India passes controversial citizenship law excluding Muslim migrants
Joanna Slater and
Dec. 12, 2019 at 5:39 a.m. GMT+13
NEW DELHI — Lawmakers in India on Wednesday passed a fundamental change to its citizenship law to include religion as a criterion for nationality for the first time, deepening concerns that a country founded on secular ideals is becoming a Hindu state that treats Muslims as second-class citizens.
The new legislation creates a path to citizenship for migrants who belong to several South Asian religions but pointedly excludes Islam, the faith practiced by 200 million Indian citizens.
The measure was approved by a majority of the upper house of India’s Parliament in a final vote late Wednesday. It is expected to be signed into law by India’s ceremonial president within days.
The passage of the legislation marks the latest political victory for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a strident nationalist in the mold of other right-leaning populist politicians around the globe.
[India] [Islam] [Modi]
Modi transforms India’s approach to the Middle East
11 October 2019
Author: P R Kumaraswamy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
For a long time, India’s relationship with its extended neighbourhood in the Persian Gulf was characterised very simply by energy imports and migration outflows. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India in May 2014 and has since built a deeper relationship with the Gulf through careful enhancement of diplomatic ties. It has paid off — India is economically and strategically better placed now, so much so that Muslim Gulf states had a largely muted reaction to India’s removal of the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim majority state.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hugs India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival at an airport in New Delhi, India, 19 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).India has established rapport with many Middle Eastern states in conflict with one another, maintaining relations with Israel, Palestine, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Syria. This balancing is possible because Modi sidesteps politico-strategic issues and concentrates on bilateral economic relations. Although India is not unique in managing tricky Middle Eastern ties, Modi has been impressive in navigating complex and changing geopolitical contours. His opposition to unilateralism and external interference with a simultaneous willingness to soften rhetoric has been key to his Gulf success.
[Modi] [India Middle East] [Israel]
As Modi, Xi wrap summit in Indian temple town, differences remain
India and China discuss long-standing trade and border disputes, but Kashmir fails to figure in 2-day informal summit.
by Bilal Kuchay
12 Oct 2019
As Modi, Xi wrap summit in Indian temple town, differences remain
The informal summit between Xi and Modi held in Mamallapuram was their second since April last year [Press Information Bureau/EPA]
more on Asia
New Delhi, India - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who met in a southern Indian temple town for a two-day informal summit, agreed to establish a new mechanism to balance bilateral trade and decided to "prudently" manage their differences.
The world's two most populous countries, however, did not issue a joint statement in what appeared to be a lack of consensus between them on the border dispute, regional security as well as bilateral trade, with concern in New Delhi over Beijing's widening trade surplus.
"[...] both sides will prudently manage their differences and not allow differences on any issue to become disputes," a statement by India's foreign ministry said at the end of the bilateral summit that concluded on Saturday.
Xi said he had a "heart to heart discussion" with Modi on bilateral relations and that their summit meetings, including last year's summit held in China's Wuhan, were making "visible progress" in India-China ties.
Soon after the meeting between the two leaders ended, India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters that "a new mechanism will be established to discuss trade, investment and services, at an elevated level."
[Xi-Modi1910] [China India] [Trade balance] [Territorial disputes]
Xi to meet Modi under tense circumstances
The informal summit that was meant to reduce tensions will now have to deal with Kashmir and Huwaei
By Saikat Datta, New Delhi
A week before China’s President Xi Jingping’s scheduled visit to India, the Indian embassy in Beijing was frantically trying to confirm whether he was still planning to come. The uncertainty in India’s diplomatic circles ended after a Chinese envoy in New Delhi, Sun Weidong, tweeted that both countries should build new models to achieve peace. The tweets sent up a collective sigh of relief in New Delhi and Beijing as Xi’s visit was finally confirmed.
The plan for an “informal summit” was formalized in June this year when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Bikshek, Kyrgyzstan. The upcoming “informal summit” was supposed to be a follow up of a similar bilateral meet between the two Asian leaders in Wuhan, China, in April 2018.
But South Asia has undergone significant changes since the meeting between Xi and Modi in June this year, and clearly, the strains have begun to show.
