India has her sole overseas military facility at Ayni air base, 15 km from Tajikistan'scapital Dushanbe, under the 2002 bilateral defence agreement with Tajikistan. The refurbishment of the Ayni military base, for around $1.77 million (about Rs 7 crore) was completed earlier this year nearly 24 months behind schedule by the Indian Border Roads Organisation. India is likely to be evicted from its sole, albeit fledgling, overseas military facility under pressure from Russia, which has considerable influence with Tajikistan and is concerned over New Delhi'sgrowing ties with Washington.
There are other developments in Central Asia. In order to check entry of freshly aggressive NATO on one hand and Islamism on the other, Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) was loosely formed in 1992 in Tashkent. Later some other countries joined it and the treaty came into force formally on April 20, 1994. The signatories are Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus. The treaty reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories wouldn'tbe able to join other military alliances, while an aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.
China is not a member of CSTO and is the key country in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Such a name has been chosen deliberately to keep India out. India cannot possibly join SCO for the same reason as why she cannot join a hypothetical Rawalpindi Cooperation Treaty. Names matter. China'srelationship with India is not going to change much in near future and China would maintain an aggressive posture by claiming Arunachal, and military thrusts and jabs along the border. But India need not be unnecessarily perturbed since we have adequate strength and China would never engage on this side of the Himalayan ridgeline. China may have superior strength in ICBMs and nuclear arms, but infantry engagement across a mountain is another matter. She remembers what happened when she sent her army into Vietnam during late 1970s. Skirmishes along the north-eastern border would continue and India must keep a vigil, take local action, lodge a protest when appropriate but not get perturbed. India must maintain adequate military strength along her border with China because a 1962-like limited action may well be embarked upon by China. She (China) would continue to arm Pakistan and give it nuclear and missile technology to keep India tied down on her western borders. China would team up with Malaysia to keep India out of AEAN economic alliance. All this is because of Dalai Lama and Buddhism, both having an Indian connection. To Chinese Communists, Communism is like a religion and they consider Buddhism a competing religion and a threat, and persecute any organised Buddhist activity in mainland China, such as Falun Gong. They just about tolerate organised Lama Buddhism in Tibet but have circumscribed it to a great extent. India must make a realistic assessment of any international situation and should neither whip up nor get carried away by emotions. India must come to terms with China'sphenomenal economic and military rise. It is completely unnecessary to even think of a containment of China and indulge in a race for nuclear and ballistic (missile) arms. But India must have a sufficiently strong army and air force to meet the Chinese challenge. The Vietnamese in the aforesaid event did not even have a strong air force, and yet they gave China a ?bloody nose?. How does it matter to us if China becomes a superpower? Our priorities should be security along the border and economic development. It would be sheer stupidity to think that America can help us contain China, even if she wants to. China has close economic ties with the USA, becomes the hub of production of consumer goods for thousands of major US companies, holds 900 billion dollars worth of US treasury bonds, and helps maintain the world dollar standard. It means that China subsidizes the American consumer and America is ?indebted? to China.
Russia is drawing closer to China in the face of western hostile posturing, and the SCO and CSTO which have some overlapping membership may soon sign a protocol of cooperation. Is time running out for India in Central Asia?
Russia has always been a reliable friend to India, whereas America'srecord is mixed. What would be our standing in Central Asia after the 123 nuclear agreement with USA goes through? Can we not acquire nuclear fuel and technology from a resurgent Russia? USA backtracked from a signed agreement on Bokaro steel plant in the 1960s. Internationally it has withdrawn from many treaties when its national interests so demanded. The Kyoto Protocol on climate change, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) are examples. There is already the Hyde Act, and a future president may interpret this Act to his convenience and withdraw from the 123 nuclear agreement with India.
During the Cold War era Russia was Communist and India non-aligned. British imperialism had ended and given place to Anglo-American neo-colonialism. India as a non-aligned country wanted friendship of all, but was viewed with suspicion by western powers. They struck a pro-Pakistan posture and tacitly encouraged Kashmir'ssecession. In North-East India they facilitated Baptist-inspired separatism. Notably, religion was used as an instrument of politics in both arenas to trouble India. Russia, as the prime component of communist Soviet Union, stood by India in all confrontations with Pakistan, was the largest supplier of military hardware and helped India to industrialise, whereas America backed off from a signed agreement to build a single steel plant.
Now the world paradigm has changed. The conflicts are no longer ideology-based but civilisation-based, as per Huntington (1996), and the most important ingredient of a civilisation is its religion. In this era what is the probability that America would retract from fomenting trouble in the North East by reigning in funding from the Baptists? It is pretty much nil, in my opinion. America herself is in the grip of evangelist fervour as Baptists and Episcopalians are gradually merging, and support of the Christianist militants of the north-east will likely gain momentum. America, in this mood, cannot be a reliable strategic partner. In addition America has to appease the Muslim world in all other theaters except in the Arab-Israeli conflict of West Asia. She has conveniently picked Orthodox Christianity as the adversary and has encouraged Islamist separatists in Kosovo and Chechnya, and bombed Serbia to Stone Age, in order to neutralise the effect of the AIK factor. For a long time America had categorised Islamist terrorism in Kashmir as freedom struggle, and only recently has resiled from that stand. When Afghanistan'sand North-West Pakistan'sTaliban militancy becomes somewhat pacified, America will likely revert back to her original Kashmir posture again, to reward (and perhaps stabilise) Pakistan for her cooperation in the Afghan frontier.
Our foreign policy seems ill-advised and short-sighted. We seem to be putting all our eggs in the American basket. We may have limited joint naval exercises with America but should not enter into any military or strategic pact or understanding with her. However, we should join the CSTO, retain our military base and presence in Tajikistan and influence events in Afghanistan. If China can have close economic ties with the USA, hold billions of dollars worth of US treasury bonds and help maintain the world dollar standard on one hand, and cozy up to CSTO on the other, why cannot India continue her traditional friendship with Russia and at the same time have a working relation with the USA? What the government is proposing right now is an extremely close strategic tie-up with America to the detriment of our relation with Russia. In the end it is a question of finesse in conducting foreign policy. We should learn from Pakistan; observe how it acquires nuclear power with the help of China, carries on ambivalently with the Taliban and yet milks her relationship with the USA to the last drop. In contrast, our foreign policy is offending our traditional and reliable friend, Russia by a ham-handed one-sided approach. The government must rethink and change direction. What I have tried to show is that, under the present geo-political circumstances, Orthodox-majority non-Communist and secular Russia is a natural and reliable ally of Hindu-majority non-Communist and secular India. The Orthodox, unlike the Protestant and Catholic, do not have a proselytising mission to convert the rest of the world to their faith, and religion matters in today'sworld.
The official language of Nagaland is English and its ?national anthem? is also in English. Irving Berlin (1888 – 1989) wrote ?God Bless My America?, a patriotic song that has been quite popular in US since WW II. As per the Library of Congress (of USA) records it is the ?America'sunofficial national anthem?. The Naga national anthem is a true adaptation, just short of a copy. The original American is given below, and the Naga one alongside in square brackets.
God Bless America [God bless my Nagaland]
Land that I love [That I love]
Stand beside her, and guide her [Stand beside her and guide her]
Through the night with a light from above. [Through the night with a light from above]
From the mountains, to the prairies, [From the mountains and the valleys and]
To the oceans, white with foam [The hilltops where I roam]
God bless America [God bless my Nagaland]
My home sweet home. [My home sweet home].
For more details about the song refer Library of Congress
(The writer is Professor and Head, Aerospace Engineering Deptt., IIT, Kanpur.)