How RaGa’s Remarks Could Hurt India-US Ties

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Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Congress and a former member of parliament from Wayanad, Kerala, has been facing a lot of criticism for his recent remarks on India’s democracy and foreign policy during his visit to the United Kingdom and the United States. Many have accused him of shaming India on foreign soil and seeking foreign intervention in India’s internal affairs.


RaGa speaking at an event in London

What did RaGa say in London and US?


Rahul Gandhi was invited to speak at various events in London and the US, where he interacted with the Indian diaspora, media, academics, and politicians. During these interactions, he made some controversial statements that have sparked a backlash from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters.


Some of his statements are:


He questioned why Europe and the US, the defenders of democracies, were oblivious of how a huge chunk of democracy in India had come undone.


He said that India is moving towards an authoritarian system where dissent is suppressed and institutions are weakened.


He claimed that there is a concentration of power in the hands of one person (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) and his cronies.


He alleged that there is a capture of the media by the government and that voices of opposition leaders are muted in parliament.


He said that India’s foreign policy has become transactional and that India has lost its strategic autonomy.


He said that India’s relationship with China has deteriorated because of Modi’s lack of vision and understanding.


He said that India needs to rethink its relationship with Pakistan and engage in dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.


BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad holding a press conference and criticizing RaGa’s statements


How did BJP and others react to RaGa’s statements?


The BJP and its allies have strongly condemned Rahul Gandhi’s statements and accused him of undermining India’s sovereignty, democracy, and national interest. They have also questioned his credibility and competence as a leader.


Some of their reactions are:


BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Rahul Gandhi has sought to shame India’s democracy, polity, parliament, political system, and judicial system by telling lies.


Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said that Rahul Gandhi has no right to speak about India’s democracy when he himself is not a democratically elected leader of his party.


BJP leader Amit Malviya said that Rahul Gandhi has been berating India and Indian institutions because they do not favour his kind of politics, ideologies, or persona.


BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel made a personal attack on Rahul Gandhi and said that he is not getting married because he does not want to produce another useless leader like him.


External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that Rahul Gandhi’s comments on India-China relations are irresponsible and misinformed.


Apart from the BJP, some other groups have also criticized Rahul Gandhi for his statements. For example:


The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that Rahul Gandhi has insulted the traders of India by calling them cronies of Modi.


The Indian World Forum (IWF), a group of NRIs, filed a complaint against Rahul Gandhi in London for spreading misinformation about India.


The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), an organization of BJP supporters abroad, staged protests against Rahul Gandhi in London and New York for defaming India.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden shaking hands and smiling


What is the impact of RaGa’s statements on India-US relations?


India and the US have a strategic partnership that is based on shared values, interests, and goals. The two countries cooperate on various issues such as defence, trade, energy, health, education, climate change, counter-terrorism, and regional stability. The bilateral relationship has grown stronger over the years, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former President Donald Trump.


However, Rahul Gandhi’s statements have raised some concerns about the future of India-US relations. Some experts have argued that his statements could damage India’s image and credibility in the eyes of the US and other Western allies. They have also warned that his statements could embolden China and Pakistan to exploit India’s vulnerabilities and create more problems for India in its neighbourhood.


On the other hand, some experts have downplayed the impact of Rahul Gandhi’s statements on India-US relations. They have pointed out that his statements do not reflect the official position or policy of the Indian government or the Congress party. They have also noted that the US and other Western countries are well aware of the ground realities and challenges in India and that they respect India’s sovereignty and democracy. They have also suggested that Rahul Gandhi’s statements could be seen as an expression of his personal views and opinions, which are subject to debate and criticism in a democratic society.


A map of India and the US with a link symbolizing their strategic partnership


Conclusion


Rahul Gandhi’s statements on India’s democracy and foreign policy during his visit to the UK and the US have sparked a lot of controversy and criticism. While he has defended his statements as his duty to speak up for India’s core values and protect its democracy, he has been accused of shaming India on foreign soil and seeking foreign intervention in its internal affairs. His statements have also raised some questions about the impact of his statements on India-US relations, which are vital for both countries. However, it remains to be seen whether his statements will have any lasting or significant effect on the bilateral relationship, which is based on mutual trust, respect, and cooperation.


FAQs


Who is the best friend country of India?


There is no definitive answer to this question, as India has friendly relations with many countries around the world. However, some of the countries that are often considered as India’s closest allies or partners are:


The United States: The US is India’s strategic partner and one of its largest trading partners. The two countries cooperate on various issues such as defence, trade, energy, health, education, climate change, counter-terrorism, and regional stability. The US also supports India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and its membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.


Russia: Russia is India’s time-tested friend and one of its major defence suppliers. The two countries share a special and privileged strategic partnership that covers various fields such as nuclear energy, space, science and technology, culture, and education. Russia also backs India’s position on Kashmir and other regional issues.


Israel: Israel is India’s trusted friend and one of its key partners in defence, agriculture, water management, innovation, and cybersecurity. The two countries share common values of democracy, pluralism, and tolerance. Israel also supports India’s fight against terrorism and extremism.


Afghanistan: Afghanistan is India’s neighbour and one of its largest development partners. India has invested over $3 billion in various reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan, such as roads, dams, schools, hospitals, parliament building, etc. India also provides training, scholarships, humanitarian assistance, and medical aid to Afghanistan. Afghanistan considers India as a reliable friend and a strategic partner.


