The stunning victory by the BJP in India’s election has sent political shockwaves. No more are these being felt that in that beacon of freedom the United States. President Obama was one of the first to congratulate the new incoming Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi He also invited the new Indian Prime Minister elect to the White House .Yet it was America that in 2002 banned Narendra Modi from even being allowed into the country because he had apparently flouted democratic principles as chief minister of Gujarat. An unholy axis of right-wing extremist evangelical Christians, radical Islamists and Indian left-wing fundamentalists pressured the Bush administration to ban someone who was likened to a modern-day Hitler. Because western nations still suffer from crass ignorance about Indian society, politics and civilisation that ban was imposed without a second thought.
India has been the world’s largest functioning democracy. Yet a democratically elected leader of an Indian state was prohibited from entering the country. The ban is still in place although because Modi is now the elected leader of the world’s largest democracy, and won by landslide which most western politicians can only dream of, that ban might be rescinded. But is that enough?
Should the USA not apologise unconditionally for instituting this insulting measure in the first place? Was the ban put in place for reasons of human rights? Human rights has played no part granting China most favoured nation trading status. China has always had the red carpet rolled out for it despite the ethnic cleaning of Tibetan and other minorities, as well as the horrendous sweatshop conditions of its masses who are denied even the right to protest against their communist government. Human rights issues have not impacted one iota on the USA’s close ties with Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy which does not even give the pretense of being democratic.
Like Saudi, Pakistan, which has conducted a war of terror against India for decades, was co-opted under its military dictator into an alliance which was supposed to fight terrorism and defend democracy. They join a litany of sinister and nasty figures such as Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Mobutu of Zaire, Francois Duvalier of Haiti, John Vorster of South Africa, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, and Suharto of Indonesia. America welcomed such people as defenders of freedom when they starved, robbed, slaughtered and crushed the aspirations of millions of their own people.
Modi has done none of this. The only reason for the ban on Modi is that he is a Hindu. He was not only cleared by the judicial system of any wrong doing but actually sent in police to quell the disturbances. Yet none of this has been taken into account.
So if the US is very serious about starting a strong political relationship with India then wouldn’t it better first to apologise to its new prime minister ? Or let bygones be bygones and lets move forward ?