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          size="-2"><a class="domain reader-domain"
href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/09/why-the-trump-modi-relationship-is-so-dangerous/">https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/09/why-the-trump-modi-relationship-is-so-dangerous/</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">Why the Trump/Modi Relationship is So
          Dangerous<br>
        </h1>
        <span class="post_author_intro">by</span> <span
          class="post_author" itemprop="author"><a
            href="https://www.counterpunch.org/author/bsen0098/"
            rel="nofollow">Basav Sen</a> - March 9, 2020</span></div>
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              <p>In May 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by
                Narendra Modi was reelected in India, a development <a
                  title="many of us"
href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/opinion/modi-india-election.html"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">many of us</a>
                concerned about <a title="social, economic, and
                  environmental justice"
href="https://fpif.org/the-terrifying-implications-of-indias-elections-for-people-and-the-planet/">social,
                  economic, and environmental justice</a> denounced as <a
                  title="very dangerous"
href="https://newrepublic.com/article/154011/arundhati-roy-indias-elections-a-mockery-democracy-supposed-be"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">very
                  dangerous</a>.</p>
              <p>We were wrong. It turned out to be exponentially <i>more</i>
                dangerous than we had imagined.</p>
              <p>In its second term in office, the BJP government has
                moved with unexpected speed and decisiveness to take
                India down the road to full-fledged fascism. In this,
                they’ve enjoyed the apparent support of the United
                States.</p>
              <p>But before we examine what they did, let’s step back
                and examine the understandably loaded term “fascism.”</p>
              <p><b>The BJP’s Unapologetically Fascist Roots</b></p>
              <p>The <a title="fascist roots"
href="https://fpif.org/dig-beneath-the-worlds-far-right-governments-youll-find-fossil-fuels/">fascist
                  roots</a> of the BJP run deep.</p>
              <p>The BJP is (by its <a title="own admission"
href="https://www.npr.org/2019/05/03/706808616/the-powerful-group-shaping-the-rise-of-hindu-nationalism-in-india"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">own
                  admission</a>) a political front for an organization
                called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which
                dates back to the 1920s. B.S. Moonje, a mentor of RSS
                founder K.B. Hegdewar, visited Italy and <a
                  title="personally met"
href="http://www.sacw.net/DC/CommunalismCollection/ArticlesArchive/casolari.pdf"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">personally
                  met</a> with Mussolini.</p>
              <p>He was very impressed by what he termed the “military
                regeneration of Italy” under Mussolini, and wanted to
                recreate it in India—  but, in very telling language, he
                referred to his idea as the “military regeneration” of
                the majority Hindu community. The weaponization of Hindu
                identity by today’s BJP (and the unquestioned equation
                of India with Hinduism) goes back almost a hundred
                years.</p>
              <p>Another early RSS leader, M.S. Golwalkar, <a
                  title="praised Nazi Germany"
href="http://www.sacw.net/DC/CommunalismCollection/ArticlesArchive/casolari.pdf"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">praised Nazi
                  Germany</a> in his writings, asserting that the Nazi
                purge of Jews was intended to “keep up the purity of the
                nation and its culture,” and that this was a “good
                lesson for us in [India] to learn and profit by.”
