Monopoly-controlled mainstream media in India crossed all limits of flattery in projecting PM Modi’s recent state visit to US from 21 to 23 June last. Before his departure, Modi said: ‘‘This special invitation is a reflection of the vigour and vitality of the partnership between our democracies.’’ The visit would put on full display the ‘‘deep and close partnership’’ between the US and India, the White House said. Photoshoots of Modi right from his departure for US until back in India were telecast round the clock alongside the narration of such a visit being historical and a matter of pride for India. President Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet for Modi. He and his wife also hosted a private dinner for Modi in the White House, day before the official state dinner. All these private and state dinners hosted with much fanfare also got extensive media coverage. And in keeping with the tradition, this state visit involved more grandeur and ceremony than an official visit. An impression was sought to be created by the ruling RSS-BJP camp that this visit of Modi to US, his second during his prime ministership-the first one titled ‘Howdy Modi’ was during presidentship of Donald Trump three years back-was an event that the Indian people should rejoice over, forgetting all their misery, penury, deception and deprivation because the strategic and economic benefits achieved by this visit would benefit them immensely.
But what has been the reality? Did the visit have anything to do with people’s interest, whether of India or US? Or it was prompted by some other necessity that has no connection with improving the lot of the suffering people? A focus on the deliberations during the visit and the joint statement issued by both the sides on 22 June 2023 bore eloquent testimony of the purpose of the conclave.
Joint statement during the visit
‘‘The U.S.-India Comprehensive Global and Strategic Partnership is anchored in a new level of trust and mutual understanding and enriched by the warm bonds of family and friendship that inextricably link our countries together’’, mentioned the joint statement at the very outset. Behind this over-espousal of bonhomie between the two, what lurked in the background was the necessity of both the sides, not about ‘democracies’ as the leaders prattled on and on but driven by chilling direct or indirect war-monger interests by formidable imperialist powers, to strengthen, among other things, military cooperation. The joint statement categorically emphasized that ‘‘The U.S.-India Major Defence Partnership has emerged as a pillar of global peace and security. Through joint exercises, strengthening of defence industrial cooperation, the annual ‘‘2+2’’ Ministerial Dialogue, and other consultative mechanisms,… The leaders appreciated the strong military-to-military ties, mutual logistics support, and efforts to streamline implementation of foundational agreements. …information sharing and placement of Liaison Officers in each other’s military organizations …They also reiterated their resolve to strengthen maritime security cooperation, including through enhanced underwater domain awareness. The leaders welcomed the launch of dialogues in new defence domains including space and AI, …adoption of a Defence Industrial Cooperation Roadmap, which will provide policy direction to defence industries and enable co-production of advanced defence systems and collaborative research, testing, and prototyping of projects. Both sides are committed to addressing any regulatory barriers to defense industrial cooperation. The leaders also noted the decision of India’s Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defence to commence negotiations for concluding a Security of Supply arrangement and initiate discussions about Reciprocal Defence Procurement agreement… welcomed the setting up and launch of the U.S.-India Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X)…(which) will facilitate joint defence technology innovation…The US Department of Defence Space Force has signed its first International Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Indian start-up 114 AI and 3rdiTech….President Biden and Prime Minister Modi welcomed India’s plans to procure General Atomics MQ-9B HALE UAVs….which will be assembled in India, will enhance the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) capabilities of India’s armed forces across domains. As part of this plan, General Atomics will also establish a Comprehensive Global MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facility in India to support of India’s long-term goals to boost indigenous defence capabilities… we (will) work through a range of multilateral and regional groupings …to contribute toward a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific…’’.
Other defence and business deals
Also signed was a MoU between General Electric of US and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited of India for the manufacture of GE F-414 jet engines in India which will be for Light Combat Aircraft Mk 2 that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited produces. This trailblazing initiative to manufacture F-414 engines in India will enable greater transfer of US jet engine technology than ever before. Other business deals signed were in regard to space technology and venturing on the moon, as well as liberalization of bilateral trade by opening up their respective markets to each other on a larger scale. US industrial giants have also committed investment in semiconductor technology and chip manufacturing in Gujarat, Modi’s home state. Thus, it is evidently clear that strengthening defence pact and boosting arms trade were the focal point of much-trumpeted ‘co-operation and friendship’ between the two sides, while other bilateral business deals would benefit both Indian and US corporates and multi-nationals. Some of the top monopolists of India like Ambani, Mahindra and others had accompanied Modi on this tour and reportedly had fruitful discussions with their US counterparts in boosting mutual interest through various commercial ventures, particularly in the area of arms manufacturing.
