India, unfazed and unbowed in the face of American pressure, is pushing back on a number of issues, including the possibility of sanctions and its struggle for human rights while insisting that the two countries’ connections are strong enough to accommodate differences.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday that CAATSA, the US domestic law that prohibits sanctions for such transactions with American adversaries, was for Washington to sort out, in a blunt rebuttal to the US threatening New Delhi with sanctions over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
Jaishankar’s view on US concern over Human Rights
“It is their legislation, and whatever they have to do, they have to do,” Jaishankar said, implying that India will do whatever it takes to ensure its security without fear of sanctions.
Similarly, Jaishankar pushed back against US criticism of India’s human rights, blaming it on American lobbying and vote banks.
“People are entitled to have views about us. We also are entitled to have views about their lobbies and vote banks. We will not be reticent. We also have views on other people’s human rights, particularly when it pertains to our community” in one of the most vehement rebukes of the frequent American lectures on human rights, Jaishankar retorted.
Moreover, the retort came just hours after the State Department’s annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices, which said, among other things, that government officials in India were “intimidating” critical media outlets through physical harassment and attacks, followed by the Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the US is monitoring a “rise in human rights abuses” in India.
But, beyond these criticisms of Washington’s censorious approach, Jaishankar portrayed a more positive image of relations, claiming that there is a “gap between (US) policy and narrative” and that policymakers in the Biden administration “get where India is coming from.”
When asked if a prolonged Russia-Ukraine crisis will put greater strain on US-India ties, he said the two nations’ ties have the “strength and comfort level to deal with disagreements,” even if they don’t agree on everything.