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Duly Noted

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Of course, no country or terror group is going to question China about its treatment of Muslims, who are not just held in concentration and ‘reeducation’ camps, but also denied the freedom to practice their religion in public. They are not even allowed to dress up in a manner that sets them apart from other citizens. Its minority populations – far from being considered citizens with equal rights – are treated as hostages should any person or group step out of line. Collective punishment is resorted to without hesitation when the state feels necessary, which is often enough.

It is India that is considered a soft state that can be threatened by all and sundry. This has been seen in the recent Nupur Sharma incident with nations of the Gulf and Iran ‘summoning’ Indian envoys to register their protest. Al-Qaeda has also pitched in with threats of attacks and bombings, etc. This is the price that has to be paid for being a democracy and having a government that is held accountable for its actions. If this being done to exhibit Islamic solidarity and pay respect to their Prophet, the objections will be duly noted. If, however, the action springs from real intent to ‘punish’ India, further thought should be given to the policy as it may backfire in the long run.

Most of these countries are preparing for a post-oil economy and India will be their greatest ally in making the transition. Not only is it the best place to invest (along with Africa), but will provide the strategic depth and diplomatic heft to ensure their stability. Getting carried away by the need to exhibit their Islamic credentials may help in the next world, but not so much in this one.

To an extent, this is also a wake-up call for India, which under PM Modi, in particular, has been working hard to build strong economic and diplomatic relations with them. If relations are based on such fragile foundations, is it worth the effort to give them so much importance? It is the expats who are holding up the alternative economies being developed by the Gulf countries and, among these, Indians contribute the most. If the various threats being made at the present on behalf of these countries by sundry self-appointed representatives do manifest themselves, there will be difficult times ahead, but not necessarily for India. That is a certainty. So, think again.