France: France is India’s strategic partner and one of its important defence suppliers. The two countries cooperate on various issues such as nuclear energy, space, climate change, counter-terrorism, maritime security, and multilateralism. France also supports India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and its membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.


Bhutan: Bhutan is India’s neighbour and one of its closest friends. The two countries share a unique and special relationship that is based on historical ties, cultural affinity, mutual trust, and understanding. India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner and its main provider of economic assistance. India also helps Bhutan in maintaining its security and sovereignty.


What was the relationship between India and Russia during the Cold War?


During the Cold War period (1947-1991), India and Russia (then part of the Soviet Union) had a close and friendly relationship that was based on mutual respect, non-alignment, anti-imperialism, and peaceful coexistence. The Soviet Union supported India’s independence struggle against British colonialism and later helped India in its economic development and industrialization. The Soviet Union also backed India during its wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 and provided diplomatic support to India on Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council. The Soviet Union also signed a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation with India in 1971 that strengthened their strategic partnership.


Is India an ally of the US or Russia?


India is not formally allied with either the US or Russia. However, it has strategic partnerships with both countries that are based on common interests and goals. India maintains an independent foreign policy that is guided by its national interest and does not align itself with any bloc or group. However, it also seeks to balance its relations with both the US and Russia without compromising its autonomy or sovereignty.


What is the relationship between India and Pakistan since 1947?


India and Pakistan have had a tense and hostile relationship since their partition in 1947 along religious lines. The two countries have fought four wars over Kashmir issue in 1947-48, 1965, 1971 (which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh), and 1999 (Kargil conflict). They have also been involved in several border skirmishes, cross-border terrorism incidents (such as Mumbai attacks in 2008), nuclear tests (in 1998), diplomatic stand-offs (such as Balakot airstrikes in 2019), etc. The two countries have tried to resolve.


How is India-US relations in the 21st century?


India-US relations have evolved into a global strategic partnership in the 21st century, based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional, and global issues. The two countries have expanded their cooperation in various fields such as defence, trade, energy, health, education, climate change, counter-terrorism, and regional stability. The two countries have also established a wide-ranging and ever-expanding dialogue architecture to facilitate regular consultations and coordination on various issues.


Some of the recent developments and achievements in India-US relations are:


The first India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in New Delhi in September 2018, where the two sides signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) to enable interoperability and exchange of secure communications between their militaries. The second 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in Washington DC in December 2019, where the two sides signed the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) to facilitate greater collaboration between their defence industries. The third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held in New Delhi in October 2020, where the two sides signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) to enhance geospatial cooperation and information sharing between their militaries.


The first India-US Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) Ministerial Meeting was held in New Delhi in April 2018, where the two sides launched four pillars of cooperation: power and energy efficiency; oil and gas; renewable energy; and sustainable growth. The second SEP Ministerial Meeting was held in Washington DC in July 2019, where the two sides launched a new pillar of cooperation on emerging fuels. The third SEP Ministerial Meeting was held virtually in July 2020, where the two sides reviewed the progress and potential of their energy partnership.


The first India-US Ministerial Dialogue on Health Cooperation was held virtually in September 2020, where the two sides discussed their collaboration on COVID-19 response and recovery, vaccine development and distribution, health security, digital health, and innovation. The two sides also agreed to establish a bilateral India-US Health Dialogue to further enhance their health cooperation.


The first India-US Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework (Quad) was held virtually in March 2021, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia discussed their shared vision for a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region. The four leaders also announced a Quad Vaccine Partnership to ensure equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the Indo-Pacific region.


The first India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership was announced at the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by President Biden in April 2021, where Prime Minister Modi and President Biden pledged to work together to achieve their ambitious climate goals. The partnership will focus on enhancing cooperation on clean energy deployment; mobilizing finance and investment; innovation and scaling up emerging technologies; enhancing capacity building; promoting joint research and development; and demonstrating and implementing clean energy solutions.


These developments reflect the depth and breadth of India-US relations in the 21st century, which are driven by mutual trust, respect, and cooperation. However, there are also some challenges and opportunities for further enhancing the bilateral relationship. Some of these are:


Trade: India and the US have a robust trade relationship that reached $146 billion in 2019-20. However, there are also some unresolved issues such as market access barriers, tariffs, intellectual property rights protection, data localization norms, e-commerce regulations, etc. that need to be addressed through dialogue and negotiation. The two sides should also work towards concluding a comprehensive trade agreement that would boost bilateral trade and investment flows.


Defence: India and the US have a strong defence relationship that includes defence trade, joint exercises, personnel exchanges, defence technology cooperation, etc. However, there are also some areas of divergence such as India’s purchase of S-400 missile defence system from Russia that could trigger US sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). The two sides should also explore ways to enhance interoperability and coordination among their armed forces in the Indo-Pacific region.


Regional: India and the US share common interests and concerns regarding regional stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region. However, there are also some differences in their approaches towards China’s rise and assertiveness; Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan; Iran’s nuclear program; etc. The two sides should continue to consult and coordinate on these issues through various mechanisms such as Quad; India-US-Japan trilateral; India-US-Australia-Japan quadrilateral; etc.


Global: India and the US have a convergent vision for a rules-based international order that upholds democracy, human rights, rule of law.

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