I try to avoid writing about India, my country of birth. Even though I now live and research in the United Kingdom and work for a bunch of British and American publications, I find it prudent to avoid accusations of bias. That said, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Texas event with President Trump is an instance of geopolitical significance, only matched by the amount of deliberate vitriol from the left.
The Guardian (obviously) wrote, “The US and India are two of the most populous and powerful democracies in the world. And they are both represented by far-right leaders.” The term “far-right” has obviously lost all its original meaning and now means anything an inch to the right of Leon Trotsky.
The Guardian went on to peddle the same debunked myths about anti-Muslim riots in India and the “annexation” of Kashmir before stating, “The mainstreaming of Trump is now well-known, but no one personifies the mainstreaming and normalization of the far-right better than Modi, darling of the international business community, who sells India abroad as a modern, rising economic power, while implementing a radical Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) at home.”
The Left Hates Modi The Way It Hates Trump
I carry no brief for Modi, and there are troubling concerns with some of his policies at home. Modi’s government has elevated anti-science curricula in schools. Not everything is fine and jolly in India, either. The Indian press corps is essentially the worst in the entire English-speaking world, with all the sensationalism of British tabloids and the mind-numbing shouting matches of American news.
But to call Modi or Trump authoritarian, without any media pushback, after Modi won an election with the largest mandate in human history and Trump lost an entire branch of government after the midterm elections, is of course laughable. Authoritarians are not particularly known for their love of elections, much less repeated elections, even when they lose. Ask a resident of Hong Kong if she’d rather live in China or in India or the United States, and the CNN and Guardian op-eds look silly.
But read further, and the game is given away. The Independent, a newspaper which is the British version of Salon and Jezebel combined, said Modi and Trump are similar in their “border law enforcement” policies. The left despises Modi for the same reason it despises Trump, Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison, and Bibi Netanyahu — because these leaders believe in sovereignty, nationalism, and balance of power, instead of a global rule by technocratic institutionalists.
Indian Americans, like their British counterparts, are mostly a conservative crowd. They are pro-family, socially conservative, hardworking, and overall quite successful. They also, like Japanese and Koreans before them, made an effort to assimilate into the society that welcomed them instead of holding a grudge, hating their very existence, and keeping their own cocooned culture and language.
Bobby Jindal was the first minority politician in recent times who opposed identity politics and the divisive concept of “Hyphenated Americans,” as he said that one common identity is needed for a nation-state to exist — a position for which the left mocked him. As John Yoo and Avik Roy wrote recently in National Review, while the Democratic Party thinks it has a monopoly over African American and Hispanic votes, Asian Americans are the floating group, and should be naturally aligned with conservatives. Asians are the most discriminated against in higher education and society in favor of other minority groups, and for some inexplicable reasons, the party to which they naturally belong is not actively courting them.
The History of Indian Economy and Geopolitics
But this is not about domestic politics. The Indian-American alliance is far bigger given the global geopolitical trends and the rise of China. Indian democracy isn’t perfect. But India is nevertheless a democracy and the only other natural great power in the Asia Pacific region that can, on its own, balance China due to the sheer size of its economy, navy, nuclear deterrence, space program, and most importantly a massive workforce focused on science and tech. It is also, needless to mention, one of the largest markets for U.S. trade and exports.
The history of Indian-American relations is mixed. The Indian Constitution immediately after independence from the British was heavily influenced by the American one. There’s a whole section of Fundamental Rights, for example, which is a contextualized version of the Bill of Rights.
India also was a U.S. ally up until the late ’60s, and during the 1962 Sino-Indian war, India got weapons and aid from Britain and the United States. Unfortunately, due to geopolitics and Afghanistan turning communist, Pakistan became far more important to Washington, which in turn pushed a broke India into the hands of the Soviets.
The next 30 years of socialism almost wrecked India’s economy and resulted in one of the largest one-sided brain drains in human history, with educated upper- and middle-class Indians leaving for Britain. The rot was reversed in the early ’90s with the overthrow of socialism’s command economy, but by then, the Indian administration had realized it needed to have strategic autonomy and could not rely on any superpower for its own security.
That is where we stand today. For the short-sighted, ahistoric liberals writing about Modi and Trump being authoritarian, nothing will suffice until India allows transgenders in the military, lets Pakistani-backed Islamists take control of the mountains, and until New Delhi voluntarily gives up control of Kashmir. But that is never going to happen, and to expect India to completely turn into California is a utopian dream. Liberals would wreck geopolitical alliances to promote shared values. But shared values don’t consolidate alliances, shared interests do.
Conservatives have probably finally correctly surmised that Indian Americans, much like most other Asian Americans, are a conservative bloc who are essentially politically homeless and despised by the left, as the left hates any successful and hard-working socially conservative minority group. Conservatives understand the value of a future British-Indian-American-Australian axis.
The Anglosphere is still the largest free-market group in the world, a prominent, highly educated research pool for education cooperation, and quite possibly the strongest (and most willing) military axis to balance the rise of China, bound by a shared threat perception. Nothing is currently more important than consolidating that by any means.