The highs and the lows
India celebrated its 68th Republic Day with great fanfare. Narendra Modi showcased India’s military strength and achievements in a range of areas. Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the parade’s Chief Guest, enabling India to secure a deal with the UAE that allows the Gulf OPEC country to fill half of an underground crude oil storage facility at Mangalore – part of New Delhi’s strategic reserve system. New Delhi also announced a series of pacts with the UAE including defence, trade, maritime cooperation and energy. India has been wooing Muslim states ever since Modi’s tenure started, in a bid to enhance its influence and isolate Pakistan.
Indian security paranoia marred the proceedings, when the person assigned to translate the Chief Guest’s speech was stopped by security guards and couldn’t make it to his desk in time. Modi had gone the extra mile to please the Royal guest. Date palm trees were planted all around central Delhi and roundabouts were decorated with potted plants to replicate the experience of driving through an Arabian country. Modi thanked the Crown Prince for allotting land in Abu Dhabi for the construction of a Hindu temple.
The Republic Day Parade also provided India the opportunity to impress the world with its military might. After all it has emerged as the second largest purchaser of arms among developing nations after Saudi Arabia. According to the latest US Congressional report, between 2008 and 2015, India purchased defence equipments worth US$34 billion, which is a distant second after Saudi Arabia’s US$93.5 billion. India’s Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) displayed its Advanced Towed Artificial Gun System (ATAGS) and medium power radar Arudhra without mentioning major failures like the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), which was shelved after the Indian military lost 25 precious years and nearly Rs 2,000 Crore, keeping it under wraps to hide its inefficiency from the nation. Not to mention the Main Battle Tank Arjun, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Nishant, LCA Tejas, INSAS rifles which have been thrust on the end users despite unsatisfactory performances during trials and reluctance to accept them by the Indian military. The Agni series of missiles are yet to produce the desirable results but the sordid tale of keeping up with “the Joneses” continues unabated.
In retrospect, the 68th Republic Day should be to take cognizance of its failures besides crowing about its successes, which since 2014 have been far and few. Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister because he had promised to take Indian economy to great heights but he is yet to deliver. In the bargain, Indian minorities have been subjected to the horrors of persecution, hate crimes and in the case of the Muslims of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), outright genocide. Such a scenario at the national level should have been anticipated because Modi was the Chief Minister of the Indian province of Gujarat, when over 2000 Muslims were massacred by Hindu extremists earning Modi the dubious title of “Butcher of Gujarat”. The bloody saga is now being repeated in IOK and nationwide, prompting over a thousand international academics and litterateurs to write to Modi to halt terrorising Indian minorities. About fifty Indian high cast Brahmins, recipients of the country’s highest awards have returned their decorations to register their protest against the extremist and brutal treatment of Indian minorities at the hands of radical Hindu fanatics. Little wonder that Srinagar, all of IOK and many other regions occupied by minorities, observed the 68th Republic Day as “Black Day”. Many houses in IOK raised the Pakistani flag atop their roofs on this day to express solidarity with Pakistan rather than India.
Modi’s “Skill India” dream was depicted at the Republic Day Parade in a special tableau with the theme “Transforming India through Skill development”. Alas so far the only skill displayed by extremist India so far is rape, murder, suppress and ostracism of its minorities.
Since Pakistan has been raising its voice in support of Kashmiris, it has been singled out for punishment by Modi and his goons. Coercive diplomacy by refusing to engage in peace talks with Pakistan, isolationist maneuvers like getting the commonwealth moot in Islamabad scuttled and boycotting the SAARC Summit are but some of the harsh tactics used by India to browbeat Pakistan. Cross border terrorism by India, opposing and sabotaging the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), incessant and unprovoked firing across the Line of Control and killing innocent civilians in Pakistan have been the order of the way. Worse still are the false flag terror attacks choreographed by India on its own soil but blaming Pakistan for them. When it found few takers for its blatant lies, India resorted to claiming that its forces carried out “surgical strikes” against selected “terror camps” in Pakistan. The theatrics were meant to appease the Indian media and masses that were baying for Pakistan’s blood. No visual proof of the imaginary “surgical strike” was presented but to lend credence to the drama, gallantry awards for the protagonists of the Natak (play) were announced on the 68th Republic Day Parade.
India has been moving heaven and earth to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state but has met with no success. Contrarily, the upper house of Pakistan’s Parliament unanimously passed a resolution condemning Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that described Pakistan as the “mothership of terrorism” at the BRICS Summit held in Goa last October. During the meet, Modi had referred to the country the “mothership of terrorism … linked to terror modules across the world”.
India would like to be deemed a big player, equaled to China, but it has too many skeletons in its cupboard, which it must bury and inculcate tolerance among its masses before it can be crowned as a major power or even as a serious regional power; pretences aside.