Archive for the ‘India’ Category
India’s abstention on Security Council Resolution 1973 approving ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya and authorizing all necessary measures to protect civilians has disappointed India’s supporters and reinvigorated the critics. It is alleged that an ‘emerged’ India has still not come out of the diplomatic closet. It was expected that India would use the opportunity as non-permanent member of the Security Council to play a more active role on the international stage. The abstention is viewed as weakening India’s claim for permanent membership; permanent membership is of little value if India is not able to articulate clear positions on critical international issues. Most of the criticism is based on analysis that interprets aggressiveness as a show of responsibility. On the contrary, India has taken a position on the Libyan issue and has avoided the carrot of permanent membership from coloring its judgement. Four aspects require clarification to comprehend India’s position. Click to continue…
Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s ‘six killer applications’ theory is the latest attempt to unravel the mystery of the decline of Western civilization. Ferguson in his recent work Civilization: The West and the Rest, chronicles the rise of the Western Civilization during the past 500 years and explains how China and the east may soon overtake the Western countries. According to Ferguson, “what distinguished the West from the Rest – the mainsprings of global power – were six identifiably novel complexes of institutions and associated ideas and behaviours…” The distinguishing features of the Western Civilization, which Ferguson refers to as ‘killer apps’ include competition, science, property rights, medicine, consumer society and work ethic. In Ferguson’s analysis “we are already living through the twilight of Western predominance. But that is not just because most of the Rest have now downloaded all or nearly all of our killer apps. It is also because we ourselves have lost faith in our own civilisation.”
India has an inclination for strengthening democracy as opposed to spreading it.
With the recent flurry of popular protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries of the Middle East it looks like balancing support for democracy with strategic national interests has emerged as the central theme for contemporary global relations. The United States while expressing support for democracy movements will restrain active involvement in such campaigns. President Obama’s cautious reaction to the uprising in the Arab world reflects America’s less intrusive approach to democracy promotion. Given these realities, India’s support for democratic values, sans the missionary zeal to promote democratic regimes is fast emerging as a reasonable response to the surge in democratic aspirations across the globe.
Recently there has been some heated discussion on who is ‘morally qualified’ to write about India. Socio-economic changes have made India the apple pie of global literary – fiction and non-fiction – circle. Patrick French’s India: A Portrait and Anand Giridharadas’s India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking have invited the ire of several intellectuals and books reviewers in India. The patronizing narrative in such books is criticized as reflecting the colonizing mindset and selectively focussed on the aspirations of the urban middle class. According to the critics an outsider’s view is not authentic and only those who are ‘Indian enough’ (measured by some abstract standard) are eligible to communicate an objective view. The controversies have led Will Heaven, Deputy Editor of Telegraph Blogs to suggest that “the colonial hangover afflicts not us but them.”
* The title of the post is paraphrased from Sadanand Dhume’s quote. Dhume is a columnist at Wall Street Journal and currently writing a book on India’s middle class.
According to Leo Tolstoy, history shapes and determines leaders. In simple terms Tolstoy believed that a combination of several individual decisions, actions and coincidences impact the course of events where one particular man’s actions stand out. Providence allows a single individual to take charge and assume leadership. Contrary to Tolstoy’s theory Thomas Carlyle contended that leaders shape and determine history. In Carlyle’s views some great men endowed with extraordinary characteristics make decisions that determine the course of history. Tolstoy favors an overtly deterministic view of history but Carlyle upholds personal qualities of a few select men.
While India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is attempting to highlight himself as history’s slave, his countrymen are clamouring for him to dawn Carlyle’s great man mantle. Prime Minister Singh’s interaction with editors of electronic media on February 16, 2011 emphasized this disconnect. It was hoped that the prime minister would come up with a well defined plan of action to tackle corruption in his government and resolutely address concerns over rising inflation. The prime minister however, chose to express his helplessness without making any specific commitments. Click to continue…
President Obama’s comment that “India is not simply emerging but has emerged” charmed his Indian audience. Was President Obama’s assessment rhetorical or was he making a valid appraisal? India’s record on indices of democratic governance, economic growth and socio-political stability are encouraging if not exquisite. Yet power implies a relational aspect which makes India’s foreign policy – style and substance – a critical factor in determining its power profile in international affairs. Though India’s claim to great power glory was professed much before the country achieved independence in 1947, the current phase reflects India’s willingness to work towards that goal rather than make a fortuitous claim to it. India has started the process by taking fresh look at its traditional positions, but the Asian elephant can truly emerge by articulating a vision for the future. Click to continue…
On 26th January 1950, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence?…What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people….This anxiety is deepened by the realisation of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost for ever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against.
B.R. Ambedkar, Speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949
“If the parties place creed above country…” Ambedkar’s fear was strikingly realized on January 26, 2011 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to hoist the national flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. It was not the first time that a party had professed its political creed while ignoring the repercussions on national and social well-being. However, the choice of January 26, the day when India celebrates the enforcement of its Constitution, added greater irony to incident. What was even more perplexing was the fact that BJP referred to its divisive operation as the “Ekta Yatra” or unity march. According to the BJP hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk would assert the fact that the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is an integral part of India. The Central and State Governments feared that BJP’s provocative act could reignite the public anger exhibited during numerous street protests in the summer of 2010.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “pogrom” as “an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group”. By this definition, although there have been hundreds of religious riots in independent India, there have been only two pogroms: that directed against Sikhs in Delhi in 1984, and that directed against the Muslims of south Gujarat in 2002.
Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi
Guha further observes that in both cases the pogroms were made possible by a wilful breakdown of the rule of law. While the achievements of the Congress Party are rarely (if ever) contrasted against the events of 1984, Gujarat Chief Minister’s performance continues to be juxtaposed to the unfortunate events of 2002. This tendency can be ascribed either to the conspiracy of the dominant political discourse or the historical proximity to the violence in Gujarat. Whatever may be the cause, shadow of the 2002 violence discernibly hangs over Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. Vibrant Gujarat Summit (VGS), a business/investment carnival, which drew to a close last week, was another attempt to distance Gujarat from ominous events of 2002 and showcase its economic potential and political stability.