Why this unilateral stress on military and allied industries
But why is this almost unilateral stress on defence cooperation? Is it that either India or US is on the brink of getting embroiled in a large warfare? Is it that modernizing defence industry in India has primacy over all other things, including effective steps to give some relief to the toiling millions back-broken by hunger, starvation, rising prices, mounting unemployment, job loss, fall in income, non-availability of proper education and healthcare and absence of social security? The answer is, Yes. To the ruling bourgeoisie of all imperialist-capitalist countries, militarization of economy is the prime necessity today.
Long back great Stalin had talked of ‘‘subjugation of the state machine to the monopolies’’ in the imperialist-capitalist world and said, ‘‘The main features and requirements of the basic economic law of modern capitalism might be formulated roughly in this way: the securing of the maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of the given country, through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries, and, lastly, through wars and militarization of the national economy, which are utilized for the obtaining of the highest profits’’. (Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR) Elaborating further, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Founder General Secretary, SUCI(C) and an outstanding Marxist thinker of the era, said, back in1962, that ‘‘…the imperialists …are making desperate attempts to get out of the burning pyre… by having recourse to frantic rearmament and militarization of industry …True, it is much like a drowning man catching at a straw. Nevertheless, the imperialists are doing all this to stave off the crisis and maintain the boom of the capitalist market, at least temporarily, by artificial stimulation of increased military consumption… The imperialists have, in fact, gone the whole hog in their preparation for war, breaking all their past records of arms race…more acute will be the crisis of economy, the ruling class … (will) proceed with arms race.’’ (‘Call of the Hour’, SW Vol II)
He further explained in 1966 that ‘‘If there is no market abroad and if an internal market too cannot be created to some extent then what would happen to the steel that is being continually produced? The steel would stockpile at once, the shifts would close down, the steel plants would have to face closure. That is why is this beating of war drum. War is to be waged, that means, arti-ficial stimulation is to be created in the market by increasing the military budget—the government would itself consume a part of the steel produced as the buyer. Besides, the government would try to rescue to some extent the engineering industries by placing orders. The Indian capitalists cannot do without creating an artificial stimulation in the market in this way, increasing the military budget and defence industries for this purpose….the whole structure of the US economy is standing on quicksand. It is anyhow surviving by creating local and partial wars here and there throughout the world. They have termed such military brigandage in other countries as fight for peace. But students of economics know, peace is their grave, their death. They must have war here and there with this or that country, local or partial war, even if not a world war. So the democratic USA of Abraham Lincoln has stepped into the path of international brigandage. Why so? Because the problem facing them is even graver. They have no market. But they have surplus capital. Capital cannot remain idle. If it does, the economy is subjected to inflationary pressure. So, they are investing capital in continual augmentation of armaments through militarization of the industries.’’ (‘Independence on 15 August and Problems of Emancipation of People’, SW Vol III)
What he analysed six decades back has been proven true on every count today. Because any phenomenon when analysed on the anvil of correct Marxist methodology, does bring out the truth. Same is the case of pressing need of militarization of economy of decadent moribund capitalism-imperialism now in its death throes.
Political exigencies also bind US and India together
So, it has been a pressing necessity for both US and India to promote arms industry on a bigger scale and acquire commanding hold on space technology, not for venturing into the cosmic world, but to fine-tune espionage through satellites and rehearsal for star wars. But there are other reasons as well. Hitherto, India was more dependent on Russia for procurement of armaments. But now the Indian imperialist rulers find that US has advanced much ahead of Russia—now an imperialist country after sad dismantling of socialism due to intrigue by defeated bourgeoisie, aided and abetted by the revisionist leadership and imperialist-capitalist powers—in so far as production of latest sophisticated weapons are concerned. Moreover, as an imperialist force, Russia is sinking because of various reasons. The ongoing war that Russia has launched in Ukraine, is also one of the evidences of its weakening. The way Russia is facing stiff opposition from Ukraine in military combat indicates that it has highly overestimated its military strength.
Indian rulers have noticed it for quite some time.
Secondly, China, another formidable imperialist power after completion of counter-revolution in 2004, has appeared as a powerful contender in the field of establishing supremacy over the world. Also, China has emerged as a most sought-after destination for establishment of production hubs by most of the monopolists and multi-nationals because of cheap labour and liberal business rules. Hence, international trade does have a dependence on China which gives that country an edge in global diplomacy as well. China also is very strong militarily, having capacity to take on any of the classical Western imperialist powers, let alone India. Despite all attempts including the setting up of around 750 military bases all over the world and particularly the Pacific region, US is still not in a position to stem Chinese domination in the Indo-Pacific zone. So, US needs India as partner in containing China. Reciprocally, India now dreaming of becoming the third largest economy within a few years, as claimed by PM Modi in his speech to the Joint House of US Congress, is also aspiring to match China, if not overtake it in the days to come, both economically and militarily. For that also, India needs to cement ties with US in both the areas.