[Xi-Modi1910] [Border war] [Huawei]
Iran Reacts to Developments in the Kashmir Valley
September 20, 2019
by Giorgio Cafiero
Without doubt, the Indian government’s bold decision to revoke Article 370 of the Indian constitution, thereby ending the special legal autonomy Kashmir has enjoyed for over 70 years, has left Tehran in a difficult position. Fostering closer ties with New Delhi is important to the Islamic Republic, especially given that India is Iran’s second largest oil market behind China. Nonetheless, despite Tehran’s keenness to prevent Article 370’s revocation from severely harming its relations with India, the plight of Kashmiris is one that the Islamic Republic’s leadership believes it cannot ignore. Moreover, since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, officials in Tehran have consistently paid attention to Kashmir, viewing the Kashmiris’ struggle with sensitivity.
In contrast with the Persian Gulf’s Arab sheikhdoms, which have either supported India’s abrogation of Article 370 or have had a muted response, Iran has taken a position against New Delhi. Given the Islamic Republic’s tendency to balance positive relations with both India and Pakistan, its decision to oppose India in this instance is notable. It raises questions as to whether, and how, the elimination of Kashmiri autonomy could impact Iranian-Indian relations.
[Iran India] [Kashmir]
Debunking the Indo-Pacific Myth
By Pepe Escobar
Global Research, July 11, 2019
The Trump administration is obsessively spinning the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. Apart from a small coterie of scholars, very few people around the world, especially across the Global South, know what that means since the then incipient strategy was first unveiled at the 2017 APEC forum in Vietnam.
Now everything one needs to know – and especially not know – about the Indo-Pacific is contained in a detailed Pentagon report.
Still: is this an act, or the real deal? After all, the strategy was unveiled by “acting” Pentagon head Patrick Shanahan (the Boeing guy), who latter committed hara-kiri, just to be replaced by another, revolving door, “acting” secretary, Mark Espel (the Raytheon guy).
Shanahan made a big deal of Indo-Pacific when he hit the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last month, picking up on his introduction to the Pentagon report to stress the “geopolitical rivalry between free and repressive world order visions” and demonizing China for seeking to “reorder the region to its advantage”.
In contrast, all the benign Pentagon yearns for is just “freedom” and “openness” for a “networked region”; calling it the New Pentagon Silk Road wouldn’t be far fetched.
Anyone remotely familiar with “Indo-Pacific” knows that’s code for demonization of China; actually, the Trump administration’s version of Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, which was in itself a State Dept. concoction, via Kurt Campbell, fully appropriated by then Secretary Hillary Clinton.......
In the end, everything under “Indo-Pacific” goes back to what game India is playing......
The definitive unraveling of Indo-Pacific – even before it starts gaining ground – would be a clear commitment by New Delhi to break apart the US sanctions regime by restarting purchases of much-needed Iran oil and gas.
It won’t take much for Modi to figure out that taking a second role in a Made in USA production will leave him stranded at the station eating dust just as the high-speed Eurasia integration train passes him by
[US global strategy] [China confrontation] [Indo Pacific] [India] [Counterbalance] [Modi] [Iran]
A new era in Indian foreign policy?
13 June 2019
Author: Sumit Ganguly, University of Heidelberg
After his resounding electoral victory, what kind of foreign policy is Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to pursue? It is possible to make some informed inferences on the likely course of his foreign policy based upon his record of the past five years, his new Cabinet appointments and the nods that he made at his swearing-in ceremony. It is also possible to outline some areas where he will be forced to make some critical choices and confront some important tensions in the conduct of India’s foreign policy.
Modi proved to be a remarkably peripatetic prime minister during his first five years in office. He travelled to 55 countries and made 48 foreign trips. Not since former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru has an Indian prime minister demonstrated a similar interest in and commitment to foreign policy.
