New Delhi: India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Monday termed the western human rights and democracy institutions “hypocrites” for downgrading India in “democracy rankings”.

Speaking at an India Today conclave, Jaishankar said the downgrade reflected the frustration of those in the West who have arrogated unto themselves the right to pass verdicts and are feeling frustrated that the current dispensation in India does not crave testimonials from them.

“It is hypocrisy. We have a set of self-appointed custodians of the world who find it very difficult to stomach that somebody in India is not looking for their approval, is not willing to play the game they want to play. So they invent their rules, their parameters, pass their judgments and make it look as if it is some kind of global exercise,” media reports quoted the Foreign Minister as saying.

In a report published by Times of India, the Foreign Minister while responding to a question about India sliding in the “rankings” by western institutes, referred to the description “nationalist” used by many abroad for the Modi government, the challenge to the legitimacy of the US presidential polls as well as the tradition of newly-elected presidents beginning their tenure by swearing by the Bible.

“We are supposed to be the ‘Hindu nationalist party’, right? We have given vaccines to 70 countries in the world. Tell me, how many vaccines have the internationalist countries given? Which one of these countries have said that while I vaccinate my own people, I will inoculate other people who need it as much as we do. Where are these people?” he asked according to the report, adding that in India, there was no questioning of election results unlike in some western countries, pointing to the January 6 invasion of the US Capitol by Trump supporters.

The report added that US NGO ‘Freedom House’ accused the Modi government of “driving India toward authoritarianism” with a “hamfisted lockdown”, scapegoating of Muslims and a crackdown on critics, and downgraded India’s status from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’.

“Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all,” the report said. Sweden’s V-DEM described India as an “electoral autocracy”.

On China, the foreign minister gave a more sobering assessment. Making it clear that it could not be business as usual between the two countries until there were total disengagement and peace on the border, he said.

“We went through a very difficult period and I think we are still not past it.” Disengagement, he said, happened in the “most close-up friction area”, but there were some areas that needed resolving. “The fact is that if the integrity and sovereignty of a country are threatened, as a government official you will do what it takes to face up to the challenge,” the minister was quoted as having said.

The report further quoting the minister said that the border stand-off with China had some tense moments but “we had belief in the military, we trusted them professionally to do what was required”.

 

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