Thirdly, the US imperialists have long been on a mission of establishing its political hegemony in the Middle-East to control the oil industry there and in other countries or regions of strategic interest. For that, they did not hesitate to militarily occupy sovereign Iraq, kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, assassinate Libyan President Qaddafi, bring Afghanistan under their command by deploying army, target Sudan and divide that country, launch proxy war in Syria and push Zionist Israel to pound Palestine and Yemen. However, because of their persistent overlordism and brigandage, an anti-US sentiment has slowly developed in that region. Since Former President Bush declared a ‘‘war on terror’’ in 2001 after the attacks on World Trade Centre in New York, there has been an evident footprint of the U.S. in the Middle East, and many have grown to despise its presence. Even continuous support of US to Israeli aggression on Palestine people has upset many Arabs even further as they believe that the US is intervening in their internal affairs only for its gain, especially with respect to oil. Arab citizens only see the country sending its military and secret operatives to their homeland. They do not feel safe from the self-interest of the US. So, anti-US protests surged forth. People in the streets were found burning American flags and screaming anti-American chants. They also highlighted the riches that many Americans have, while much of the Arab population is living in poverty. Many governments in the Middle East angrily blame the US for all of their problems.
US needs India to contain global influence of China, both militarily and politically
Sensing that, China has been befriending the Middle-East countries with liberal aid and financial assistance. Although hitherto focused on economic engagement in the Middle East, China, in recent months, has indicated a greater willingness to engage in regional conflict mediation. The Saudi-Iran normalization agreement, brokered in Beijing, speaks to China’s growing involvement in regional political and security issues. Chinese officials have also expressed interest in de-escalating the Israel-Palestine crisis and renewing the Iran nuclear deal. There is a talk going round that China might replace US as the leading outside power in the Middle East, with Russian hold decimating considerably in that region. So, the US has been trying to shift its strategic focus towards the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Europe.
On the other hand, India cherishes fairly good relations with many Middle-East countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and even Israel. India has always considered the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of seven major Arab countries an essential economic partner, benefiting from hydrocarbon imports and remittances from Indian expatriates. The prospect of these deeper connections in the Middle East was initially unveiled in 2021, as India, Israel, and the UAE forged what is described as an ‘‘Indo-Abrahamic alliance’’. So, US is currently striving to merge its Indo-Pacific strategy, which involves curbing China’s expansion in that region, with its engagement in the Middle East. It hopes to achieve this by leveraging ties with Delhi, showing a growing inter-connectedness between these two geopolitical hotspots. Building upon initiatives like the ‘2020 Abraham Accords’, where Israel and the UAE normalized relations, the US sees an opportunity ‘‘to do more with less’’ in the region. Moreover, the ‘Abraham Accords’ have been of much advantage to India, as they have facilitated a framework for itself to operate regionally. And India is also seeking to consolidate its influence in the Middle-East. For that reason, PM Modi on his way back from US, put in a visit to Egypt to elevate multi-faceted relations with Egypt to a ‘Strategic Partnership’ this year. Both the countries discussed ways to further deepen the partnership between the two nations, including in trade, investment, defence, security, renewable energy, cultural and people-to-people ties. Egypt was ready to offer India a dedicated cluster in the industrial and logistics hub within the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCEZ), which can be a gateway for India to reach other markets more effectively. China, incidentally, has already such a cluster there. The Egyptian government said it wants to welcome Indian investments, particularly in green hydrogen production. Indian private sector companies have already undertaken significant projects in Egypt. The move comes at a time when India is also looking at expanding ties with Egypt, a key player in the politics of both the Arab world and Africa. And India’s closeness to Egypt and other Middle-East countries is expected to open a new opportunity to re-establish its domination.
The real objective hidden behind hollow hymn of democracy
So, when the two countries were singing peans in favour of democracy, they were trying to befool people. PM Modi in his speech in the joint press conference had sickeningly prattled adherence to democracy. ‘‘Democracy is our spirit…Democracy runs in our veins. We live democracy, and our ancestors have actually put words to this concept…We have always proved that democracy can deliver. And when I say deliver, this is regardless of caste, creed, religion, gender. There’s absolutely no space for discrimination. And when you talk of democracy, if there are no human values and there is no humanity, there are no human rights, then it’s not a democracy.’’ President Biden also mentioned in his address that India and America both have democracy in their DNA.
