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At Davos, billionaire philanthropist George Soros says Modi creating Hindu nationalist state

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the investor said nationalism dealt the biggest blow on Kashmir.

At Davos, billionaire philanthropist George Soros says Modi creating Hindu nationalist state
File photo of George Soros. | Olivier Hoslet/AFP

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to transform India into a Hindu nationalist state, NDTV reported on Friday. “Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway,” he said while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “The biggest and most frightening setback came in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship.”

India had on August 5 revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, and divided it into two Union Territories. It also imposed a curfew and a complete communications blockade in the region. However, the curfew and the communications ban are slowly being eased. The government’s actions in Kashmir were widely criticised.

Meanwhile, India is also witnessing large-scale protests against an amended citizenship law. The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.

Soros also launched an attack on the “authoritarian rulers” of both the United States and China. He called US President Donald Trump a “conman and the ultimate narcissist”. Soros accused Xi Jinping of using technology to exert total control over lives of people residing in China. “The world would be a better place if they weren’t in power,” he said, according to BBC. He added that Beijing and Washington posed the biggest threat to “open societies”.

Soros said Trump wants the whole world to revolve around him. “When his fantasy of becoming president came true, his narcissism developed a pathological dimension,” Soros added. “Indeed, he has transgressed the limits imposed on the presidency by the Constitution and has been impeached for it.” The businessman is a major donor to the US Democratic party.

Last month, Trump was impeached by the United States House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and for obstructing Congress, as he was formally accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic Party leader Joe Biden – a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination – while using as leverage a nearly $400-million package of military assistance.

Soros alleged that Trump would “do practically anything” to win the presidential elections in 2020. He said the US president was even “willing to sacrifice the national interests for his personal interests”. He alleged that Xi was eager to exploit Trump’s weaknesses.

Soros said Xi’s policies had stifled China’s economy while Trump “overheated” his. “US stock markets are high but can’t be kept at boiling point for too long,” he said. “If all this had happened closer to the elections, it would have assured his re-election. His problem is that the elections are still 10 months away and in a revolutionary situation, that is a lifetime.”

Earlier this month, the US and China signed a deal to de-escalate a major trade war. According to the terms of the deal, Beijing would open Chinese markets to more American companies, increase farm and energy exports, and provide greater protection for American technology and trade secrets. In the first year, China is expected to more than double its purchases from American farmers. Beijing has committed to purchase an additional $200 billion (Rs 14 lakh crore) worth of American goods and services by 2021 and is expected to ease some of the tariffs imposed on US products. However, most of the tariffs Trump placed on $360 billion (Rs 25 lakh crore) worth of Chinese goods still remain in place.

The financier pledged $1 billion for a new global university network to tackle intolerance. He said his new university network would help promote “critical thinking”. Soros said the network would be “the most important and enduring project of my life and I should like to see it implemented while I am still around”.

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