By DC Pathak
The reduced opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term in office has stepped up its propaganda offensive against the regime and, together with some civil society forums at home and anti-India lobbies abroad, has attempted to construct narratives to project Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a practitioner of majoritarianism, authoritarianism and anti-minority politics.
This “alliance” has now attempted to build a new theme to overthrow Modi’s government by finding loopholes in the latter’s ability to “build resilience against threats to India’s strategic autonomy”.
Clearly, the opposition has no right to criticize Prime Minister Modi’s handling of national security as such – the political will he demonstrated in ordering the surgical strike in Balakot in February 2019 in response to the Pak-sponsored terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama was a stark contrast to the Congress government’s half-hearted response to the horrific 26/11 bombings on Mumbai, and the clarity of decision-making it made proof to ensure a rapid reinforcement of our army in eastern Ladakh following the aggressive Chinese attack in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, to enable our troops to confront the PLA there in a very direct way – the friendliness approach to China that Prime Minister Modi had rightfully adopted in his interactions with President Xi Jinping earlier was dropped without hesitation – all showed without a doubt that India under Mo di is totally focused on safeguarding national security.
Strategic autonomy is tested mainly on three fronts – defence, international relations and internal security. The common context for these is provided by the state of the country’s economy – it is now universally accepted that national security is inseparable from economic security – and it is not inconceivable that Prime Minister Modi have had no economic stimulus packages in the scenario affected by Covid.
In fact, Modi can be said to be even ahead of his economic advisers in consistently devoting himself to building India’s economy – his focus on “voice for local”, encouraging entrepreneurship and start-ups. -ups and the “ease of doing business” promotion policy. through comprehensive reforms in various sectors, speak for themselves.
Individuals and think tank platforms advocating for certain specific measures – ranging from private partnership in policy formulation to “welfarism” – are welcome as long as their intention is to provide evidence for decision-making, but if, in the process, they begin to question the sovereign right of a democratic state to decide things according to its own wisdom, which would be tantamount to trying to advance its own politically motivated agenda.
The anti-Modi forces are destroying all government policies and this reveals their true intentions.
Floating intellectual debates on public issues to project tainted opinions must not become a path to “proxy politics”. There has been a concerted attempt by anti-BJP lobbies in India and abroad, opposition elements and “minority politics” practitioners, to unleash some narratives aimed at undermining the Modi government by means non-parliamentarians.
The 2002 Gujarat riots, largely sparked by the aftermath of the horrific burning of 60 Hindus, including children, returning from Ayoddhya in a Sabarmati Express bogey at Godhra station, were blamed on complicity of Modi – who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat then – by the anti-Modi lobby for many years.
India’s Supreme Court ultimately dismissed all of these allegations, giving Modi a clean shot that would rightly bolster his image as a national leader.
International relations is one of the most important spheres of strategic autonomy and this has been handled exceptionally well by Modi. A consistent policy of opting for bilateral relations based on mutually beneficial economic and security gains, without harming the cause of world peace, has enabled Modi to develop an ever-deeper friendship with the United States, ties strong with leading democracies like Japan, Australia and the United States. European nations – with the exception of those in South-East Asia and Israel – and a balanced relationship with the Gulf countries.
More importantly, Modi struck up a mutually lasting friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin – again with a personal equation at his level that marked India’s international relations with major countries at the time of Modi.
After the outbreak of the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia in February this year, Modi was outspoken in taking a line of positive non-alignment between the US and Russia, with India noting that the US President Joe Biden, unlike his predecessor, had declared Russia an enemy and activated the US alliance with NATO, creating security issues for Putin over Ukraine.
The Cold War had already ended with the dismemberment of the USSR as a superpower and Russia was a diminished successor. The West should have explored the possibility of democratically run former Eastern European states like Ukraine entering into pacts with Russia for peaceful coexistence.
As it stands, the Ukraine-Russia conflict sees the American side injecting guns into Ukraine in hopes of weakening the Russian war machine, but this can lead to an unpredictable scenario. The UN should explore the terms of peace between the two neighbors.
It is to the credit of Prime Minister Modi – now known as a world leader committed to a fair approach to international relations – that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin wanted him to act as a peacemaker and that Modi n Nor wasted time in speaking to both of them to call for an immediate cessation of military action and the resumption of peace talks.
India did not support the steps of the United States and Russia within the UNSC. Many democratic powers like Australia, France and Germany have shown understanding towards India’s position.
Biden didn’t directly criticize India either, and in fact went on to describe India-US friendship as potentially the best in the world. India has expressed its willingness to join any peace intervention on behalf of the UN.
India’s remarkable rise as the council of the world is reflected in the fact that Modi was heard with great attention in all forums like Quad, BRICS and G20 and India was able to achieve unanimous condemnation of terrorism – a threat that has become particularly serious for India because of the Sino-Pak axis. One result of India’s successful foreign policy under Modi is that the world already recognizes the advent of a multipolar order.
The defense and foreign policies of the Modi government have proven to be effective, sustainable and long term in their application. The opposition and anti-Modi lobbies have therefore focused on raking in issues relating to internal security, national cohesion and community peace. They resorted to the politics of agitation, militant street protests and stoking discord between Hindus and Muslims.
A concerted attempt was made to blame the Modi government for the acts of violence – the prevention of which fell squarely on the respective state governments. This happened during the recent incidents of communal violence and protest calls against the Center’s Agnipath project.
Even though the number of soldiers proposed to be recruited at Agnipath is small, there is a useful temporary employment opportunity with the defense services at this level which encourages young people to take advantage of it, an academic refresher, the benefit of a specialized training which commands a premium and a fixed savings fund for the care.
A subsequent announcement of reservations in a whole range of organizations under the Ministries of Defense and Interior removes the sting from any criticism of the regime. How to reject something positive on the pretext that the scale of the jobs offered is not wide enough?
Narratives of authoritarianism, inattention to the poor or anti-minority bias remain in place because lobbies are active behind opposing the continuation of politics by other means. Currently, the issue of perceived ‘insult’ to a religion, through remarks or depictions against its gods or prophet, has come into the limelight in India and becomes an instrument to precipitate fanatical violence in public.
Any offensive speech or writing is punishable under a set of laws and cannot be used as justification for heinous acts of brutal violence against persons or property. The sensitivities of all communities must be equally respected – an alleged “criticism” of the Prophet or an “insult” to someone’s God cannot be treated differently.
Leaders of the Muslim minority in India are expected to recognize the legitimacy of the gods that other communities believe in. This country’s vulnerability to communal conflict has made this issue a potential homeland security destabilizer, particularly because radical extremists and enemy agents are there to cause foreign-directed escalation.
We need the “intelligence from below” to deal with the situation. On matters of homeland security that are placed above politics, state and district intelligence mechanisms should follow the advice of the Intelligence Bureau and be functionally accountable to it – this was in fact the established tradition. after independence.
Meanwhile, India’s continued progress in national security and economic development should keep the Modi government on the side of the people – India, it can be noted, has always found democratic ways to appreciate or to criticize the government on merit.