Fact is that the US has long been premised on an industrial-military complex which is defined as the relationship between a country’s military and the defence industry that supplies arms to it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy. A driving factor behind the relationship between the military and the defence-minded corporations is that both sides benefit—one side from obtaining war weapons, and the other from being paid to supply them, as lucidly explained by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh in course of his penetrating analysis. The US imperialists in order to shield its policy of global piracy, overlordism and brigandage, has long made human rights a key part of its foreign policy, albeit on paper. By raising the bogey of human rights violation in a country whose rulers refuse to bend before US dictates, the Pentagon regime arrogates to itself the right to launch military attack on that land, plant coups to topple the regime and install a government allegiant to them. This dynamic becomes even starker as US now itself battles far-right authoritarianism at home and surfeit of incidents of human rights violation like indiscriminate killing of blacks. More cynically, a foreign leader like Modi, already under a cloud for human rights violations, gives the US an additional handle during the delicate power plays in global politics. Moreover, the US-India relationship is now to be increasingly evaluated in Dollar terms which suits the Modi government very well as the Indian ruling class is also working overtime to put in place a similar industrial-military complex. Almost all industrial giants of India are making forays into defence industry, either singly or in collaboration with their foreign partners. The Indian government is increasing its military budget by leaps and bounds and also working as a mediator in crucial defence deals with overseas collaborators. Recently, it was seen that PM Modi himself facilitated the Rafael jet plane purchase involving industrialist Anil Ambani. During his visit to Israel in 2017, PM Modi also finalized many defence deals including procurement of Barak-8 air defence missile systems for the Indian Navy and Spike anti-tank missiles for the territorial Army. ‘‘Israel’s becoming a more important defence partner for India, a source of great technology, …in the defence space’’, Modi had said then. Defence had been a key driver of Indian-Israeli cooperation, admitted Indian authorities. Pertinent to mention that except for the latest US trip, may be due to the exposures of shady business deals in the Hindenburg report, PM Modi was accompanied by monopolist tycoon Gautam Adani on almost all foreign visits. After Modi’s Israel trip, Adani was given a powerfully lucrative role in the India-Israel defence relationship. Adani has set up ventures with Israeli firms covering areas as varied as drones, electronics, small arms and aircraft maintenance. Even Israeli giant Elbit was made to set up a joint venture to manufacture drones with the Adani group that had no prior experience in this strategically important sector. All these attest to the fact that India is fast moving towards development of a full-fledged industrial-military complex. This is the hideous underbelly of much-touted hand-holding of US and India.
Urgent need for people to acquire due political consciousness
Surely, establishment of industrial-military complex and growing militarization of economy is utterly detrimental to the interest of the people. An imperialist-capitalist state with powerful military teeth would multiply coercive actions against protesters and dissenters. Cry for justice will be suffocated by bringing down murderous assault. With even greater economic benefits skewed in the hands of a few monopolist giants who are the masters of the bourgeois governments, people’s hardship would increase manifold. Already such features have become so prominent in the Indian scenario. A slew of Black Acts have been promulgated to stifle voice of dissent. The government is lying day in and day out about the harrowing state of economy and refusing to answer any question about increasing abolition of actual public welfare measures, while providing surfeit of financial benefits including condoning the crime of embezzlement of public funds to the monopoly houses and corporate behemoths. While it is the common people who are made to bear the brunt of increasing tax, mostly indirect tax, the business houses enjoy surfeit of tax benefits and waivers. And from revenue earned by squeezing the toiling millions, the military industry is being funded. Whenever any question is raised about surge in unproductive military expenditure, the bourgeois government points at the bugbear of external aggression and escalation of border conflicts. Whenever people burst forth in vociferous protest against continuous injustice and deprivation, the military is deployed to crush the protests under the garb of maintaining law and order.
So, the visit of PM Modi to US is no occasion to be exulted about. Rather it portends an ominous future for the people. Modi is no representative of common people but a trusted servitor of the ruling, ruthlessly oppressive monopolists and multi-nationals. When Modi was talking about democratic DNA, one wondered how butchering of democracy, wanton subversion of its barest precepts and raging corruption in every sphere of governance could be shamelessly highlighted as DNA of democracy.
This travesty of truth is unbecoming of any statesman having minimum regard for democratic and civilized codes. So, people ought to be alert about such heinous ploys to bamboozle them by the ruling quarters and its frontier leadership. They should not be led astray by coaxing words and morphed presentations of the bourgeois government and its lackeys. People need to organize themselves and rise up in right earnest, with due political consciousness and under correct revolutionary leadership, to take up cudgels against such imperialist machinations and foil those by exerting the pressure of their united movement.