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Narendra Modi’s fascism will complicate India’s place and power in a larger BRICS formation


Dr Imraan Buccus is a senior research associate at the Auwal Socio-economic Research Institute and a postdoctoral fellow at Durban University of Technology.

BRICS would certainly be strengthened if countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia joined — but it’s hard to see how this wouldn’t destabilise the project given the inevitable tensions with the Hindu fascist regime in Delhi.

BRICS is a complicated beast. On one hand, it offers the first real possibility for building a multipolar world since the Bandung Conference of 1955. Breaking the Western stranglehold on the global economy, the reliance on the US dollar for global trade and the capacity of the US and its Western allies to bomb, invade and sanction countries at will would be a major step forward for the Global South.

Read more in Daly Maverick: The BRICS Summit in Johannesburg — everything you need to know

But, at the same time, a good number of the current BRICS members, along with potential new members such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are authoritarian states.

The BRICS summit has seen oodles of controversy. Many white commentators in South Africa are hostile to the project, and such sentiment exploded when it seemed that Vladimir Putin might attend, despite the International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest. We were treated to the ridiculous spectacle of the DA threatening to arrest the head of a foreign state.

But the deeper issue at play is that the US is losing its global power and sees Russia and China as its key rivals. There is also potential rivalry from Brazil as Lula da Silva works to rebuild Latin American solidarity and autonomy. But while the US has a long history of backing coups against left-wing governments in Latin America, its current geopolitical strategy sees Russia and China as its key enemies.

Oppression in India

India is a very different kettle of fish. It has long been an ally of the West, so the fact that it is now an authoritarian country is seldom raised by pro-Western media and commentators. While India is a close ally of the US, and Israel, it also has ambitions for its own global power. It does not wish to be a client state of the US like Rwanda or Kenya.

India’s ambitions mean that it is attracted to the idea of asserting its power within BRICS and the rising Global South. It is going to be interesting to see how India balances its competition with China and relations with Russia and the US while being part of the BRICS project.

Read more in Daily Maverick: India not opposed to BRICS expansion — if the criteria for membership are ‘clearly defined’

Once referred to as “the world’s largest democracy”, India is a growing economic and political power. However, under Narendra Modi and the wider Hindu fascist project, it has rapidly transitioned from a secular state to a Hindu extremist state.

Today’s India is highly Islamophobic and openly bent on erasing its Muslim heritage. Muslims are now de jure rather than de facto citizens, and Christians, Sikhs and other religious minorities also face rising discrimination. In the words of internationally acclaimed Indian author Arundhati Roy, “you are seeing … a sort of fragile flawed democracy transitioning pretty openly, pretty brazenly, into a criminal Hindu fascist enterprise”.

Recent events in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where India is forcibly injecting Hindus into Muslims’ lands, and in the state of Manipur, where Christians are being killed and churches burnt by Hindu extremists, have escalated the already very dangerous situation for minorities in India.

On the eve of Modi’s visit to France last month, the European Parliament passed a strongly worded resolution against fascism in India. MEP Pierre Larrouturou said: “In Manipur, for the past two months, we have seen monstrous violence. Over 120 people died, 1,700 homes have been devastated. 250 churches have been destroyed, 40,000 people have fled for their lives.

Manipur is no exception. In Kashmir, the situation is even worse: torture, disappearances, arbitrary detentions.”

He added that, in the West, “Modi presents himself as the heir to Mahatma Gandhi, the great soul. But in reality, in India, there are millions of Christians and millions of Muslims who suffer every day. The government doesn’t respect fundamental rights and puts forward a Hindu nationalist discourse that is absolutely scandalous, alongside an unbearable use of law enforcement.”

A good number of the countries that are keen to join BRICS are Muslim-majority countries. While the West relentlessly drums up opposition to Russia and China for these countries the real antagonist within the Global South will be India. How this will play out is not clear, but it’s difficult to imagine any Muslim-majority country ceding any sort of leadership to India.

BRICS would certainly be strengthened if countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia joined, but it’s hard to see how this wouldn’t destabilise the project given the inevitable tensions with the Hindu fascist regime in Delhi.

India will not abandon its commitment to Hindu supremacism for as long as Modi and the BJP are in power. An expanded BRICS will be fraught terrain for India. Will the country try to navigate that complexity? Or will it realise that it will have to stay allied to the US and Israel, and give up its aspirations for leadership in the Global South? DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29. DM168 is available for sale at all retail stores from Saturday, 19 August.


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  • André Pelser says:

    No question that Modi is a fundamentalist Hindu and that BJP policies discriminate against muslims, christians and other minority groups. But India, with its caste system, is not a democracy. Freedom of choice, equal opportunity/participation and the rule of unbiased law are the foundation of democracy. The thrust of global politics is not about democracy, it is about power, security and economic interests. India’s authoritarianism is no different to that of many other potential BRICS members, notably Egypt, also abuse of state levers of power. The search of a more just multipolar global order is necessary. Trading in dollars and Euros is debilitating for countries relying on raw material exports for their economic growth, the exploitation of exchange rates is rightly described as ne0-colonialism and – mercantilism. The search for a fairer share of global wealth may be chimerical but will, for the foreseeable future, be an inescapable part of the political scene, domestically and globally.

  • Elia Gideon says:

    Very contradicting column it seems that you have personal issues with India, Is india so bad than Russia which is bombarding civilian infrastructire and killing civilian in Ukraine. Are christian have even little freedom in China,
    How you ridicule Kenya and Rwanda in your presentation
    How about the SA ANC supporting putin?? How about police killings and brutality in Brazil???
    You make me ask my self what is the purpose of Bricks? To be ant West or what??

    Any way despite the fact presented in your argument but it has a lot of flaws


  • Michele Rivarola says:

    And despite all the criticism India is the only BRICS that is still relevant and has a plan on how to extricate itself from its historical caste system without denying its roots. Watch this space as Russia is irrelevant, China is becoming irrelevant and Brazil and SA were never relevant to start off with. All thi whilst India will become the future superpower.

  • Matthew Hall says:

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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