As the two nations work to strengthen their ties, the prime minister of India will attend a state dinner at the
Despite criticism that the United States is doing nothing to stop abuses of human rights occurring in India under Modi’s right-wing government, the administration of President Joe Biden is preparing to throw a state banquet for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week.
White House spokesman John Kirby stated that Modi’s visit to the US would confirm a “deep and close” friendship during a press conference on Tuesday. White House this week.
India would be a “vital strategic partner for the United States in the future decades,” Kirby said, adding that the visit “will enhance our two countries’ shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous and safe Indo-Pacific.”
Concerns about India’s human rights record and the Modi administration’s embrace of the far-right Hindu nationalism known as Hindutva, which opponents claim has turned the country’s minorities, particularly Muslims, into enemies, mainly were absent from Kirby’s remarks.
On both sides of the aisle, politicians in Washington, DC, have backed closer ties with India as the US aims to thwart China’s growth through partnerships with nations around Asia and the Pacific. For instance, Modi was invited by Democratic and Republican leaders to address Congress while he was there.
But, India’s record on civil rights and religious freedom has come under question for some Democratic politicians.
More than 70 US Senate and House of Representatives members signed a letter on Tuesday urging the Biden administration to discuss human rights issues with Modi.
The letter claims that there are alarming indications of a more miniature political landscape, a rise in religious intolerance, the targeting of journalists and civil society organizations, and tightening limitations on press freedoms and internet access in India.
It’s dishonorable that Modi was given a platform in the seat of government, she wrote. “It is intolerable that he has a lengthy history of violating human rights, doing anti-democratic activities, and persecuting Muslims and other religious minorities.”
When questioned about these worries, Kirby said that Biden bringing up issues in conversations with national leaders was “commonplace” and that the administration’s foreign policy made human rights a “foundational part.”
Kirby downplayed the significance of China as well, saying that the trip was focused on the “burgeoning friendship” between the two nations rather than “sending a message to China.”
Yet, US-based organizations claim that Washington disregards persistent human rights breaches to pursue broader collaboration in domains like arms sales.
Rasheed Ahmed, executive director of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), which has assisted in organizing several rallies during Modi’s visit, expressed worry that the Biden administration is “whitewashing everything going on in India.”
Ahmed, referring to earlier sanctions on the leader, claimed in a phone conversation with Al Jazeera that Modi “has gone from being barred from entering the US to having the red carpet rolled out.”
These penalties go back to 2005 when Modi was denied entry to the US by the State Department for failing to end anti-Muslim rioting in Gujarat while he was the state’s head of government there in 2002.
Until Modi took office as prime minister in 2014, this limitation was in place. Yet, a US State Department representative noted last month that there were growing dangers to religious freedom in India, including “specific attacks” on minorities and “open calls for the elimination of Muslims.” Several of those calls came from Modi’s own Bharatiya Janata Party executives (BJP). An anthropologist and specialist in South Asian politics named Mohamad Junaid spoke with Al Jazeera on the phone and said, “Authoritarianism in nations like Russia and China are well documented. India, however, has spared the same level of persistent scrutiny since it continues to pose as a democracy even as it approaches becoming a one-party state.
Rahul Gandhi, the head of India’s main opposition, was found guilty in March for remarks derogatory to Modi. The action was sharply criticized as an attempt to prevent Gandhi from opposing Modi in the elections of 2024. In India, Modi and his party continue to enjoy high levels of support.
But, observers claim that now that Modi and the BJP are firmly in power, Washington has primarily set aside these worries to strengthen relations as it seeks allies to restrict China.
Junaid further cited the plan to withdraw Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status in August 2019 as another illustration of the government’s rightward shift under Modi. Kashmir is the only territory in India with a majority of Muslims. According to Junaid, it was a step in line with the long-standing objectives of Hindu nationalists.
“There is no pretense of owing the Kashmiri people anything. According to him, journalists are imprisoned indefinitely, social media sites are shut down, and mass arrests without charges are common. “The US has mostly kept quiet.” Yet, according to Ahmed, executive director of the IAMC, things might be changing. He said the letter from hundreds of parliamentarians on Tuesday criticizing India’s human rights record was “heartening.”
Ahmed stated that he preferred seeing American lawmakers take more decisive action to address the problem.
It’s still being determined how far they’ll go, he added. The ability to adopt a position while formulating policy will be the actual test, according to the author.