India's growing closeness to the United States risks undermining its independent foreign policy, Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has warned.

He also expressed concern over the rise of “neo-liberalism capitalism,” which, he said, was creating “gross” social and economic inequalities.

Speaking at a conference in Cambridge University in honour of British Marxist historian V.G. Kiernan, Mr. Karat said many of the challenges identified by Professor Kiernan in the 1940s were still facing India, and particularly the Left.

“Today the Left in India is confronted with three challenges — the growth of neo-liberal capitalism that is leading to widespread social inequalities, the continuing challenge to bring about agrarian transformation, and the fight against entrenched oppressive institutions such as caste,” he said.

Mr. Karat criticised the Indian government for its “alliance” with America, saying that it prevented India from pursuing an independent foreign policy. It was also having an impact on domestic issues such as the agricultural sector. “We need a strategy for India to retain its independence and not become dependent on America,” he said, describing it as one of the challenges facing the Left.

Mr. Karat, who met Professor Kiernan as a student at the University of Edinburgh in 1968 and became a life-long friend, said the last time he met Kiernan in 2008, he was greatly concerned about the rise of communal forces in India.

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