An Open Letter to the Prime Minister: Careful, Modiji, you are treading water!

Nearly 1 Million Likes In Less Than 24 Hours For PM's Pic From Kolkata

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Your Minister for External Affairs, S Jaishankar, who as ambassador to the US arranged the Sept 28, 2014 public relations circus with NRIs at the Madison Square Garden in New York (when Barrack Obama was President) which won your heart and fetched him first the Foreign Secretary-ship and later a Cabinet berth, no doubt considers himself an expert on all matters American. Hopefully he has warned you just how markedly the political ground has shifted in Washington from when your “jigri dost” and “yaar”, the Republican, Donald Trump, inhabited the White House to now when the Democrat Joe Biden, occupies it.

This has happened less because of developments at the US-end than because of the carryings-on of your select chief ministers in BJP-ruled states here, especially Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath may be faulted for taking to heart the belief permeating all state governments and central govt agencies alike that the way to impress you is to go at Muslims and your political opponents quite literally with hammer and tongs.

In the age of lightning fast visual, aural and written communications — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook — the very electronic mediums you have successfully used to marshal support and to instantly reach out to and message tens of millions of people at the flick of your finger, physical and verbal abuse of citizens whether by neighbourhood goons or by local and state police acting as hand-maidens of chief ministers of the day, captured on mobile phones and broadcast realtime to the world, can be absolutely devastating for the concerned CM, of course, but even more for your fast eroding image and reputation, Modiji.

What could have been more appalling PR than that mobile video gone viral of an aged Muslim being beaten and bruised, his beard pulled and finally sheared, and being forced to chant ‘Jai, Shri Ram’? Bad advertisement for the ‘Ram Rajya’ Adityanath is presiding over and wants you, Modiji, to endorse! No wonder it has sent Adityanath into apoplectic fits and UP policemen scurrying to find the villains responsible for this excess of electronicaly transmitting the UP reality to the world.

Fewer and fewer people remain unaware of how bad things really are on the ground, Mr Prime Minister. But once Twitter, Instagram and Facebook showcase this reality — the media and those in power in the West, who take their cues from the leading press and media outlets, will begin to let their outrage show. If you think — or if Jaishankar has given this spin, that given how the US finds itself in a Russia-China vice with Russian combat aircraft yesterday dropping fragmentation bombs in the path of a British warship that had strayed into Crimean waters off Sebastopol and, at the other end, the Chinese military making noisy preparations (or so the always hyperventilating ‘Global Times’ reports) for possible invasion of Taiwan, that the Biden Admin would be too preoccupied to make a song and dance about some Muslims in India getting roughed up then, I am afraid, you are being given faulty advice.

We know, you have been trying hard to impress Biden & Co and are keen to recover for yourself the kind of personal traction you enjoyed in Washington during Trump’s tenure but, so far, you have striven without much success. This was evidenced in the leisurely way in which the Biden Administration responded to your frantic calls for help when the 2nd wave of the Covid pandemic hit. Your pleas for speedy export to India of materials and ingredients needed to produce the vaccines here, instead of expeditious processing, was met with a lot of empathetic gas and platitudes. US officials hee-ed and haw-ed but did nothing about actually shipping to India bioreactor bags, cell culture mediums, lipid nanoparticles, microcarrier beads, etc. even as the crisis reached levels of extreme god-awfulness — dead bodies by the hundreds every day thrown into rivers when not set afire at road sides.

For two months and more the Biden White House tarried, calculating how much of what ingredient export would hurt the US production of vaccines and how that would affect the President’s campaign for optimum vaccination, which had a July deadline, by when it was wrongly estimated that levels of 60+ percent of the American population would be vaccinated and herd immunity achieved. Washington announced a couple of days back that this deadline would not be met.

I had warned in my blog post (https://bharatkarnad.com/2021/04/27/cost-of-trusting-america/ ) of April 27 that someone in your PMO may have alerted you to, that the export of vaccine ingredients to India wouldn’t even begin to get underway for several more months at the very least, and that to turn to America for succour in an emergency was futile. And so it has proved. Of course, the US pharma companies (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) agreed happily to export their vaccines at high profit margins and on the basis of a liability exemption, meaning if anyone in India dies from the vaccine the company can’t be held responsible in law! (It is like the exemption the US company, Westinghouse, has secured from your government about its unproven AP 1000 nuclear reactors it wants India to buy — all such transactions enabled by the civilian nuclear cooperation deal negotiated by your cabinet colleague, Mr Jaishankar!).

