Obama's caution on India: If you do not protect rights of minoritiesJune 22, 2023 20:37
There have been demands that US President Joe Biden hold Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a state visit to America, to account over the alleged erosion of democracy, suppression of criticism, hounding of minorities back in India.
So how does a US president deal with rolling out the red carpet for a dignitary in such circumstances?
Hours before the grand state reception for Narendra Modi by Biden at the White House, former president of the United States, Barack Obama, shed light on this question.
In an interview to Christiane Amanpour of the CNN, Obama said, "The president of the United States has a lot of equities. And when I was president, I would deal with figures in some cases who were allies, who, you know, if you pressed me in private, do they run their governments and their political parties in ways that I would say are ideally democratic? I'd have to say no."
"You had to do business with them, because they're important for national security reasons. There are, you know, a range of economic interests," Obama told Amanpour.
"I do think that it is appropriate for the president of the United States, where he or she can, to uphold those principles and to challenge -- whether behind closed doors or in public -- trends that are troubling. And so I'm less concerned about labels than I'm concerned about specific practices."
On India under Modi, Obama told Amanpour that raising concerns about Indian democracy must also enter into diplomatic conversations.
"Part of my argument would be that if you do not protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, then there is a strong possibility India at some point starts pulling apart. And we've seen what happens when you start getting those kinds of large internal conflicts," Obama said, here.