On the eve of US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J Austin’s visit to India, the Chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SRFC) Bob Menendez urged Secretary Austin to raise concerns about India’s “deteriorating situation of democracy.”
Secretary Austin’s visit, which started on 19 March, is the maiden visit by a high-ranking member of the Joe Biden administration and he is expected to meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and other senior national officials.
“Getting the US-India partnership right is critical to addressing 21st-century challenges, and that includes urging the Indian government to uphold democratic values and human rights.”Bob Menendez, Chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in his letter to US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J Austin
The criticism is certainly not the only comment on India’s democracy, the most recent coming from a US-based human rights watchdog Freedom House, which slated India from “Free” to “Partly Free” in its annual report on global political rights and liberties.
The Centre termed the Freedom House report as “misleading, incorrect, and misplaced.” Minister Jaishankar further slammed the report and called out the outlets for their “hypocrisy”
The letter from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is a very influential government body on US foreign policy, does raise questions on how the Centre should handle criticism from external bodies and governments and where its response is warranted.
To discuss how the Indian government should engage its foreign critics, in today’s episode, we speak with Vivek Katju, who served as the former secretary (West) at the Ministry of External Affairs.