INTERPOL General Assembly — The Tale Of Furthering Indian Democratic Values
The event signified India’s democratic ethos and the Modi government’s approach to leveraging international platforms for furthering India’s interests in setting the agenda and strengthening democratic values.
Just before Diwali, India hosted one big international event, the INTERPOL General Assembly.
The grandeur of the event, organised at Pragati Maidan of New Delhi and the agenda set from Indian side, was lost in the Diwali fanfare.
But the event signified India’s democratic ethos and the Narendra Modi government’s approach to leveraging international platforms for furthering India’s interests in setting the agenda and strengthening democratic values.
On 18 October, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the 90th General Assembly of INTERPOL, the inter-governmental police organisation, which helps in resolving law and order problems with cross-border crime footprints.
The general assembly is the highest decision-making body of INTERPOL. In his speech, Prime Minister Modi emphasised that “(Indian) police forces not only protect people but also serve democracy”.
In the closing ceremony, Home Minister Amit Shah spoke about how there was a deep thinking on jurisprudence and penal policy in Indian thoughts and that the principle of ‘amicable justice and due punishment’ had been accepted in all Indian texts on the criminal justice system.
Both, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, have stressed on democratic policing record of India to establish peace and stability.
The Home Minister also drew attention towards terrorism and narcotics — common threats to global democratic traditions — mentioning these words 18 and nine times respectively.
He suggested establishing real-time information hotlines specifically among counter-terror and anti-narco agencies of member nations.
The General Assembly ended with a series of resolutions to further strengthen INTERPOL’s network and capabilities as the organisation heads into its centenary year.
The four-day conference in New Delhi saw the launch of the INTERPOL Metaverse, the first specifically designed virtual reality aid for law enforcement agencies worldwide.
The Indian hosting year steered the organisation — a key support for maintaining international democratic traditions — towards use of technology.
Deriving inspiration from the speeches of the Prime Minister and Home Minister, the organisation recognised how technology is both an aid as well as a challenge to democracy.
The organisation took the first steps towards embracing emerging technologies itself, which would help in bringing its experience to the fore in international crime tracking.
A deeper examination reveals that the ideas propagated in this event are closely associated with the Indian conceptualisation of democracy.
After Prime Minister Modi assumed office in 2014, he has been unequivocal in his championing the stories and strengths of Indian democracy.
His approach has been to set the agenda on global forums and showcase the best of Indian traditions, also establishing that India is governed by and lives by longstanding civilisational values.
The approach has helped in positioning India’s views more strongly and clearly on the global stage.
Traditionally, Indian polity as well as the commentary emanating from the Indian strategic community has been a vocal mimic of Western liberal narratives.
The international organisations work very much by the rules set by an international bureaucracy and Indian opinion makers have embraced blind adherence to this set-up.
Prime Minister Modi has shifted the balance of discourse not by complaining about the situation, but by proactively putting on the pedestal, India’s traditional knowledge systems, their relevance for the modern society.
He integrated his messages with the themes that matter in today’s world like global anti-terror cooperation, environment protection and leveraging technology.
One example of this ‘poly-pivot’ of Indian thought process reflected in how Home Minister Shah narrated the experience of fighting insurgency, separatism and terrorism.
The peace and stability established in North-East India and Central India are the remarkable examples of peace and reconciliation led by democratic policing.
Since 2019, the Indian Home Ministry has signed multiple peace agreements, be it Bodoland agreement, Bru agreement, Karbi Anglong Agreement or NLFT agreement.
Apart from surrender of 9,000 armed cadres, these agreements are marked by devolution of powers, empowerment of self-governments and protection of local identity, language and culture.
Kashmir also saw emergence of more than 30,000 elected representatives to local bodies, post removal of article 370 and 35A.
At Interpol platform, Shah described the government’s intent to create national databases of serious crimes like terrorism, narcotics and economic offences.
He also cited the epic Mahabharata and indicated that the control of criminal activities provides peace and stability for effective governance.
This seamless continuity of thought from Mahabharata to metaverse is India’s true strength. The Modi government has not just enabled but unapologetically amplified it.
The logical next step of this transformation where India is actively reaching out to the world is to bring the same vigour and self-belief to India’s foreign policy.
This should become the overriding priority for Indian diplomats. India will need to develop the same self-confidence when dealing with the world on its home turf.
The world is not going to let Indian development story run without an active challenge. Such an approach requires India’s foreign policy mandarins to be less squeamish.
It is an obvious fact that nations keep evolving. Pertinently, in the last three decades, more than half of the world's countries have re-written their constitution.
Most of these countries were characterised by low levels of economic growth and numerous chasms of race, religion, and ethnicity.
These countries would have much to learn from India. But this is only possible if India — and her global faces themselves — stop looking at Anglosphere as the solely successful nation-state model.
The Modi government has left no stone unturned in ensuring that Indians learn to see India though a prism of our own civilisational history.
As soon as the critical mass of Indian foreign policy mandarins catch up, initiatives like INTERPOL General Assembly will become the business as usual way of bringing Indian influence to the global stage.
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