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Indian Press On India And Israel Funding Pakistanis, Love Jihad Law And Ramayana Tradition: New Age Islam's Selection, 22 January 2021


By New Age Islam Edit Desk

22 January 2021

• Here’s The Big Exposé About India And Israel Funding Pakistanis Since 1947

By Naila Inayat

•  Free To Air Views, Ex-Babus Square Up In ‘Letters War’ On ‘Love Jihad’ Law

By Dilip Cherian

• The Ramayana Tradition And Indian Secularism

By Jawhar Sircar

• Imran Khan Gets Squeezed Between Shrinking Economy And Proactive Opposition

By Shishir Gupta

• Muslim Vote In The State Seems To Be Consolidating Behind Trinamool

By Sajjan Kumar

• India Must Say ‘Namaste, Biden’, Convince US To Ease Sanctions On Iran Or Lose Out To China

By Seshadri Chari

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Here’s The Big Exposé About India And Israel Funding Pakistanis Since 1947

By Naila Inayat

21 January, 2021

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu | Photo: Manvender Vashist | PTI

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Every political and non-political entity in Pakistan accuses its opponent of being funded by India and Israel. The reason is simple — designating your foe as the best friend of your national enemy works like a charm, all the time. So we shall stop fighting the obvious and see for ourselves how India and Israel have, throughout history, funded everyone in Pakistan. No evidence is needed so let’s recreate a parallel history with the help of some publicly available photographs.

1947 BP (Before Pakistan): Two Indian men posing as women who used to DM each other on Twitter find out that they are actually men. Clearly disturbed, @Shabnam420 and @Sheila9211 broke things off. Their fraandship ended in a jiffy. Hurt by the betrayal, @Shabnam420 sent out a threat to @Sheila9211: Tere ghar ke samane ek ghar banaunga, tere ghar ke samane duniya basaunga. Words were spoken. Ghar was made. And that’s how India made Pakistan.

A little-known fact is that the woman whose only job it seemed was to laugh at the poor jokes of desi uncles back in the day, was also conspiring with the Israelis. Even the Israelis didn’t know what for. But those laughs weren’t for nothing, after all.

In the 1947 AP (After Pakistan) period, the first military dictator exchanged notes with the Indian prime minister about the latter’s progress as the high-profile agent of Israel. Oblivious of the nitty-gritty of the dictator’s services, the prime minister was told that if he ever wished for a coup d’état against his political rivals, a helpline will be set up for him because WhatsApp was not safe anymore. Both agreed. The number 111 was settled upon.

At some point, Pakistani boys decided to visit their grandmothers in India. But their trip took an emotional turn when they find out they really love their colonial cousins and want to stay with them. The condition for the stay was rather stringent, though. “Drop those guns and stay for as long as you want,” one grandma told them. The Indian cousins took the guns and sent back the Pakistani boys with funds of red roses. Rest, as they say, is history.

Special agent uncle responsible for the 1971 boys had tea at grandma’s and was promised that good care will be taken of his band. Several years later, as a thank you note, grandma sends a cousin. He jumped from the sky out of nowhere. When he meets his Pakistani cousins, he tells them that the “Tea was fantastic”. But this shy cousin was also heard saying: “I am sorry, I am not supposed to tell you this.” Still, he was a hit and Pakistan took instant liking to one of their cross-border cousins. But soon rishta aunties learnt that he was married and he lost all his charm. He had to be sent back with a carton of Lipton tea bags.

The infamous Israeli pilot, who was working in connivance with India and is said to have been captured in Pakistan, has now been discovered. He was converted and married off and now has more than 100 kids — wait for it — in only two years. His is a record waiting to be entered in the Guinness book.

A mango man discovers an Israeli invention, a game called cricket. After threatening the enemy with a possible nuclear attack, he decides to settle score on a cricket pitch and take dugna lagaan. But as luck would have it, the mango had disappeared.

RAW chief spotted giving funds to the future Pakistani prime minister. Israelis are also seen in the background celebrating the momentous event in the PM’s life with apple juice.

Unknown Indian people arrive in Pakistan to fund and recruit people working in the sugar mills of the prime minister. Oblivious of what will happen next with him, the Pakistani PM waves as if there will be no tomorrow.

The as-of-yet last military ruler from Pakistan bows down to Indian royalty with an emotional speech — Ek mard ka sir sirf teen auraton ke saamne jhukta hai. Moved by the gesture, the royalty reimburses the dictator’s travel and lodging expenses, besides giving free passes for the cricket match being held nearby. Such a relief to the exchequer of Pakistan.

