Biden Modi
President Biden, left, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, toast during a state dinner at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 22, 2023. [Source:]

Biden Calls Xi a Dictator but Lavishes Praise on Modi Despite His Authoritarian Features and Atrocious Human Rights Record

On a state visit to Washington in late June, Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet for India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, providing him with a gala dinner cooked by a famous vegan chef.

Biden stated that the relationship between the U.S. and India will be “one of the most defining relationships of the 21st century.”

The U.S. and India reached major deals on engines for fighter jets, semiconductor investment and naval and space cooperation while India agreed to purchase high precision armed drones.

President Biden, right, talks with India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, as he arrives at the White House in Washington, D.C., for a private dinner on June 21. [Source:]

Little mention during the visit was made of major human rights abuses in India under Modi.

A decade earlier when he was governor of Gujarat, Modi was banned from entering the U.S. over religious violence that he helped to incite.

A criminal complaint filed in an Australian court charged Modi with crimes against humanity. Allegedly, he intervened personally, ordering police to stand aside and allow Hindu mobs to rampage across Muslim-majority areas, resulting in the death of about 2,000 people and the destruction of the homes and businesses of 20,000 Muslims.[1]


Since he was eight years old, Modi has been a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu nationalist organization whose ideology amounts to “an Indian version of fascism,” according to Christophe Jaffrelot, a leading India scholar in France.[2]

Since taking office in 2014, Modi’s government has passed a controversial law on citizenship, abrogated the special status of Muslim-majority Kashmir and incited police and vigilante violence against minorities, with a U.S. State Department report pointing to inflammatory rhetoric from members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Modi’s government has further a) carried out police raids on media outlets which have become increasingly consolidated under the control of ultra-rich moguls loyal to the BJP; b) bulldozed Muslim homes; c) passed labor code “reform” that criminalizes most strikes; d) expelled from parliament the opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi who was barred from contesting next year’s election; and e) used counter-terrorism law, allegations of sedition and other serious charges to jail peaceful activists.

Rahul Gandhi [Source:]

Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and other progressive members of Congress boycotted Modi’s address to Congress on June 22, issuing a statement saying that Modi “has a notorious and extensive record of human rights abuses. He was complicit in the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed over 1,000 people, leading to the revocation of his U.S. visa. His government has openly targeted Muslims and other religious minorities, enabled Hindu nationalist violence, undermined democracy, targeted journalists and dissidents, and suppressed criticism using authoritarian tactics like internet shutdowns and censorship.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on March 9, 2023.
Rashida Tlaib [Source:]

The Biden administration sees alliance with India as pivotal in offsetting declining economic relations with China (India ranks as the world’s fifth largest economy), and as part of the strategy of encircling China militarily in preparation for war.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington
Modi addressing a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. [Source:]

The gala dinner with Modi was attended by many corporate CEOs and some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.[3]

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his wife Anjali Pichai arrive to attend the State Dinner hosted by President Biden for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 2023. [Source:]

The contrast with China was seen earlier in the week when Biden referred to Chinese Premier Xi Jinping as a “dictator.” In the past, Biden has lost no opportunity to denounce China’s alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur in Xinjiang Province.

One is reminded by his statements of Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s famous designation of “worthy versus unworthy victims.”[4] The former were those persecuted or killed by U.S. government enemies, while the latter were ignored because their tormentors served certain strategic interests of the U.S.

Atrocity Fabrication?

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A. B. Abrams in his book Atrocity Fabrication and Its Consequences: How Fake News Shapes World Order (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2023) suggests that the atrocities attributed to China in Xinjiang have been fabricated as part of an anti-China demonization campaign designed to lay the groundwork for war.

Abrams points out that the Uyghur population in Xinjiang grew by 25% from 2010 to 2018, which undercuts the claim that its people were the victims of genocide.

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He quotes former London Metropolitan Police Officer Jerry Grey, who spent much time traveling in Xinjiang and recalled how Western allegations were totally at odds with his first-hand observations:

“This is absolute rubbish—there are not a million Uyghur in concentration camps, that is just total baloney…The Uyghurs that we spoke to didn’t seem to have a problem. Remember there are 11 to 12 million Uyghurs there. There is absolutely no evidence, no real evidence, to suggest that one million of them are in camps…We went to a restaurant, where they had dancers. This was not a tourist restaurant—this was just a normal restaurant. They sing and they dance. That’s what Uyghurs tend to do when they are having fun. I heard and saw the language is very much alive. People speak their local language. And every shop, every menu, every restaurant had their local language written there, so when I read that the local language was being destroyed, I disagree with that.”

Jerry Grey and his wife Ann Liang Yuhua on a charity bike ride last year.
Jerry Grey and his wife Ann Liang Yuhua on a bike ride. [Source:]

Daniel Dumbrill, a Canadian businessman and Chinese political analyst who resided in China for more than a decade, noted to similar effect:

“We’re expected to believe that the population of Uyghurs is being eradicated. It’s a ridiculous statement whether it is in a literal sense or even a cultural sense. Uyghurs in China have been growing faster than the majority Han Chinese in part because they weren’t subject to the one-child policy, they have 20,000 mosques built, their script is written on the national currency [something he later noted Canada didn’t do for its Indigenous people], the biggest star in China is a Uyghur woman who was recently signed on by Louis Vuitton as their brand ambassador, where Uyghur children can get into top universities easier than Han Chinese, and have halal foods prepared for them in canteens and they have a prayer area on campus.”

