Dr Uddipan Mukherjee
Yeah, Mr Obama has left the Indian capital last morning. That is not the news. We all know it. Quite interestingly, he appeared to be satisfied with the business he could generate here. Ten billion US dollars, after all and along with it, according to his ‘own’ estimates, around fifty thousand jobs for the hapless Americans.
I had written in my previous piece that “the US naturally seeks a wider opening of Indian markets in order to uplift its sagging economy through a boost in exports.” In fact, that is what essentially happened in Obama’s visit. He bargained quite clearly. Asked for jobs and wider access to Indian markets on one hand and offered a far greater role to India in the world rostrum on the other. The latter was what exactly the Indian camp was expecting.
Hopefully, Indians shall not be duped in the long run as Mr Obama did vouch to provide us a ‘permanent seat’ in the Security Council. The American President, through his overtures, unequivocally declared that if India relents on certain matters, then the US is also willing to ‘walk that extra kilometre’.
At present, the US sees the conferment of the permanent seat in the Security Council, at least in rhetoric, as a simple trade-off with the Indian signature at the Convention for Supplementary Compensation and helping the Americans in battling through their worst economic slump since the Great Depression of 1929.
Much to the joy of Dr. Singh, Obama did not utter anything spectacularly embarrassing for India regarding Kashmir. However, all these were rather ‘denting’ for our ‘childhood enemy’ Pakistan and the information one could gather indicated that the Pakistani Foreign Office was quite flabbergasted with the content of Obama’s speech delivered to the Indian parliamentarians.
Pakistan, however, has nothing to really worry about. The US still has to fight the ‘war on terror’ and unless India takes a pro-active stance in Afghanistan, that is, unless South Block peregrinates in some sort of hardball diplomacy by getting involved in the war on terror, a post-US Afghanistan, if not fully, then at least partially will be for Pakistan to enjoy.
One thing though, is quite clearly embedded in the wall. Obama is no fool to alienate India as the latter remains one of the ‘prospective’ partners for the US in Asia. In fact, Obama’s speech should be interpreted as an open offer for the Indian establishment. Now, it’s for South Block to take a firm decision. Both Washington and New Delhi are wary of Chinese national chauvinism. The Americans are always assertive, at least since 1917, in the platform of Realpolitik. However, the question is, shall the Indians be equally reciprocative in that domain?
Without denial; science, technology, agriculture, civilian nuclear energy and defence; are some of the key components in the Indo-US relationship and shall continue to be so. Obama had to grab some ‘jobs’ very badly in the backdrop of the dismal mid-term and hence inked the business deals. He, along with his associates, have offered to ‘proffer’ more to India, only if India responds. By conservative estimates, the Indo-US relationship in the coming decade, would rotate about the quid pro quo axis and the geopolitical significance of China shall not be centrifugally missed in that motion.
Today morning, I came across something apparently innocuous; nevertheless explicitly dangerous and disastrous for India in a long term perspective. One Chinese website was offering an Anti-virus for free download! Yes, a Chinese website…….And Yes, software……….
We are fully aware that Sino-India bilateral trade has been skyrocketing. At the same time, India is on the negative side of the Balance of Trade. Yes, the Chinese are good at manufacturing, their labour is cheap as they can control that sector because they have an autocratic form of government and that gives them the edge to flood the markets of other countries with inexpensive goods.
But, how about the Chinese in software? We better be uneasy regarding that.
Well, I very well appreciate the concern of the skeptics regarding the progress in Indo-US camaraderie. Americans are neo-imperialists. They have decimated Iraq and now producing blizzards in Afghanistan. If India aligns with them, it shall endanger its position in the world in the long run.
However, some arguments may be posited, which not necessarily shall counter the viewpoints of the skeptics, but shall definitely attempt to chart a clear path for India’s Foreign Policy.
Even if China may go for a currency evaluation by relenting to US pressures, that would not preclude the scenario of a power-conflict between the two. In fact, such a Chinese move would rather accentuate the conflictual scenario. Chinese national chauvinism shall simply not vanish by making a whimper.
Undoubtedly, India is at some ‘loggerheads’ with China and considering the 1962 ‘scar’, it does not seem to transform into “Chindia” soon.
Amidst such a backdrop, what is the best possible solution for India? Well, there are a few paths:
- Remain frozen in the foreign policy regime and deal on a case by case basis. But that shall be difficult in the coming period as India is now a part of the Security Council, though as a temporary member. Furthermore, if India seeks a permanent position in the Council, then it has to yield to some US tantrums; viz. on the Iran issue or chastising North Korea and Myanmar.
- Else, India can take a pro-active stance and essay to forge an alliance with China to counter the American-backed western threat in Asia. That seems highly unlikely keeping in mind the misgivings both the countries have for each other as well as the Chinese stance of belligerence toward India.
- Third, India can take a pro-active stance and attempt to forge a ‘covert’ alliance with the US to counter China and Pakistan; in fact, mainly China. Offering to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) can be part of that bigger strategy as merely speaking, India does not have any geopolitical significance in Afghanistan, at least in ‘real’ terms. Furthermore, such a move thwarts Pakistani designs in Kabul in a post-US scenario and corners both Islamabad and Beijing for the time being, at least psychologically.
Whether Dr Singh and company discussed such things with Obama behind closed doors is a matter archived in classified documents.
Well, let’s take a decisive step in foreign policy. Let’s come out of the shackles of a ‘defensive’ foreign policy zone; which rhetorically harbours an unrealistically liberal ‘Sulh-i-kul’ approach and falls flat on the platform of Realpolitik. Let’s emulate Chanakya and Bismarck.
And let’s de-institutionalise India’s Foreign Policy.
“Dr Uddipan Mukherjee is an Assistant Professor, PhD from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Department of Atomic Energy)” is a Columnist & Author. His work can be viewed athttp://uddipanmukherjee.blogspot.com