Tectonic changes are required on the diplomatic and military fronts for India to emerge happy and confident, and with an industry that can compete with world players. As far as world competition goes, India’s success is often measured by capital un-intensive measures such as cricket and software, and there it seems to linger, with bollywood music as backdrop.
Non-alignment policies got India nowhere, but instead earned India the wrath of the West – the ones with capital and technology.
Earlier this month, India had to hide its true intention of being a partner in the US-Australia-India trilateral agreement because India apparently wishes to appease China for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This went to show how distant India’s policies have led it to ignominy, such that it must deceive its citizens to achieve ends that should be won by merit rather than beggaring. And all this after India’s was the strongest voice in the United Nations in the 1950s to admit China to the UNO. Imagine India’s potential, and then look at its world status, and anyone can see a massive lacuna of astronomic magnitude.
How does India believe it is viewed in the world? How much introspection does its Ministry of External Affairs do? How much creative thinking is allowed in government, in contrast to following political and bureaucratic dictates? Does India think it should adhere unwaveringly to policies established in the 1950s and take pride in assuming a principled stand by not budging from those policies even in the wake of changed systems around the world? After all, the Berlin wall was torn down, Germany reunited, the USSR disbanded, Vietnam united, Yugoslavia disassembled, Bangladesh created, apartheid abolished in South Africa, Afghanistan unleashed on the world, and 9/11 and 26/11 shook the world … five additional countries became nuclear powers, and one hundred and eleven (111) new countries joined the United Nations from 1960 to 2006 – all after India had gone down the path of non-alignment. Has not much water gone down the Ganges in the last 50 years to suggest to India that geopolitical changes have taken place o a geological scale?
...India did not send troops to Tibet in 1951 at the suggestions of Sardar Patel can probably be argued as the biggest foreign policy and military blunder by India.
Non-alignment policies got India nowhere, but instead earned India the wrath of the West – the ones with capital and technology. While South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan and Germany enjoyed USA’s patronage, India snuggled itself into the communist orbit, though it was never a communist-minded country, only because it wanted to be the champion of the countries emerging from colonialism. India never became that champion, got diplomatically kicked in the teeth for its twisted vocalism on Korea, and was betrayed in the Sino-Soviet communist conspiracy by the well-planned Chinese invasion of an unsuspecting India in 1962. And because India was unwilling to become a military partner with Britain and USA in the 1950s, the US chose Pakistan over India to become a partner in CENTO and SEATO, thus sidelining a more powerful and culturally rich India, and sealing its fate.
That India suffered because of that and India’s subsequent proximity to the USSR, is obvious: India was deprived of essential technology and education needed to spur military growth; had to return 93,000 POWs to Pakistan without settling the Kashmir issue owing to US threats, notwithstanding the Indo-Russian friendship treaty of 1971; and the USA was emboldened to find a partner in China in 1971 to oppose the USSR – the results of which are obvious today with China having a GDP thrice that of India, when India and China were tied for GDP in 1990. Now, China’s ugly dragon literally breathes fire down India’s neck from over the Himalayas. Of course, that India did not send troops to Tibet in 1951 at the suggestions of Sardar Patel can probably be argued as the biggest foreign policy and military blunder by India.
Looking east, India has not recognized the power of Buddhism in Chinese and Southeast Asian society and politics, and failed to make anything of Buddhism in fifty years...
The diplomacy, wars, and politics of the last half-century show abundantly that every country that opposes the USA receives the raw end of the stick. Pakistan is today on shaky ground commensurate to its now hot-now cold, pro US-anti US policies; and China, an economic competitor to the USA, faces the demise of its communist regime as a long term US strategy that has begun to take shape. On the other side, every country that whole-heartedly partnered with the USA gained riches, technology, education, talent, and economic and military success. Even today, while people speculate on the economic slide of the USA, the US dollar is welcome currency in every country of the world, including in USSR, Vietnam, and China. Consequently, the USA is the only major power in the world, such that China’s blue-water navy is one weeks’ work for the US Navy to sink. India’s planners have to learn to read the writing, and this is not about reading tea leaves. No one should underestimate the USA, a nation that could have physically ruled the world after it made the atom bomb, but didn’t.
It follows that it is imperative that India see the lights for where they are, and earnestly participate in military operations with the United States to make the USA a true ally. For example, the USA long urged India to contribute troops to Iraq, and even requested Indian troops for Afghanistan (though Pakistan threw a wrench into that proposal). Again, this is not about forsaking one’s independence and sovereignty to a foreign power, but simply a method to retain it, given particularly that India’s military is not as strong as its military planners need it to be to fight a war on two fronts, inspite of all the hype and official claims on the matter. For Indian analysts, let it be clear that the evil empire is not USA, but more possibly Russia and China.
