In recent months, the going has gotten tough for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was reelected to India’s top office with a handsome mandate, last year. The ‘Modi phenomenon’ is the culmination of a long struggle, by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), to fuel nationalist fervour, religious bigotry and Hindu supremacy in Nehru’s secular India. As the global community witnessed the world’s biggest democracy succumb to radical Hindutva ideology, the playing field for the BJP is getting trickier on multiple fronts.
Economic slowdown; hunger, starvation on the rise
India’s economic slowdown, which started a couple of years ago, is exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. India’s economy started 2020 with its weakest quarter in eight years. The automobile industry and the banking sector were struggling even before Covid-19 entered the equation. Shaktikanta Das, Chief of the Reserve Bank of India, has warned that the GDP will fall for the fiscal year 2020-2021. The last time Indian economy shrank was in 1979.
This economic turmoil is a predicament for the man who strongly relies on the success of the capitalist enterprise and economic growth to maintain friends in India and abroad. Apart from the nationalist rhetoric, the promise for economic prosperity played a significant role in Prime Minister Modi’s electoral success, last year. Evidence of starvation and hunger in India due to a preemptive lockdown is all over the internet. The quick spread of Covid-19 has only made matters worse for the Indian government.
The last few months have witnessed India losing territory on the diplomatic front. In Afghanistan, the United States and the Taliban reached a peace agreement without any Indian contribution. Moreover, the warming of Indo-US relations and their collaboration in the Indo-Pacific has exposed the Indian quagmire of maintaining a delicate balance between Tehran and Washington.
The recent days have seen increased tensions on the Line of Actual Control, in Ladakh. Reportedly the People’s Liberation Army has set up encampments deep inside the Indian Territory, in the Himalayan region
At the same time, the EU Parliament pointed out violations of India’s commitments to international norms. The efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan to mend differences with Tehran, and Pakistan’s facilitating role in the Afghan peace process, to India’s frustration, have improved the stature of Pakistan.
Hindu supremacy & abrogation of laws
BJP’s attempts to impose Hindu Rashtra on 1.3 billion Indians, in the shape of Citizenship Amendment Bill and National Registry, have exposed the non-secular, non-inclusive and fascist intent of the Indian government. These actions have polarized the Indian nation, and raised doubts over India’s secular credentials.
The scenes from Shaheen Bagh and Millia Islamia were reminders of how volatile the situation was, just before Covid-19 pandemic broke out. The Ayodhya verdict demonstrated how the Hindutva ideology has penetrated deep into state institutions. Such steps have indeed appeased BJP’s vote bank, which comprises of middle-class Hindu nationalists. However, they have also alienated, marginalized and dispossessed minorities in India, especially Muslims.
The abrogation of Kashmir’s autonomous status, in August 2019, reignited the Kashmir issue after decades. The United Nations Security Council was compelled to hold a meeting on Kashmir for the first time in 50 years. The brutal lockdown and suppression of media in Kashmir opened another front for the BJP government.
The alteration of the status of Ladakh, a region disputed between India and China, led to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Hua Chunying’s statement: “The unilateral revision of domestic laws by the Indian side continues to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty, which is unacceptable and will not have any effect.”
Prime Minister Modi finds himself in unchartered territory. The BJP government has overplayed its cards, and now faces challenges on multiple fronts: Social, political, economic and strategic
The recent days have seen increased tensions on the Line of Actual Control, in Ladakh. Reportedly, the People’s Liberation Army has set up encampments deep inside the Indian Territory, in the Himalayan region. This development comes at a time when India was already engaged in a diplomatic crossfire with neighbouring Nepal, over a border dispute in Kalapani region.
Shrinking influence in the region
In the last few years, Nepal’s ruling Communist Party has reached out to China for investments in infrastructure and connectivity projects, which has troubled Delhi. At the same time, the projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have picked up the pace, despite India’s open contempt.
Chinese commercial presence at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port is another irritant for India. Facing a potential Chinese encirclement, Delhi hopes to find solace in a strategic partnership with Washington. It is true that India, as a counterweight to China, carries extreme importance for the United States; however, for India, an alliance with the US will come with its own set of global and regional repercussion.
Prime Minister Modi finds himself in unchartered territory. The BJP government has overplayed its cards, and now faces challenges on multiple fronts: Social, political, economic and strategic. As India finds itself in a desperate situation, Pakistan must remain vigilant. Desperate times can make decision-makers irrational and erratic.
Ali Bin Rizwan holds a degree in Economics and Political Science from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is an avid reader, traveler, and tennis enthusiast. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.