If you, Mr Prime Minister, weathered the bad covid publicity and felt comforted, you ought to dust off that sense of complacency because you may be heading into a press freedom storm set off by the afore-mentioned human rights video and by the insensible response to it by your government of pressuring Twitter, Instagram and Facebook into strict self-censorship with the threat of legal troubles and punitive actions. Most companies may squawk some and submit. Then again they may not because the criticism on the twinned human rights-press freedom issue is now acquiring US Establishment legs. The rule of thumb is that whenever Washington Post or New York Times editorializes on an issue it is because that issue is front and centre in Washington.

On June 23 a Washington Post editorial, after surveying the rather fraught situation in India, pointed to the demonstration effect of the Indian government’s actions in the rest of the developing world of muzzling the media and the leading tech communications platforms. It concluded by saying that “What happens in India, …matters a great deal even in nations thousands of miles away — because it sends a signal about what one populous and prominent country thinks still-developing national Internets should look like, and also because it sends a signal about what other countries are willing to tolerate. So far, the United States and its allies have remained largely silent amid this erosion of free expression on the Web, leaving domestic companies on their own to stand up for civil liberties overseas, or to back down. Every day this silence does more harm.” (See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-united-states-cant-keep-ignoring-indias-internet-abuses/2021/06/23/1e4c2490-d2c1-11eb-a53a-3b5450fdca7a_story.html )

Never mind the cant and hypocrisy of this Washington Post editorial, considering the US Congress is currently discussing and debating draft legislation to impose restrictions on, and to limit the freedom of, Twitter and Facebook!

But this cannot be any consolation to you, Mr Modi, nor should it surprise you because the US government routinely holds America to one standard, and applies far stricter metrics to judge other countries by which, incidentally, is a trait of all great powers throughout history!

Assuming the Biden White House cuts you and your dispensation some slack, the “Progressive” element in the Democratic Party won’t. Led by Pramila Jayapala, the Congresswoman from Washington State, whose request for a meeting was turned down by Jaishankar on one of his Washington trips during the Trump presidency for reasons that can only be explained as pique, thereby earning for India her personal enmity, can be expected to lead a furious charge. It is not clear whether Jaishankar’s handpicked team in Washington headed by Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu is up to the job of blunting it, especially because the Congressional lobbying help provided the Indian embassy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee may not be available in quite the same degree because the new coalition government of Naftali Bennett will need all the help it can get to hold off the same Progressives in the US Congress from targeting Israel for nearly sparking off a hot war against the Palestinian regime of Mahmoud Abbas. And because the RSS-leaning Hindu support base among the NRIs in America is on the defensive, unable to answer for the institutionalised ill-treatment of Indian Muslims and for the sly encouragement of the loony Hindu fringe that you and your government are accused of.

You may be reading the domestic political situation right — there’s no one better at it than you. So, you have begun sporting a fuller beard, and have discarded gold-threaded suits for plainer more plebian clothes, still well cut. With a shawl stylishly draped over the shoulder, you look verily like Rabindranath Tagore from a 100 years ago. It gives you the desired sagely appearance as you approach the next general elections when the contest will be tighter. But 2024 is also when Biden may seek re-election. In any case, he will have less time for India or you in the intervening years. The minimum you should ensure doesn’t happen between now and then is that Hindu-Muslim tensions don’t flare up both because the anti-Muslim tilt distracts your government from urgent nation-building tasks and because it fetches you and the country bad international press which, in turn, will attract hurtful US Congressional actions that Biden with his own agenda and priorities, will not be willing or be able to prevent or even divert. Heading into next general elections none of this can be good news for you.

Do take this missive in the right spirit, Mr Prime Minister, because it is written by someone who, as early as 2011 in his writings championed your election as PM on the basis of your conservative economic ideology and hoped you’d free the indigenous talent and entrepreneurial genius from bureaucratic shackles and let India fly. Six years into your rule, you have failed to deliver on that promise, and are relying on statist-socialist solutions for enormous problems, when you ought to know these don’t work (and haven’t for seven decades!).

With your nationalist background, moreover, I had hoped you would by now have put India on the broad gauge track to great power as your adoption in 2014 of the ‘India First’ philosophy I have been advocating since 2002, promised. Disappointingly, I find you have shunted the country onto that old narrow gauge foreign policy line, huffing and puffing to nowhere –badgering Pakistan, kowtowing to China, opting to ride America’s coattails in the Indo-Pacific and, profession of atmanirbharta notwithstanding, permitting the military to binge on arms imports.

