World grudgingly accepts Indian viewpoint

Harsha Kakar
Indian foreign policy has evolved over the years and is now aligned to Indian interests, rather than the western world view, causing heartburn in nations which assume themselves as protectors of democracy, as also in institutions funded by those who believe in western world domination, George Soros being a prime example. Adding salt to wounds is the growing Indian economy, while that of the west recedes, forcing global leaders to seek trade deals with India and as a precursor accept the Indian foreign policy approach. The increasing military clout of India enabling it to hold its ground against dual challenges by China and Pakistan, as also its strategic location,make it a destination for military-to-military ties.
The independent strategic autonomy displayed by New Delhi based on its global influence and national power go against the age-old western concept of toe our line or we will impede your internal and external dynamics. In the case of India, the world is compelled to accept the Indian viewpoint, even though it would desire a subservient India. Global companies are investing in the Indian defence industry rather than their government’s bullying India to procure arms on their terms. India has changed and this has hurt western egos with shady organizations, silently backed by governments, targeting Indian reputation, while their leaders project a pro-India bias.
When Macron stated, post his recent China visit, that the greatest risk Europe faces is ‘getting caught up in crises that are not ours (implying Taiwan),’ he faced limited questioning from his European allies, though most dubbed it as Macron’s independent views. He added, ‘The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate (a crisis) on Taiwan,’ giving China a free hand, against the thoughts of most Asian nations, including Japan and India. However, this is exactly what the Europeans have done in Ukraine, compelling Zelensky to continue fighting a losing war against Russia and forcing large parts of the globe to back its stand. Different yardsticks for Europe and the rest of the world.
When Jaishankar, hinting that the Ukraine crisis in not India’s war, mentioned India will continue to procure Russian oil, he was grilled and advised by to stop doing so.India’s insistence that it is acting in its national interest was laughed at. Ukrainian leaders went so far as to mention that every drop of Russian oil contains Ukrainian blood.Jaishankar’s words, ‘Europe has to grow out of the mindset that its problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems,’ was proved when Macron suggested that Europe must ignore Taiwan as it does not impact Europe.
The New Yorker, in an article titled, ‘Has Modi pushed Indian democracy past its breaking point,’ published on 31st Mar this year states, ‘Over the course of Modi’s premiership, which began in 2014, he has turned India into an increasingly illiberal democracy.’ The article followed the conviction of Rahul Gandhi by a Gujrat sessions court. The PM was blamed for being behind the conviction.
The New Yorker article added, ‘The move against Gandhi was surprising because Gandhi doesn’t seem to pose a real threat to Modi politically,’ implying deliberate targeting of political opponents. The incident over which the judgement was given was ignored. On the contrary, the indictment of ex-president Donald Trump, placing his political return in jeopardy,was praised as a victory for democracy. Different yardsticks for different parts of the globe.
The Income Tax raids on BBC’s financial offices was dubbed as attempting to punish it for its documentaries on Gujrat. The raids were conducted two months after the documentaries release. While the opposition in India and the UK criticized the action, both governments announced that they are in contact and ‘monitoring the situation.’ Global media accused the government of scuttling freedom of the press.
CNN stated that the raids will ‘will damage the reputation and image of India as the world’s largest democracy.’ There was no mention of the possibility of the BBC actually having committed a crime and the need to await the final outcome of the investigation. Any legal action undertaken in India has to be wrong, biased and with an ulterior motive.
Western media described the recently murdered don Atiq Ahmed as a former Member of Parliament, ‘Robin-Hood’ and ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type of character who helped out the poor. His criminal antecedents including murder and rape were ignored. The New York Times headlines read, ‘Killing on live TV renews alarm about India’s slide towards extrajudicial violence.’ The intent was to portray India as a lawless country.
Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age in France led to widespread protests locking down large parts of the country. The peak of the protests had over 1.5 million participants. Violence was unprecedented as was the police backlash. However, there was no global criticism on the police crackdown and large-scale arrests.
Similarly, when Justin Trudeau broke the truckers’ agitation by imposing an emergency, blocking their bank accounts, employing disproportionate force, he was supported and praised. In comparison, India was accused on how it handled the farmers agitation, despite there being no use of force. The farmers’ agitation was dubbed by the west as protecting Indian democracy, while the others were against democratic norms.
The image of India being pro-Hindutva and intolerant towards other religions flows largely from western Christian groups which have aligned with Islamists in their accusations attempting to bring down Indian global reputation impacting its independent policies as it views them as a challenge. Simultaneously, the west realizes that it needs India on its side. Thus, while governments support closer ties with India, organizations, including those evaluating hunger or happiness index, democracy levels, religious freedom etc, funded by states or pro-western viewing individuals project India in poor light.
India is therefore loved and hated at the same time. Azad Essa, writing for the Middle East Eye, in Feb 2023, summed up the world’s dilemma when he mentions in conclusion of his article, ‘Today, India’s democratic status barely exists in the imagination of western capitals. Yet, they keep giving India a pass. And that is the real story.’
The author is Major General (Retd)