Two enemy partners meet outside Kake Da Dhaba. Hand in hand, they make future plans and exchange nuclear secrets. One loses his job due to his open generosity, the other remembers how mom said, ‘Mere Karan Arjun ayenge’. The partnership is still going strong. Our sources say both have now joined Signal app for security reasons in the wake of what happened to a TV anchor who always showed special interest in Pakistan.

Never-seen-footage from Mossad headquarters: Two agents with known and special skills of seduction being recruited. After all, the next war will be fought on seduction. Nukes can wait.

Do you also see what I see? Yes, yellow flowers and two men in the background. As serious as this looks, one discussed his wide-ranging interest in OTT shows, while the other waited to say his maan ki baat. Both agreed that keeping calm and blaming India and Israel was the best thing for Pakistan’s future.

I don’t know how much you will be convinced by these photographs and what they mean in the parallel Pakistani universe. But no matter what you believe, do know that it was important someone settled this India-Israel funding nexus once and for all. The conspiracy stories of Yahood and Hanood (Jews and Hindus), meanwhile, will continue till the end of time.

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Naila Inayat is a freelance journalist from PakistanViews are personal.

https://theprint.in/opinion/letter-from-pakistan/heres-the-big-expose-about-india-and-israel-funding-pakistanis-since-1947/589326/

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Free To Air Views, Ex-Babus Square Up In ‘Letters War’ On ‘Love Jihad’ Law

By Dilip Cherian

Jan 21, 2021

Perhaps service rules stopped them from airing their views but after retirement bureaucrats are not bound anymore and can voice their thoughts freely. This has led to the formation of pro-and anti-government groups among retired babus who jump into the fray at the behest of their conscience (or political leaning).

In the most recent instance, the “love jihad” law legislated by the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has triggered a “letter war” between former bureaucrats, those who criticise the law and those who have rallied behind the state government. The ranks of the ex-babus have been joined by retired Army officers, members of the judiciary and others.

Earlier, a group of 104 retired bureaucrats wrote to Yogi Adityanath, expressing “deep disapproval” and concern at the use of the “love jihad” law. Noted signatories included retired bureaucrats like former NSA Shiv Shankar Menon, former chief of R&AW A.S. Dulat, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, former principal secretary in PMO, T.K.A. Nair and former Union health secretary K. Sujatha Rao among other notables.

Now, a Forum of Concerned Citizens, comprising of over 250 retired officers has written to the chief minister endorsing the ‘Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020’ and the motive behind it. In their letter, the group of former babus and ex-Army officers said that the legislation rightly provides that marriages done for sole purpose of unlawful conversion can be declared unlawful by family courts. They termed the letter by anti-love jihad babus a “politically motivated pressure group” and said that they don’t represent thousands of civil servants who believe in New India emerging as the greatest democracies of the world.

One may be tempted to believe that this is an instance of political battles being fought by proxy!

Cadre merger

More than a year after the Centre abrogated Jammu & Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into Union territories, the J&K cadre of IAS, IPS and IFoS has been merged with the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre. This allows officers posted in these states and UTs to work in J&K and vice-versa.

Necessary modifications may be made in the corresponding cadre allocation rules by the Centre. The notification issued by the government states that officers allocated to AGMUT cadre shall function following the rules framed by the Centre.

Observers see in the move a message of total integration of J&K with the Centre. It also solves the Centre’s problem of the reluctance of J&K cadre officers to serve in Ladakh, as it now creates a larger pool of UT cadre officers. Ladakh, they say, suffers from a paucity of officers. Due to its harsh climate, officers are reluctant to serve there. But with the Chinese threat looming, the Centre wishes to focus on Ladakh’s development. So, clearly, it is as much a political move as an administrative one.

Mamata’s big promotion push in Bengal

Political or administrative compulsion? West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has promoted 31 IAS officers as secretary and additional secretary in one big push to bolster the state government’s administration ahead of the Assembly elections.

With the BJP making a determined effort to breach her stronghold, the Trinamul leader is taking steps to strengthen the administrative machinery, which has come under fire from various quarters. Among the 19 officers promoted as secretaries are additional secretaries Smita Pandey, Vijay Bharti, Shubhanjan Das, Samir Kumar Bhattacharya, C.C. Guha, Rajat Bose, Kaushik Halder, N.C. Sarar and T.K. Rudra.