Your most significant success to-date has been ridding the Constitution of Articles 370 and 35A. You deserve all the accolades not because it put Kashmiri Muslims in their place, but because the Indian Union of states cannot long endure if only one state is accorded special status. Otherwise, your prime ministership has been bare of substantive achievements. Still, everyone expects you and the BJP to win the next elections because of the absence of a halfway decent alternative. But few will be cheered by this prospect, especially if things continue to proceed as they have done in your first term and so far into your second term.

Respectfully yours,

Bharat Karnad

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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47 Responses to An Open Letter to the Prime Minister: Careful, Modiji, you are treading water!

  1. Amit says:

    Many valid points raised Sir, but I don’t buy into your suspicion of the US. India needs to leverage the US to grow its economy which should be the number one priority for India. From that will follow enhanced security. India should further improve its infrastructure and business policies to attract more American FDI. Also Chinese FDI in non critical areas since they seem to have scaling expertise the Americans don’t have. American companies are highly efficient and Indian companies can learn from that. Also expand their markets since a lot of Indian companies think and act local (changing, but too slowly). I also don’t buy into your argument that India is selling itself short in its embrace of the Quad. Frankly, a BRIS alliance or a quad plus minus the US are not practical ideas as the US or China will never allow such groupings and neither do the individual countries concerned have the capabilities to counter China. Such groups could form only after India acquires economic heft and India truly acquires strategic autonomy. Till then, it’s better to partner with the US and grow stronger and manage the politics in the US along the way.

  2. Rudra says:

    If nda gov offers u upper house mp seat , for def.min , will you accept proposal?

    • Oh, please! Won’t happen!

      • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

        I am not exactly your well wisher but be careful what you wish for. Never forget the Parikar example.
        And in that respect let me just handover an initial innoculum for you to consider. Chinese had an inexpensive inactivated antigen vaccine in June of 2020. A German businessman made one at his home for his family. We on the other hand are stuck with a Rs. 1400 per dose vaccine timed for August of 2021. Strategic Security may actually be best served today by a Minister of State for Science & Technology.

  3. Gokul Kaushik says:

    Should the government at the very least change no first use nuclear policy given that they don’t have the will to counter China in Ladakh?

    I read that the Russians oppose Brahmos to Vietnam. Since we don’t make any arms ourselves, what can we give the Afghans and Vietnamese other than non-conventional equipment.

    You have become India’s Cassandra – very unfortunate.

    • Gokul Kaushik@ — The case for changing India’s strategic posture to nuclear ‘first use’ has been made in extenso in my 2018 book ‘Staggering Forward: narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition’.

      We need to supply the Afghan National Forces with the most we can, but also work on the contacts we long ago established with the Afghan Taliban and try our own channel and w/o publicity to bring about some kind of mutually acceptable reconciliatory deal between them.

  4. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    “Six years into your rule, you have failed to deliver on that promise”

    Professor Karnad, you need to correct the aforesaid statement. Modi government has completed seven years at the centre.

    One can only try to awake the sleeping. No one can make a person, who is pretending to be asleep get up from the bed.

  5. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    “You look verily like Rabindranath Tagore from a 100 years ago. It gives you the desired sagely appearance”

    Hahaha, he did it in order to win the West Bengal elections. Good to see him and his party got a nice kick up their rears by the electorate of Bengal.

  6. Vivek says:

    Pm is Ioosing chest in front of us

  7. Sankar says:

    Very well analyzed ‘the ‘real politik’ facing the Indian State in an international setting. I may add, that Modi & Jaishankar have underestimated the power of modern electronic media in the world at large, and it will be their downfall if they fail to correct course anytime soon. I am really at a loss to grasp Modi’s insensitivity to the common man, be it demonetization in the economic domain or the onset of the disastrous covid pandemic in India.

    I would like to set the record straight apropos ” … success to-date has been ridding the Constitution of Articles 370 and 35A. You deserve all the accolades not because it put Kashmiri Muslims in their place, but because the Indian Union of states cannot long endure if only one state is accorded special status”.

