Modi Distances Himself From Russia And Raps China, But Without Naming Them – Analysis


Firms up India’s relations with the US 

Without naming Russia and China, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized Russia’s on-going misadventure in Europe and ticked off China for its transgressions in Asia, in his address to a joint session of the US Congress in Washington on June 22. 

Even as he acknowledged the contribution of his predecessors, Modi said that Indo-US relations are now on a new trajectory.   

On the Russian invasion of Ukraine war, which is of great concern to Americans, Modi said: “The last few years have seen deeply disruptive developments. With the Ukraine conflict, war has returned to Europe. It is causing great pain in the region. Since it involves major powers, the outcomes are severe. Countries of the Global South have been particularly affected.”

“The global order is based on the respect for the principles of the UN Charter, peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. “

Going further, he said:  “As I have said directly and publicly, this is not an era of war. It is one of dialogue and diplomacy. And, we all must do what we can to stop the bloodshed and human suffering.”

Alluding to the other issue of interest to the US and India, namely, China’s transgressions in Asia, the Indian Prime Minister said: ” The dark clouds of coercion and confrontation are casting their shadow in the Indo Pacific. The stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of our partnership.”

On China’s threat to maritime security and to the security of other countries, Modi said, again without naming China: “We share a vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo Pacific, connected by secure seas, defined by international law, free from domination, and anchored in ASEAN centrality, a region where all nations, small and large, are free and fearless in their choices, where progress is not suffocated by impossible burdens of debt, where connectivity is not leveraged for strategic purposes, where all nations are lifted by the high tide of shared prosperity.”

To make it clear that India does not seek to contain China but only to rein it in, Modi said, again without naming China: “Our vision does not seek to contain or exclude, but to build a cooperative region of peace and prosperity.”

He saw a role for Quad in this task: “We work through regional institutions and with our partners from within the region and beyond. Of this, Quad has emerged as a major force of good for the region.”

Indo-US Relations

Modi was effusive about Indo-US relations. “The US is the oldest and India the largest democracy. Our partnership augurs well for the future of democracy.

Together, we shall give a better future to the world, and a better world to the future. But I am delighted to see you come together today, to celebrate the bond between world’s two great democracies – India and the United States. I am happy to help out whenever you need a strong bipartisan consensus.”

In a veiled criticism of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who, during his recent trip to the US, lambasted his government, Modi said: “There will be – and there must be – a contest of ideas at home. But, we must also come together as one when we speak for our nation. And, you have shown that you can do it. Congratulations!”

Further on Indo-US relations Modi said: “I know our relations are of great importance to all of you. Every Member of this Congress has a deep interest in it. When defense and aerospace in India grow, industries in the states of Washington, Arizona, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania thrive. When American companies grow, their research and development centers in India thrive. When Indians fly more, a single order for aircraft creates more than a million jobs in forty four states in America.”

“When an American phone maker invests in India, he creates an entire ecosystem of jobs and opportunities, in both countries. When India and the US work together on semi-conductors and critical minerals, it helps the world in making supply chains more diverse, resilient and reliable.”

“We were strangers in defense cooperation at the turn of the century. Now, the United States has become one of our most important defense partners. Today India and the US are working together, in space and in the seas, in science and in semi-conductors, in start-ups and sustainability, in tech and in trade, in farming and finance, in art and artificial intelligence, in energy and education, in healthcare and humanitarian efforts.”

“The scope of our co-operation is endless, the potential of our synergies is limitless, and, the chemistry in our relations is effortless.” 

Globalization and Supply Chains 

On issues of globalization and supply chains, Modi said: “A consequence of globalisation has been the over-concentration of supply chains.We will work together to diversify, decentralize, and democratise supply chains. Technology will determine the security, prosperity and leadership in the Twenty First century. That is why our two countries established a new “Initiative for Critical and Emerging Technologies.” Our knowledge partnership will serve humanity and seek solutions to the global challenges of climate change, hunger and health.”

“Every Indian Prime Minister and American President of the past has taken our relationship further. But our generation has the honour of taking it to greater heights. I agree with President Biden that this is a defining partnership of this century. Because it serves a larger purpose. Democracy, demography and destiny give us that purpose.”

