Editorial – March 29, 2024

Editorial – March 29, 2024

Editorial – March 29, 2024

Title: Easily provoked: On India’s internal affairs and foreign comments

New Delhi and Washington appear to be squaring off for a fight over the U.S. expressing its concerns about the Modi government’s actions ahead of the general election. After the U.S. State Department spokesperson first made a comment on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned the acting Deputy Chief of the U.S. mission in Delhi and sternly called on the U.S. to desist from interfering in India’s internal affairs. A dressing down was also handed to a German diplomat for a similar statement by Germany. However, while the German government appeared to tone down its remarks subsequently, the U.S. administration seems to have doubled down — repeating statements on the need for “fair, transparent, timely legal processes”, and adding the freezing of the Congress Party’s accounts during the election campaign amongst its concerns, prompting yet another rebuke. The U.S.’s statements, galling for the government, are not new, and its concerns over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, farmers’ protests, actions against NGOs, and legal action against Opposition politicians have been growing. The Modi government may wish to introspect about whether any of these interventions are valid concerns, and it may be of significance to probe whether this brinkmanship is a symptom of a larger problem in the India-U.S. relationship. Since the U.S. announced an indictment into an alleged assassination plot against a Khalistani separatist and India critic, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, claiming a link to a top Indian national security official, the quality of public engagement appears to have suffered a setback, even though trade, technology sharing, and military and strategic cooperation remain strong. The decision by U.S. President Joe Biden to decline India’s invitation as Republic Day chief guest and to attend the Quad summit, and the cancellation of U.S. NSA Jake Sullivan’s visit, even as the post of Indian Ambassador to Washington lies vacant, merit close examination.

Given the kerfuffle over Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest, New Delhi has a few choices: it can choose to continue this high-decibel, public and unseemly spat; it can pay the U.S. back in the same coin by commenting on its internal developments; or it can refuse to be provoked. The last option may seem the least attractive to this government, which has made a habit of pugilistic public diplomacy, but in fact would come from a place of strength and security. Global leadership, of the kind that India aspires to, requires broad shoulders, and a thick skin when it comes to criticism, along with a quiet confidence that its democratic record should speak for itself.

Meaning of the words

spokesperson 

is an individual designated to represent and speak on behalf of an organization, company, group, or individual.

introspect

refers to the process of examining, reflecting on, or analyzing one’s own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

interventions

refer to actions or strategies implemented to modify, change, or influence a situation, behavior, or outcome.

indictment

An indictment is a formal accusation or charge brought against an individual or organization, typically by a legal authority such as a grand jury or a prosecutor.

provoked

typically refers to being stimulated or incited to a particular action, emotion, or response as a result of some external stimulus or trigger.

pugilistic

is an adjective derived from the noun “pugilism,” which refers to the sport or practice of boxing. When something is described as pugilistic, it typically means it is related to or resembles the actions, characteristics, or techniques of boxing.

brinkmanship

refers to a diplomatic or strategic approach in which one party pushes a situation to the brink of disaster or conflict in order to achieve a favorable outcome.

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