The US is losing its influence in Middle-East, and Asia rapidly. The war of terror harmed the Muslim world and the US lost its goodwill in the whole Muslim world. Especially. Its unconditional support to the Jewish State of Israel, its enmity with Iran, and the War in Afghanistan harm the US reputation.
That is why the US has been focusing on India and signed several agreements of strategic in nature and assisting India out of the way to bring up. The US wanted India to become a reliable, strong partner, which can protect American interests in the region.
Does India have such a capacity or a will or intention? India is a diverse country with many ethnic minorities, the biggest minority is Muslims, followed by Christians and Sikhs, etc. Even, in the Hindu religion, there are four castes, Brahmans the superior most and Untouchables the lowest one. To build absolute consensus in India is impossible.
Since Prime Minister Modi came into power, he supported the extremist Hindu factions. He has appointed such fanatics on senior positions and all policy-making and decision-making have converged into the hands of extremists. As a result, India is no longer a democratic country nor a secular state.
The US is really worried over the deterioration of democracy in India and poor records of human rights. The US has concerns over the treatment of the Indian Government to its minorities and ethnic groups. The mismanagement of the Pandemic is also a matter of grave concern for the US. The US is worried if they invest on India heavily, and at the time of need, India may not be able to protect the US strategic interests.
The US Secretary of State visited India on 27-28 July 2021. In the joint press conference that ended his one-day visit to India, United States secretary of state Anthony Blinken did not try to hide the US’s discomfiture over the turn that Indian democracy has taken in the past several years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Answering a question posed by the Wall Street Journal’s correspondent, he readily admitted that “shared democratic relations and high ideals were very much a part of our conversation”. Since busy world leaders do not waste time having conversations on things they completely agree on, Blinken was signaling, in diplomatese, that the two sides do not see eye on the fate that has befallen these high ideals.
The language of diplomacy has its own conventions. One of these is to disguise admonition as praise. The former was abundantly visible in Blinken’s statements. The secretary of state lavished praise on India’s democracy, but its underlying message was that the Biden administration’s relationship with India would depend upon the extent to which the Modi government respects the written and unwritten rules and conventions of democracy. He softened the message by admitting that American democracy too was a work in progress, but his message was clear: violations of human rights and freedoms occurred in the US too, but its federal and state governments did not shirk from taking corrective action. The Modi government had to stay the course too: backtracking was unacceptable.
Jaishankar is far too seasoned a diplomat not to have got Blinken’s message. Members of Biden’s administration had expressed their discomfiture over the Modi government’s disregard for civil rights and liberties more than once in the past six months. The Pegasus revelations have only served to heighten that concern. So Jaishankar’s response to Blinken was anything but spontaneous. His response was chilling.
“…it is the moral obligation of all polities,” he responded, “to really right wrongs, when they have been done, including historically and many of the decisions and policies you’ve seen in last few years, fall in that category. …freedoms are important,” he elaborated, “We all value them, but never equate freedom with non-governance or lack of governance or poor governance. They are two completely different things.”
After seven years of Modi rule, it is not difficult to read between the lines of his response: the Modi government will continue to pay lip service to democracy but, as a sovereign nation, it had the right to decide why, when, and how it will curtail the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the people by India’s constitution. Jaishankar did not stop there but claimed further that this was not merely a constitutional, but a moral right, in short, a right that transcended those inscribed in the constitution because it came directly from some higher authority.
That is not going to happen. If there is anything to be learned from Blinken’s visit, it is that the era of the cloistered nation-state, which enshrined the absolute right of governments to deal with their people as they wished, has come to an end. The revolutions in transport and communication technology of the past half-century, and the mass migration of highly educated workers from the developing to the developed world, have made every government’s business a part of the business of its peers.
The US has shared its concerns in a diplomatic tone but the future of real relations depends on how India takes corrective actions and satisfies the US administration. The US needs India in this region, but also can not keep its eyes closed on gross violations in respect of democracy, freedom, justice, and human rights.