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The Indian-American rift ever widens

The Indian-American rift ever widens

Here are 5 reasons why:
  1. Joe Biden saying no to attending India’s Republic Day Parade.
  2. The US making a big fuss over the Khalistani radical, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, in the recently concluded 2+2 ministerial dialogue between the two countries.
  3. India continuing to buy oil from Russia and growing ever closer to a country which is arguably America’s number one enemy.
  4. India and China mending their dispute, which is not to America’s liking.
  5. India keeping its options open regarding the 100+ jet aircraft that it has to buy from abroad, which again irks America.

1. In 2023, India’s Republic Day parade fell on 26 January. The US President’s State of the Union (SOTU) address to the US Congress fell on 7 February, 2023. In 2024, India’s Republic Day parade will fall on January 26. In 2024, the SOTU is slated for February or March. There really should be no conflict between the parade and the address.

Modi had extended the chief guest invite to Biden during the G-20 summit in November. Biden sat over the invite. It’s only now that we have learnt that Emmanuel Macron is coming. He was extended the invite and he accepted within the day.

India has awarded its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, to only two foreigners—Abdul Ghaffar Khan of Pakistan and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. These are steep hills to climb for any foreigner. In lieu of the Bharat Ratna, India felicitates foreign leaders by calling them to the Republic Day parade. It’s a military parade, yet Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama chose to attend it in 2015. He was looking to sell US arms to India then.

So if you want to be friends with India, you don’t reject an honour such as being the chief guest at the parade, unless you want to miff the Indians. Perhaps Biden has some other meetings lined up, but so must have Macron. Macron is not a small leader. Certainly the Indians are not happy about Biden saying no and will in all likelihood hesitate to call him again in case he wins reelection. That means a US president could go about 15 years before being invited to India’s prestigious parade. This is certainly not how friends treat each other.

2. Pannun is a US citizen. The US cares about the lives of its citizens. But what if that citizen promotes the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Canada as Pannun has done? What if he dares to down Indian civilian planes and storm our new Parliament, really a bastion of our democracy? I saw a state-run bus in Canada with a placard imploring Khalistanis to kill 50,000 Hindus.

Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, has said that India has constituted a high-level commission of inquiry to go into the US allegations over the alleged foiled plot on Pannun, but he added that it was Khalistani separatism and terrorism in the US and Canada that was of greater concern to India. The US is not treating India like a strategic partner here, like it would treat the UK. The breach between the US and India widens.

3. As if the above was not enough, India continues to buy Russian oil. This irks the US no end. India saved $2.7 billion in the first three quarters of 2023 by buying Russian oil compared to what it would have paid if it had bought Iraqi oil (which is of similar quality to Russian crude) instead.

Putin has showered plaudits on Modi for his US-independent policy in buying oil. S Jaishankar has called Russia an all-weather friend of India which has been there to save India at its times of need. How can India be allies with two visceral enemies, the US and Russia? India has shown that if push comes to shove, it will choose Moscow over Washington.

4. Galwan—the clash between India and China—happened in 2020. The US must have hoped that the situation would escalate. But India and China are deescalating. The Quad focuses on the Indo-Pacific but India’s navy is not strong enough to take on the Chinese one. The US perhaps hopes that if war comes to China, say over Taiwan, then India would attack China from up north in Ladakh. That may be a pipedream. India may not get involved in any war at all. Plus it is best friends with Russia and so is Russia with China, so Russia can be expected to pull India and China apart in case of a scuffle between them.

5. India has to buy some 100 fighter jets from abroad. When Modi visited the US in June, it seemed that the US had sewn up the deal. But that is not the case. India is still talking to the French and the Russians. That must make the Americans see red.

All in all, India and the US are not moving closer but moving apart.

Source:- Times of India