What’s Happening in India!

Tony Richardson reviews India: The Modi Question available on the BBC IPlayer and the book Hostile Homelands -The New Alliance Between India And Israel by Azad Essa published by Pluto Press 2023


India: The Modi Question

This pair of programmes was attacked viciously by the Indian government, which banned their showing and stopped them from being shared on social media. The BBC’s Delhi offices have just been raided by the Tax Office, and files were taken away. Thus demonstrating how far the Indian government has progressed toward dictatorship.

Together with the book reviewed below, it should help us understand changes in India over the past few years.

The first of the programmes concentrates on the period when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat. His response to communal violence was to find a way of attacking the Muslims in that state and letting the Hindu gangs have a free hand.

The programme has footage of an English group of Gujaratis, returning for a visit who get caught up in the violence at a Hindu checkpoint. One of them explains how he was beaten up by the mob and how his uncles were dragged away and then murdered, just because they were Muslims. There is a film of a man being beaten to death in front of his wife. Because there was video of the latter, the gang leader was prosecuted. Later, Modi’s main supporter had him and others released on bail, and they are still out many years later.

This was all in response to Hindus being murdered on a train.

Witnesses testified that Modi had said that the resulting Hindu mobs should be given three days to do what they wanted. The BBC reporter filmed the police and army standing back while hundreds were murdered. 2000 people were killed. Modi denied having given that order. All the people who were witnesses against him either died or ended up in prison, including a police chief.

A British Government inquiry found the Gujarati regime guilty of not defending Muslims, and there was a travel ban imposed on Modi, including by the US.

Throughout the film, Modi’s rabidly Hindu nationalist speeches are shown.

The second part deals with the period when Modi became prime minister. All travel bans have been dropped. Again, we are shown a whole series of Hindu nationalist and anti-Muslim speeches.

He pulled out of the agreement about Kashmir and Jammu’s special status, which had given them some parts of independent rule but almost meant that the military would always be there. The papers surrounding the reason for the special status in 1947 are still suppressed. This was followed by violent martial law in these states, with many people being killed.

This was followed by other nationalistic laws, where, for example, returning Hindus were given nationality but Muslims who already lived in India were not.

These sparked off riots, and pogroms.

But they also sparked off a reaction, first among students and then among huge swathes of the population, not just Muslims. It was becoming a real problem for Modi. Donald Trump came to the rescue. He visited India and addressed a huge rally, supporting and praising Modi.

These films show aspects of the present situation. The question is how the Indian independence movement lost support, and how a fascistic Hindu nationalist organisation has stepped in.

The film doesn’t answer this but is well worth watching to help understand the present situation.

Hostile Homelands -The New Alliance Between India And Israel

This very useful book follows the history of India’s relationship with Israel, from initially supporting the Palestinian cause to secretly supporting Israel, buying weapons, and then more recently, Modi’s Hindu Nationalist position and his complete identification with Israel.

The book first shows the gradual move of India, as an anti-imperialist country, from supporting Palestine to supporting better relations with Israel, particularly under Ranjiv Gandhi in 1985. We then saw the linking together of both countries’ military industrial complexes to research and produce weapons. As the Hindu nationalists moved into the ascendancy in 1996–1998, closer ties were built, and in the 1999 war with Pakistan, Israel provided India with logistics and ammunition.

Sharon visited India, and the relationship was almost complete. It just needed Modi’s election in 2014 to bring in the use of the Israeli Pegasus spying tool to attack opponents and move to a more complete dictatorship.

In the meantime, the Indian diaspora has been able to work in the US. There had been a big increase in Indian immigration into the US; at one point, 70% of skilled visas were given to Indians, particularly in the IT sector. These were mostly middle class, and when they were Hindus, they were also high caste.

The BJP elements followed the path of the Jewish lobby groups, forming bodies that replicated those agencies but also taking internships and other jobs within the Washington Complex. This turned them into a powerful force for the BJP government. They employed the same people as the Israeli lobby groups.

Meanwhile, other lower-caste Hindus, Muslims, and Christian Indians were forced to fight their own corner.

So clearly with the Trump Government and the Israelis, Modi was able to get credibility. Particularly considering he had been refused a visa in earlier years. As shown in the TV programmes, Trump was a strong supporter of his.

The author is a South African activist who has done us a real service in showing how Israel has worked its way into a role as a trusted ally. In reality, it is helping another of the major dictators of a country that also calls itself a democracy.

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