Kneejerk response in face of Gulf nations’ ire diminished India’s international standing
As of June 5, India’s ties with the GCC and Iran stand changed. India’s foreign policy goals took a massive hit. Worse, it will take a long time for India to regain its stature
After India’s ambassadors were summoned by Qatar and other nations over the alleged insult of Prophet Mohammed by BJP spokespersons, the Modi Government told them that it was “fringe” elements which were to blame and that amends had been made “pending investigation”.
PM Modi could have avoided the humiliation. He could have handled the rising tide of resentment in a manner befitting India’s stature. Instead, the developments have diminished India’s international standing.
Can Modi with any sense of authority claim again that India is on its way to achieve economic superpower-dom?
The long and short of it is, the Modi government panicked. And the orders came from the very top, the PMO, to suspend Nupur Sharma, and expel Navin Jindal. With that, Modi has been reduced to a caricature, which Charlie Hebdo would gladly publish.
As of June 5, India’s ties with the GCC and Iran stand changed. India’s foreign policy goals took a massive hit. Worse, it will take a long time for India to regain its stature. Modi has lost face among the leaders of the world. French President Emmanuel Macron handled a similar crisis with a firm hand.
The boycott of Indian products was a threat, but double–edged. Both sides would have suffered.
People will remember only that Modi buckled. The first “apology” set the stage. Modi may carry this “defeat” to the end of his tenure, which may not last beyond 2024.
Seriously speaking, Sunday’s developments may have lost Modi at least half his hardcore Hindutva vote-bank. The impact will be felt in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. AAP with its “soft Hindutva” may benefit at the cost of the BJP. For reasons not far to seek, the BJP can’t wait to occupy the Congress-mukt space at any cost.
Apparently, Modi cannot bear losing his emerging “Vishwaguru” image. Acutely aware that the Gulf nations embraced him with their highest state awards, he is also addicted to the ‘Dubai adulation’ that he gets in all countries.
In 2017, still in his first term, Modi was lauded for strengthening India’s standing in Arab countries. Then, wrote a journalist, “Engagement with West Asia received momentum after Modi’s visit to the UAE in August 2015 proved a game changer.” India and the UAE expanded a counter-terror pact to defence manufacturing, and $75 billion for India’s infrastructure sector.
Modi’s ties with the Arab countries, and with Iran was based on safety of expatriates, securing energy resources, attracting investments, expanding counter-terror partnership, and connectivity corridors. The Arabs chose to ditch Pakistan. Modi’s visits were toasted in every Arab capital. Modi had got used to the adulation; he wouldn’t want to lose it at any cost.
Not even at the cost of losing his Hindutva support base. As was bound to happen, Modi is now bigger than his party. It has got entrenched in him that the BJP, the BJP’s vote-banks, why even India and every bit of goodwill for India, is solely to build his stature in the eyes of the world.
Views are personal