United States President Joe Biden is likely to bring up deterioration of democracy in India but he will not lecture Narendra Modi on the subject, Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor of the United States, told reporters on Tuesday, 20 June.
When the US sees challenges to the press and religious or other freedoms, "we make our views known" but "we do so in a way where we don't seek to lecture or assert that we don't have challenges ourselves," he further added.
Prime Minister Modi is currently on a state visit to the US. He is scheduled to address a joint meeting of the House and the Senate on Thursday, one of the highest honors the US government affords to foreign dignitaries.
However, a number of lawmakers belonging to Biden's Democratic Party have raised concerns about Modi's human rights record and have urged Biden to raise the matter with Indian Prime Minister.
In a letter sent to the White House On Tuesday they wrote, "A series of independent, credible reports reflect troubling signs in India toward the shrinking of political space, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organizations and journalists, and growing restrictions on press freedoms and internet access."
The letter, led by Pramila Jayapal and Chris Van Hollen, was signed by 75 Democratic senators and members of the House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who though didn't sign the letter, wrote on Twitter that she will boycott Thursday's joint address.
"It’s shameful that Modi has been given a platform at our nation’s capital—his long history of human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, targeting Muslims & religious minorities, and censoring journalists is unacceptable. I will be boycotting Modi’s joint address to Congress."
Congresswomen Ilhan Omar too tweeted saying she will boycott the address. She wrote,
"Prime Minister Modi’s government has repressed religious minorities, emboldened violent Hindu nationalist groups, and targeted journalists/human rights advocates with impunity. I will NOT be attending Modi’s speech. I WILL be holding a briefing with human rights groups to discuss Modi’s record of repression and violence."
However, Sullivan said that the right domain to decide the course of democratic institutions in India was the country and its citizens. "Ultimately, the question of where politics and the question of democratic institutions go in India is going to be determined within India by Indians. It's not going to be determined by the United States," he said.
After this arrival on Tuesday, Modi held talks with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, investor Ray Dalio, Lebanese-American essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb, senior World Bank official Paul Romer, and Indian-origin singer Falu Shah.
On Wednesday, he led the Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
It is believed that Washington wants to consolidate its relationship with New Delhi as a pivot to China. However, Sullivan said Modi's visit was not about India's neighbour.
"This visit is not about China. But the question of China's role in the military domain, the technology domain, the economic domain will be on the agenda," he said.