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'A roaring lion as candidate, Modi is purring kitten as Prime Minister'

Wednesday September 19, 2018 7:45 PM, News Network

Bharat Karnad

Mumbai: Analysing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign and military policies in the context of India's evolving socio-political and economic milieu, global power politics featuring other leaders, and of Modi's persona and style of governance, Bharat Karnad in his recently launched book said "a roaring lion as candidate, Modi is actually a purring kitten as Prime Minister".

“Candidate Modi roared like a tiger, as Prime Minister he has been a purring kitten when dealing with big cats. He is showing himself as a pussycat abroad, traipsing around in the company of big cats, taking care he gives no offence to them", Al Arabiya English reported citing excerpts from 'Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition' released on August 30, 2018.

Karnad writes that Modi’s India has become America’s satellite “because serving senior Indian civil servants and military officers are suborned, in the main, by offers of ‘green cards’, work visas, and ‘scholarships’ for their progeny. It constitutes the new set of inducements to sell the national interest down the drain; secret offshore bank accounts are passe’.”

“The trouble is Modi’s tilt is less strategic than aspirational. His apparently unconditional love and admiration for America and his subaltern thinking have together imposed a low ceiling on India’s ambition. This explains why he has tolerated personal slights, from denial of US visa when he was Gujarat chief minister to, as the New York Times reported on 2 September, President Donald Trump making fun of him by frequently mimicking his accent in internal White House discussions", Bharat Karnad, a Professor for National Security Studies at CPR and author of numerous books, wrote.

“That Modi is willing to swallow such insults is his business. Preventing the erosion of India’s sovereignty, national interest and security are the Indian people’s concerns", he added.

In the chapter on Adversarial Geopolitics, Karnad scathingly writes that having been groomed by the RSS which is “disciplined and hierarchically structured”, “Modi is reflexively deferential to the US and China and their heads of government, Trump and Xi, acknowledging them and their countries as India’s and his superiors in the rank ordering of nations and leaders."

“This attitude is reflected in his foreign policy based on giving minimum offence to these two countries, as also in his respectful and placatory behavior where Trump and Xi are concerned. This fits in nicely with Trump’s and the US’s idea of their exalted place under the sun, and it confirms to the Confucian notion of order ‘under the heaven’”, he wrote.

Published by Penguin Viking, the book runs into 475 pages of independent and dispassionate analysis of India’s overlapping foreign and defense policies handled exclusively by Modi and a few ideologically fired advisors since May 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) grabbed the reins of power in New Delhi.

“Modi is concentrating on the smaller Pakistan while giving the more dangerous and challenging China a free pass. His ruthlessness uncoils only against a weak and enervated Pakistan, on the one hand, and his domestic political opponents on the other", Karnad wrote.

"One wishes he had shown as much ferocity to China and in furthering India’s national interests and strategic security. To remain distracted by Pakistan is the surest guarantee of India never making it as a great power. If Pakistan weren’t there we would have to invent it!” he added.

Karnad is also of the opinion that New Delhi must accept Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer to fast-track trade relations between India and Pakistan. At present, direct trade is measly because of hostility between the two nations but indirect trade through third countries is 10 times more. Karnad is advocating immediate formalizing of the informal trade.

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