PM Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe | Photo: ANI
Text Size:

The international community’s unease over the continued incarceration of three former chief ministers of Jammu & Kashmir – Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti – since the dilution of Article 370 that took away the erstwhile state’s special status in August as well as the issue of Assam NRC, has grown every month.

Several statements by GermanySwedenFinland, the European Union and the US Congress have suggested that the situation in Kashmir is not “sustainable,” that India must start talking to Pakistan, and that any political resolution must take the “wishes of the Kashmiri people” into account.

The Narendra Modi government has ignored all these suggestions; and last week, it pulled off a diplomatic coup and received what could amount to the much-needed ‘support’ – from its ally Japan.

In the teeth of rising concern that India was isolating itself by refusing to join the China-led bloc of nations that had signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Japan announced it would also not sign the RCEP dotted line if India was not going to do so.

A day after, the two countries held the 2+2 dialogue between the foreign affairs and defence ministers in New Delhi.

The Modi government will draw a lot of hope from Japanese deputy minister for economy, trade and industry Hideki Makihara’s comments on the RCEP. Tokyo would have never done something as significant as this if its chief friend and ally, the United States, was not on board. Certainly, the Japanese want India to assert its influence in the Indo-Pacific to contain China.


Also read: RCEP freeze continues, India, Japan make no progress on sticky bilateral issues


Support from flagging economy

So, what gives Japan the confidence that India is powerful enough to play the big round against China? The same thing that makes Sweden stay positive towards India despite raising concerns about the lockdown in Kashmir.

India’s large market, of course.

Even though domestic growth has dropped to 4.5 per cent, the lowest in six years, the possibility of India’s large middle-class voting with its wallets will have both Japan and Sweden excited.

Japanese retailer Uniqlo last week opened its second clothing store in the National Capital Region. The first store that was opened in Delhi in October had earned Rs 2 crore in the first couple of days.

Uniqlo realises it must capture the Indian market to spread its business, even if the Indian market has taken a pounding because of demonetisation and the ham-handed manner in which the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented.

The long queues at Swedish retailer H&M stores in India may have thinned, but furniture retailer Ikea has managed to sell goods worth Rs 407 crore at its Hyderabad store since it opened in August 2018. The Swedes continue to be interested in selling the Gripen fighter jet to India.


Also read: How does the world solve its $250 trillion-debt problem? Borrow more


Significance of visits

Countries like Japan and Sweden, the Modi government believes, will hopefully show the way and dull international criticism on Kashmir. First steps on reviving the Indian economy have been taken and more are expected. A cabinet rejig is expected later in the month.

So, despite their foreign minister’s concerns on Kashmir, King Carl XIV Gustaf of Sweden and his wife, Silvia, are continuing their visit across India. Other recent visits to New Delhi include foreign and defence ministers of Japan and Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

And despite the two hearings in the US Congress over Kashmir, the US later this month will host India’s defence and foreign ministers for the second round of its 2+2 dialogue.

In 2002 as well, after the Gujarat riots, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had rejected the international critique on human rights violations. India has not only grown by leaps and bounds ever since, the Modi government believes that the long list of international visitors has boosted the global community’s enthusiasm for India.

In less than two weeks, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be in India and PM Modi will escort him to Imphal, Manipur, where the Japanese Imperial Army fought a big bloody battle against British Indian troops in 1944, during World War II.

More importantly, Modi and Abe are expected to sign the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), enabling both nations to share defence capabilities and supplies, sources told ‘Japan Today.’

Certainly, international unease regarding Kashmir can only make a difference if it ties into domestic uproar on this matter.

The tipping point, on the other hand, could be the economy. For the first time in five years, corporates are now speaking out against the “fear” that has enveloped corporate India. But if PM Modi can invite the world to increase its stakes in India and turn the economy around, he will help mitigate their unease over issues like Kashmir.

This is the strategy that China has successfully followed over the last 40 years. The signs are that Modi is taking a leaf out of Beijing’s book.

ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

14 Comments Share Your Views

14 COMMENTS

  1. The name Jyoti Malhotra sounds like it is Indian, but, the article reads like it’s written by some Tasleema Qureshi (made up name) from Lahore. I wouldn’t be surprised if these writers who pose as Indian reporters are really Imran/ ISI/ Pak Army’s gang of information war mongers.
    And, if she is really Indian, she should know that Bohemia is not a country. These writers seem to consider themselves to be angels sent by God to establish equality and peace in this world. What does Jyoti have to say about the ten gold decline of non-Muslim population in Pakistan over the last two decades? What does she say about the ghastly horrors the Kashmiri Pandits endured and many of them lost their lives to?

    It is easy to shoot holes in a canvas. If you try to understand what the painting is about and the context of the painting by looking at other works in the gallery, probably you wouldn’t want to shoot holes.

