Dr Muhammad Khan
PROFESSOR Kate Sullivan de Estrada, Director of South Asian Studies in University of Oxford envisages the future of India as a declining state. This is despite the claim of Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Hindutva face would be an “asset when dealing with foreign affairs with other nations.” Starting from 2014, BJP Government under Modi has vigorously pursued the idea of Hindu India under the Hindutva ideology, which challenged the secular status of India. In the opinion of many international and even Indian scholars, BJP under Modi and his core team has successfully changed the secular character of India in his first five years rule in India. With the beginning of his second tenure, starting from May 2019, Modi and his core team started consolidating the rule over India while implementing the left over agenda of BJP and RSS. Since Indian general election-2019 were conducted under the shadow of Hindutva, therefore, BJP won the 2/3 majority, which enabled it to make changes in the Indian Constitution. Through its illegal and unilateral act, India-occupied Kashmir was degraded from its statehood to union territory, while its inhabitants were kept under curfew and siege for almost 160 days now.
Through another constitutional amendment (CAA-2019) Muslims of India were discriminated in connection with the grant of citizenship. This discriminatory amendment provoked the Muslims and other minorities, causing protests all over India. These nationwide protests and demonstrations are aiming to undo the amendment (CAA) and the planned National Register of Citizens. Apart from general public, the RSS militants assaulted many Muslims students in many universities. In the first week of January, 2020, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body of BJP attacked students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and bet hundreds of Muslim students and those who were protesting against the CAA. In fact, imposition of Hindutva ideology and constitutional amendments made thereafter for the promotion of this ideology has put India in a state of delusion. This indicates a declining state of India, a country with 1.3 billion populations. This all is happening under shadow of Hindutva, an unconcealed majoritarian agenda and divisive politics of Modi’s BJP. Professor Kate Sullivan de Estrada is of the opinion that all indicators of Indian power status which could have led to its ascendancy are declining. These indicators include: “acquisition of material capabilities, recognition by established powers and the cultivation of likeminded followerships; all have been eviscerated by Modi’s leadership.” The protestors, especially the youth bulge are in fact are trying to reclaim the India’s lost nationhood and secularism.
Various indicators of Indian development and so-called claims that it is on the path of a major power status indicate that there has been decline, rather a rise in Indian power status. The last five years of BJP rule have brought a significant decline in the economic growth of India, which Congress Party under Manmohan Singh achieved in its previous tenures. For the last six quarters, there has been continuous short-falls in Indian economic growth. No innovative fiscal mechanism could improve the Indian economy. According to FP, in the last few quarters, Indian economic growth has been 4.5 per cent. This declining growth rate has put a full-stop towards new jobs and employment. So the material power and economic progress essentially needed for a major power status has taken a downward turn under Modi’s BJP. Apart from declining economy, there has been no worthwhile progress in the Indian defence industrial complex which is the real indicator of the power of any state. Despite maintaining a huge military (1.4 million), India still rely on the import of defence equipment. As per SIPRI, India is world’s top most importer of the weapons. “Indian arms imports have increased by 24% between 2008-12 and 2013-17.” Besides, there is a gradual decline in the professionalism of Indian armed forces.
There has been gradual decline in the international status of India, as analysed by scholars of international relations and strategic studies. Under Modi’s Hindutva, the religion based constitutional amendments, religious based discriminations and countrywide protests against a tyrant rule of BJP; India has lost its former status of world’s largest democracy. The major powers and international community finds a dichotomy between what India claims internationally and what its Government practices domestically within India. In fact, it is an anti-thesis to liberal values, democracy and globalization, the essence of contemporary world. The hegemonic designs of India have created a community of unfriendly and hostile neighbourhood all around its vast borders. Besides, there is a global rejection of Indian state over the discrimination, it has promoted against minorities. With the rapidly declining State and society in India, there is an increasing frustration and power lust in the ruling BJP. In order to divert the attention from the internal disorder and external condemnation, the frustrated Indian leadership has started threatening the regional peace which may have global repercussions. Therefore, United Nations and the international community must be cognizant of the Indian role and its ambitions.
— The writer, a retired Brig, is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.
Dr Muhammad Khan