Human rights have been the cornerstone of United States (US) foreign policy. The United States is the guarantor of the liberal world order based on the principles of democracy and human rights. It is the responsibility of the United States to restore the fundamental values of human dignity and equality everywhere in the world. However, when it comes to India, the bipartisan approach has spearheaded bilateral relations between the two states. India is rapidly losing the fundamental values of democracy; slide into an electoral autocracy.
Under Narendra Modi’s regime, identity-based politics are causing increased polarization in India’s pluralistic and secular society. His hyper-nationalist policies have already created a divisive situation within the Indian social fabric. Implemented at the national and state level, the laws and policies are driven by Hindu nationalism which poses a serious challenge to freedom of religion or belief and related rights.
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Furthermore, the repeal of Kashmir’s Special Status of 2019, Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, discrimination based on religion especially against Muslims, unlawful detentions, ban on inter-faith marriages, restriction of freedom of expression and repression of various non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, are some of the few policies that have eroded the essence of human rights in the world’s largest self-declared democracy.
The policies applied by the Modi regime are an attack on the secular principles of the Indian constitution. It is an outright violation of Article 15 which prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which calls for the freedom of conscience and freedom of profession, practice and propagation of religion. Systematic violations at the state level and increasing repression of religious freedom have led to a growing climate of hostility within Indian society.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a joint press briefing with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, said states United States “were monitoring some recent developments regarding India”. His statement came amid a rising tide of polarization in India, where minorities, especially Muslims, are persecuted. The US Secretary of State’s statement went hand in hand with the US Department of State’s 2021 National Reports on Human Rights Practices: India.
The report indicates that there are credible and significant reports of human rights violations. This is not the first incident that the United States has raised concerns about human rights abuses in India. In 2021, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom called for India to be designated a “Country of Special Concern” or CPC – for committing and condoning systematic, ongoing, and gross violations of religious freedom, such as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
Similarly, Human Rights Watch in its 2021 World Report, said that “the BJP-led government and ruling party members have continued their smear campaign against human rights defenders, frequently describing them as “agents of Soros” or “national security risks” in government. – favorable media. Thus, incidents of harassment, religion-based human rights abuses and persecution of human rights activists, journalists and students in India are frequently highlighted. However, the perpetrators’ lax accountability led ruling party members to impose harsh and discriminatory restrictions on Muslims. Attacks have continued against minorities, especially Muslims, as the world watches apathetically.
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Politically, it is no secret that the US-India strategic partnership has interests that serve both countries. This is clearly stated on the website of the US State Department which says: “The US-India partnership is based on a shared commitment to freedom, democratic principles, equal treatment of all citizens , human rights and the rule of law”. It also states that “the United States supports India’s emergence as a leading global power and a vital partner in the effort to make the Indo-Pacific a region of peace, stability and prosperity. increasing”. These statements indicate that the geopolitical interests of the two states are converging to contain China.
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For the same reason, India recently also obtained a CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) waiver after its acquisition of the S-400 air defense system. Economically, the United States overtook China as India’s top trading partner in the fiscal year 2021-22, highlighting the strengthening economic ties between the two countries. According to the Department of Commerce, in 2021-22, two-way trade between the United States and India stood at $119.42 billion.
Moreover, during the recent QUAD leaders’ summit in Tokyo, India formalized its entry into the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), to strengthen economic cooperation to counter China’s rise in the region. So, given the US-India bandwagon for colossal political and economic gains, mere concerns about India’s human rights abuses make no sense.
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These reports and statements have been part of the political discourse every year. However, long-term interests are rarely compromised. Due to political biases, the convergence of economic interests and its policy of containing China, the United States seems far from holding India accountable for its growing human rights abuses. The world has yet to see how the global champion of human rights holds India responsible for violating the principles of the liberal world order.
The author is a researcher at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad. She tweets @ZukhrufAmin. The opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Global Village Space