and being appealed in higher courts.

    India Twitter went mad with lots of people sharing pics of random objects that could look phallic and call them a Shivling. This is supposed to be not offensive.

    A muslim politico baits Nupur Sharma on the show with a similar comment and she asks him to hold his tongue. When he does not, she picks some instances from the Prophet’s life that could seem fanciful. She quotes from some Hadith picking on his flight to heaven on a horse. A hadith also says Aisha married Mohammed at 6 and the marriage was consummated at 9. She mentions these things may be not in these words or tactfully which of course gets the devout, stark raving mad (egged on by influencers and some clerics).

    Modi does not get fazed by stuff on twitter or on Indian streets. He couldn’t care less.

    Twitter influencers invite assorted foreign embassies to the conversation and calls for boycotting Indian products and refusing to sell India energy start gathering some steam in the Gulf (among Joe public) not among the Sheikhs. Gulf Sheikhs have to respond in some form to the supposed insult to the Prophet, guardians of the faith right.

    The comments to the Indian government have been reasonably mild from Saudi Arabia and UAE talking of respecting faiths and holy figures and not just about the Prophet. The most rabid responses, as usual, from Pakistan and Qatar. Iran walked back some of their tough talk when their Foreign Minister came to Delhi.

    Modi wants to end this conversation and move on to talk trade with UAE (major trade deal agreed last year) with his party paying the price by shedding the 2 spokies. Remittances,jobs for Indian workers in the Gulf and energy imports are more important than being factually correct about the hadiths.

    The situation on some Indian streets gets nasty post Friday prayers with a lot of stone pelting. Police got seriously hurt (using batons only) in Ranchi and had to open fire to quell the pelting. Indian police are not as militarized as in US, thankfully , else body counts post protests will be in the hundreds and not like 10-20 from last friday. Not enough money from guns/ammo.

    Demolishing houses seems harsh and is from Israel’s playbook but what these stone pelters are asking for is Nupur Sharma’s head (Urdu usage : Gustakh e nabi ki ek hi saza sar tan se juda) which no state can accept. She has got police protection and also some cases filed against her.

    The Indian statute has a section 295a that is meant to address offensive speech and the stone pelters and their handlers are welcome to charge Nupur Sharma under this section. Expression of street power will only harden the government’s response.

Comments are closed.