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Mainstream, VOL LV No 28 New Delhi July 1, 2017

Indo-US Summit, Lynch-Mobs on the Rise

Saturday 1 July 2017, by SC


PM Narendra Modi has returned to the Capital after his visit to the US and talks with President Donald Trump, both of which have been termed as broadly successful. The success of the trip has been measured in terms of the “far more positive vibes” that one witnessed in the Modi-Trump summit than “several other recent summits involving Trump” like the one with Angela Merkel, the German President, as has been underlined by our former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, now a senior fellow and member of the Governing Body of the Centre for Policy Research.

Saran has, like other foreign policy experts, under-scored the importance of the two countries’ decision to reinforce their cooperation in counter-terrorism and welcomed the designation of Syed Salahuddin, the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, as an “international terrorist”. He has also welcomed the “ratcheting up of pressure on Pakistan on the issue of cross-border terrorism” and opined that the “formulations are more explicit than before”. Yet he aptly pointed out that “neither the US nor the international community in general would go beyond rhetoric in punishing Pakistan for its addiction to terrorism”.

The former Foreign Secretary then observed:

India needs to reassess its options in this changing world. China remains an economic and security challenge and this challenge is likely to grow. Getting rhetorical support on issues such as Pakistan’s resort to terrorism, China’s pursuit of geopolitical advantage through its One Belt One Road initiative and substantive support through technology and defence partnerships which build up Indian capabilities, should be on the agenda of our relations with the US and other friendly countries. At the end of the day, however, we will need to rely upon our own resources and capabilities to overcome the challenges we confront such as the current stand-off with China on the Sikkim sector of the India-China border.

That is most pertinent in the present context.

Meanwhile the country at large has seen yesterday civil society coming out on the streets in different parts—New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru—to condemn the growing culture of lynch-mobs attacking and killing minorities and Dalits, something associated with the Right-wing majoritarian offensive across India since the advent to power of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah-led BJP in mid-2014. As a consequence of this pressure from wide sections of the public the PM was compelled to decry the gaurakshaks in particular while speaking at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram today. This is doubtless a positive development. However, unless such statements are followed by concrete action on the ground, these will not carry any meaning whatsoever—a point highlighted by Opposition leaders, representing the Congress, Left and Trinamul Congress.

That is precisely the point—despite yesterday’s spirited protest and the PM’s latest statement, the gaurakshaks have killed another person in Jharkhand today.

June 29 s.c.

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