Modi’s Address to the US Congress: Selling Gandhi-Ambedkar Abroad, Fueling Hatred At Home

Sudhir Jain

Sudhir Jain is a retired professional and an observer of current Indian and world affairs, especially as they affect equity, equality, liberty and justice.

Modi’s address to the US Congress was an interesting exercise in playing to the gallery rather than speaking from the heart and, therefore, may be worth a closer analysis for what he highlighted, suppressed or invoked and why that might be so.

Modi praised Gandhi and Ambedkar. We all know who murdered Gandhi and we all know how Gandhi continues to be hated by the RSS. But how would the Middle-East/Oil/Terrorism-fixated US Congressmen/women know that?

We all know how Ambedkar continues to rile the RSS for being a central moving force behind our Constitution that dared to treat the lower castes not just as equal to any other but gave them reservations so that they could get an advantaged playing field to make up for millennia of deprivations that they had suffered at the hands of the upper castes (and continue to do so in many areas in the country even today). But how would the Middle-East/Oil/Terrorism-fixated US Congressmen/women know that?

Modi called the Constitution as the only Holy Book that his government recognizes. Does the RSS, too? They hate the very idea of India as a diverse country especially the idea of any colour other than saffron being on India’s National Flag. Modi’s government has let loose a slew of attacks on the very idea of freedom of not just speech but on the very freedom of thought itself, most starkly exemplified by its actions on educational institutions like JNU. But how would the Middle-East/Oil/Terrorism-fixated US Congressmen/women know that?

Nowhere did Modi even mention, or refer to, the founders/ideologues of his parent organisation, RSS, like Savarkar, Hedgewar, much less their Hindutva ideologies. Is Modi too embarrassed by them and/or their ideologies or, is he afraid that the dirty little secret of rabid communalism and fundamentalism of his parent organisation, the RSS, would become known to the Middle-East/Oil/Terrorism-fixated US Congressmen/women ?

Modi’s was a speech cleverly crafted to take advantage of the general ignorance of his audience and present himself as a libertarian democrat and a wise statesman. He feigned praise for leaders that he has scorned and hated all his life, and continues to do so. On the other hand, he actively omitted to even refer to the leaders whose ideologies he has grown up on, and religiously served, for more than half a century and continues to do so and holds even more dear.

In sum, once again we had the real person hiding cleverly behind an eloquent persona, one who had very recently sold the Gujarat Model to India, but is now trying to sell the idea of a Democratic India to the USA.

India was fed-up with, and weary of, a boneless wonder and, therefore, gave Modi’s rhetoric the benefit of doubt to bring in “radical” actions/reforms and Acche Din. But that is America, a country that has never allowed the mushiness of freedom, liberty and human rights to ever cloud its clear and uncompromising focus on having only, and only, Strategic Partnerships with non-white nations.

After having spectacularly failed in his cowboy diplomacy with both Pakistan and China and having fallen flat on his face in Nepal, Modi, in this speech, has now invited the USA with wide open arms, and clearly spelled out his intentions, to embark on a 21st Century tango with that country, the past-masters of the game, no less!

Ironically, Modi praised Norman Borlaug but failed to mention what preceded the Green Revolution that he helped happen: the humiliation that the USA inflicted on India through the PL-480 as we suffered a severe food shortage in the mid-sixties.

And who in our country can forget how, in 1971, the Seventh Fleet of the US Navy ferociously converged into the Bay of Bengal and threatened to bomb Calcutta to thy kingdom come?

As there are no free dinners in the brutal world of geo-politics, are we setting ourselves up for another round of humiliation?