Under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is losing leverage in South Asia as his government tries to reshape the country into a Hindu state, according to an American media report.
“In marginalizing and maligning its minority Muslims at home, Mr. Modi’s government has weakened India’s traditional leadership role of encouraging harmony in a region of many fault lines,” The New York Times said .
The shift can also open opportunities for China, which has used the promise of investment and access to its hard-charging economy to cultivate stronger relations with its rival’s (India’s) neighbours.
“The openly partisan approach to communal issues has created a very peculiar situation for us as far as that moral high ground in neighborhood policy is concerned,” Yashwant Sinha, who was India’s foreign minister when Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was last in power in the early 2000s, was quoted as saying in the newspaper.
“We can’t say ‘you stop it, this should not happen,’ because we ourselves are guilty of it,” he added.
The Times pointed out that such violence and the abuse of minorities is nothing new in South Asia.
“The domestic policies of one nation inevitably affect the population of another,” Times’ correspondent Mujib Mashal wrote from New Delhi.
Traditionally, how India — the largest and the most diverse of the nations — tried to manage its affairs set the tone for the rest. Even when sectarian violence flared within its own borders, India was the big brother with larger-than-life leaders like Gandhi and its legacy of ending centuries of colonial rule through nonviolence,” he wrote.
Modi has been expanding his xenophobic agenda with blitzkrieg speed ever since his reelection in 2019, & yet, in the weeks after Atul Keshap’s meeting with #RSS, India witnessed a nationwide explosion of anti-minority violence unprecedented in decades.https://t.co/5r4uknUKkb
— Pieter Friedrich (@FriedrichPieter) November 8, 2021
The policies of Mr. Modi’s party have chipped away at that position, not unlike the erosion of the United States’ global standing on human rights during the Trump administration. His Bharatiya Janata Party has pursued a Hindu-first agenda that has often put the country’s Muslims at a disadvantage.
“The party has also refused to rein in hard-line elements within its ranks, sometimes leading to violence,” the report pointed out. It said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has blamed Modi for “unleashing a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community,” to which the Indian Prime Minister’s support in India reacted strongly.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and others have also suggested that the hardening attitudes toward Muslims in India have contributed to violence against Hindus in Bangladesh.
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“The situation that happened in Bangladesh is empowering the Hindutva politics, and they are trying to exploit it,” said Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan, a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, referring to the B.J.P.’s Hindu nationalist ideology. “And at the same time, the Hindutva politics of India is empowering the B.J.P.-type politics in Bangladesh.”
The violence last month in Bangladesh was set off by reports that Holy Quran had been disrespected in a Hindu temple. according to reports, seven people were killed.
“That violence has further deepened sectarian tension in India. In recent weeks, a right-wing Hindu group has been organizing large protests in the Indian state of Tripura, just over the border from Bangladesh, against the anti-Hindu violence there,” correspondent Mishal said in his dispatch.
“Police have had to deploy heavy security to protect mosques, after members of the group vandalized at least one mosque and burned shops. A group of lawyers and activists who went to Tripura to document the damage found themselves charged with violating a draconian anti terror law.”