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National Interests?

India marks her Republic Day on January 26 every year in order to honour the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect in 1950, replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India and, thus, turning the Nation into a newly formed Republic! Apart from organising ceremonious parades, et al., which take place all over the country, specially in the capital, as a tribute to the nation, its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage; India also hosts Heads of States or Governments of other countries as the State Guests of Honour for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. Who would be the Chief Guest on this day is usually a diplomatic decision, and not a political one!

Republic Day Parade.jpg
Republic Day Parade

In 2020, the Narendra Modi Government in New Delhi invited Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to be the Chief Guest at Republic Day Parade. Keeping in mind the current relation between India and Brazil, it was an important diplomatic move. A person, who is well aware of contemporary Global Geopolitical landscape, knows how important it is for the South Asian and the Latin American countries to maintain friendly ties as the members of BRICS: the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was for the third time when a Brazilian President was honoured by India on January 26… after 1996 and 2004!

President Bolsonaro with PM Modi.jpg
President Bolsonaro with PM Modi

In recent times, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed on diplomacy while making a final decision about who would be the State Guest of Honour for Republic Day celebrations. In 2018, he had invited guests from 10 South-east Asian nations. The Opposition Parties have strongly criticised PM Modi for inviting an ultra-Right leader, like President Bolsonaro, to witness the parade this year. Perhaps, the Indian Opposition leaders have forgotten the fact that President Bolsonaro is an elected Head of the State of a strategically important country (for India). For New Delhi, Bolsonaro, as an individual, is not important! Perhaps, the volatile situation in the Middle East has prompted the Indian Government to go forth in a strategic fashion in teaming up with Brazil for energy related issues.

PM Modi

At the same time, the selection of the Chief Guest has also exposed the harsh reality. This is indeed a sorry state of Global Geopolitics, as a person – considered as one of the most vicious beings in the world – was honoured by the Government of India on its 71st Republic Day. This is not only India’s misfortune, but the world’s! Once, President Bolsonaro had reportedly told Congresswoman Maria do Rosario in Brazil’s Lower House: “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” From this comment, one can get an idea about his culture, politics, and social consciousness! A noted anti-feminist, anti-minorities, anti-homosexuals person, like Bolsonaro, did not hesitate to undermine Democracy in the past. He had also compared Supreme Court judges with hyenas! Still, the Brazilians elected him the President. As a result, other nations have no other option, but to honour his position. It only shows that we are not passing through the best of times.

President Bolsonaro at Taj Mahal.jpg
President Bolsonaro at Taj Mahal

Moreover, President Bolsonaro is not at all friendly towards India. It is to be noted that India and Brazil are competitors in the global sugarcane market. Since becoming the 38th President of the Latin American nation on January 1, 2019, Bolsonaro has been criticising India for destroying the market and hurting Brazil’s interests! Naturally, his presence in India (that too, on a historic day) has triggered a controversy. Perhaps, PM Modi’s Government made a (political) mistake by inviting a leader who is constantly projecting India in a negative way at the global stage… diplomacy is all about safeguarding National Interests!

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