    According to recorded history, the Indian Union did not “accord” any special status to Kashmir or the Muslims in the state there. The accession by Maharajah took place in 1948 and it was not subject to Art370. For the period 1948-1953, there was no Art370 since it was enacted first in the parliament in1953 – so J&K existed during 1948-1953 without the Art370 hanging overhead.

    Even then, the clause for Art 370 was “temporary and transient” explicitly documented, hence there was no need for taking a vote in the parliament at that time since it had to expire after some years –
    a sunset clause in legal terms Possibly, the political leadership of Congress, excepting Sardar Patel at that time, had agreed to Art370 to disallow the influx of refugees from West Punjab to settle in Kashmir which could be a turmoil.

    The fundamental point is what is “temporary and transient” cannot continue forever. If the legislators in J&K and the past political stakeholders in Delhi had not acted to extinguish Art370 for more than 50years, then it had to be a Presidential step to invalidate it. This point has been well articulated by Amit Shah in the parliament for making Art370 defunct. The bottom line is there could not be secularism at the cost of Hindus in the Republic of India. Modi and Shah definitely deserve credit for ensuring that.

  8. Special status was accorded J&K by Arts. 370 & 35A on specious grounds; compared, say, to Manipur and even Travancore (that were also princely states) which, by the way, had historical documents and materials to prove their physical and institutional distancing from the British Raj and hence had a better case for ‘Special status’ within the Union.

    • Sankar says:

      Thanks for the amplification. Could you also please clarify on what grounds Indian citizens had to carry a passport to enter J&K in the early days when Delhi first enforced this requirement, an absurd impediment which Shyamaprasad wanted to abolish by gate-crashing to enter without a passport that eventually led to his death (murdered?) in the jail in Srinagar. To my knowledge, there was no post-mortem carried out on his body and Nehru had informed the parliament that he had been assured from his respected sources that there was no foul play in the incident – that was the end of the ghastly act!

  9. Puneet says:

    Sir
    Jaishankar did not get appointed FS and FM post howdy Mody . He was FS in Modi’s first term and already FM when the event was held in Sep 2019.Maybe a similar event held in his first term is being conflated .

  10. Via Email:

    From Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), June 26, 2021, 6:19 AM

    This open letter business has become infectious. Giving open lessons to the PM from a superior perch! If incidents like the one mentioned- of a Muslim attacked by some goons- are enough to derail India-US ties, then these ties have no future. If we are to cower before the Americans and NYT and WP, we might as well reduce ourselves to Burkina Faso. We may not be equal to the US as a physical power but let us feel more equal as a moral power. As regards the social media they need to be controlled and brought under our national laws. It cannot be otherwise. If we set the template for this for other countries it signifies we have some power to shape policies at the global level. We are not acting whimsically- we are dealing with a real issue that has important security implications.
    K.Sibal

    • Gaurav Tyagi says:

      @Mr. Sibal- “We may not be equal to the US as a physical power but let us feel more equal as a moral power”

      Why and how is India a moral power? It’s just blowing one’s own trumpet.

      “As regards the social media they need to be controlled and brought under our national laws”

      National laws of the day have been and continue to be applied selectively by the regime in power at the centre.

      Social media has empowered the masses to freely express their views and opinions. There shouldn’t be any restrictions on it.

      Constructive criticism should be appreciated by one and all whether the individual is the Prime Minister or a jobless/income less individual.

    • Sankar says:

      @Mr Sibal – “but let us feel more equal as a moral power”!
      You are in my book for writing some time ago in one of the Defence Journals regarding India-China boundary dispute, something to the effect that “we have said to China that Tibet belongs to China”. I remember sending a riposte on that, who are the bloody Indians to dictate to the Tibetans that Tibet belongs to China. And now you are claiming moral high ground on the international stage!

    • Debanjan Banerjee says:

      Dear Mr Karnad, Kishore Mahbhuvani seems to believe that the competition between India and China for mastery of Asia is actually between Plutocratic, close-minded system (India) and Meritocratic, open-minded system (China). Do you agree with this viewpoint? I would love to know your viewpoint.

  11. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The local Kashmiri politicians have been hurt the most by the turning of place into a union territory.

    There is no meaning in holding elections for a union territory. Look at the example of Delhi, where the L.G has been made the supreme authority. What’s the significance of Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi C.M, now?

    If Modi government restore the statehood back to J&K then it would be seen as a backward step by them because the situation in that region will remain the same unless India and Pakistan decide to bury the ghosts of their past.

