24 May 2023
The spectacle on tonight’s ABC news of visiting Indian Prime Minister addressing a rally in Melbourne sent shivers up my spine.
I had realised that Modi was acting as a Hindu nationalist, and doing quite bad things to Muslims Sikhs and other minority groups. He was and is using religion as a way of increasing his vote as over 80% of Indians are Hindu. But in a country of 1.3 billion people are lot are not Hindu, and areas in the North of the country have been suppressed, with the historic separation of Pakistan and Bangldesh (formers called East Pakistan), as well as problems in Sikh Kashmir, where the people actually want independence from both Hindu India who controls them and Muslim Pakistan who wants to.
Modi has used very authoritarian tactics, but has got away with it because the Indian economy has done well.
Australia is very pro-India at present as the China trade embargos have meant that we are looking to diversify our markets and a rising nation with 1.3 billion people looks just the ideal partner. Not to mention defence ties, though India has traditionally tried to create a group of non-aligned nations to cool whichever Cold War is going on at the time.
But the rally in Melbourne as shown on ABC News tonight had a huge stadium shouting with Modi in the centre like a rock star. Our Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said that the last time he saw this was a Bruce Springsteen Concert and the crowd were more adoring of Modi than they had been of the Boss, Springsteen. They also hugged, like footballers after scoring. But it went on. Modi stood alone in the centre and addressed the crowd in their own language. It was doubtless staged for the Indian elections which are next year. It seems that our government was complicit. It is very hard to think that they were unaware of what was being organised, and their part was as direct an endorsement of Modi personally as could have been done.
Having kow-towed to the US on defence last week, and mumbled a few platitudes about Julian Assange, this was another example of the Albanese government being very weak on human rights, or even standing up for anything. We should have been friends with India without such a party-political statement.
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