Role of Indo-Americans 

Indo-Americans have been a catalyst in forging relations between India and the US, Modi said . “They are brilliant in every field, not just in Spelling Bee. With their hearts and minds, talent and skills, and their love for America and India, they have connected us; they have unlocked doors; they have shown the potential of our partnership.”

Issues in Democracy

Since it is democracy which basically binds India and the US, and since liberals in the US have been voicing concern over the growing democratic deficit and heightened Hindu majoritarianism in India under his watch, Modi delineated the salient features of democracy in India.

“We have over two thousand five hundred political parties. Yes, you heard that right- two thousand five hundred. About twenty different parties govern various states of India. We have twenty-two official languages and thousands of dialects, and yet, we speak in one voice.”

“We are home to all faiths in the world, and we celebrate all of them. In India, diversity is a natural way of life.”

He then listed the progress made by all sections of Indians under his  stewardship. ” We have given nearly forty million homes to provide shelter to 150 million people. That is nearly six times the population of Australia! We run a national health insurance programme that ensures free medical treatment for about 500 million people. That is greater than the population of South America! We took banking to the unbanked with the world’s largest financial inclusion drive. Nearly 500 million people benefited. This is close to the population of North America!”

“We have worked on building Digital India. Today, there are more than 850 million smart phones and internet users in the country. This is more than the population of Europe! We protected our people with 2.2 billion doses of made in India COVID vaccines, and that too free of cost!” 

“Nearly 1.5 million elected women lead us at various levels and that is of local governments. Today, women serve our country in the Army, Navy and Air Force. India also has the highest percentage of women airline pilots in the world. And, they have also put us on Mars, by leading our Mars Mission. I believe that investing in a girl child lifts up the entire family.” 

“The younger generation is also making it a hub of technology. Be it creative reels on Insta or real time payments, coding or quantum computing, machine learning or mobile apps, FinTech or data science, the youth of India are a great example of how a society can embrace latest technology. In India, technology is not only about innovation but also about inclusion. Today, digital platforms are empowering the rights and dignity of people, while protecting privacy.”

“In the last nine years, over a billion people got a unique digital biometric identity connected with their bank accounts and mobile phones. This digital public infrastructure helps us reach citizens within seconds with financial assistance. 850 million people receive direct benefit financial transfers into their accounts. Three times a year, over 300 million farmers receive assistance in their bank accounts at the click of a button. The value of such transfers has crossed 320 billion dollars, and we have saved over 25 billion dollars in the process. If you visit India, you will see everyone is using phones for payments, including street vendors.”

“Last year, out of every 100 real time digital payments in the world, 46 happened in India. Nearly 400,000 miles of optical fibre cables, and cheap data have ushered in a revolution of opportunities.” 

Renewable Energy 

On other indices of development Modi said: “While becoming the fastest growing economy, we grew our solar capacity by 2300%! We became the only G20 country to meet its Paris commitment. We made renewables account for over 40% of our energy sources, nine years ahead of the target of 2030.”

“During Covid, we delivered vaccines and medicines to over hundred and fifty countries. We reach out to others during disasters as first responders, as we do for our own.” 

Radicalism and Terrorism

On the universal problem of radicalism and terrorism, Modi said: “More than two decades after 9/11 and more than a decade after 26/11 in Mumbai, radicalism and terrorism still remain a pressing danger for the whole world. These ideologies keep taking new identities and forms, but their intentions are the same. Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and there can be no ifs or buts in dealing with it. We must overcome all such forces sponsoring and exporting terror.”

UN Reform

Touching on the issue of the reform of international institutions including the UN,  Modi said: “We must revive multilateralism and reform multilateral institutions, with better resources and representation. That applies to all our global institutions of governance, especially the United Nations. When the world has changed, our institutions too must change. Or, risk getting replaced by a world of rivalries without rules. In working for a new world order based on international law, our two countries will be at the forefront, as partners.”

P. K. Balachandran

P. K. Balachandran is a senior Indian journalist working in Sri Lanka for local and international media and has been writing on South Asian issues for the past 21 years.

One thought on “Modi Distances Himself From Russia And Raps China, But Without Naming Them – Analysis

  • June 25, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    There’s nothing in the above article indicating that Modi dissed Russia.


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