    It can only be done by recognizing the present border as permanent. No further claims on each other’s territory.

    • Sankar says:

      Gaurav Tyagi@ – I do not understand what you are proposing here, and this is a point for many others I have come across. First, Pakistan has never “claimed” J&K as its sovereign territory in the international world. It simply goes on harping that the UNSC must conduct its plebiscite as per the resolution voted in 1948 (?). Also, it keeps quiet about the Shimla treaty signed by Bhutto and Indira Gandhi in 1972, but as far as I understand there is no escape route for Pak here.

      Secondly, as for “by recognizing the present border as permanent”, it simply cannot work since international politics is a very complex matter. Even for the sake of arguments, if one were to assume that it happened by mutual agreement, India and Pak will have to go through the UNSC to get it endorsed and then close the 1948 Kashmir file in SC – remember that a UN observer team is monitoring the J&K-LAC 24hrs/365 days. It goes without saying that China as a permanent member will at that point veto any mutual agreement worked out – so back to square one.

      I have noted this in my previous post and would like to know if I am wrong in drawing my conclusion. Thank you.

      • Gaurav Tyagi says:

        @Sankar- You have raised valid points however, UNO is akin to the government departments of India.

        The officials posted at UN enjoy the luxuries at their government’s expense without doing anything meaningful.

        Look at the way US treats the organization. Starting wars wherever it pleases without giving any damn about UN.

        In India, the day any politician or political party makes this point that let’s settle the border dispute with Pakistan by recognizing the present border. The other parties would make life hell for the aforesaid proposal maker similarly, the exact same thing will happen in Pakistan.

        So, the rhetoric will continue forever. India will keep claiming POK as well as Aksai Chin maybe, the present establishment will consult an astrologer for getting the auspicious dates.

        Plebiscite proposal of Pakistan is half baked since, if it were to happen then it will take place in the whole of Kashmir including the parts of the province, which are in control of Pakistan.

        What’s the guarantee that the residents of so called POK will vote to stay with Pakistan?

        Btw, you gave an excellent reply to the former Foreign Secretary’s post.

      • Amit says:

        This Pakistan India problem is intertwined with China. China is fighting a war with India by using Pakistan against it. It has taken 25 years for this to seep into Indian consciousness. So now, China has an interest in not promoting peace with India and Pakistan. This assumes that China has an interest in blocking India’s rise. This is a fair conclusion based on the events in the last decade. So even if Pakistan and India want peace, China will not allow it. It’s another matter that Pakistan really does not want peace with India. I’m more in the pessimist camp on peace with Pakistan than the optimist camp. Kind of agree with Sushant Sareen on this (he makes some strong points).

        But India has to break Pakistan away from China. So what should it do? I’m leaning more towards hybrid war against it to ultimately break it. We absolutely cannot allow CPEC in PoK. This won’t happen peacefully IMHO. Or another option is to take punitive action as long as Pak supports terrorism. And hope it breaks apart on its own one day. Of course the peaceful option with Pakistan would be preferred, but the mullahs and jihadis in Pakistan have become reasonably sufficient in strength unfortunately.

        But for all to go India’s way, it has to grow economically strong. India continues to blunder on this. So it will be interesting to see how things unfold.

  12. Sagar says:

    Isn’t it ironical that the present dispensation is using hate mongering IT cells to target all critics including the common man and on other hand, is arguing for new IT rules to protect the common man. How long will we be suffering? Poor crisis management of covid 19 has destroyed our lives . I feel future is darker for our country if the nation is not healed . Btw 2024 is not guaranteed, people are angry. It would be a hung parliament .

    Kudos to you to write truth to power .

  13. Mr.Mister says:

    Lot of bluster from bhakts who wish to “not allow” something in Pakistan, or hope for “break up” Pakistan, and such hallucinations.

    They forget that their hindutva ilk has made a laughing stock of their third-world “nation” (cough, cough), whose economy has fallen behind even some African nations!! It has to take handouts from Kenya!! The Chinese have taken over a huge slice of the land!! Shouldn’t they worry about that first?

    I would reckon that reading Karnad’s hard hitting essays (but, as someone else mentioned above… not a well wisher too) would be enough to wake them from their delusions… but, noooo!!

    The less said about those like Kanwal Sibal (did y’all read the hilarious essay they wrote in the Indian Express –smmooch, smoooch, smoochhh?) and Sushant Sareen (noted in a comment above, so I include him), the better. They should be sent post haste to deal with the Chinese… to show them who is the boss, you know. The kind of kichdi they will make of the situation, and bitch-slappin’ the Chinese will be comical to witness.

