Modi On Retreat?

India, America and China

Anirban Biswas

Ever since the ascent of Narendra Modi and his party to power, there has been intensified repression on dalits, Muslims and Christians. What needs to be pointed out that this is part of the larger project of building up a unitarian state by destroying the diversity of India. This project is that of one religion, one language and one untied nation (Hindi- Hindu-Hindustan). This is fascism with Indian characteristics. A huge propaganda machine, financed by the corporate media has been working overtime to translate this dream into reality. On the external front, to the anti-Pak hysteria has been added the anti-Chinese hysteria. This hysteria has an international dimension too, which became more and more apparent with increasing exhortations to US multinationals for 'making in India' and capitulation to US strategic interests. Narendra Modi failed to fulfil his promise regarding job creation and hence was compelled to turn to foreign multinationals. The anti-Chinese war hysteria and boastful talks about the ability to take on the Pakistanis and the Chinese at the same time, which reached a peak over the Doklam crisis, have received a severe jolt with the ignominious retreat of the Indian army, but are still very much there. One significant, recently announced, Chinese position is that they will not tolerate any interference regarding China's border with Kashmir. So, there is a situation in which China and India are working towards a face-off. The settlement of the old border dispute—dispute over a boundary mapped by a British military officer in the colonial period—is still a far cry. Nobody knows when the dispute will be resolved, but there is no possibility of it at least as long as Indian jingoists are in power.

The position of the USA is intriguing. The RSS recently launched a campaign of boycott of Chinese goods but it is very much in favour of purchasing armaments from the USA. The USA, however no longer enjoys a position of the sole global super power. North Korea's open defiance of US threat is known to the whole of the world. DPRK has not forgotten the days of the war of 1952, nor is it possible for her to forget what the USA did to Saddam's Iraq and more recently Syria. Narendra Modi, along with the Japanese Prime Minster has openly taken the sides of the USA seeking to dissuade DPRK from conducting her nuclear tests. The purpose is to gain favour with the jingoistic US leaders. These leaders, however, no longer wield the supremacy they enjoyed only two decades ago. On the military front, they have been challenged by even a tiny country like the DPRK— nuke for nuke. Guerrilla resistance in various forms, riding ideologies ranging from Marxism to Salafism, is now rampant all over the world. Russian action in Syria has made it apparent that Russia will not cower before US domination, and that the Cuban missile crisis cannot be replicated. There are horrific and undesirable terrorist activities in such resistance struggles but they have shown that US military strength is reduced quite substantially. The USA is now not the sole superpower, she is only one of the big powers. On the economic front, China has entered the field in a big way. China is not only a nuclear power, her currency Yuan has begun to challenge the dollar regime in a massive way, although dollar still holds the first position (40%) in the IMF’s special drawing rights which is a basket of currencies in which IMF loans are disbursed. And it is competing with a fair measure of success in Latin America, Africa and central and far eastern Asia. The so-called belt and road initiative is more importantly a currency war with the dollar. Another important point is that the US economy is propelled by Chinese manufactures, which neither the Chinese nor the Americans can afford to ignore. The success of Narendra Modi's attempt to get US help for encircling China is thus bound to be limited at least for the time being, because notwithstanding the ambition of his corporate backers, the Ambanis and Adanis, to provide the alternative to the Chinese in the US market for goods, even Donald Trump knows that a weak Indian economy, further weakened by measures like demonetisation, is not capable of providing all the goods that Americans need. Regarding Foreign Direct Investment, the situation is not much happier because of various factors e.g. linguistic, cultural and religious diversity, poor connectivity, rudimentary skill management etc. In this sense too, China remains far ahead, although Chinese capitalism has inevitably given rise to some unevenness, which capitalism nowhere in the world can ever transcend.

India's relations with its neighbours like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have also soured. First of all, Nepal, probably for the first time in her history, has refused to obey Indian dictates and has opened up communications with China. In Bangladesh, growing numbers of the people are disenchanted by Modi's constant anti-Muslim policies. The situation has been aggravated by Modi government's attitude to the Rohingyias, who are victims of the most barbaric repression by the government of Myanmar. Even the Modi government has had to change its attitude slightly as was evidenced during Susma Swaraj's visit to Bangladesh. But this change is only slight, possibly to check growing Chinese influence in Bangladesh because Modi governmet's official stand of not allowing Rohingyia refugees into India stands unchanged. China had already made considerable inroads into Bangladesh through the belt and road initiative. It is beyond Bangladesh's capacity to assume an attitude of confrontation with the Government of India, but she is now unwilling to be dictated by the latter's whims.

In such a situation, the BJP-RSS combine's hegemony needs a war hysteria and a national unity that brings Muslims, Christians and Dalits and the rest of the population within its fold. It is true that this combine has been able to penetrate diverse organs of power, education and culture and thus to build up a formidable machinery including many terrorist organisations. This combine has also somewhat succeeded in polluting the minds of one section of people. But imposing fascism in the name of patriotism is not easy for them. First of all, continuous exposure of their infamous records during the anti-British struggle—Savarkar's brazen capitulation to the British government of India is now well known—has made things somewhat difficult for them. The second reason is more economic in nature. Nazism in Germany had a solid economic foundation, in the sense that it could drastically reduce unemployment. But Narendra Modi, who aspires to become the father of a New India, has already discredited himself about important issues like bringing back Swiss bank money, creation of employment etc. Of course, he has the support of the big corporate tycoons who have fattened themselves by plundering the public exchequer in various forms, and a considerable section of the aspiring upper middle classes. He expects to receive the support of the US and Japanese in promoting his agenda of expansionism and jingoism. But they have their own gains to count. So, the future for him is very much uncertain.

Vol. 50, No.35, Mar 04 - 10, 2018