When Harsh Gupta offered to write a rebuttal to Shekhar Gupta in Shekhar Gupta’s own publication, it was obviously seen as an act of graciousness. Since it has been a while I have read anything from Shekhar Gupta’s stable (except for those odd tweets that keep popping up on the TL), I got curious as to what prompted Harsh Gupta to react. I got a chance to read both the original article and Harsh Gupta’s rebuttal. I was astounded by the unbelievably incoherent rant of Shekhar Gupta, and at the same time also felt that Harsh Gupta was way too nice in his critique.
Shekhar Gupta begins by saying this – “The picture today has no resemblance to what we saw until about a year earlier.”
According to him, what was the picture a year earlier? He goes on to explain: “Narendra Modi was then hopping from one capital to another, hugging heads of states. India was a rising power and Modi, its powerful, extroverted, energetic new leader, a star.”
So India was a rising power just about a year back? If you read ‘The Print’ in the last one year, you wouldn’t even know we were a rising power. Do you know why? Just do a “Foreign Policy” search on their website. 40 pages worth of results show up, dating back to a year. And you have to search for the proverbial needle in the haystack. Why didn’t Shekhar Gupta find it fit enough to carry articles on how we had become a rising power?
And then Shekhar Gupta throws in an example as if he was doing a small favour – “He (Modi) wowed the world with his decisive, and positive intervention on the Paris climate deal, for example”
Stunning, almost. The Indian Prime Minister has wowed the world with a “decisive and positive intervention”, and yet, leave an article on this, the tweet-on-any-topic Shekhar Gupta couldn’t even write a tweet about this huge achievement by our Prime Minister. What explains Shekhar Gupta’s excessive focus only on negative news, and passing references to positive news as if they are a rarity?
Now that he is done with the formalities of telling us that our Foreign policy was awesome just about 6 months back, he asks the question – “What threw the train off the rails?”
And the answer to the question (as also rightly pointed out by Harsh) is truly baffling. Fasten your seatbelts because you may fall off from your chair.
“Two external negatives were not the Modi government’s fault: The rise of Trump and a new Chinese assertion.”
Two negatives were not Modi’s fault, but our “foreign relations” are in tatters, according to Gupta. Until recently, it has become a fashion to blame Modi for anyone who even tweets anything abusive. Now, the fad has extended to even blaming him for faults of other world leaders. Soon, maybe Modi will have to answer why Trump tweets the way he does!
We now have the “two external negatives” out of our way. We have already ready 30% of the article and we are yet to be told why exactly our foreign policy is in “tatters”. Realising this, Shekhar Gupta gives us the first peek into his reasoning:
“The Modi government’s greatest blunder is to exploit sensitive external relations in its domestic politics.”
As is his wont, he doesn’t give us immediate examples but tells us that “In building strategic relations, the best leaders bat like Sunil Gavaskar, not Virender Sehwag”. Phew, get to the point Shekhar, will you?
And he gets to the point, in style. Shekhar Gupta is upset that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “exploited” a “sensitive action” like the “one set of local, tactical and limited “surgical” raids” while campaigning during elections in various states. And tells us that Indira Gandhi never campaigned on such issues. That, my friends, is his bone of contention. Indira Gandhi never did something like this, and therefore how dare Narendra Modi do it?
To call out a daring first of its kind surgical strikes as a “set of local, tactical and limited” exposes the “tatters” in which Shekhar Gupta and his ilk are! We now move on to his next argument – “Similar misjudgements were made on trade.”
Shekhar Gupta’s basic argument is that since it is well known Trump doesn’t treat anyone well, it is Modi’s fault for being nice to him. Perhaps Shekhar Gupta wanted Modi to get all muscular like a Bollywood hero, mouth some dialogues and come back home? Do you have any doubt in your mind that Shekhar Gupta would have been on the forefront in criticizing Modi had he done anything like this?
Here’s where Harsh Gupta’s rebuttal punches deep holes into Shekhar’s piece. I strongly recommend that you read the piece to understand how a factual rebuttal should look like. Harsh clinically demolishes Shekhar’s arguments on trade, Doklam and Trump. I have nothing further to add to Harsh’s arguments.
However, it beats me why these commentators continuously want to tell us that Doklam was a failure while there is a widespread acknowledgement of how we didn’t even blink in times of extreme stress too. Why do they want to see India fail more than they want it to succeed? Am I making a grossly exaggerated statement? Let me present to you another example then.
“Declining military might is compounded by the economic slowdown. You can fool your people by changing how you calculate your GDP.”
So when the GDP growth was lower than in previous quarters, we had the best methods of calculating GDP. When it sees a remarkable turnaround, using the exact same formula, the people are now being fooled?
We would be doing injustice to Shekhar Gupta if we don’t mention his unsavoury remarks on our Defence Minister, Ms Nirmala Seetharaman. “Four years have effectively seen four defence ministers, the current one being an ineffectual photo-op caricature.”
What explains this language and hatred? What explains talking about military pensions in an article about Foreign policy? What explains bringing in RSS in an article on foreign policy? What explains bringing in GDP calculations in an article on Foreign policy? Is it because he didn’t have enough to criticize and therefore resorted to such high flowery language and a low number of facts?
Harsh Gupta did an awesome job demolishing Shekhar’s rant, but the amount of hatred built inside of Shekhar and his ilk is extremely repelling now.