The new additional secretaries include V. Lalithalakshmi, Sourav Pahari, Mukta Arya, Devi Prasad Karanam, Shakeel Ahmed, Uttam Patra, Santanu Saha, Nirmalya Ghosh, Anindya Narayan Biswas and Dipankar Chowdhury.

But this is early in the poll campaigning and chances of further changes in the state administration cannot be ruled out as the CM seeks to stave off the BJP’s onslaught to dislodge her party from power.

https://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/200121/free-to-air-views-ex-babus-square-up-in-letters-war-on-love-jihad-law.html

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The Ramayana Tradition And Indian Secularism

By Jawhar Sircar

21st January 2021

 

The shipping channel that was to cut through Sethusamudram was then put into limbo. (Express Illustrations)

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Two recent news stories about Ram from two extremes of India, Ayodhya and Ram Setu, would have caught one’s attention. Where Ayodhya is concerned, the Pandora’s box had actually been opened long ago, in December 1949, when KKK Nair, the not-so-secular district magistrate of Faizabad, facilitated the sudden ‘appearance’ of Ram-Sita images inside Babri Masjid.

This cauldron was kept boiling on medium heat and the several non-communal governments that ruled India and Uttar Pradesh for four decades forgot to turn off the knob. This furnace was, however, stoked quite vigorously after the new BJP (born 1980) achieved a pathetic score of just two seats in the 1984 elections. The Sangh Parivar desperately scoured for an effective weapon when Bhagwan Ram appeared as a godsend. The fact that his exact janmabhoomi had been destroyed and occupied by a mosque was just the perfect agenda for the Sangh.

Inadvertently or otherwise, Rajiv Gandhi’s government actually bolstered the Sangh’s cause—first in 1986, by acquiescing to the opening of the mosque’s locks and then, widely telecasting the Ramayan serial over Doordarshan in 1987 and 1988. Therefore, blaming Lal Krishna Advani for his rath yatra that whipped up nationwide frenzy in September-October 1990 appears inane. He was only reaping a ripe harvest. Poor secularism; it died a painful death on 6 December 1992 when the masjid was demolished. What we miss out in this oft-repeated events-bound narrative is the purport of what Ram and Ramayana really stand for. By focusing excessively on the symptoms and manifestations, rationalists and Left-liberal scholars dismiss it all as mythology.

The inescapable fact is that though the BJP surely gained a lot, it did not invent Ram or the Ramayana and the associated tradition. This party bothers little for intellectual callisthenics and is now busy consolidating its position further—by reaching out to the masses to donate towards the construction of the temple. After all, the BJP’s earlier campaign in the late 1980s, getting people to sponsor simple Shri Ram-inscribed bricks for the mandir, helped galvanise millions to its cause. This was, indeed, a runaway success and the party would surely love to repeat it now.

And  whether President Kovind was correct or not in publicly giving money for the temple is purely an academic concern. His predecessor, Pranab Mukherjee, invariably transformed into an orthodox Hindu priest for four days during the annual Durga pujas at his ancestral home, but he remained, nevertheless, unshakeably secular all his life. An Imam’s son, APJ Abdul Kalam was proud to be a devout, practising Muslim, but was equally open to Hindu culture, philosophy and swamis as well. President Kovind’s benevolence did not, however, create the controversy that some on both sides wished for, and now it is over to actor Akshay Kumar to lead the campaign.

The other smaller news recently was that the government has directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the National Institute of Oceanography to examine the age of the Ram Setu shoal and determine the antiquity of Ram’s period in history. This sent me back to 2008, when, immediately after assuming charge of the Ministry of Culture, I had to get into fire-fighting mode. The ASI’s affidavit sworn before the Supreme Court that there is no historical evidence of Ram and the Ram Setu had created a turbulent storm. Two ASI officers were suspended, and even the prime minister was under considerable attack. But several in the ASI still insisted that this was the hard truth.

The shipping channel that was to cut through Sethusamudram was then put into limbo. A dozen years later, the same ASI and a reputed scientific body are all set to prove that Ram’s Setu is surely historical.

To hammer the Ramayana too hard on the anvil of historicity may, however, be misplaced, as much of faith is beyond reason. This is true for all religions and singling out any one for ridicule has actually antagonised numerous believers against secularism itself. This concept has two different mutations. The first is the Gandhian one that immerses itself into religious belief and idiom, but treats all faiths equally.

