Modi Trots The Globe While Kashmir Fire Rages

Thirty years ago (July 1987) Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene was forced to sign the Indo Lanka Agreement after the infamous violation of Sri Lankan airspace by the Indian Air Force and Indian warships docked into Trincomalee harbour unannounced carrying thousands of troops.

Media pundits, liberal thinkers, so called intellectuals and the like went into fits of fury against President Jayewardene attempting to make him the scapegoat for the debacle. He had hurt New Delhi’s ‘geopolitical sensitivities’ by offering the Trincomalee harbour to the United States, sought Israeli and British military assistance to fight ‘Tamil Militants’, threatened India’s national security and Indian military presence in Lanka was the inevitable result’, they hectored.

Protests in Kashmir and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs
his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem

This writer at that time was an editor of a daily and Sunday English language paper in Colombo. We were in a minority that differed from this populist ‘intellectual’ thinking and said that the reason for the Indian invasion was not because Jayewardene had called Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay, ‘the cow and calf’, who were defeated by Moraji Desai but that Gandhi was thinking herself as the Empress of India after she was successful in splitting up Pakistan and creating Bangladesh. She wanted to do the same: create another separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka comprising the north and east and was thus promoting terrorism among Tamil youth. It was part and parcel of the ‘Indira Gandhi Doctrine’ for Indian hegemony in South Asia, we said.

The United States and Israel were satanic forces to New Delhi’s Brahmins and Sri Lankan adherents of Non Alignment at that time when the Superpower, the Soviet Union was the undeclared ally – militarily and politically – of India.


India’s geopolitical gymnastics

Since then, the Cold War has ended, the Soviet Union collapsed and much has happened. Uncle Sam and Mother India commenced waltzing with Israel keeping step and last week India’s globe-trotting ‘rock star’, Narendra Modi landed in Israel and went straight into the arms of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu – the first ever Indian Prime Minister to have done so. They bromanced outrageously – hugging, vigorous and constant handshaking and went into unabashed mutual praise of each other and their countries. (Bromance is a word which we failed to find in the Oxford Dictionary. Wikipedia says it’s a 21st Century word which means: A close but non-sexual relationship between two men).

It was said thirty years ago that Indian troops landed here because of the fears of American designs on Trincomalee. But last week (July 11) US-India and Japan commenced war games in the Bay of Bengal with three aircraft carriers participating; USS Nimitz, JS Izuma of Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and INS Wickramditya. An Indian spokesman was quoted: ‘It is a combined endeavour among India, US and Japan now expanded to Japan to translate how national strategic convergences could be converted into functional maritime-military cooperation.’ In simple language: To Keep China in check. These events last week, some analysts concluded, indicated that India, which called itself ‘Non Aligned’ for over five decades, was now a component of the Western defence net.

Back to Narendra Modi in Israel. Netanyahu had named a blooming Chrysanthemum as ‘Modi’and made him immortal. The resemblance between Modi and Chrysanthemums, we leave it to lovers of flowers to decide.


Defence Agreements

Modi signed 7 agreements with Israel during his 3-day visit which included those in agricultural development, water conservation, terrorism and of course arms purchase contracts, Israel being considered the second biggest country in sale of armaments, after Russia. Sales to India are said to run into billions of dollars. Whether India can afford such purchases while its farmers are committing suicide each day because of their failure to sell their crops and other poverty stricken Indians have to take to arms such Maoists or Naxalites, that does not seem to bother Modi who appears to be hell bent in making India a world power.

Shortly before Modi’s arrival in Israel, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry has reiterated the mutual concern of the two countries about terrorism. Both are suffering from the same scourge – Hamas and Lashkar-e-Taiba, it was said. The US designating Seyed Salahuddin, a Kashmiri who is alleged to have vowed to block any peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict and threatened to produce  more Kashmiri suicide bombers, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, is much to the delight of India and has been hailed by New Delhi.

Salahuddin, after being so designated, has told a press club meeting in Muzaffarabad (in Pakistan controlled Kashmir) that the declaration was a joint move by the US, India and Israel to express animosity towards Pakistan.

President Donald Trump not referring to the Kashmir crisis which has been on for long, at recent Arab Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia has also considered the partiality shown by the Donald Trump administration to India as against its longtime ally Pakistan.



Despite India’s consistent support for Palestine since the Israeli issue came up before the UN in 1947 and being the first to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation and its Yasser Arafat since 1974, the failure of Narendra Modi not to visit Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank and meet President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to Israel is considered by most analysts as a departure from the policy of India hitherto pursued. India’s explanation is that it has now ‘delinked’ India’s policy on the issue by considering relations India’s policy on the two countries separately. Whether the Palestinians, Indian Muslims (numbering 169 million at the last census) or the Arab countries accept this New Delhi diplomatic sophistry of ‘delinkage’ is doubtful, Palestinian leaders have been silent and so it appears to be with the Indian Muslims, if we are to go by Indian media reports. Arab leaders have not yet spoken out.

An article in the Arab News by Youssef Mehelberg, a professor of International Relations expresses disappointment that after 3 days of Modi’s official visit, no mention had been made of Palestine or the need to renew the peace process. ‘Not accidently, neither Modi nor Netanyahu were prepared to let the small matter of 50 years of occupation interfere with the growing bromance between them and their countries. With India’s historic empathy for the Palestinian cause it is in a unique position to play its part in the peace process. The Indian Prime Minister gravely missed an opportunity by not visiting the West Bank and having a meeting with the Palestinian leader’.

The Prof. continues: ‘He (Modi) is not very concerned about being popular with Muslims as some of his predecessors, as he thrives on a very particular nationalist chauvinist Hinduism’.

While Modi continues with his globetrotting ostensibly for the purpose of ‘Making India Great’ as what Donald Trump is attempting, though staying most of the time in the White House, attempts at foisting Hindutva policies on unwilling Indians are coming up a cropper such as the ban on cow slaughter throughout India by the Indian federal government.

Earlier some State Assemblies have refused to abide by the decision of the Center and now the Supreme Court has ruled against it.

Modi is riding the populist Hindutva wave but is running into opposition particularly with the minorities.

A new confrontation has developed in Sikkim with China over disputed territory last week but though the standoff continues, cool heads still seem to prevail.

However, Kashmir has been in flames for months and despite Indian troops saturating the Indian controlled Kashmir valley the people are openly revolting against Indian rule. Last week a bus of Hindu pilgrims journeying through Kashmir to a Hindu shrine in the Himalayas was gunned down by unidentified gunmen killing seven pilgrims and injuring many more.

Reports said that all shades of political opinion in Kashmir severely condemned this act of terrorism like terrorist outrages throughout the world are condemned.  Even sympathisers of terrorists publicly condemn such acts, as Sri Lankans experienced during their terrorist war.

Condemnation alone is insufficient. Suggestions have been made to sack the State government and bring in presidential rule but that alone will not change the situation because the parties to the conflict will remain the same: people of Kashmir Vs. the government security forces.

The acceptance of a negotiated settlement is the consensus as the sine qua non but as in most conflicts where negotiated settlements are attempted but when parties remain intransigent like Kashmiris demanding independence from India while India remains unshakable in its stance that Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union, all attempts fail as it has happened for over five decades.

But Modi has also to watch out for the ISIS. Now that the ISIS terrorists are being driven out of the Middle East, they may be on the lookout for fresh battlefields.

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