    • Amit says:

      There is a tendency in Indians to take potshots at people rather than discussing the issue. Bhakti, Sushant Sareen, Mr. Sibal, and Mr. Karnad. Discuss the issue Mr. Mister…don’t take potshots at people. If you have a better idea, make it. That requires some thinking. Can you do that?

  14. Sankar says:

    @Professor Karnad:
    With reference to the former Foreign Secretary Sibal’s email, is it really true that in the past, when Modiji was the CM of Gujarat and it was Vajpayee the PM in Delhi, the US had denied an entry visa to Modiji on grounds of the Hindu-Muslim riots in Ahmedabad (2002)?

    If that news is factually correct, what about raising the matter with Secretary Sibal to get his reaction to it? He must have been an IFS officer in Delhi (or posted somewhere) at that time. As the saying goes, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

    • Yes. The visa denial was revoked by US State Dept, if I recall, a few days before the 2014 elections or the announcement of the election results (I can’t remember which!). Sibal had long retired by then.

  15. Krishna Soni says:

    Respected Sir@Professor Bharat Karnad in your previous posts you had mentioned that

    “The budgetary distribution has meant the Bhabha 3-stage plan — the breeder 2nd stage and the thorium 3rd stage have been hugely underfunded, because the money for the last two decades was funneled into NPC which channel became mainstream with the idiotic “20,000MW by 2020” mantra of Manmohan Singh’s and the emphasis on imported reactors.”
    Can the private firms in India play a major role in achieving India’s energy independence by providing the capital and resources needed to make the Bhabha 3 stage plan turn into reality.

    Please provide your views on the topic?

  16. Ram says:

    @Prof Karnad,

    I am surprised an intellect like you would support the abrogation of Article 370 in the mischievous way it was done.

    The right way would have been to build upon the peace agreement nearly reached with Pakistan and with better trade relations with China. With increased trade opportunities among the other border states, it should have been made clear to Kashmir that their special status is the roadblock to their prosperity. With the Kashmir issue on the back burner for all the three countries, the Kashmiris would have ultimately swallowed the bitter pill.
    This impulsive act for narrow political gains will have long term repercussions:

    1. So far it was believed that while the central government provided resources, the local administration was corrupt and inefficient. Now the entire state will be a burden of the Centre, creating another Northeast type of situation. The divide has further increased since most officials are on deputation from the Centre and insensitive to the local population. Far from demilitarizing the state and trying to bring a new normal, it has been turned into a permanent nanny state, like a powder keg waiting to explode.

    2. An understanding amongst the three countries would have bought temporary peace and perhaps delayed/rethink of us joining the Quad (a blessing in disguise). On the contrary, now there will be many more intrusions, not just the disputed borders but the maritime domain as well. Our reaction to the intrusion last year can very well be a precursor to what is about to unfold.

    3. While this may raise eyebrows, China is the only other country with deep pockets to invest in India – especially manufacturing. The current situation is dire precisely because there has been no investment flowing into the country since demonetization. The only ones pouring in are in the stock markets or ones that have little to do with government regulations – like IT, Gig workers etc. They are fancy names and do not generate sizeable employment, especially for the large army of unskilled population that we have. We desperately need manufacturing and only China has the silver bullet.
    While US and western countries would be more gracious and expect us to abide by contracts to safeguard their investments (they invest mostly in Capital intensive sectors, not labour intensive), China and Russia know the right buttons to activate to safeguard their investments, something that is desperately needed to keep the current wayward, authoritarian government on its toes.

    It has becoming increasingly difficult to immigrate to western countries due to protectionism and nationalism; so, the privileged ones who voted for Modi but took the first flight abroad can no longer escape the consequences back home. The misfortune that unfolded in the last two months can come to haunt them too, if this situation continues.

    4.The mischievous, misinterpretation of constitutional provisions has further instilled fear amongst the states that they could be meted to similar treatment, it is just a matter of time. Far from bringing the northeast into the mainstream, the special status of the northeast will now be etched permanently.

    5. The mutual trust between the Center and states has been dealt a deathblow by the current government. Should another dispensation come to power, the states will demand iron clad guarantees for increased autonomy, practically creating many special status regions across the country – especially those that have popular, strong leaders.
    The blunder of GST (states giving up their taxation powers) and the Center riding roughshod and transgressing into state subjects at will will give them further ammunition not to co-operate with the Center. This will not show up soon but surely have long term effects.

