Posts Tagged ‘China’
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Africa received extensive attention in the Indian media. Prime Minister Singh attended the second India-Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa on May 24th and 25th and visited Tanzania thereafter. The visit was used not only to demonstrate India’s commitment to Africa’s development needs but also highlight the strategy of engagement. As observed by Sudha Ramachandran, “India’s partnering in Africa’s development while laudable is not wholly altruistic”; it serves India’s diverse foreign policy interests. The strategy, however, is of greater significance. The focus is no longer limited to competing with China but on demonstrating the difference in partnership approaches pursued by India and China. Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister for Environment and Forests, had referred to this difference during the First India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 when he stated that, “The first principle of India’s involvement in Africa is unlike that of China. China says go out and exploit the natural resources, our strategy is to add value.”
Reading about Dalai Lama’s upcoming India visit, I was surprised by the attitude of the Indian political leadership and the media. As for the political leadership, I did not expect much. India usually falters at tight-rope diplomacy. I am sure that apart from a few statements by Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary, India would try to keep the Chinese happy. China also understands the rhetorical value of such statements in a democracy and would certainly not mind a few tough statements from India, primarily aimed at the domestic public.
What surprised is decision of the Government of India to ban foreign press from covering Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit. Permits allowing foreign correspondents to travel to Arunachal Pradesh state were not given, and the government revoked passes previously provided to four of them, including two Associated Press journalists. India has maintained that the Dalai Lama is an “honored guest who does not indulge in political activities on Indian soil” and that he is free to visit any part of the country. If this is really the case then why is the foreign media barred from covering the tour? It’s sad that a country priding itself as the world’s largest democracy should crackdown on foreign media for an event symbolically meant to assert its territorial integrity.
What is even more surprising is that the Indian media has not raised this issue in a big way. NY Times, AP and CBS have elaborate sections dedicated to this decision of the Government of India, but there are no strong voices of protest in the Indian media circles. Is it simply because the decision does not affect the national journalists? Have the Indian media stalwarts become so parochial?
The media had played an active role in raising public awareness about Chinese incursions on the Sino-India border and the effort was widely appreciated. But why have the Indian reporters not protested aganist this curbing of press freedoms in the country? However, a more important question would be why is the Government of India afraid of international media attention on Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh?
The U.S. has for long sought to define and relate to its allies in unambiguous terms. President Bush epitomized this approach in his famous ‘either with us or against us’ speech and through his policy of pre-emption. The Obama Presidency appears to have opened with the objective of de-categorization of countries in U.S. foreign policy. President Obama is challenging the traditional tags for casting friends, enemies, competitors or facilitators while discarding the rigid criteria of ‘either with us or against us’. President Obama’s foreign policy approach puts Lord Palmerstone’s contention into action: “We have no permanent allies, we have no permanent enemies, we have only permanent interests.” This change of policy goes beyond a simple transition from Republican to Democratic administrations; it involves a transformation of global relations. Click to continue…