The day the Income Tax Department began its survey of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s India offices in Delhi and Mumbai, the United States was headlining this year’s Aero India, a government-organised air show and aviation exhibition in Bengaluru, with its “impressive array of U.S. military platforms and personnel, significant representation from U.S. industry” which it deemed “signals commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” In the words of Ambassador A Elizabeth Jones, chargé d’affaires of the US Mission to India, they see “India as an indispensable partner for a safer, more prosperous, more open, and freer Indo-Pacific region.”
That statement may have come prior to the tax survey on the BBC offices, but hours after the move had made global headlines, American president Joe Biden was no less effusive about the government that had unleashed the tax hounds on a respected broadcaster. “Together with Prime Minister Modi, I look forward to deepening our partnership even further as we continue to confront shared global challenges—creating a more secure and prosperous future for all of our citizens,” he said, without any hint of irony.
Biden could perhaps be excused as he was talking after the deal for 220 Boeing aircraft signed by Air India, but the US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price left little to doubt later in Washington DC. When asked for a comment on “tax investigators raiding the BBC office,” his reply was rather telling: