Modi Government Foreign Policy: Appeasement of Imperialists and Global Capital, Arrogance Towards South Asian Neighbours

The crushing defeat of the BJP in Bihar was a decisive mandate against feudal-communal arrogance and the Modi Government’s pro-corporate ‘development’ that had meant nothing but land grab and steep prices of essential food items.

The Modi Government, in the wake of this historic verdict, has responded by trying to reassure corporates that the Government’s determination to ram through unpopular policies will continue, immune to democratic opinion. Regulations for FDI have been eased in 15 sectors including single brand retail, banking, construction, media, airlines, defence, banking, plantations and media, as a move to appease foreign capital before the Prime Minister embarked on another spate of foreign tours to London, G-20, Malaysia and Singapore. Corporate taxes have been reduced and rail fares hiked, even as food prices continue to soar.

But the questions and protests of India’s citizens continued to pursue Prime Minister Modi even in London. He was greeted by massive protests, including those by women’s groups, human rights groups, Dalit groups as well as various community organizations. The British media, too, did not spare Modi on his human rights record and attacks on minorities’ rights, though he failed to answer a direct question about the protests.

Significantly, his visit was also marked by protests by Nepalis against an unconscionable India-backed blockade of the land-locked, quake-hit country. While the question of Madhesi representation and citizenship is indeed a genuine democratic one that the republic of Nepal will have to address, India’s big-brotherly arrogance and meddling is rightly resented by Nepal.

The Modi Government’s foreign policy failure when it comes to Nepal and the South Asian neighbourhood is in marked contrast to its appeasement of the US, UK and other imperialist powers. Addressing the extravaganza of Indian diaspora at Wembley, Modi chose to remain totally silent on the legacy of India’s resistance to British colonialism. Meanwhile the BJP back home in India was whipping up communal hatred and violence against the legacy of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century Mysore ruler who was killed while resisting the East India Company!

Instead, Modi went to the extent of stating that India enjoyed a unique relationship with Britain that was much closer than that with any of India’s own neighbours! This statement exposes the skewed character of the Modi Government’s foreign policy priorities.

In his Wembley speech, in the name of hailing India’s legacy of tolerance, Modi pandered to Islamophobic prejudice by suggesting that the Sufi tendency was the only peaceful tendency in Islam which otherwise was the source of global terrorism. In the wake of the terror attacks in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris, Modi urged called on the “international community” to “give a definition to terrorism” in order to put an end to the spurious distinction between “good and bad terrorism.” This is ironic, given the fact that Modi himself in India has been projecting terrorism by Hindutva groups as “good terrorism.” A public prosecutor has gone on record to accuse Modi’s own Government of pressurizing her to weaken the cases against Hindutva elements accused in terrorism cases. Modi and his own Government and camp followers openly seek to brand all Muslims and voices of dissent and democratic protests as potential “terrorists” while defending acts of terrorist blasts, assassinations and lynchings by Hindu majoritarian outfits.

Questioned about attacks on India’s diversity and minorities’ rights in London, Modi chose to take refuge behind the legacy of Buddha, Gandhi and the Indian Constitution. To Indians, though, this answer is supremely unconvincing because even as he hailed Gandhi in London, his camp followers including even MPs of his party have been venerating Gandhi’s killer Godse, making bigoted statements mocking the Constitutional rights of and justifying organized violence against Dalits and minorities, and branding dissent as “anti-national” disloyalty.

The bitter Bihar lesson has done nothing to dent the arrogance of the BJP and the Modi Government and their hostility to dissent and democracy. On a visit to America to address a gathering of Indian diaspora, the Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh declared that India’s leading writers, scientists and intellectuals were “paid” by vested interests to protest “intolerance.”

The attempts to paint all citizens critical of the Modi Government’s communal and pro-corporate policies as ‘paid’ or ‘Pakistani’ will fail as miserably as it did in Bihar. The Modi Government will be punished by the people for its betrayal of India’s anti-colonial legacy, its appeasement of imperialist forces and arrogance towards neighbours, and its blatant espousal of corporate interests at the cost of those of India’s peasants, workers and common people.

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