File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi | ANI
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi | ANI
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Over the last month, a spate of cancellations and comments by foreign leaders on India’s domestic affairs, from the situation in Kashmir to the ongoing protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, has put the international spotlight back on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s larger-than-life image as a world leader.

Most startling have been Microsoft chief Satya Nadella’s comments on the CAA to BuzzFeed News, calling its implementation “sad”, adding, “I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys.” Later, Microsoft put out a slightly modified statement from Nadella. The words ‘Bangladesh’ and ‘sad’ did not feature in it.

Last Friday, one day after US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster returned from his two-day visit to the Kashmir Valley and Jammu, the US State Department put out its most critical tweet on the situation in the union territory since the scrapping of Article 370.

Calling the envoys’ visit an “important step”, the US said it was concerned about the “detention of political leaders and residents and internet restrictions” that had now entered its fifth month.

On the same day, 10 January, French President Emmanuel Macron called PM Modi and “discussed the situation in the region of Kashmir, which France continues to follow closely”.


Also read: India attracted the world once. But it wasn’t because of its ambition to be a Hindu Rashtra


Bangladesh draws a line

Over the weekend, Bangladesh deputy foreign minister Shahriar Alam cancelled his participation in Delhi’s high-profile Raisina Dialogue conference, making him the third Bangladeshi minister in the last one month to cancel his visit to India.

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The Bangladesh foreign office said that Alam was accompanying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the UAE, and that his inability to come to Delhi had nothing to do with Dhaka’s unhappiness over the Modi government’s determination to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which also targets illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

But the Bangladeshi foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen wasn’t so circumspect. Cancelling his visit to India mid-December 2019, one day after Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament that Bangladesh was persecuting its minorities, especially Hindu women, Momen told PTI that “uncertainty in India is likely to affect its neighbours”.

Separately, Momen told the BBC’s Bengali service that “there are very few countries where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh. If he (Amit Shah) stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see exemplary communal harmony”.

Bangladesh is especially upset by the fact that the Modi government has justified the passage of the CAA by clubbing it with Pakistan, from which it had a violent separation in 1971. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has gone to huge trouble to protect her Hindu minority, not only to distinguish herself from Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh National Party (BNP), which was in power with the extreme Right-wing Jamaat from 2001-2006 and which certainly persecuted Bangladesh’s Hindus.

But since her return to power 10 years ago, Hasina has gone to a great deal of trouble to protect Hindu temples and ensure that the community feels safe. Bangladeshis say they are flabbergasted at being described as “termites” by Home Minister Amit Shah and not being publicly befriended by Modi.

Around the same time that Momen cancelled his Delhi visit in mid-December, Bangladeshi home minister Asaduzzaman Khan cancelled a trip to Shillong where he was supposed to pay tribute to Mukti Bahini guerrillas who fought alongside Indian soldiers in the 1971 war against Pakistan.


Also read: Modi govt’s trip for envoys to J&K exposes rift between home and external affairs ministries


The world takes a second look

Of course the biggest cancellation to India in recent weeks has been that by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had to call off his India trip last December owing to the ongoing anti-NRC protests in Guwahati.

Certainly, Modi remains unfazed by domestic criticism of the CAA, although Bangladeshi criticism seems to have hit home. At a gathering at the Ramakrishna Mission headquarters in Kolkata’s Belur Math where he spent a night, Modi focused on the CAA being specific to Pakistan – it had made the world realise the persecution of minorities in that country, he said.

There was no mention either of Bangladesh or Afghanistan, both of whose Muslims are also sanctioned by the CAA.


Also read: Narendra Modi is losing his political mojo


But as soon as Modi left the Mission headquarters, the order distanced itself from the PM’s comments, saying it was strictly apolitical where brothers and sisters of different faiths lived like children of “the same parents”.

Significantly, this is the first month after a long time that Modi isn’t travelling outside the country – instead, the world is coming to India this week, via the Raisina Dialogue conference, with 12 foreign ministers in attendance, while Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro comes to Delhi as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

Certainly, the combination of Kashmir and the CAA protests is forcing the world to take a second look at India. At least, for the moment, Modi shows no signs of pulling back.

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24 Comments Share Your Views

24 COMMENTS

  1. Your headline presupposes that Modi India had a first look (before that India had mo look) and now it is having a second look. I can assure you no PM in India had as much look as Nehru. Your fantasy world view aside!, Modi was overtaken long long ago by China.

