‘NOT FAMILIAR WITH DOCUMENTARY, VERY FAMILIAR WITH SHARED VALUES WITH INDIA’: US ON BBC DOCUMENTARY ON PM MODI

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Washington: “I’m not familiar with the documentary you’re referring to, however, I am very familiar with the shared values that enact the United States and India as two thriving and vibrant democracies,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday, responding to a media query on a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has sparked controversy since its release.

Addressing a press briefing on Monday (local time), Price said that there are numerous elements that bolster the US’ global strategic partnership with India which include political, economic and exceptionally deep people-to-people ties.

“You’re referring to a documentary that I’m not familiar with. I am well acquainted with the common values that sustain India and the United States as two strong, vibrant democracies. We have addressed our concerns regarding activities taken in India when we have had the opportunity to do so “added he.

He highlighted the strong diplomatic relations between the US and India by describing India’s democracy as “a dynamic one” and adding that “we look to everything that binds us together, and we look to reaffirm all of those factors that tie us together.”

Moreover, he emphasised that the US and India have a particularly close relationship and that both countries uphold the same democratic principles.

“Although I am not familiar with the documentary you mention, I will state generally that a number of factors support the international strategic alliance we have with our Indian allies. The United States and India have close political relations, strong economic links, and extraordinarily strong people-to-people ties. However, one of those additional components are the principles we share with Indian democracy and American democracy “Added he.

Last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi and declared his disagreement with the way his Indian counterpart was portrayed in the BBC documentary series.

Sunak commented on the contentious documentary that was brought up.

Sunak responded to Hussain’s inquiry regarding the BBC report with, “The UK government’s position on this has been clear and longstanding and hasn’t changed, of course, we don’t tolerate persecution wherever it appears, but I am not sure I agree at all with the characterisation that the honourable gentleman has put forward to.

During the Gujarat riots of 2002, the national broadcaster of the UK, BBC, aired a two-part series criticising PM Narendra Modi’s term as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Following backlash, some platforms pulled the documentary.

In response to the BBC piece, the Ministry of External Affairs stated that it was completely prejudiced.

Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for the MEA, stated during a weekly press conference in New Delhi, “We believe that this is propaganda. This is not impartial. That’s prejudiced. Be aware that India has not yet seen a screening of this. We don’t want to elaborate further so that this issue doesn’t gain much respect.”

He also questioned “the exercise’s aim and the motivation behind it.”

“The agencies and people who are promoting this story once more are reflected in the documentary. Since we don’t want to give these efforts any respect, it makes us wonder what the exercise’s goals are “Added he.

Referring to apparent remarks made by former UK Secretary Jack Straw in the documentary series, Bagchi said “He (Jack Straw) seems to be referring to some internal UK report. How do I have access to that? It’s a 20-year-old report. Why would we jump on it now? Just because Jack Straw says it how do they lend it that much legitimacy.”

“I heard words like inquiry and investigations. There is a reason why we use the colonial mindset. We don’t use words loosely. What inquiry they were diplomats there…investigation, are they ruling the country?” Bagchi asked.

Prominent Indian-origin UK citizens condemned the series. Prominent UK citizen Lord Rami Ranger said the “BBC caused a great deal of hurt to over a billion Indians.”

Furthermore, the US Department spokesperson also said that the US has always called for regional stability in South Asia and that its relationships with India and Pakistan stand on their own.

He further stated that the pace and scope of dialogue between India and Pakistan is clearly a matter for the two countries.

‘We’ve long called for regional stability in South Asia. Our relationships with India & Pakistan stand on their own and we don’t see them as zero-sum. But pace, scope & character of any dialogue between India & Pakistan is a matter for the two countries,” Price said during the briefing.

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