The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is visiting the USA. In India, this event is being heralded as the event of the century.
Gina Raimondo, the US Secretary of Commerce, recently gave a speech in India about who she considers the most admired person in the world. Perhaps knowing that if the US audience watched it, they would smell a rat, she did tweet it:
— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) April 17, 2023
A few weeks earlier, Frederic Neumann, Chief Asia Economist of HSBC, expressed his euphoria about India. So euphoric is he that he cannot find words for the magic that he sees happening:
Something big is taking place in India
HSBC’s Fred Neumann has been covering Asia for decades. What’s happening in India is one of the most exciting things he’s seen.
Must watch. pic.twitter.com/yFiC3VvPhJ
— David Ingles (@DavidInglesTV) January 26, 2023
Fareed Zakaria calls India the fastest-growing large economy. He finds its national ID system revolutionary. He credits Mukesh Ambani, one of the Indian business leaders, for taking the internet to a vast section of the population. “Today, India uses more data than China and the USA combined,” says he. He found infrastructure projects—airports, train stations, road networks, seaport capacities, and metros—to have exploded.
Der Spiegel, a German magazine, published a factual, albeit degrading, cartoon about India exceeding China in population. The German Ambassador to India, Dr. Philipp Ackermann, unctuously claimed that some Indian metro systems are better than German ones:
Apple just opened its first shop in India. Then CNN started fawning over India. Not to be left behind, Bill Gates congratulated Modi for his 100th monologue—Modi does not give interviews or take questions from journalists.
At the recently held Quad meeting, Biden asked (in my view, condescendingly) for Modi’s autograph and said, “You are causing me a real problem. Next month we have a dinner (during PM Modi’s visit to the US in June) for you in Washington. Everyone in the whole country wants to come. I have run out of tickets. You (sic) think I am kidding? Ask my team. I am getting phone calls from people I have never heard of before. Everyone from movie actors to relatives. You are too popular.”
Modi has just landed in the US. Among others, he met Elon Musk, who finds India the most exciting country on the planet but has no time to visit it until next year:
#WATCH | Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, says “I’m incredibly excited about the future of India. India has more promise than any large country in the world. He (PM Modi) really cares about India as he’s pushing us to make significant investments in India. I am a fan of Modi. It… pic.twitter.com/lfRNoUQy3R
— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2023
Let us do a reality check.
The Indian state of Manipur is burning. Hundreds of people have died in what is an ongoing genocide. During Modi’s rule, there has been a massive increase in religious and anti-minority violence and a resulting polarization across the country. Lawlessness is increasing everywhere.
A train accident recently killed hundreds, although a couple of people were found alive in the morgue. For those who know India better—outside the five-star hotels and business class flights—it is faltering.
Poverty and unemployment are getting rapidly worse. You hardly meet an Indian for who the quality of infrastructure has improved. He might even complain about the burden and chaos that has been created by mafia-run unscrupulous construction companies, which are the easiest ways for politicians to collect bribes in bulk. After years the roads that get constructed get washed away after a single rain.
A vast swath of the so-called educated Indian middle class has come to believe that the US wouldn’t last for a day without the Indian CEOs and high-tech workers, ignoring that with its GDP per capita of $2,256, it is among the poorest countries and has the world’s most hungry people, most stunted kids and with half the population with no access to toilets. But then, it is not uncommon for an Indian middle-class person to claim that India has a better quality of life than the US, while he is unaware of the existence of his fleet of servants and maids, each of who earns $50 a month and gets no vacations or medical benefits.
More and more Indians are seeking refuge in the West.
For a decade, Modi was banned from entering the US for an anti-Muslim pogrom during his rule in Gujarat. Those days, taking a higher moral ground, the US didn’t want him. But times have changed. Now, being expedient and woke, the US is welcoming him.
One might wonder if there is a connection between this sudden increase in cringe-worthy fawning over India by the Western governments, the Western media, and big corporations.
It is perhaps easier to understand the motivations of Apple and Gates. India is one of the poorest nations. Among the minority that can afford iPhones, no Indian auntie worth her salt will want to buy in India and indirectly confess that she does not go to London for her weekend shopping. Maybe, Apple wants to show Wall Street analysts that there is still growth in Apple stock. The situation with Tesla, which has no operations in India, is likely similar. Gates loves India for the reverence that he gets from the NGOs that get his money.
Among the ruling class, there is likely a two-fold sinister ploy.
Despite Indians being only 1% of the US population, in closely contested states—like, New Jersey and California—they have a decisive swing vote. Given that they are the best-earning community in the US, they and their lobbies have an outsized social and economic clout.
While Indians in America tend to vote for the Democrats, Trump tried his best to swing them to his side. Biden will find endearing them easier. These Indians are also pro-Modi and pro-Hindu-fanaticism. While their vote will be important for who wins in the US elections, they will be voting thinking about India, not the US.
The second sinister ploy is of the warmongers in the West who want to position India against China by inviting it to join NATO Plus. This would be disastrous for both the US and India. Modi has a petty ego. He can be easily swayed. But Indians are not warriors. They have hardly any experience of fighting in wars. In the 1962 war, China was able to enter what was under Indian control without much resistance.
Over the last few years, China has humiliated India several times, infringing on its controlled areas and even setting up villages there. Apart from making courageous talks, Modi does nothing. He knows he cannot. In 1962, China’s economy was worse than India’s. It was going through a horrendous Cultural Revolution. Today, the Chinese economy is 550% that of India. In a war with China, India will do worse than in 1962.
Not only a war with China will be suicidal for India, but India desperately needs China. India should be inviting China to be its back office and to move low-value-added manufacturing.
Modi has developed an image of “Viswaguru,” the global teacher, on the back of propaganda and the extraordinary gullibility and inferiority complex of Indians. Indians have been convinced that Putin, Biden, and Sunak cannot pass a day without taking advice and help from Modi.
Modi is up for elections within a year. Indians look up to the US for validation. After a recent loss in the elections in the state of Karnataka, Modi desperately wants to spruce up his image.
The above is hardly a conspiracy, but a coinciding of interests of the Democrats who want the votes of Indians, the naïve anti-China war-mongers who want to develop India as another Ukraine, American companies desperate to show future growth to Wall Street analysts, and Modi’s building up of his Viswaguru image for the forthcoming elections.
The collateral damage is the unseen, unrecognized desperately poor of India and a country that might soon become another Pakistan.