The other is the Western model that keeps an antiseptic distance from religion, all religions, and worships rationality. What we forget is that this ideal emerged at a late stage of history, after centuries of bloody religious warfare and long-drawn struggles against the Church for constantly stifling reason and science. The problem with my fellow secularists is that we are so steeped in Western secularism that we are unable to appreciate that India is totally submerged in religion.

Where Hinduism is concerned, its values and moral architecture are built on the lessons elaborated in the hundreds of stories embedded in the two epics and elaborated in the puranas. Collectively, they constitute not only a very federal Bible, they also represent the basic treaty that binds Hindus of different shades, regions, sects and cults. Almost every thought and expression is based on the Ramayana or the Mahabharata. In Euclidean geometry, we accept the point or the line, even when they have no dimension and cannot exist in space. We do so to gain from the consequential superstructure of knowledge. Our same West-inspired approach, however, belittles the faithful in India for drawing comfort from religion and myths.

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Jawhar Sircar is a Retired civil servant. Former Culture Secretary and ex-CEO, Prasar Bharati

https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2021/jan/21/the-ramayanatradition-and-indian-secularism-2252972.html

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Imran Khan Gets Squeezed Between Shrinking Economy And Proactive Opposition

By Shishir Gupta

JAN 20, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been facing sharp attacks from a combined opposition alliance for months, is facing trouble convincing China for concessional funding of the grand project to upgrade a little less than one-fifth of Pakistan’s railway tracks at a cost of $6.8 billion. The Main Line 1 project, the costliest projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, had been reckoned by its proponents to boost Pakistan’s economy and reduce unemployment.

But there are serious disagreements between China and Pakistan on its funding that have led the two countries to repeatedly put off the annual meeting of CPEC’s Joint Cooperation Committee, its key decision-making body. The committee is jointly chaired by Pakistan's minister for planning, development and special initiatives and the vice-chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

According to a Nikkei Asia report, Pakistan wants to borrow at a concessional interest rate of less than 3% - some reports in Pakistani media say 1 % - but China has offered a mix of concessionary and commercial loans for the project. Pakistan’s Express Tribune in November said China also wanted additional guarantees before sanctioning the $6-billion loan due to the country's weakening financial position.

Pakistan watchers in New Delhi said the two countries would eventually resolve their differences over the funding closer to China’s position. But they said the episode spotlights the growing pressures on PM Imran Khan on the economy front that would continue to weaken his grip on the country.

A security assessment by the UN’s department of safety counts the economic slowdown as PM Khan’s biggest domestic challenge.

“As economic hardships deepen, the PDM movement is likely to gain broad public support. If the economic situation is not properly controlled, Pakistan will face political instability with growing risks of government collapse,” the UN department’s report said, referring to the campaign against PM Khan launched by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of opposition parties formed in September 2020.

The state of the economy and an increase in unemployment have been key points in the narrative put out by the joint opposition that has announced the third round of protests across Pakistan.

The seizure of a Pakistan Airlines aircraft owing to a dispute over non-payment of aircraft lease dues feeds into this narrative over the economy.

“Today Malaysia has stopped our aircraft in lieu of loan repayment. Tomorrow if any airport detains the Prime Minister over non-payment of loans…what will happen?” Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party said in a recent video clip.

That the authorities in Malaysia decided to seize the aircraft is a significant development and signals the state of play in bilateral relations between Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur, which was considered to be part of the Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia axis before ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad’s exit.

Pakistan’s relations with countries in the Middle East have also deteriorated as Imran Khan lay his bets on Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, rather than Pakistan’s traditional mentor, Saudi Arabia. PM Khan upset Riyadh by his attempt to form an alternative Muslim coalition with Turkey and Malaysia to an extent that the Saudis, in an unprecedented move, demanded that Pakistan cancelled its arrangement for deferred payments for oil purchases and asked Pakistan last year to repay the loan. Local media reports in Pakistan indicate that there is a possibility that the UAE too could seek the early repayment of a $3 billion financial support package announced in December 2018.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/paks-imran-khan-gets-squeezed-by-shrinking-economy-and-proactive-opposition-101611143607130.html

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Muslim Vote In The State Seems To Be Consolidating Behind Trinamool

By Sajjan Kumar

January 21, 2021

As Bengal heads for an assembly election, there is growing speculation about the Muslim voting pattern. The dominant political sense is that the combined weight of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Abbas Siddiqui, the influential pirzada of Furfura Sharif shrine in Hooghly, will split Muslim votes. Hence, goes the theory, that of all the detrimental factors which may prevent the incumbent Trinamool Congress from returning to power for the third consecutive term, the role of Owaisi and Siddiqui is most crucial. This assumption is shared by a majority of both pro-BJP and anti-BJP respondents, as my recent fieldwork and interactions in almost all the 294 assembly constituencies showed.

