Corruption, crackdown on NGOs, a concern: U.S.

Even as Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar landed in Washington to hold a series of interactions with his interlocutors in the U.S. government this week, a State Department Spokesperson has suggested that the Modi administration ought to do more towards tackling corruption.

Mr. Jaishankar was in town on Monday to meet, among others, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and take forward multiple conversations in the bilateral space.

Commenting on some of the issues that Mr. Jaishankar and Ms. Rice discussed, the White House issued a statement saying they touched upon “ongoing efforts to implement the bilateral partnership that the President and Indian Prime Minister Modi articulated in January in New Delhi... [and] regional developments and cooperation, and ways to deepen collaboration to solve global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and Internet governance.”

Global challenges

Similarly the Indian embassy said that in addition to talking about India’s role in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region for promotion of connectivity and economic integration, Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Blinken explored deeper collaboration and engagement to address emerging global challenges like terrorism, climate change and cyber issues.

However, the same day that Mr. Jaishankar held these meetings, U.S. Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said during the State Department’s daily briefing, “Corruption’s never a good thing, and we encourage all governments, including India, to address it,” adding that corruption in India was “always a concern,” especially for private companies in the U.S.

Mr. Toner nevertheless commended the Modi administration for the action it has taken in terms of pro-business reforms, including Mr. Modi’s overall commitment to fighting corruption and his public remarks regarding improving India’s position in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business report.”He added that while the Department was “encouraged” by some of the reforms that Mr. Modi had pledged to undertake, “We’ll see how they’re implemented.”

Mr. Toner’s comments came in the context of a broader discussion at the briefing on the Modi government’s crackdown on foreign NGOs such as the Ford Foundation and Greenpeace.

In that regard he noted, “We remain concerned about difficulties caused to civil society organisations, NGOs, by the manner in which the… Foreign Contributions Regulation Act has been applied… We support a strong civil society, and certainly non-governmental organizations, NGOs, are part of that process.”

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 11:42:25 AM |

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