                Golwalkar never retracted these views, and the RSS only
                <a title="belatedly rejected"
href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/RSS-officially-disowns-Golwalkars-book/articleshow/1443606.cms"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">belatedly
                  rejected</a> them after nearly seven decades.</p>
              <p>V.D. Savarkar, another early Hindu nationalist leader
                (and the <a title="architect of the conspiracy"
                  href="https://thewire.in/history/savarkar-gandhi-assassination"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">architect of
                  the conspiracy</a> to assassinate Gandhi), explicitly
                connected Nazi ideology with Hindu nationalist views
                about Muslims. He <a title="claimed in a 1939 speech"
href="http://www.sacw.net/DC/CommunalismCollection/ArticlesArchive/casolari.pdf"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">claimed in a
                  1939 speech</a> that “Indian Muslims are on the whole
                more inclined to identify themselves and their interests
                with Muslims outside India than Hindus who live next
                door, like Jews in Germany.” Note the identification of
                Indian Muslims and German Jews as the “other,” outside
                the body of the “nation.”</p>
              <p>This history is worth delving into, not for its
                academic value, but to fully understand the far-right
                political project in India as unapologetic fascism.</p>
              <p><b>Lockdowns and Concentration Camps</b></p>
              <p>The BJP government’s actions since being reelected last
                May represent a fundamental continuity with this
                ideological foundation. The best-known example
                internationally is <a title="Kashmir"
                  href="https://fpif.org/this-time-the-world-is-watching-in-kashmir/">Kashmir</a>,
                where the Indian government has intentionally escalated
                a decades-long conflict driven by Kashmiri demands for
                self-determination.</p>
              <p>The state of Jammu and Kashmir (in which
                Muslim-majority Kashmir is the most populous region) has
                long enjoyed a special legal status in India, with <a
                  title="Article 370"
                  href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Article 370</a>
                of the Indian Constitution providing the state a certain
                degree of autonomy. It’s important to understand that
                this was the condition for the state’s accession to
                India in the first place, not an act of appeasement, as
                Hindu rightists portray it.</p>
              <p>Last August, the Modi used a <a title="parliamentary
                  procedure of dubious legality"
href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/08/jammu-kashmir-narendra-modi-bjp-rss"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">parliamentary
                  procedure of dubious legality</a> to scrap Article
                370, sent even more troops to the already heavily
                militarized region, and imposed a communications
                blockade with no internet, mobile, or landline service —
                evidently to cover up horrific human rights abuses, with
                <a title="reports"
href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/08/19/india-ensure-rights-protections-kashmir"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reports</a>
                of deaths, torture, and detention (including detention
                of children) at the hands of Indian forces.</p>
              <p>The Modi government was even willing to <a title="risk
                  a confrontation"
href="https://www.livemint.com/news/world/pakistan-says-will-challenge-revoking-of-article-370-1564996777281.html"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">risk a
                  confrontation</a> with neighboring Pakistan (which
                could even lead to a regional nuclear war) with its
                actions in Kashmir. Both countries have <a
                  title="nuclear weapons"
                  href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nuclear
                  weapons</a>, and have a <a title="long history of
                  conflict"
href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/south_asia/02/india_pakistan/timeline/html/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">long history
                  of conflict</a>, much of it revolving around their
                rival territorial claims over Kashmir.</p>
              <p>The BJP government has also embarked on an overtly
                fascist project of using ethnonationalist criteria to
                define who is (and by extension, who isn’t) deserving of
                Indian citizenship. In the northeastern state of Assam,
                which borders Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the government
                required every single resident to prove their
                citizenship, claiming that there were large numbers of
                undocumented Bangladeshi migrants in Assam.</p>
              <p>Of the <a title="2 million"
href="https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/9/17/20861427/india-assam-citizenship-muslim-detention-camps"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2 million</a>
                people stripped of citizenship because of their failure
                to provide documentation (in a country in which many of
                the rural poor lack birth certificates), most are
                Muslim. And a disproportionate number are <a
                  title="transgender"
href="https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/2-000-transgenders-excluded-from-assam-nrc-list-plea-filed-in-sc-1600318-2019-09-18"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">transgender</a>
                — another vulnerable minority who can be conveniently
                scapegoated and demonized.</p>
              <p>In a move that will be eerily familiar to U.S. readers,
                the government is building <a title="concentration
                  camps"
href="https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/9/17/20861427/india-assam-citizenship-muslim-detention-camps"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">concentration
                  camps</a>to house people (including children) rendered
                stateless by design.</p>
              <p><b>Full-Fledged Authoritarianism</b></p>
