Former US President Barrack Obama is reported to have “privately” told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India should not be divided on sectarian lines. He is said to have emphasized how the Indian society needed to cherish that Indian Muslims identify themselves as Indians.
The question that immediately arises is that whether Mr. Obama is qualified to advice Mr. Modi on India’s unity and diversity issues, since his track record in avoiding sectarian violence in US during his eight years as President of USA was abysmal. During the period when Mr. Obama was President, many shootings due to hatred and animosity between Americans have taken took place and he could do nothing other than expressing his sadness and condolence. The violence in public life in America is continuing today with several innocent people being shot down for no reasons. What is he doing now in the USA?
When he was President, Obam could not exhibit any particular leadership qualities that could make the people view his observations on the need to avoid violence with respect and seriousness.
The worst of the development was when President Obama made a sectarian appeal to the blacks in the USA to assert themselves for their rights and privileges, while campaigning against Mr. Trump during the recent Presidential election. Obama did this even as he was in office as President of the USA. He virtually asked the blacks in the USA to vote for his Democratic party in view of their color and he expected that his background as a “not white President” would impress the blacks in the USA to vote for his party.
Given the background of Mr. Obama, one wonders whether he has the credentials to advise Mr. Modi about any issue relating to minorities in India. Even the pledged admirers of Mr. Obama would think as to whether he has any hidden or ulterior motives in making such unwarranted comments about the need to guard the interests of minorities in India in so many words, as if minorities are now oppressed in India.
The ground reality is that Indians are living with reasonable level of solidarity and unity, despite of many castes and religions practiced, different languages spoken and diversified local traditions. Occasionally issues crop up and tensions develop but these too are few considering the size, population and diversity of India. Of course, Indian media, for whatever reasons, gives a huge priority and prominence to some isolated incidents of differences in one remote corner of the country or the other and ignore several positives and healthy relationships between the people.
When people belonging to two religions live in harmony as it is happening in most of the places in India, it appears to be of no interest to a section of Indian’s media, while even a minor friction between some individuals belonging to different religions are focused as if it is a matter of highest national priority.
There is a concerted media campaign today to paint the Modi government as harboring animosity towards one or two religions and being excessively supportive of one religion. This is absolutely not true as any discerning Indian cannot but note. However, it appears that Mr. Obama wants to paint India as a country facing severe sectarian issues.
Mr. Obama seems to be interested in giving weightage to his perception that India has deep dissensions between people.
During his recent visit to India, there are hundreds of positive things happenings in the country which could have attracted his attention but he seems to have only a tunnel view and wants to look only at an angle of his choice. A former President of a mighty country like the USA is expected to have much more balanced views and perspectives, particularly on matters relating to countries like India with so many of complexities and great historical traditions.
By suggesting that India should not be divided on religious lines, Mr. Obama is implying that it is so. It is an unfair strategy and one would wish that he should be capable of exhibiting far higher level of wisdom and fair thoughts.