India is almost continental. It can afford to be a space power, a nuclear power or any power that it wants to be. There is no country in SAARC that can equal India'spotential.
India'seconomy is three times the size of the economies of the rest of SAARC put together. And it is growing at the rate of 8-10 per cent per year. It is going to be the third largest economy in the world.
India is the supreme military power in South Asia, and the third largest in the world. No one can overwhelm it militarily. Not even China. True, Pakistan is armed with the atom bomb. And it can cause immense damage to India. But India can wipe out Pakistan from the face of the earth in a nuclear exchange. Pakistan will cease then to exist. So what use is its deterrence? It cannot use it without risking its very existence. (Needless to say the same facts apply to India-China relations.)
And if the Maoists of Nepal think that they can work with Pakistan and China to undo India, they are mistaken. They must know that India has the means to undo them first.
As for Bangladesh, it has taught us many lessons. First of all, not to befriend a people who are like snakes. We all have heard the saying: return good for evil. But here is a country which returns evil for the good you do to it. Search you may in the entire history of manmind for another example, you will not find one!
Today Bangladesh works closely in cooperation with Pakistan'sISI to absorb the North East of India. The goal is to cut off the North East from India.
If these are the plans that our neighbours are hatching against India, let them think again. They may be mistaken in hoping that the old betrayers of India are still around to help them, that the pseudo-secularists would always be there, that the Congress Party would be there to play its game of ?vote bank? politics for ever.
If instead of being inimical, they follow a policy of friendship with India, then sky is the ??? limit to what we can achieve together. We have unlimited resources and a population which is remarkable for its skills and intelligence. India is already among the most advanced technological countries. To be precise, one of the first four in the world. And I am convinced that the Hindus will lead the scientific advance of the world in the coming years.
India'sofficial trade with SAARC countries is no more than 2-3 per cent of the total foreign trade of India. This is of no significance to India. And India is not dependent on any of its neighbours for any strategic materials. The cussedness of Pakistan'srelations with India is such that it gets Indian goods from Singapore and the Gulf by paying 50 per cent more!
Look at the success of South East Asia, Europe and Latin America. Ours is a region which can yield greater benefits from cooperation. Take for example power. Here almost every country can benefit through cooperation. The Indian subcontinent has unlimited hydropower potential. And taming the rivers for hydropower can generate enough irrigation to make India one of the greatest granaries of the world.
We have made serious mistakes in our policies. Take for instance, India'spolicy towards Sri Lanka. After opposing India'spartition, we supported the partition of Sri Lanka! After living with Muslims for eight hundred years, we did not know how to deal with them. And when partition became inevitable, we did not know how to deal with it and how to bring about a lasting solution to the Hindu-Muslim problem. And after abolishing all Hindu monarchies in India, we wanted to preserve the Hindu monarchy in Nepal!
J.N.Dixit, former Foreign Secretary, lists five blunders in our foreign policy in his book India'sForeign Policy and Its Neighbours: 1) in taking the Kashmir issue to the UN; 2) in not reacting firmly when Pakistan signed a security agreement with the USA in 1954; 3) in not being alert to the Sino-Pak nexus; 4) in letting China take over Tibet without securing a quid pro quo and 5) in not going ahead with the nuclear programme after China exploded its nuclear bomb in 1964. To these may be added a number of other failures. But mention must be made of our failure to reverse the military coup in Bangladesh (it must have been a day'swork) and not having a foreign policy with clear goals and military strategies to back it. It was the countervailing force of the Soviet Union which sustained the non-aligned movement. But the nonaligned had no commitment to sustain that countervailing force.
Dear readers, its is time to recognise our mistakes. We have to re-build South Asia. But this time to make it a success.