              <p>Last December, the government went further down the
                slippery slope to full-fledged authoritarianism by <a
                  title="passing a bill"
                  href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-50670393"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">passing a
                  bill</a> called the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)
                that provided citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim
                immigrants from neighboring Muslim-majority countries.</p>
              <p>There are two key reasons why this represents an
                escalation, beyond what the government has done in
                Kashmir and Assam.</p>
              <p>First, in Kashmir and Assam, there’s a little bit of
                plausible deniability, even if the anti-Muslim intent of
                the government is clear. Kashmir is, after all,
                experiencing a revolt against Indian rule, so the
                government can claim that its response is for national
                security reasons. Likewise, in Assam, there’s no dispute
                about the fact that there are undocumented immigrants
                from Bangladesh (leaving aside the questions of how
                many, how one finds out who is or isn’t undocumented,
                and most importantly, how a state that values human
                rights and dignity deals with the presence of
                undocumented immigrants).</p>
              <p>With the CAA, though, the mask has come off, with
                explicit exclusion of Muslims from citizenship written
                into law. <a title="Many"
href="https://www.lawfareblog.com/indias-new-citizenship-law-and-its-anti-secular-implications"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Many</a>
                argue that it’s a <a title="clear violation"
href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-indias-new-citizenship-act-is-unconstitutional/a-51642100"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">clear
                  violation</a> of India’s <a title="secular
                  constitution"
                  href="https://theglobepost.com/2019/12/26/india-citizenship-act/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">secular
                  constitution</a>, which declares all people to be
                equal regardless of a number of criteria, including
                religious belief. Secular politics had been <a
                  title="foundational to India’s national identity"
href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/20/hindu-supremacists-nationalism-tearing-india-apart-modi-bjp-rss-jnu-attacks"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">foundational
                  to India’s national identity</a> before Hindu
                nationalist ideology started undermining it.</p>
              <p>Politically, though, there’s another factor at play.
                Both Kashmir and Assam are border states on India’s
                periphery, far from its major population centers. A
                large majority of Indians don’t live there, have never
                been there, and likely don’t know anyone from there. But
                when the government targets Muslims more broadly, the
                distant suddenly becomes real for Muslims throughout
                India, as well as for countless others.</p>
              <p>This includes other religious minorities such as
                Christians, as well as Dalits (Hindus who are lowest in
                the caste hierarchy), who, along with Muslims, have been
                <a title="targeted for violent attacks"
href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/02/18/violent-cow-protection-india/vigilante-groups-attack-minorities"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">targeted for
                  violent attacks</a> by Hindu nationalist hate groups.
                It includes all Indians who care about human rights of
                people with a different identity, or about secular
                constitutional principles and the idea of a pluralist
                state.</p>
              <p><b>Trump Comes to Modi’s Rescue</b></p>
              <p>In a hopeful sign, the CAA has been the proverbial last
                straw and sparked <a title="massive protests"
href="https://www.vox.com/world/2019/12/21/21033083/india-muslim-protests-citizenship-amendment-bill-cab-caa"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">massive
                  protests</a> throughout the country. Protesters have
                faced vicious attacks from <a title="right-wing Hindu
                  mobs"
href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/20/hindu-supremacists-nationalism-tearing-india-apart-modi-bjp-rss-jnu-attacks"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">right-wing
                  Hindu mobs</a>, with the police acting as hapless
                spectators (or worse still, joining in the attacks). But
                the intimidation and violence haven’t stopped the
                protests.</p>
              <p>In this climate of growing dissent in India, and <a
                  title="growing"
href="https://www.npr.org/2020/01/25/798858125/our-democracy-is-in-danger-muslims-in-india-say-police-target-them-with-violence"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">growing</a>
                international <a title="recognition"
href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/14/india-mounting-human-rights-abuses"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recognition</a>
                of the <a title="grave human rights situation"
href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/india-has-rights-to-peaceful-protests/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">grave human
                  rights situation</a> in the country, the Modi
                government may have been feeling under siege. But a
                powerful figure on the world stage recently came to the
                government’s rescue.</p>
              <p>U.S. President Donald Trump, in his recent visit to
                India, clearly indicated that he was on the side of the
                fascist government, making the preposterous claim that
                the BJP government “<a title="worked very hard to have
                  great and open religious freedom"
href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/25/trump-india-doesnt-take-position-caa-citizenship-law/4865556002/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">worked very
                  hard to have great and open religious freedom</a>.”
