Is Intolerance the Magnet that Draws Singapore to Delhi?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday credited Singapore with being among the countries helping India become a global power.

This morning’s edition of The Straits Times had a report on Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan’s meeting with his Indian counterpart, Mrs Sushma Swaraj, in New Delhi.

Mr Modi is likely to visit Singapore in November when the two countries are expected to sign a strategic cooperation agreement. That, to Mr Balakrishnan, is a significant milestone.

Innocent people are being killed in India for eating beef and top writers and rationalist thinkers are becoming the target of violence for not toeing the Hindutva agenda. Mr Modi has not condemned any of the violent activities and the politics of majoritarianism in India. His party leaders are only helping fan it.

Not Just the Fringe: Dr Malleshappa Kalburgi, a Kannada scholar, was shot dead by Hindu hardliners about two months ago. He was 77 – how courageous of young fanatics to intrude into the writer’s home and gun down the defenceless Dr Kalburgi.

It is not just some fringe elements resorting to violence against those airing contrarian opinion. Mr Modi’s own ministers and partymen are leading the assault.

It is the pro-Hindu wave that swept Mr Modi to power with a thumping majority that nearly decimated the corrupt Congress last year. The Indian media also provide a platform for fanatics to appear on TV and openly advocate violence against anyone they think is antinational or anti-Hindu.

Beyond Delhi there is enormous hate towards Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal merely because he took on Mr Modi in the Lok Sabha election and does not take kindly to the BJP. It is just not the Modi devotees who spit venom on Mr Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), even those who pretend to be rationalists with no religious affiliation hate him!

Mr Kejriwal, an IIT graduate and Magsaysay Award winner, is an anti-corruption crusader. So it is not corruption that the BJP and its bhakts are against, they are just against all minorities and intellectuals.

But Mr Modi and the new India have the support of Singapore! Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in India recently, signing some deals with India. Are business interests scoring over tolerance and free thinking, values the developed world has long cherished?

G Joslin Vethakumar


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