This line of thinking is premised upon three reasonings: One, a significant section of Muslim voters are as angry with the TMC as different sections of the Hindus; two, post-Bihar, Owaisi has proved that Muslims are willing to vote for Muslim-centric parties, especially in constituencies where they constitute an electoral majority; three, the vacuum created by the Left parties would force Muslims to choose a new outfit in constituencies with a strong anti-Trinamool sentiment, leading to split in the Muslim votes.

A close scrutiny reveals these assumptions as flawed. First, it fails to take into account the incommensurable specificities of Bihar and Bengal in general, and the trajectory of AIMIM’s interventions in particular. Second, it assumes the vast majority of Muslims are gullible souls, who are unaware about the stakes in the ensuing election and, therefore, likely to be swayed by the allure of two Muslim leaders. The reality is just the opposite. Muslims across the state are consolidating behind the TMC even in Muslim-majority areas like north Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad, where the Congress used to have greater traction until recently. Indeed, the election will be about unprecedented Muslim consolidation behind the incumbent rather than a split in their vote.

Here, it is important to note that the AIMIM’s victory in Muslim-dominated areas in Bihar’s Seemanchal region was not a one-election development. The party has been working consistently since 2015 under the leadership of an extremely capable leader, Akhtarul Iman, who was two-term MLA from the RJD before joining AIMIM in 2015. In the aftermath of CAA, the JD(U)’s complete loss of face in the community created conducive ground for the AIMIM in Muslim-dominated constituencies, where the fear of a BJP victory was absent. Lastly, unlike Bengal, Bihar has a trend of electing independent or new party candidates in every election. None of these factors are common to Bengal. The state, being a “party society”, doesn’t get easily fascinated by new entrants. Though the hold of the party-society framework is loosening a bit, the prospect of a new party striking a popular chord with electorate — that, too, among the anxious Muslim minorities — is as delusional a possibility as the chances of the man-eating tiger of Sundarbans turning vegetarian.

Muslims are unequivocally clear as to which party they would vote for and offer the underlying reasons persuasively. Barring around 10 seats, TMC has emerged as the preferred choice even among the minorities, who have been hostile to the party until recently as they fear the coming election will be a bipolar contest between the incumbent and the BJP. Everywhere, TMC is gaining the minority vote at the cost of the Left and the Congress. This bipolarity summarily rules out any flirtation with the new Muslim platform in the state.

In none of the 20 seats that AIMIM contested in Bihar did its vote share account for the victory of the BJP. But the erroneous perception that Owaisi led to the defeat of the RJD-led alliance has already taken hold among the minorities. Thus, an AIMIM victory in Bihar has a negative connotation among the Muslims of Bengal who are anxious about its intervention in their state. This has made them more cautious about not splitting their votes — a factor advantageous to the TMC as far as Muslim votes are concerned. Finally, the much-hyped Abbas Siddiqui is nothing but hot air. While the followers of Furfura Sharif shrine are as numerous in Dijanpur, Malda and Murshidabad as in the south Bengal, they make a clear distinction between following a religious figure in religious matters while rejecting him in the political arena.

Of course, many Muslims, especially the youth, go to listen to him and appreciate the issues he raises, particularly the ones pertaining to the weaker sections. This explains why a section of minorities argue that he may end up being a part of the Left-Congress front wherein his pro-poor rhetoric could be offered as a justification for the alternative secular alliance. In the final analysis, his insubstantiality is revealed by the shifting areas of influence one offers in his support, which start from Hooghly district, then pass through parts of Howrah and finally stop at South-24 Parganas. A test on the ground reveals it being nowhere, including the Bhangar assembly constituency where he has a huge following and Muslims constitute around 80 per cent of the population. This is where was attacked in August last year, allegedly by the Trinamool cadres, leading to state-wide anger among Muslims.

Hence, irrespective of a victory or loss, the TMC is expected to get the highest share of Muslim votes as community is consolidated behind the party, all these split theories notwithstanding.