                Trump shared the stage with Modi at a <a
                  title="campaign-style rally"
href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/24/namaste-donald-trump-india-welcomes-us-president-narendra-modi-rally"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">campaign-style
                  rally</a>of 125,000 supporters, demonstrating a level
                of support that goes way beyond the usual formalities of
                a state visit. And just to drive home the point, the
                U.S. signed a <a title="$3.5 billion deal"
href="https://www.democracynow.org/2020/2/26/headlines/president_trump_wraps_india_trip_with_praise_for_35_billion_weapons_deal"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$3.5 billion
                  deal</a> with India for advanced military equipment.</p>
              <p>Words matter. Barely after Trump left India, Hindu
                nationalist mobs started <a title="openly attacking"
                  href="https://twitter.com/LailaLalami/status/1232327549495037953"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">openly
                  attacking</a> Muslim homes, businesses, and places of
                worship in Delhi, the national capital, chanting that
                India belongs to Hindus.</p>
              <p>Hate crimes and pogroms against <a title="Muslims"
href="https://scroll.in/article/860413/25-years-on-children-of-the-bombay-riots-have-forgiven-the-culprits-but-they-havent-forgotten"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Muslims</a>
                (as well as <a title="Dalits"
href="https://www.news18.com/news/immersive/documenting-violence-against-dalits-one-assault-at-a-time.html"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dalits</a>,
                <a title="Sikhs"
href="https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/anti-sikh-riots-what-happened-in-1984-and-after-1.60501721"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sikhs</a>,
                and others) often occur in India, and Modi has been <a
                  title="implicated in covering up"
href="https://www.thenation.com/article/could-indias-next-prime-minister-be-hindu-extremist/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">implicated
                  in covering up</a> one such pogrom when he was the
                leader of Gujarat state years ago. What makes this
                recent upsurge different is that it happened in the
                national capital while the global media spotlight was
                still on Delhi because of Trump’s visit. Clearly, the
                support of the president of the world’s most powerful
                country has emboldened Hindu fascist leadership.</p>
              <p>As fascism takes hold of India, it will be with active
                U.S. support. The “friendship” of the Trump regime with
                the Modi regime is disastrous for countless Indians.</p>
              <p><b>An Omen for the U.S.</b></p>
              <p>People in the United States should be very concerned
                about the Trump-Modi friendship as well, and not just
                because it represents an egregiously unethical foreign
                policy choice by the U.S. Of course it is. But it also
                has ominous implications for domestic politics in the
                U.S.</p>
              <p>The Trump-Modi friendship is not just a cynical
                decision by the U.S. to support an oppressive but
                powerful country with the world’s <a title="fifth
                  highest GDP"
href="https://knoema.com/nwnfkne/world-gdp-ranking-2019-gdp-by-country-data-and-charts"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fifth
                  highest GDP</a> and a lucrative domestic market for
                U.S. businesses to export to, or invest in. Sure, that’s
                a factor. But there’s more to the story.</p>
              <p>At its core, the friendship is about a shared far-right
                ideology. The U.S. and India are part of a growing
                number of authoritarian far-right governments in the
                world, whose members include Brazil, the Philippines,
                Hungary, and more, as my colleague John Feffer has
                articulated so clearly in a <a title="recent report"
href="https://ips-dc.org/report-battle-for-another-world-progressive-response-to-new-right/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recent
                  report</a>.</p>
              <p>The parallels between the BJP’s Hindu supremacist
                politics in India and Trump’s white supremacist politics
                in the U.S. are many — and frightening. These include
                writing <a title="Islamophobia"
                  href="https://www.aaiusa.org/the_muslim_and_refugee_ban"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Islamophobia</a>
                into <a title="law and policy"
href="https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/trump-preparing-expand-travel-ban-muslim-immigration"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">law and
                  policy</a>, <a title="dehumanizing"
href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/08/08/trump-immigrants-rhetoric-criticized-el-paso-dayton-shootings/1936742001/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dehumanizing</a>
