Modi In UK: What To Expect

Modi In UK: What To Expect

by Gautam Sen - Tuesday, November 10, 2015 07:33 PM IST
Modi In UK: What To Expect

Narendra Modi’s UK visit is informed by political calculation as UK realizes that India is a burgeoning international economic partner. 

Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK on 12-14 November 2015 is going to take place eighteen months after his dramatic electoral victory although even the modest Ireland managed to host him earlier. There is a little official UK comment on Modi’s pending visit although the media, led by the authoritative voice of the BBC, have pulled out all the stops to discredit him with egregious slander.

The Labour Party, aware that associating with Modi in photo ops alone will be useful when serenading Indian-origin voters, has seized the moment with both hands, engaging in some uninspired public stunts.But it remains his most vehement critic.

Its leaders opposed a visa for Modi as late as September 2013 and continue to support the Pakistani and Chinese territorial claims against India. It is widely felt that the visit of Modi to the UK is going to become a Labour party political event, for an unsuspecting Indian PM.

The key event associated with the Modi visit will be his public appearance before adoring crowds of people of Indian origin, mainly East African Asians, at Wembley stadium. There is a somewhat envious comment that no political leader will have experienced such a reception, usually reserved for rock stars at the oversized Wembley venue.

Careful preparations are afoot to organise the event, with invitations to attend through a myriad of Indian organisations and funding being raised through public donations. The chair of the committee to oversee it is the most respected Indian businessman in Europe, the redoubtable Nathu Puri, renowned in equal measure for sagacity and philanthropy. Prime Minister Modi will also meet certain community leaders and perhaps offer prayers at a temple and his visit will end with a modest gathering of the prominent at a High Commission official reception.

Modi’s visits to other countries, for all their outward display of easy warmth and friendship, have been informed by an agenda though most goals benefit both India and its host. The visits to the US, China, Australia, Central Asia and, most of all, Bangladesh, bespoke a businesslike purpose that one has come to associate with Prime Minister Modi, whether uranium supplies are being secured or the diplomatic positioning of India.

The visit to Britain is also informed by political calculation and the ruling Conservatives have extended a hand of friendship, both because Indian-origin voters are viewed as increasingly important and India a burgeoning international economic partner. Significantly, India was mentioned 17 times in the recent Conservative Party election manifesto and David Cameron is enthusiastic about India as a permanent UNSC member. Modi’s visit was also made inevitable by the clamour of Britain’s large Indian-origin population.

Nevertheless, Modi’s UK visit is low key compared to the recent state one by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was feted without respite, with the royals, ministers and celebrities mobilised on a grand scale. It ended in a pub with Prime Minister Cameron exchanging intimacies about once forgetfully leaving one of his children in it! There were token demonstrations by the Tibetan protesters but little else to unsettle the shameless bonhomie with a man whose wife sang and pirouetted to encourage soldiers who massacred at Tiananmen.Modi is less likely to experience such unctuous courtesy though he will break bread with her Majesty the Queen and meet political leaders, perhaps even deliver a lecture at Cambridge University.

There has been a protest by a host of Cambridge academics, a majority of signatories being evidently deracinate Indian staff and students, who have demanded the boycott of Modi, citing the usual outlandish canards. It is odd that such is their impassioned religiosity about the Indian PM being beyond the pale none of the acres of public refutation of their allegations jolts their cynical convictions. Echoes of Oxford University, which refused to allow a discussion on the Indian economy by Subramanian Swamy, Rajiv Malhotra and me, though it routinely hosts inflammatory religious bigotry by Jihadis. Evidently, racially inspired Olympian disdain trumps importunate Untermenschen logic.

The Modi visit is likely to be somewhat marred by vociferous protest from some trouble makers, mostly patronised by the Pakistani ISI, which is suffering deep angst because the international community has all but lost interest in its absurd territorial ambitions. But the Pakistani embassy is able to mobilise Mirpuris, the most socioeconomically backward and poorly educated of all British immigrants and an assortment of Khalistanis, also patronised by a shockingly large number of gurdwaras. The latter is now cynically expressing concerns over Modi’s record on minorities and alleging his complicity in the 2002 Gujarat communal riots.

There is also the involvement of the usual leftist cabal, with strong links to the Labour Party and its leadership, mobilising its diminishing band, which enjoys lifelong public funding as professional agitators. There is more than a slight suspicion that diverting attention towards protesters from PM Modi’s poised splendid Wembley occasion is discreetly welcomed by some in authority.

Yet it is the intimate involvement of Labour Party stalwarts with the Modi visit that causes for dismay. Indian-origin voters are abandoning the party in droves because of its unashamed hostility towards the interests of British Dharmic communities, vigorously pressing for anti-caste legislation sought by evangelists internationally. It is already turning out to be catastrophic for the community, as a profoundly unjust recent judicial outcome has amply demonstrated.

The Labour Party also supports the Pakistani demand for a plebiscite for J&K. Its leader Jeremy Corbyn has just rescinded his puzzling initial signature of consent to an Early Day Motion, sponsored by a Conservative MP, in support of Indian views on the dispute. Some Labour MPs, regarded as the most reprehensibly hostile to the interests of the British Dharmic community, have cynically climbed on to the Modi bandwagon. They will be seen at Wembley alongside the much-loved Indian PM, a cause for distress to his most vigorous defenders.

Dr. Gautam Sen is President, World Association of Hindu Academicians and Co-director of the Dharmic Ideas and Policy Foundation. He taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades.
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