India/Asia/Pacific
Modi's Rafale Deal Disgrace - Asia/Pacific

Modi's Rafale Deal Disgrace

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

The Rafale Scandal is not just about Modi taking Anil Ambani along with him in his French tour in 2015, and asking the French authorities to let the deal be commenced between Dassault Aviation and buddy Ambani’s Reliance Group — without involving the Defence Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security or the state-run aerospace major HAL. Or allowing to scrap the pending Rafale deal from 2007 from a Rs526 crore per aircraft for a new 1,670 crore per aircraft one — a 300% increase. It’s a little bit more than that.

Modi is only the second Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Minister after Atal Bihari Vajpayee and only the second chance for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), (the BJP’s father org) to have a materialisation in the mainstream politics of India. Though since his taking oath, Modi and the RSS have outwardly maintained ongoing tiffs, sometimes on unfavourable appointments and at others on Modi’s economic reforms, whom they accuse of creating a jobless growth, suppressing wages, and having increased contractual labour — but in the larger picture Modi is a manifestation of RSS ideals.

But that is not all, Modi also holds with him an aura of a globalist, with a promise of dragging India out of its stagnant poverty and economic isolation to a dynamic outwardly state with a US’ pat on its shoulder. Modi’s ‘Act East’ is an ambitious yet far-reaching plan that aims to integrate Southeast Asian countries with India economically and strategically. The Mausam Project is another ambitious plan of the Modi government to make linkage with Indian Ocean littorals that share cultural oneness with India. Mausam has been graded as India’s answer to China’s Maritime Silk Road by some. Modi’s bid to gain port facilities in Bangladesh and its port project in Iran tell us about India’s outreach into the global scene too. Modi has also stretched strategic alliances with Mauritius and Seychelles by signing MoUs for building airfields and port facilities there and has crawled further into the Red Sea by seeking accommodations in the French military base in Djibouti.

Many of these projects are under completion, many are just on paper and perception, yet much of this Indian glorification is on Modi’s shoulders alone, who has dared to go where apprehensive and calculative Indian National Congress would never. So, it would be for India to think if it would like to remain pinned to this grandiose and make a run for it, or would want to revert to the slow and steady turtle-pace. And to think how an ousting of the BJP in the coming elections and the coming in of the meek Rahul Gandhi, who would be coming in with a socialist, conservative legacy behind him, would fare for it in the global scene.

On the nationalist side too, Modi has made his mark, with him have come increased hate crimes against Muslims, many have been lynched in the streets for allegedly slaughtering cows. The Ghar Wapsi Scheme has organised several Ghar Wapsi events forcing Muslims to return to Hinduism and Sikhs to return to Sikhism from Christianity, as the RSS considers Sikhism to be a part of the larger Hindu culture. And the same Yogi Adityanath, an adherent of the RSS, who was made Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, is quoted saying that ‘this campaign will continue unless conversions to other religions are banned altogether in the country’. Yogi’s placement in UP, the state with the largest number of seats in Parliament, is also a show of growing RSS reach in Indian politics, and how religious extremism will be fed further.

Kashmir is one more added to Modi’s accomplishments. Since Modi’s coming to power, ambushes and extra-judicial killings of youth in the name of counter-terrorism has increased manifolds, becoming an everyday matter. In Kashmir, every family is affected, every house has a mourning to mourn. The Modi government has also subjected the Kashmiris to another constant fear, the fear of an impending repeal of Article 35A, that will allow any Indian to buy properties in Occupied Kashmir — thereby effectively dissolving the identity of the Kashmiris and making an ‘independence struggle’ meaningless in time. If, God forbid, the BJP succeeds in doing this, this would be the BJP-solution to the Kashmir anomaly that has hitherto remained unsolvable by all other means, including war, the UN— this solution is to erase the Kashmiris as an entity altogether. It would also mean reigniting a warlike situation on Kashmir, where already protests, demonstrations and stone-pelting have become an everyday phenomenon and where already young zealots of freedom are attacking the army and the police. And it would also mean to push the Pakistani side towards taking some decisive action in the matter, a reciprocal war-by-other-means kind of action.

In all this backdrop, the Rafale Scandal and the Congress’s hype asking for Modi’s resignation, could pull down the façade of a globalist Modi. Modi’s reaching his people out with Act East and his people-centered slogans like Make in India, Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas, all become deflated once he had forsaken the Make-in-India of the 108 Rafales that were supposed to be assembled in India in collaboration with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, in his renewed deal.

And when this façade is down, we are forced to see the unseemly face of India that is home to 20.6% of the world’s poor, about 179.6 million people, and where as of 2014, 58% of the total population were living on less than $3.10 per day. It forces us to see, that behind the shiny growth indicators for India, is a divided populace, divided in social values, religious equalities and in economic benefits and in dire need of a Rescue-India.

Previously Published in The Express Tribune