                and <a title="detaining"
href="https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/9/17/20861427/india-assam-citizenship-muslim-detention-camps"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">detaining</a>
                undocumented immigrants (including <a title="children"
href="https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/06/child-detention-centers-immigration-attorney-interview/592540/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">children</a>),
                and <a title="criminalizing"
href="https://thinkprogress.org/trump-pipeline-protestors-20-years-texas-7d6e4e06a33b/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">criminalizing</a>Indigenous-led
                <a title="movements"
href="https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-04-30/standing-rock-three-years-and-still-fighting/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">movements</a>
                against ecologically destructive <a title="resource
                  extraction"
href="https://peoplesdispatch.org/2019/03/28/tribals-in-indias-niyamgiri-are-resisting-vedantas-bauxite-mining/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resource
                  extraction</a> (and even <a title="conflating"
href="https://www.newsclick.in/lingaraj-azads-arrest-attempt-provide-fresh-lease-life-vedanta"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">conflating</a>these
                movements with “terrorism”).</p>
              <p>The dangerous political agendas of Trump and his Indian
                fascist friends do not stop at the boundaries of
                official government policy. In the fashion of demagogues
                throughout history, both the U.S. and Indian regimes are
                adept at <a title="encouraging"
href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/02/18/violent-cow-protection-india/vigilante-groups-attack-minorities"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">encouraging</a>
                open violence by <a title="hate groups"
href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-goes-back-to-defending-his-both-sides-charlottesville-comment"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hate groups</a>
                in their political base against those perceived as
                “other.”</p>
              <p>The particular significance of these parallels for
                people in the U.S. lies in the fact that the Modi
                government in India became a lot bolder about pursuing
                its exclusionary ethnonationalist agenda in its entirety
                in its second term, viewing reelection as a mandate to
                fulfill the fevered fascist dreams of ideological
                forebears such as Golwalkar and Savarkar.</p>
              <p>In the U.S., we should be similarly concerned about the
                Trump regime being reelected in November. Yes, we have a
                government that detains children in <a
                  title="concentration camps"
href="https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/06/21/some-suburb-of-hell-americas-new-concentration-camp-system/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">concentration
                  camps</a>, writes <a title="anti-LGBTQ hate"
                  href="https://transequality.org/the-discrimination-administration"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">anti-LGBTQ
                  hate</a> into law, and openly <a title="rewards"
href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/climate/cafe-emissions-rollback-oil-industry.html"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rewards</a>
                politically favored <a title="oligarchs"
href="https://ips-dc.org/one-coal-baron-set-entire-administrations-energy-agenda/"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">oligarchs</a>
                in their pursuit of profit at the expense of <a
                  title="most of humanity"
                  href="https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">most of
                  humanity</a>. But as the experience in India shows,
                things could get dramatically worse here if the Trump
                regime returns to power.</p>
              <p>For the sake of humanity’s future, the “wider alliance
                between authoritarian and far-right political formations
                across the world” (as a <a title="politically astute
                  protester in India"
href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/24/namaste-donald-trump-india-welcomes-us-president-narendra-modi-rally"
                  target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">politically
                  astute protester in India</a> said to the media) must
                be stopped in its tracks – in the U.S. elections, and in
                global solidarity to isolate and defeat the Modi regime
                in India, the Bolsonaro regime in Brazil, and everywhere
                else that the new fascism has reared its ugly head.</p>
            </div>
            <p> <i><strong>Basav Sen</strong> directs the Climate
                Justice Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.</i>
            </p>
          </div>
        </div>
      </div>
      <div> </div>
    </div>
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