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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

West at its duplicitous worst in wooing Modi


http://www.dnaindia.com/mobile/report.php?n=1801048

West at its duplicitous worst in wooing Modi

Shastri Ramachandaran

The ardent overtures to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi by Europe, the
UK and the US tell us more about these states betraying their own
constitutional values than about Modi's appeal abroad. Even the BJP has
prudently desisted from crowing about the party's "growing international
appeal" as some admirers of Modi are prone to doing in private.
The impression gained from conversations with some retired and a few
serving officials in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) is that Europe
and the UK have not earned any diplomatic brownie points for making a
beeline to Modi, under whose watch Gujarat witnessed the massacre of nearly
1,500 Muslims in 2002. Not long before the carnage, these very western
governments were fuming over churches being torched and attacked and
Christians being targeted in Modi's Gujarat. The US, in contrast, has
played its cards more shrewdly.
Long before the much-publicised British high commissioner's visit, in
October 2012, re-opened the communication channel to Modi, the Danish
ambassador was already talking to him. As one diplomatic observer pointed
out, "Denmark probably did it out of pique or spite – because the
Government of India had consigned the Danish embassy to the diplomatic
doghouse". The Danish government – because the ambassador was unlikely to
act on his own in this matter – wanted to show the UPA government its
displeasure at being isolated.
The reasons for Denmark being isolated include its executive's refusal to
appeal a judicial order against the extradition of Kim Davey, who is wanted
in the Purulia arms drop case. The cartoons of the Prophet (which Indians
and New Delhi found objectionable) and Danish state broadcasters
telecasting films shot in violation of visa conditions were just two of the
many issues that had soured relations.
Worse than the transgressions was the Danish government's defence of these
offending acts. So, it came as a surprise when the Danish government —
which cited India's atrocious human rights record and abominable prison
system to justify its refusal to extradite the terrorist Kim Davey — went
out of the way to court Modi. That Modi was chief minister during the
massacre of 1,500 Muslims, and for this reason barred from getting a visa
or travelling to Europe, the UK and the US, seemed to hardly matter as an
issue of diplomatic concern.
It is possible that the Danes were used to test the waters before biggies,
such as the UK and Germany, took the plunge. Not long after the UK foreign
office asked its high commissioner in India to build bridges to Modi,
envoys from EU countries queued up to meet the man who is projected by
influential sections as a potential prime minister.
The West, which never misses an opportunity to berate or slam India for
human rights violations and is forever preaching about democracy, religious
freedom, rule of law and respect for judiciary, seems to have admitted that
these are at best nonsense; and, at worst, instrumental in negotiating
better terms of trade.
The EU ambassadors rationalised their cosying up to Modi by arguing that he
had not been "judicially arraigned yet" for the massacres in Gujarat; and
that making up with Modi was proof of their respect to India's democratic
institutions, electoral system and judiciary. The countries which barred
his entry are now falling over each other to invite him to Europe; and, he
is to be feted by not only European business but also the European
Parliament.
As for the US, its ingenuity will be severely tested when it comes to
inviting Modi for a visit because its law bars foreign government officials
who have "committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom".
However, this would be a minor hurdle when Washington chooses to roll out
the red carpet for Modi.
What emerges from these developments is that the West, for all its
protestations about human rights and democracy, couldn't care less about
either M – Modi or the Minorities. The only M that spurs the West is Money.
It is the cynical pursuit of financial profit – investment opportunities
and defence contracts — that guides western governments when it comes to
the "lesser people" and "lesser nations".
One of the most jarring developments in the aftermath of the 2002 riots was
that, contrary to general expectation, a delegation led by the US Commerce
Secretary did not put off its visit to Gujarat. It was business as usual
for Washington.
Whether Modi becomes prime minister or not, there is no doubt that the West
has earned his contempt, rightfully.
The author is an independent political and
foreign affairs commentator
inbox@dnaindia.net