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Daniel Dumbrill [Source:]

In the past, the U.S. had helped to stir unrest in Xinjiang by supporting the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which killed more than 1,000 Chinese civilians in terror attacks carried out between 1997 and 2014 and, with Turkish backing, fought the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.

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ETIM fighters. [Source:]

In 2018, Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, noted that a primary reason for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was its proximity to the Uyghur militants in Xinjiang who could be used to destabilize and weaken Communist China.

Col Lawrence Wilkerson
Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson [Source:]

From 2017 onwards, the Chinese government took measures to de-radicalize the Uyghur population and better integrate those vulnerable to radicalization into society. New centers were established to teach Uyghurs in need of practical skills that would help them gain employment and cope with modern life, and thereby reduce the appeal of criminal activities or terrorism.

These were the much-vilified Chinese Communist re-education camps, which actually were successful in helping to reduce Uyghur crime and terrorism by 2019.

Real Atrocities by the Indian Government

One can contrast the situation in Xinjiang with the real atrocities of the Modi government, which have been whitewashed by the Biden administration and U.S. media for political reasons.

After farmer protests broke out in November 2020, Modi and the BJP began blaming the Sikh minority, which was subjected to reprisal attacks and discrimination.

In March 2023, Modi’s government occupied the state of Punjab, where most Sikhs in India are from. Foreign Twitter and Instagram accounts of Sikh activists were banned, and police and paramilitary forces were deployed all over Punjab, carrying out mass arrests of Sikh activists.

Members of the Sikh faith gather to protest in front of the Consulate General of India in San Francisco on March 19
Sikhs protest Narendra Modi’s government crackdown in Punjab outside San Francisco’s Indian consulate in March 2023. [Source:]

The BJP also encouraged anti-Muslim violence after protests broke out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which provides a path to citizenship for immigrants from religious minorities that are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but excludes Muslims.

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Mass protests in Kolkata against Modi government’s anti-Muslim citizenship law. [Source:]

Al Jazeera profiled Ishrat Jahan, a 31-year-old lawyer and former municipal councilor, who was among dozens of activists in New Delhi that were imprisoned for peacefully protesting the CAA, which UN experts consider to be “fundamentally discriminatory.”

Jahan was depicted by the Indian government as a terrorist and subjected to mental torture in interrogation along with prolonged isolation during her two years in prison. Her family was harassed while she was imprisoned and she was nearly starved.

Ishrat Jahan
Police detain Jahan outside Delhi’s Red Fort during anti-CAA protests in the capital. [Source:]

Al Jazeera reported that some leaders and ministers belonging to the BJP had encouraged their supporters to “shoot” Muslim protesters. The hate speeches led to an outbreak of religious riots in eastern parts of Delhi in the last week of February 2020, resulting in the killing of more than 50 people, most of them Muslims, while dozens of houses and mosques were torched.

More Atrocities in Occupied Kashmir

Modi’s BJP-led government has taken strides to fulfill the Hindu-nationalist dream of bringing Kashmir to heal, basically annexing the Muslim-majority state by abrogating its special status in August 2019.

Kashmiri Muslims shout anti-government slogans during a protest at Anchar Soura locality of Srinagar on August 23, 2019, after India revoked the autonomy of occupied Kashmir. [Source:]

When protests broke out, Indian police shut down the internet and communications networks and carried out mass arrests, flying dissidents on secret air force flights to jails in Lucknow, Varanasi and Agra, according to a UN report.

The UN Human Rights Office said that the blackout was “a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense.”

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Sikh protesting Indian occupation in Kashmir. [Source:]

Double Standards and Why the U.S. Likes Modi

An unnamed “senior” Biden administration official recently conceded to Al Jazeera that the Modi government has created a toxic communal environment consisting of “open calls for genocide against Muslims, lynching and other hate-fueled violence, attacks on places of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who have engaged in attacks on religious minorities.”

These statements are at odds with the flattery that was seen during Modi’s state visit to Washington, which was purely for public consumption.

Regardless of his fascistic nature, the U.S. is happy with Modi because he creates a friendly environment for U.S. corporate investment by keeping the increasingly rebellious Indian working class in check, and because he has helped transform India into a front-line state for U.S. imperialism in its strategic offensive against China.

That is why Modi got the red-carpet treatment, and that is why Tlaib and company’s protest did not have any impact on U.S. government policy.

* The author thanks Puneet Kaur for her research assistance.

  1. See More than 200 Muslim women were reportedly raped.

  2. In 1948, an RSS devotee named Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, a killing that Godse himself credited to his Hindu nationalist ideology. The Indian government subsequently banned the RSS for a year.

  3. The Biden administration envisions using India’s industrial-technology capabilities and the high quality of its workforce—particularly in information technology—to make up for American difficulties in competing with China’s productivity, notably in the semiconductor industry.

  4. See Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume I—The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston: South End Press, 1979); and Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 1989).

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