    A pen in the hand of a myopic and opinionated journalist is more dangerous than a gun in the hands of a deranged person.

  2. Whatever Europe thinks, I have no sympathy for the male chauvinist, racist, sexist Muslim Sunni popular outcry of Kashmir valley. Sometimes one has to take a stand. Sometimes you have to fight to be a man! (a line from a piece of county music)

  3. INDIANS ON THE MAIN DO NOT BUY CONSUMER GOODS FOR THE SAKE OF BUYING THEM TO OUTDO THEIR NEIGHBOURS…IF THEY START TO BE CONSUMERS OF EVERCHANGING SPECS AND LEAVE LAST YEARS DESIGNS SITTING COLLECTING DUST…..INDIA I FEEL DOES NOT HAVE THE MARKETS IT IS OFFERING…

  4. Jyoti is at it again; she has put together events of the last week, however disparate, and with her simmering anti Modi feelings, she came out with this article. Kashmir issue is over. Leaders will be released in due course and elections to the UT of J&K will be held. This is what is understood by EU as “in accordance with the wishes of people of Kashmir “. Jyoti should know clearly and once for all, that there is nothing beyond this in Kashmir. And the timing and sequence of events will be decided by the Modi government depending on the security situation there. So Jyoti should not write anything on Kashmir in future unless she is writing about POK. It is possible that Amit Shah may pull a rabbit out of his hat and offer people’s representatives from POK to join the Kashmir assembly! Jyoti may like to worry about such possibilities and its dangerous implications as Pak and China will go livid with anger. NRC is purely an internal issue of determining who is an illegal immigrant and no country in the world can dare raise an issue about it. NGOs and anti India cliques may be active about it, if that is any consolation to Jyoti. I would honestly request Shekhar to review her articles before they are uploaded . There is absolutely no problem if you criticize Modi but do it with sound logic and sense.

  5. Not sure what this article is trying to convey and to whom. On the one hand the author wants the government to talk with Pakistan and on the other she is peeved that the world over it is business as usual with India despite the scrapping of Article 370. The heading of the article seems to be made-up to get more clicks and seems completely disconnected from the content. The concerns from the western nations are completely misrepresented as the statements from these nations are just wishy-washy with no real substance, and were not followed up by any actions in any way, manner of form

    In this context, it would make sense to reconcile to the fact that India is now a player at the high table with a lot of leverage across the world and it would behoove our journalists to look at where mainstream (Bharat) is heading and frame your arguments accordingly. Twisting the existing world scenario to suit a limited audience is going to expose you to a lot of ridicule.

  6. What “right things” you have in mind that India should do in Kashmir? What if the Kashmiris say restoration of article 370 and their statehood are the only “right things” for India to do?

    What other “right things” can India do in Kashmir when it has no money? “No funds, Modi govt puts on hold its Rs 2,600-crore education plan for J&K and Ladakh”! “After Article 370 move, HRD ministry had drawn up major plan to improve education infrastructure in J&K and Ladakh. Officials now say they don’t have adequate funds.”

  7. Why are we reminding ourselves of Kashmir issue and liking the same to Indian economy. They are two separate issues according to me. European capitals will always point to human rights violations whenever a mike if pushed on their faces. This is a mere posturing. But business is as usual. Better to focus on economy and expose government there rather than link Kashmir issue with it. Secondly, what is there to talk with Pakistan.. opening the issue once again after water has gone under the bridge is foolish. Govt must focus on what it can now do for JK people and not worry about reactions internationally.. Both issue are separate and attempts must be made not to rake them up needlessly

  8. The article is disjointed and mixes up too many things; work of a lazy journalist. This approach towards Kashmir and Pakistan has nothing to do with Beijing but everything to do with taking a different route to a complex problem. Who inspired the US to react the way it did in the aftermath of 9/11? It was a natural response, whether right or wrong. Hypothetically, if Kashmir were to part from India as an independent nation OR to join Pakistan, will Jyoti guarantee that India-Pakistan will have friendly borders just like any two civilised nations have? For once strategic issues must be left to experts. Journalists should get out of their armchair and start reporting experts’ perspectives rather than pouring out their heart on the keypad.

  9. Jyoti Malhotra appears sad that things are going well for India on the international front. This is what Marxism does to you – turn you into an antinational traitor.

    • One has never understood the need for ad hominem attacks. Point out flaws / fallacies in the column’s arguments and propositions, by all means, spell out a better way of seeing the issue.

  10. If things are not going well in Kashmir – apart from some efforts to grow broccoli – it is in our own interest to start doing all the right things. With or without a nudge from the international community. As for the India economic story, it is beginning to sound more like a fairy tale with each passing day.

    • While you may have a point regarding which is suffering due to structural problems in our country. JK is settled thing of past now, now only thing to do is flush out terrorists.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here