  2. Friends? Who is a friend in geo politics I ask these bjp wallahs in the comment section? You are a friggin trader, the world trades with you, you are simply a huge market, that’s why America, Russia et all are “ friends” with you. No one trades with a nation which is currently in the state of “Jingoism on steroids”. The educated despise the clown because he is a just a clown, pretty much. He had/has a bad name because he is just “bad”. The world wasn’t conspiring against your troll leader and the troll army. You all are just a big zit on the face of this country, that’s why liberals, intellectuals, humanists, seculars and everyone with an ounce of empathy pities you for the imbecile existence you have. He rightly has targeted the lowest common denominators for his propaganda.

    • Sir we might be all the things you have called Us – jingoist, zit, imbeciles, lowest common denominators etc etc….However I have just one question for Your Highness : If India had been a country with 80% Muslim Population, what would have been the situation of minorities? Please introspect O knowledgeable Sir…Please introspect. You will Yourself discover new meaning of what ‘jingoism’ actually is….

  3. This newspaper has forgotten the next election is in 2024. Every article it publishes. will have an anti Indian tone. I understand Gupta ji is in a hurry to get Congress in power so that he and his coterie can have all the perks and also some share of the loot.

  4. Just read, in a letter to Mike Pompeo, on the 14th, Senator Bob Menendez, a Ranking Member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern over the CAA and the potential for establishment of a nationwide NRC in India. This what the Senator wrote: “I urge the Administration to engage the Indian Government at the highest levels on these concerns, press for a swift reversal of these policies and practices, and ensure protection of the human rights of all persons in India regardless of their religion.” Maybe the Indian government don’t care about what a US lawmaker thinks. Maybe we ought to if we don’t wish to become a pariah state. As for China, they get away because of the size of their economy – 5x of India. Can we afford to do the same? Maybe Modi will strike a deal with Trump and buy billions of dollars worth of new shiny toys from the US.

    • He already did! what do you think he did at the Howdi-Modi event? why do you think it was important for america? because we are going to buy overpriced oil and gas from them! type “india texas oil deal” in google and you will see for yourself. buying LNG at a high cost is particularly disgusting since India has its own undevelopped sources. so much for renewable energy.

  5. Who cares what Bangladesh thinks of India? Does China care what Islamic world think of their Muslim camps? China does not give a damn. Neither does Myanmar who deported all Rohingyas, read Bangladeshis.

    • If tiny Myanmar – to some extent Cuba – could turn their backs on the rest of the world for half a century, by your logic, so can India. We run a current account deficit, need the world’s savings to fund both consumption and investment. Our guest workers in what Thakur Rajvir Singh calls “ Arabi “ countries send back tens of billions of dollars in remittances; they could be asked, overnight, to return. We diminish our democracy by talking about China’s treatment of the Uighurs. 2. Above all, what happened to our Vishwaguru enterprise, Yoga day celebrations, ecstatic diaspora events. Permanent seat, with a Veto. Conquering the world se aapka man itni jaldi kaise uth gaya ?

  6. Will this newspaper explore and write an article why Bangladeshi Hindus migrate to India? Jyoti malhotra should visit Bangladesh and tell us the story.

  7. What country are most of Europe’s illegal migrants coming from? You might think Syria or some other war-torn nation. You would be wrong. According to the International Organization for Migration, the top “sending” country is a democracy that claims to have made strides in human development: Bangladesh. The Washington Post

  8. There are too many illegal Bangladeshis in India. And if saying that in public disturbs Bangladesh government, so be it. Arab countries beat the illegal Bangladeshis on a regular basis, and Pakistanis as well, and then deport them to Bangladesh. Bangladesh ministers do not say a word.

