Monday, August 12, 2013

IN losing your neighbour's confidence ... Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ August 11, 2013

In losing your neighbour's confidence, risk is of being gobbled up by Big Brother

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”—John F Kennedy.

For the past decade, the Indian establishment has been scrupulously adopting market mantras of the land of Kennedy. India’s economy is now more open than that of the mother of all open economies—the US. Both, however, have one thing in common. They are afraid to let people know the truth behind the establishment’s shady decisions. America wants to snoop on every global citizen. The Indian government is going out of its way to conceal the truth from the people. Defence Minister A K Antony’s statement last week followed this example. Within a few hours of Pakistani soldiers killing five jawans at the LoC, Antony was forced to say terrorists in Pakistan Army uniform were responsible. Who hypnotised him to try market the imaginary innocence of the Pakistan Army is a mystery. He finally accepted that it was indeed an act aided and sponsored by the Pakistan military. While the credibility of India’s defence establishment suffered damage, the incident raised questions about India’s dubitable diplomacy. A series of decisions by a cabal of diplomats have left none in doubt that they would go to any extent to promote their personal ambitions at the cost of India’s clout. Their success is evident in the PM’s unwillingness to call off the sham of a peace dialogue with Pakistan. Neither the bodies on the border nor the bombing of innocent citizens stands in the way. The similarity in statements made by both countries on the killings seemed to emanate from the same source. When Pakistan-based terrorists and ISI henchmen murder Indians, our rulers disturbingly don’t even catch a cold. In spite of a nationwide consensus in favour of teaching Pakistan a lesson by isolating it in the international community, the UPA is determined to host Nawaz Sharif at a friendly rendezvous in New York next month. India’s fixation for talks with Pakistan became more pronounced after UPA’s return in 2009. It was reflected in the joint statement issued after a meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and former Pak president Asif Zardari at Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2009. In a deviation from past policy, India delinked Pakistan-sponsored terror from composite dialogue. India accepted the inclusion of the Baluchistan issue in the statement, which had never happened before. Since then, the PM and his advisers on Pakistan have stuck to their resolve of pandering to our untrustworthy neighbour.
Obviously, South Block has adopted the Nehruvian principle of dictating the international agenda and become a power centre in itself. India’s diplomats lack long-term perspective; their horizons shrinking from a global overview to being camp followers of American diplomacy. Now we are neither a drop in the diplomatic ocean nor an invitee at the global high table. Pakistan, with its nuclear bombs and terrorists, is more acceptable to liberal Western nations than a secular and open democracy like India.
No neighbour takes us seriously. There was a time when nothing would move in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka without India’s involvement. Now, they ignore us and also threaten to join hands with China and Pakistan. The new Maldives dispensation cocked a snook at us by cancelling the building contract of an Indian company. Bhutan chose to open a dialogue with China after India’s short-sighted move to withdraw oil subsidies. First, India revised the 63-year-old Indo-Bhutan friendship treaty in 2007, which gave Bhutan the freedom to devise an independent foreign policy. But our diplomats were busy cozying up to the US, and ignored Bhutan.
In the case of Sri Lanka, India’s top leadership reversed its policy on human rights, which led to not only DMK’s exit from the UPA but also to the island nation turning hostile to India. Now it is creating more trouble by arresting Tamil fishermen on a daily basis. It has invited China to take over strategic port construction activities. India’s Bangladesh policy is worrying. Dhaka has acted decisively against fundamentalists and terrorists. President Sheikh Hasina wanted concessions in a revised treaty Teesta River treaty and the exchange of territory along the Assam border. The agreement could not be signed because of Mamata Banerjee’s veto; the UPA failed to resolve the boundary issue because the BJP was uncooperative, even though it would help India to get rid of terrorists infiltrating through Bangladesh. Ever since Hasina acquired power, she did not allow top jihadis from Pakistan to hide in the country; she even extradited some to India. She ensured judicial punishment to fundamentalists and invited top Indian entrepreneurs to set up businesses. But our diplomats do nothing to ensure the stability of a genuinely democratic and modern political leadership because Dhaka is not an attractive posting.
Our diplomats are busy playing golf and smoking cigars in Nepal, a playground for extremists from China and Pakistan. Despite having a massive Indian-origin  population, Nepal is not an ally. Like other neighbours, it perceives India not as a dependable friend but a ferocious foe. South Block, it seems, has forgotten the saying that once you lose your neighbour’s confidence, you run the risk of being gobbled up by Big Brother and losing your identity acquired at a huge cost and through hard work by leaders like Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.; Follow me  on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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