Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Comment

Ethno-nationalism will be India’s fatal flaw.

India free flag

Staff Writer, Reiss Lallie, explores Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu Nationalism and its economic and geo-political repercussions in light of the assassination of prominent Sikh leader, Hardeep Nijar.

Mr. Modi’s systemic marginalisation of Sikhs will be a defining moment for India’s ambitions of becoming the next global economic powerhouse. Whilst Sikhs comprise only 1.8% of the nation’s population, they hold a place in India’s increasingly influential diaspora – with high ranking Sikhs including Ajay Banga, World Bank president, and Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party.

Sikh’s have faced multiple rounds of oppression from Hindu nationalist governments over the years. Look no further than Operation Blue Star in 1984, whereby the Indian Army marched on the Golden Temple (the holiest pilgrimage site for Sikhs worldwide), ostensibly to remove Sikh separatists seeking asylum there. With hundreds of deaths, the effects of the siege reverberate throughout the Sikh community to the present day. 

In 2020, the BJP party passed a set of controversial agricultural bills that significantly diminished farmers’ bargaining powers – predominantly impacting Sikh farmers – giving rise to a more precarious financial situation for those affected. As a result of protests from the international Sikh community, these bills were eventually repealed, yet they underline fundamental concerns regarding Mr. Modi’s stance towards religious pluralism.

In an increasingly multipolar world, Western countries see India as a less hostile, non-aligned alternative to China, with American firms already moving operations there – think of your iPhones now reading “Made in India”.

However, whilst India claims to be a democracy (albeit a significantly flawed one, according to Freedom House), the West must not compromise its liberal values for greater economic security. It was not long ago that Mr. Modi was denied a U.S. visa before he became Prime Minister, following his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots against the Muslim community – though Modi was vindicated following investigations.

The Khalistan separatist movement seeks to create an autonomous, ethno-religious region in the Sikh-centric northern state of Punjab. Whilst this contentious movement has been protested by Sikhs for decades, it has only recently had global ramifications, following the infamous assassination of Hardeep Nijjar – the pro-Khalistan, Canadian MP shot on Canadian soil. Not only has this exacerbated already-deteriorating relations between Canada and India (with the former stating there was a “credible link” of India’s involvement in the operation), but it has also provided further impetus to the Khalistan movement.

Punjab holds a strategic location in bordering China and Pakistan, and is referred to as the “Granary of India”, for its fertile land and vast water supplies – playing a crucial role to the nation’s economy. If the separatist movement were successful, with the new-Khalistan state granted autonomy, China would undoubtedly attempt to sway the region into its sphere of influence. In order to strengthen its overland trade routes and reduce dependency on the Strait of Malacca, China would attempt to leverage its soft power into luring Khalistan into the Belt and Road Initiative (an infrastructure programme that already boasts Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan as members).

Not only will this boost Chinese infrastructure in the South Asian region, but it will also allow China to exert its soft power on these nations in the quest for economic and military dominance.

Therefore, not only would it be in the interest of Mr. Modi to ensure China does not exert its influence on Punjab, but also America, as the two global superpowers vie for hegemony in the South and East Asian regions.

India became the world’s most populous country this year, and is currently the fastest-growing economy with living standards rising to rates hitherto unseen. If Mr. Modi wishes to continue on this trajectory, he must avoid growing hostility towards Sikhs and alienating the state of Punjab, else the BJP risk jeopardising their ambitious “Make in India” plans of becoming the world’s next economic powerhouse. The Prime Minister must not put his Hindu nationalist values above the economic needs of his country.


Latest

SHAG Week banner

KCLSU & Societies

Roar talks to Victoria, a Student Wellbeing and Welfare Manager, about KCLSU’s 2024 SHAG week. Sexual Health and Guidance Week, stylised as SHAG Week,...

A PA meeting in Scandinavia A PA meeting in Scandinavia

Alumni

Editor-in-Chief Fintan Hogan profiles a charity which supports aspiring students who would be otherwise unable to attend top universities. Project Access (PA) was founded...

R-rated Culture

In this episode of Roar News Round-Up, Daisy Eastlake brings us up-to-date on the latest KCL Conservative Association controversy. We’re also joined by Anwesh...

Culture

Staff Writer Mina Yasar recommends a London tour for art lovers to embark on this February. What could be more pleasant than spending a...

London

King’s College London (KCL) has risen by two places to #46 in the world in the 2023 Times Higher Education ‘World Reputation Rankings’. The...