[Modi] [India] [Foreign policy]
The Gwadar Terrorist Attack Exposed the International Media’s Double Standards
By Andrew Korybko
Global Research, May 12, 2019
Most of the international media is referring to Saturday’s attack on the Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar as being committed by either “gunmen” or “militants” instead of the actual terrorists that the perpetrators are after the BBC reported that they chose their target in order to kill Chinese and other foreign investors, therefore exposing a common double standard whereby “politically convenient” terrorist attacks are simply reframed as “shootings” or “militancy” while “politically inconvenient” acts of resistance are smeared as “terrorism”.
Several terrorists tried storming into the Pearl Continental hotel in CPEC’s terminal port of Gwadar Saturday afternoon, but a large-scale tragedy was thankfully averted after the security services managed to evacuate most of the guests. The BBC reported that the “Balochistan Liberation Army” (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack and quoted the terrorist organization as “saying it had targeted Chinese and other foreign investors”. This incident is a blatant act of terrorism just like the much more devastating ones that were carried out against several hotels and churches in Sri Lanka last month, but the international media is resorting to its tried-and-tested double standards after most of them described the perpetrators as “gunmen” or “militants” instead of the actual terrorists that they are.
[Gwadar] [CPEC] [Terrorism] [Media] [Baluchistan] [Separatism]
India Slips Further Behind China During First Five Years of Modi
By Iain Marlow
April 28, 2019, 11:00 AM GMT+12 Updated on April 29, 2019, 11:08 AM GMT+12
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a rare national address on live television last month to boast that India had destroyed a satellite in low orbit, establishing itself as a “space power” alongside the U.S., Russia and China.
For a leader who lambasted his predecessor for failing to counter long-term geopolitical foe China, the missile test was a moment of “utmost pride.” Yet China conducted a similar test more than a decade ago in 2007, prompting critics to note that India’s show of strength was merely highlighting the wide strategic gap between the world’s two most populous countries.
Modi’s ruling party is making his record on national security a key part of its campaign in an election that will conclude on May 23, with boasts of airstrikes against Pakistan and more than 80 trips abroad to cement India’s reputation as a rising economic power. His government refused to attend Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road infrastructure forum that kicked off Friday.
Yet for all that, India has only fallen further behind China over the past five years. Beijing has continued to outspend India on defense, implemented sweeping reforms in its military and diplomatic structures, and built strategic infrastructure in India’s backyard -- not to mention providing arch-rival Pakistan with defense technology.
“It’s impossible to keep pace with China,” said Vishnu Prakash, a former Indian ambassador to South Korea and consul general in Shanghai. “We cannot get into checkbook diplomacy with China. We don’t have that kind of economic muscle.”
Whether Modi returns to power or not, India’s next government will still be saddled with aging equipment like Soviet-era MiG warplanes, a bureaucracy that hinders military upgrades and an undersized diplomatic corps. To fend off China, it’s likely to continue shifting toward the U.S. and other like-minded countries in Asia while seeking to protect its periphery.
[India China comparison] [Modi]
India shoots down satellite in test, Modi hails arrival as space power
Sanjeev Miglani, Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India shot down one of its satellites in space with an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, hailing the country’s first test of such technology as a major breakthrough that establishes it as a space power.
India would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China, said Modi, who heads into general elections next month.
[Satellite killer] [India]
How India’s economy has fared under Modi
9 March 2019
Author: Raghbendra Jha, ANU
When Narendra Modi became prime minister in May 2014, his Bharatiya Janata Party formed India’s first majority government in almost 30 years. Modi’s tenure ends in May 2019. By then, elections involving more than 900 million people will have chosen 543 members of the lower house of the Indian Parliament and, therefore, a new government. This will be the biggest electoral exercise in the world.
A vendor sleeps as his son waits for customers at their roadside vegetable shop in New Delhi, India, 12 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).
Several factors will influence the people’s choice of their representatives and Modi’s prospects for re-election. One of these will be the perception of Modi’s performance as prime minister. Of particular importance will be the changes that have occurred in the Indian economy since Modi took power.
During Modi’s first term as prime minister, economic growth and taxation revenue have risen while inflation and the fiscal deficit have fallen. Macroeconomic stability and growth prospects have improved. Real GDP growth is estimated at 7.2 per cent over 2017–18 and 7.23 per cent over 2018–19. In comparison, over 2013–14, the last fiscal year of the previous government, real GDP growth was 6.39 per cent.