    6. Finally the institutions that matter – the RBI, Supreme Court and other constitutional bodies that act as emergency brakes for a majoritarian government being shown their place, investors are increasingly turning to overseas jurisdictions for adjudication, effectively questioning the credibility of these institutions.

    While you are not dealt with for your articles against the government for precisely this reason – a fragile notion of law and order and enforcement of the same through these very bodies (which are gradually weakened and eroded by ratifying such actions), our children will pay a heavy price for our mistakes.

    • Ram@ — Have argued in my books and in forums abroad, including the separatist Kashmir Council meet in Washington, many, many years ago to which I was surprisingly invited, that territorial nation-building in a heterogenous complex of peoples is usually bloody business. This has been so throughout history. To wit, the genocides of the native Amerindians by the European settlers in the US and Canada, of aborgines in Australia and, in the present day, Tibetans and Uyghurs in China. Territories are annexed by the powerful, resisting communities forcibly absorbed. It is not a process tolerant of international adjudication and similar niceties. Whence, it was absolutely wrong that Nehru took the issue — it became a dispute only after he referred it — to the UN, and inserted Arts 370 and 35A in the Constitution. These Articles weakened the Indian Union of states and had to be removed because as I have argued these are anomalies that accord special status to only one state. As our history has shown only a hard nationalist party could have rammed the abrogation through. That Modi’s govt is getting sidetracked by its illiberality in the social sphere is a different issue, and what I was pointing out is the cost the country will have to pay for it, especially because warm relations with the the US and the West is one of the central pillars of his foreign policy.

      • Ram says:

        @ Prof Karnad,

        “That Modi’s govt is getting sidetracked by its illiberality in the social sphere is a different issue, and what I was pointing out is the cost the country will have to pay for it”-

        That precisely is the point. There was no strategic thought but religious fervour that has caused this. We have annexed Goa and Sikkim in the past – not necessarily by international niceties but they were along strategic lines, not religious hatred. The world has moved past Kashmir and its now Taiwan/SCS that they are concerned about. Any such act was bound to affect only internal politics. Since Kashmir wasn’t condoned, we now have similar script played out in Lakshadweep. It is very much part of the Indian state with no special status.

        As I had warned, the first order impact is felt now. Even the “liberated “UT of Ladakh wants to continue with “special status” with limited integration/restricted migration:

        https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/in-leh-and-kargil-different-reasons-to-oppose-ladakhs-current-status-7386677/

  17. Kunal Singh says:

    Was going to Jammu by train yesterday. Police was checking bags of passengers thoroughly in train many times in journey in punjab jammu border regions which they never do usually i was thinking there must be something. May be they got some intel of what happened today in jammu (2 blasts by drones). Terror attack is going to be of different kind not same everytime but why don’t we develop capabilities to strike without military. It seems either we take a slap silently or go to war. Nothing in between. We have such low standards that our HVTs ( like hafiz saeed, masood azhar) do election rallies after having bounty on their heads. It is laughable that this is allowed.

    Why don’t we zero out the bounties and blow up these 3rd rate Jihadis but make no hoo-haa. Won’t that be professional of us to do than just make noises?

  18. DEBANJAN BANERJEE says:

    Very analytical view by Mr Karnad. What is most important is that the question of COVID vaccines. Here is the situation.
    1. The country is not able to do mass production of vaccines because important raw materials are not coming from the US WHEN THEY ARE MOST NEEDED. More delays mean more deaths for common people.
    2. India is unlikely to purchase any number of vaccines from China because of geopolitical reasons. At present only China is able to do mass production of vaccines.
    3. The Russian Sputnik is there but again Russia cannot mass produce like China.

    So what do you think will be the solution ? Should India need to offer geopolitical concessions to China in exchange of much needed vaccines ?

    • No, under no circumstances. Reason why I left China out of the reckoning. ‘Coz there’s no guarantee China would not fix things so the vaccines themselves become carriers of new (lab engineered) mutant strains and the supply chain another lever in Beijing’s hands. Better to somehow rough it out the best the country can through another wave when it comes.

  19. Sir, why so concerned of what the american congress rules on India.

    We are not a colony of those christian fanatics. Plus, religion fanaticism is higher in america than in India. Search on web- the joshua project.