  9. When I was in college (1995 – 1998), and further in my Post Graduation, whenever I would pick up any English daily, all it would endeavour was to tell me how communal BJP was, how Vajpayee was a mask, how BJP was corrupt, how the secular ethos of India was under challenge. At that time, I was very Young and had not yet formed my political opinion. But such a barrage of hate & fear mongering against a political ideology made me take notice. This fear mongering was across publications TOI, Hindustan Times, Outlook, The Week any many more. Then I started listening to what these BJP leaders were saying, what their leader Vajpayee was talking about. In time, I started to become amazed at the hatred that the so called liberal commentators of that time had against Hindutva ideology of BJP. it was called a party of cow worshippers, a party pf cow belt, a party of brahmins & baniyas. But surprisingly, the more the intelligentia abused BJP, the more I got closer to its ideology. Then these ‘opinion makers’ the leftist liberals, demonstrated their power and dethroned Vajpayee in 2004 by a fantastic campaign run from offices of various publications, and in my view spearheaded by Out look magazine’s Vinod Mehta & NDTV. Obviously as a Young BJP supporter it was a difficult time. Modi who was a new CM at that time was projected as a villain and a murderer. It was very unfashionable to be a BJP supporter during those days. These commentators and opinion makers were perhaps at the peak of their powers in UPA era, specially in the remote controlled Govt. Then things started to change. Technology happened. Social Media came! Immediately You could see that millions of others, so many people, AGREED with You! That it was actually these ‘opinion makers’ who were biased & unwilling to acknowledge any point of view that differed from their ideology! At this exact moment of Social media revolution, corruption reached its peak in UPA 2. This extreme corruption & looting of nation was ignored completely by these biased commentators. Also, at this exact moment a charismatic 3 time elected Chief Minister, a son of soil, a man from OBC community, a hard core nationalist emerged . These commentators, these opinion makers could not OR did not grasp the significance of that coming. Since then, these people have been in complete and utter denial. 282 confounded them. 301 demoralised them completely & broke their back. Still they are who they are, and must be respected for that. This article is a remnant from those old times in 2002-2003, when yarns were made, theories were floated and doubts were created in the mind of the BJP sympathiser. Now, the author and her friends churn out dozens of such articles daily. It doesnt matter. Because an 18 Year old doesnt have to post a letter to TOI editor, which even if published with a million editions, will not bring out the pain against the biased commentary. Now, when Ms Malhotra writes her ‘opinion’, I can counter it with my opinion and tell her You dont matter! Neither to me, nor to this country. You can unleash the propaganda that Shinzo Abe is not India’s friend anymore. Its doesnt mean anything! These 3 comments on this message board from 2 people are proof of that! You got Modi’a Visa denied once. Live in those glory days. Your time is over. And if you think your troubles will be over once Modi retires, dont be in a fool’s paradise. Get ready for Amit Shah & Yogi Adityanath.

    • You are correct to a very large extent. I come from a family in which Nehru and Indira were considered heroes. My father is still NOT convinced about BJP, but I hardly blame him because his arguments are largely emotiona, and his politics too rooted in the Congress era. Today media is being blamed as being pro-Modi, but many commentators, journalists and readers refuse to acknowledge how pro-Congress certain TV channels were, particularly NDTV. One just has to listen to Nidhi Razdan and Barkha Dutt from the 2014 for at least a couple of years thereafter to realise what one-sided trash they peddled out. The presence of Kapil Sibal in media is proof of their agenda. That said, I think Jyoti Malhotra is a poor writer. Her journalism lingers on the surface. For me, her pieces are just a reinforcement of what you have said in your comment.

    • Thank you for the clarification of what the future is likely to be – Amit Shah & Fake-Yogi Bhist are 2 big reasons why we have to fight harder.

    • I agree with Prashant. In fact, many watch NDTV, India Today or read The Print etc just to get sense of bias against BJP and Modi. The more you watch or read, the more you get convinced of their fake narratives. This is not to say that BJP has no issues; they have plenty but that is besides the point. Jyoti has a simple mind and she just can’t hide her hatred against Modi unlike Shekhar who does it quite finely!

      • Kuchh bhi kahiye, hamein Print padh kar mazaa aata hai. I read each word of Ms Jyoti Malhotra’s columns, sometimes after having first posted my comment.

  10. The state of the economy both is and is not part of this changed assessment of India. If we had been growing at 8%, with more trade and investment, obviously India’s place in the world would have been more snug. However, the factors – domestic, social, political – that are causing disquiet would not have been ignored. We should accept that we have lost goodwill that had been generated by the continuing, evolutionary success of our plural democracy.

  11. Barring China and Pakistan, we have no natural adversaries / enemies in the world. The United States is the sheet anchor of our foreign policy. Japan is a friend, so is France. We should also not be so quick to take offence with important countries like Malaysia and Turkey when they publicly take a critical position. For something that goes to the heart of India’s national interest, like the strategic programme, it would be perfectly in order to ignore the rest of the world, even risk sanctions. However, that same taut insensitivity should not extend automatically to everything where our views are not congruent with the world’s. There is a need to come out of the bunker / troll army mentality that has become the hallmark of domestic politics. 2. The global media is telling us what the world thinks of us. One would be most surprised if the views of world leaders are very different. They will continue to do business with us, of course. The fact that Mr Bolsonaro will be Chief a Guest should tell us a lot about our revised place in the world%season esteem.

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