Real GDP per capita growth estimates suggest an acceleration from 5.3 per cent over 2017–18 to 5.94 per cent over 2018–19, compared to 5.03 per cent over 2013–14. Figures for 2017-18 and 2018-19 may be revised upward as more data become available. CPI inflation is estimated to have dropped from 9.6 per cent over 2013–14 to 4.7 per cent over 2017–18.
[India] [Modi] [Election] [Economy]
Israel is Playing a Big Role in India’s Escalating Conflict with Pakistan
by Robert Fisk
March 5, 2019
When I heard the first news report, I assumed it was an Israeli air raid on Gaza. Or Syria. Airstrikes on a “terrorist camp” were the first words. A “command and control centre” destroyed, many “terrorists” killed. The military was retaliating for a “terrorist attack” on its troops, we were told.
An Islamist “jihadi” base had been eliminated. Then I heard the name Balakot and realised that it was neither in Gaza, nor in Syria – not even in Lebanon – but in Pakistan. Strange thing, that. How could anyone mix up Israel and India?
Well, don’t let the idea fade away. Two thousand five hundred miles separate the Israeli ministry of defence in Tel Aviv from the Indian ministry of defence in New Delhi, but there’s a reason why the usual cliche-stricken agency dispatches sound so similar.
For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken – and politically dangerous – “anti-Islamist” coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade.
[Israel] [India] [Counterinsurgency] [Arms sales]
Washington wants to know if Pakistan used U.S.-built jets to down Indian warplane
Drazen Jorgic, Fayaz Bukhari
The United States said on Sunday it was trying to find out if Pakistan used U.S.-built F-16 jets to down an Indian warplane, potentially in violation of U.S. agreements, as the stand-off between the nuclear-armed Asian neighbors appeared to be easing.
Pakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions this week, including a clash on Wednesday that saw an Indian pilot shot down over the disputed region of Kashmir in an incident that alarmed global powers and sparked fears of a war.
A Pakistan military spokesman on Wednesday denied Indian claims that Pakistan used F-16 jets.
Pakistan returned the captured Indian pilot on Friday in a high-profile handover Islamabad touted as a “peace gesture”, which appeared to significantly dial down tensions, but both sides remain on high alert.
At the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between the two countries in the disputed Kashmir region, there was relative calm in the past 24 hours, both armies said on Sunday. But Indian security forces said they were carrying out major anti-militancy operations on their side on Kashmir and had shot dead two militants.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said on Sunday it was looking into reports that Pakistan used F-16 jets to shoot down the Indian pilot, a potential violation of Washington’s military sale agreements that limit how Pakistan can use the planes.
“We are aware of these reports and are seeking more information,” a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said. “We take all allegations of misuse of defense articles very seriously.”
[Arms sales] [US dominance] [Bizarre]
Sri Lanka Is Poised for a Wild and Rocky Year Ahead
By Taylor Dibbert
Sri Lanka looks to have averted a political disaster. On Oct. 26, President Maithripala Sirisena illegally appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister and fired Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had served as prime minister since 2015. The nation’s awkward and ineffective coalition government – led by Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Wickremesinghe’s United National Party – fell apart.
Wickremesinghe was reinstated as prime minister on Dec. 16 as the coup attempt failed. The relationship between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe remains in terrible shape, however; the causes underlying the crisis (mostly pertaining to domestic politics) remain unresolved. Consequently, Sri Lanka is likely in for a bumpy ride in 2019.
The coalition government that formed in 2015 became increasingly unpopular as the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe relationship fell apart, although an unconstitutional power grab was impossible to predict. During the crisis, Rajapaksa and other members of the purported Cabinet took over government ministries and supporters of the attempted coup took control of state media.
Sirisena moved to dissolve Parliament in November and wanted to hold a parliamentary election in January. Meanwhile, Rajapaksa lost two no confidence motions in Parliament and Wickremesinghe won a confidence vote. Throughout the crisis, Wickremesinghe maintained that he was the legitimate prime minister.