The central BJP that leads the country's government is in as much of a dilemma about human rights as they are about freedom and democracy. The Modi government has been unable to bring clarity on the foreign policy in the country despite having secured a second term at the centre. Even as the government adopt an adamant attitude in the matter of racial affiliation and in the policy approaches based on hatred in line with that, it fails to identify what stances would be helpful in international relations, and this has been proven by experience so far.
This is evident from the nature of the relationship the Indian state shares with its neighbours. It is understandable if it is just a matter of maintaining hostility with long-standing enemies. But, the BJP government is committing the foolishness of pushing allies too into the enemy camp. The Citizenship Amendment Act was the result of the hate for one section of society. The centre was convinced that, with the Act, it could finish its longstanding feud with its arch-enemy, Pakistan. However, the central government failed to gauge the impact of the act on friendly Bangladesh or assess its aftermath. The present exercises from conferring awards to bilateral agreements are just patchwork gimmicks of diplomacy to make good such losses. A similar confusion has come to the limelight with India's approach to Myanmar's crisis. The irony of the country bearing the tag of the largest democracy in the world standing with the agenda of the Myanmar military was discussed in this very column a few days ago. India has practically abetted to the military agenda by deciding to send representatives to the military parade organised by them after overthrowing the democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi government. Suu Kyi had that day bemoaned that the one of the largest democratic entities of the world was holding the hands of the military generals soaked with their blood.
But even more embarrassing to India is the March 26 decision by the border states on the issue of refugees fleeing Myanmar. The mutual understanding between the nations of the world is to provide humanitarian relief to those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries from civil war in their home countries. It was when the governments in Europe and in Myanmar itself violated this understanding that they faced international condemnation. However, the states of Manipur and Mizoram along the northeast frontiers have adopted the same brutal approach. Both the states have sent back the refugees. Manipur has given strict instructions to both the police and the army regarding the matter. The state governments instructed those responsible for law and order to 'politely turn away' those entering or seeking refuge in the country. The instructions stress that the district authorities cannot open camps to provide food or shelter to foreigners and they should not give permission to civil society organisations to open such camps. There is an exemption to provide medical aid for those grievously injured on 'humanitarian grounds'. These instructions have been provided to the five border districts of Chandel, Tengnoupal, Kamjong, Ukhrul, and Churachandpur.
This order pays no heed to either the international laws or the customary bilateral agreements usually practised by countries on humanitarian grounds. When widespread protests arose, this was withdrawn by the state government. However, it hasn't been clarified as to which instructions in the order have been withdrawn. Additionally, reports from the border state that the Assam Rifles have been extensively deployed at the borders to prevent refugees from entering the country.
News from Mizoram proves that the state government's stances are basically under the Centre's pressure. The instructions to provide necessary help to the refugees had to be retracted by the state government, due to the union Ministry of Home Affairs' intervention. This position of India is sending a wrong message to the world. As the former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon remarked that a Hindutva ideology-driven state which boasts of noble concepts like 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', 'Atithi Devo Bhava,' and 'Loka Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,' is practising policies exactly opposite those in their international affairs is "beyond shame".