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/muslim-votes-west-bengal-assembly-elections-trinamool-congress-bjp-asaduddin-owaisi-7154937/

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India Must Say ‘Namaste, Biden’, Convince US To Ease Sanctions On Iran Or Lose Out To China

By Seshadri Chari

22 January, 2021

Amid the chorus of ‘democracy wins in the US’ and singing paeans for the oldest President and the ‘first ever woman Vice-President’ of the United States, the overarching feeling is that ‘Biden is in White House and all’s right with the world’. Interestingly, with the changeover in White House, a number of social media ‘experts’ have started posting long lists of do’s and don’ts for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some have even sarcastically invoked his ‘Namaste Trump’ event and ‘Ab ki baar Trump sarkar’ slogan. While these jibes and advices are best ignored, there is little doubt that New Delhi should, by now, be prepared to deal with the change of guard in the White House.

The relationship between the two ‘estranged democracies’ has witnessed its own share of highs and lows since India’s Independence. However, the India-US ties have remained sufficiently insulated over the years against major instabilities that arose during leadership changes in both capitals. Significant on part of New Delhi will be to visualise the road map that the Biden administration will sketch at a time when the US is seen as experiencing the worst kind of racial schism, and an aggressive China is weaving its web across the continental and maritime realms through the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) connecting Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific. What’s also uncertain is Washington’s post-pandemic economic and security architecture, which is set to evolve from unknown frontiers.

What Would Drive The India-US Relationship

The India-US relationship hinges on three aspects that both countries need to recognise — the domestic compulsions of the two democracies, the regional factors, and an emerging post-pandemic global order. All three factors are subject to geopolitical dynamics. Unlike India, the US does not have a socio-culturally and politically heterogeneous ‘region’ to deal with. The Trump era witnessed troubled relationship with neighbouring Mexico more due to domestic political compulsions than any dogmatic or ideological differences.

According to news reports, Biden’s Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken, during the confirmation hearing is reported to have said the new administration will engage with Israel and the Arab States before reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Barack Obama had signed with Iran, and Trump had walked out of.

Even though the US State Department was convinced that the JCPOA was working and had limited Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, Trump unilaterally revoked the deal and imposed sanctions on the country. Biden has indicated reviving the US-Iran deal but only if Tehran agrees to comply with the provisions. Tehran has been advocating a hard line just to bargain for the revocation of the sanctions and tide over the economic crisis. Here is where New Delhi gets involved. The earlier US sanctions on Tehran (1979, 1987, 2006 and 2018) left New Delhi with little options to carry on trade with Iran and use its ports. And India’s forced withdrawal resulted in facilitating China’s entry in the region and Beijing striking trade deals with Iran because unlike New Delhi, the latter was under no obligation to respect US sanctions.

It would be in India’s interest to convince the new occupant of the White House that sanctions as a foreign policy tool have seldom worked to achieve the desired objectives. Besides, New Delhi has already begun working out limited engagements with Iran on Chabahar port, which is vital for India considering the China-Pakistan axis and the proposed US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden and China

The US National Security strategy document released in 2017 clearly recognised “India as an emerging leading global power and stronger strategic and defense partner”. The threat of a ‘not so peaceful rise’ of China has brought some kind of strategic camaraderie between India and the US. But New Delhi should not forget that the US has its own trajectory of relationship with China, based on its national interest. Even at the height of the US-China trade war, exactly one year ago in January 2020, Trump inked the Phase One trade deal, obliging China to commit to buy an additional $200 billion worth of American goods and services by 2021, and crack down on business practices that the Trump administration had termed objectionable.

Biden’s China policy will have far-reaching consequences for the region, especially for the emerging Indo-Pacific structure that has become the new theatre of power contestation between Washington and Beijing. The Cold War posed serious constraints for India pursuing the non-aligned path with the US, insisting on a ‘if you are not with us you are against us’ policy. In the changed circumstances, the two democracies will have to understand each other’s constraints, work towards building a coalition of democracies, and include States that are committed to freedom of navigation and a free, open and rules-based world order.

Closer home, unlike the US, India is China’s neighbour and the challenge is to work out an anti-access and area denial strategy, taking into consideration China’s growing sphere of influence in our immediate and extended neighbourhood. Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Afghanistan are waiting for solutions probably to be found in the strategic partnership between India and the US. The challenge is how far the Biden administration will go when it comes to antagonising China while standing firm with the core principles of freedom, human rights and democracy.

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Seshadri Chari is the former editor of ‘Organiser’. Views are personal.

https://theprint.in/opinion/india-must-say-namaste-biden-convince-us-to-ease-sanctions-on-iran-or-lose-out-to-china/589902/

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