...China funds India’s communist and Naxal activities and supplies armaments to them, India doesn’t even send a demarche. Which ghost possesses India that it can’t raise its head?
Thus, India must not only discard its non-alignment philosophy and extricate itself from Russian influence that comes with military dependency and delayed military contracts, but must next look anew westward at its support of Palestine and Arab Street. Having new friends would likely bring India new respect. India needs to flock with nations of its type, in the spirit of its democracy and secularism. None on Arab Street comes anywhere close to a semblance of institutional democracy. For every day since independence, India encouraged the emerging countries of the Middle-east, only to find them criticize India in every war with Pakistan. In addition, we cannot forget that Iran and Saudi Arabia gave Pakistan military hardware during the 1965 war, and had their fighter aircraft on standby for Pakistan to use in the 1971 war. If a friend of India is not a friend in need, that is no friend indeed. On the contrary, Israel stuck its neck out for India at every turn, offering to bomb Pakistan’s Kahuta nuclear plant in the early 1980s – an operation that nearly materialized; supplied active military assistance during the Kargil war; and reliably sells India high-tech military equipment. Yet, India denounced Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, voted for Palestine’s admission to UNESCO in 2011, and now plans to vote in 2012 for Palestine’s admission to the UNO, forgetting that modern terrorism all started with the PLO in the sixties. India’s actions are not the acts of rationality. A sagacious country will bat for its friends and keep the lid on its enemies; Instead, India apparently backs its detractors and slights its benefactors.
Looking east, India has not recognized the power of Buddhism in Chinese and Southeast Asian society and politics, and failed to make anything of Buddhism in fifty years (or 3,000 years as you look at it), even though original Buddhist shrines of Lord Buddha exist in India. Fortunately, some talk has begun to emerge in India on this topic. But, now is a time to heavily sponsor Buddhist activities in China and Myanmar and all Southeast Asian countries to gain essential goodwill: a moral deed, indeed. In fact, consider this expense as a necessary military expense, because it will earn India military cooperation. And, while China funds India’s communist and Naxal activities and supplies armaments to them, India doesn’t even send a demarche. Which ghost possesses India that it can’t raise its head?
To attain to its full potential, India must inevitably shed its old personality and adopt the aura of a country reborn: a country that preserves its military and sovereign interests every day, just like every other self-respecting country...
If there had been no obstruction to level-headed thinking in diplomatic and military matters, India would have massively invested decades ago in developing its engineering skills to nurture its indigenous industrial-military complex. But, India can turn around, though it has tried for years to advance a global foreign policy that has not served its interests. And, only a complete turnaround will suffice. India must forget its past diplomacy and focus fully on the present. Only in recent years do we see evidence of a partial turnaround with the nuclear service agreement and silent participation in regional efforts to hold down China, though India lost the window of opportunity to easily quadrifurcate Pakistan before it owned a nuclear device while China was still weak in the mid 1970s. The support that the USA gave to Pakistan, owing to India’s recalcitrance to ally with the USA in the 1950s, played a great role in preventing India from stuffing Pakistan to the trash heap of history. With the USA turning a blind eye, Pakistan developed its nuclear program after Pokhran. In addition, the whole support that the USA gave Pakistan is coming back to haunt not only the USA, but India, as well, who now faces the undesirable consequences of a nuclear holocaust at the hands of irrational terror in Pakistan. That’s why it can be said that India has managed to successfully work against its own interests, inspite of its best hopes otherwise.
To attain to its full potential, India must inevitably shed its old personality and adopt the aura of a country reborn: a country that preserves its military and sovereign interests every day, just like every other self-respecting country, in a world where shark eats shark (though we only wish it wasn’t like this). In an age where competition is increasing for scarce resources, a situation that can easily escalate to war when the issue of survival is at hand, only real friends will help each other. Refer China’s mining of mineral resources in the Indian Ocean, where the slightest omission or investigation by an Indian naval ship can potentially lead to shots fired in anger. Wars of the future will be justified for natural resources. But, India must emerge into this new century with a new song and new set of friends to protect her, without having to veil her face. India must realize itself for the tiger she is, rather than the cat she behaves like. Only with this new armor can India truly shine.
About the author
Dr Amarjit Singh is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawaii, Mano