    My question is— is the concern a fear that we might get invaded like iraq and libya?

  20. Krishna Soni says:

    Respected Sir@Professor Karnad
    On March 5, in response to a question in Parliament, the Union minister of state for atomic energy Jitendra Singh said the India’s first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor will be “commissioned and operationalised” in December 2021 though originally scheduled for commissioning in 2010.Will its commissioning gave an impetus to the Bhabha 3 stage plan.
    Please give your views on it and according to you what is the progress in the Bhabha’s 3 stage plan under the current Modi regime.

  21. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    The latest nonsense by the Modi government;

    “Although the dates of the agreed 12th round of India-China senior commanders dialogue will be fixed through military channels, the discussion will be only limited to disengagement and de-escalation of both the armies from general areas Gogra and Hot Springs with Depsang Bulge to be dealt by local commanders as it was a 2013 legacy issue.”

    An excerpt from the following;

    https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/indiachina-to-discuss-gogra-hot-springs-disengagement-depsang-is-a-2013-legacy-101624951127857.html

    In that case the whole border dispute with China is a legacy issue starting from Chinese invasion of Tibet and culminating in the Indo-Chinese war of 1962.

    Expecting the Indian government to confront China is akin to expecting the Indian football team to qualify for the football World Cup!

    • Sunil Kumar says:

      Gaurav,

      Modi ji said neither anybody has come in, nor anybody is there and none of our posts have been captured. We and Chinese are just discussing how we can patrol the area in an environmentally responsible manner and use organic weapons, one area at a time. Thats it—nothing more! I don’t know why your knickers are getting into knots.

  22. Gaurav Tyagi says:

    @Sunil Kumar- Hahaha, “how we can patrol the area in an environmentally responsible manner and use organic weapons, one area at a time”

    Awesome satire man.

    Btw, my knickers are not getting into any knots. I know the whole game.

    2019- before the Lok Sabha Polls, Pulwama. 2022– before the U.P. Elections, some drones in Jammu.

    This is the true picture.

  23. Deepak says:

    Modi is suffering from inferiority complex mostly due to his being treated as a pariah after 2001 Gujarat riots. He always expects validation from the West and also from his detractors for any major policy decision, like article 370, CAA etc. He is always worried about his image more than anything else and wants to be a global leader not realizing that he is not a white xtian( western std ) to get recognition as global leader. For that he has surrendered to twitter, NY Times and other anti india platforms just to showcase to the world that he is secular, liberal, democratic and tolerant leader. This Gandhian cowardliness of Modi is exploited by jihadis, missionaries, urban naxals, Khalistanis to do Shaheen Bagh, fake farmer protests, Bengal post-poll violence, to name a few of his biggest failures. In kashmir also his policy is 1 step forward 2 step back by appeasing the Gupkar gang which was not necessary at all. It is better for BJP/RSS to push Modi to margadarshak mandal or make him next President where he can keep on giving faltu speeches and remain in limelight. At least India will be free of a global aspiring leader and get a working Prime Minister.

  24. Deepak says:

    We have a super flop Modi govt in almost all fields with one of most inefficient cabinets, even more disastrous than the anti national tukde tukde gang opposition who work like Pak/Chinese agents. Modi is basically a showman with gifted oratory skills who showcases even biggest blunders as super successes. Modi is good only for giving lectures but when it comes to decision making for which he is elected he is very poor. He lacks the guts to implement policies like CAA, farmer bill, etc to protect his image. Note ban ended in huge failure, GST — we don’t know how much success it brought. All UPA era scamsters are roaming free, no justice to Sushant Singh Rajput. He has made great errors in foreign policy like openly supporting Trump for next president when he couldn’t have been absolutely sure about a Trump win. Pak/China handling is only slightly better than that of the UPA. Modi left his own supporters orphan after election defeat to get beaten by TMC goons. Chunavi Hindu Modi wants only Hindu votes but doesn’t care for welfare of Hindus after getting elected with Hindu votes as he has not removed any law discriminating against Hindus in the past 7 years. Conversion business is continuing as usual under Modi. Not a single pro-Hindu law has been implemented, this to showcase to the world that he is a secular leader. The oppostion calls Modi a Hitler but in reality he is a new avatar of Gandhi. Modi will surely win 2024 due to TINA factor and will be remembered in the future generation for wasting the huge mandate he repeatedly got.

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