Prem Shankar Jha: Anthony Blinken Conveyed a Warning to the Modi Government But Did the Prime Minister Hear It?

In the joint press conference that ended his one-day visit to India, United States secretary of state Anthony Blinken did not try to hide the US’s discomfiture over the turn that Indian democracy has taken in the past several years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Answering a question posed by the Wall Street Journal’s correspondent, he readily admitted that “shared democratic relations and high ideals were very much a part of our conversation”.

 Since busy world leaders do not waste time having conversations on things they completely agree on, Blinken was signaling, in diplomatese, that the two sides do not see eye on the fate that has befallen these high ideals. “The relationship between our two countries,” he elaborated, “is strong and important because it is a relationship between democracies and at its core a relationship between its peoples. One of the elements Americans admire the most about India is its steadfast commitment to democracy, to pluralism, to human rights and fundamental freedoms. We see ourselves reflected in that. India’s democracy is powered by its free-thinking citizens.”

The language of diplomacy has its own conventions. One of these is to disguise admonition as praise. The former was abundantly visible in Blinken’s statements…

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