India in a world in turmoil
By Dr Gautam Sen
The past decade of the 21st century is a prelude to tectonic shifts in the distribution of global wealth and power. The rise of Europe that began in the fifteenth century, sealed by the conquest of the Americas and subsequent commercial and industrial revolutions, is poised to close. This 500-year history of political, military and economic ascendancy, comparable in some ways to the earlier primacy of the ancient Achaemenids, Romans and Ottomans will not end overnight. But it is in retreat and countries on the rise will seek to consolidate their enhanced place in the world. Of these, China and India are the two most important though Brazil is also a possible contender for status as a major player. Russia has already abandoned super power status for a more circumspect role, but is likely to remain among the more numerous middle ranking players emerging.
Yet, the final destination of the huge changes afoot is not pre-determined and much depends on the fierce competition taking place between nations to influence its course. A combination of external interaction and domestic factors, such as economic and financial strength and military prowess, will determine actual outcomes for countries. In such periods of crisis and transformation declining powers often engage is audacious and dangerous actions to arrest their own decline and rising ones may also miscue, precipitating conflict. Nevertheless, the relative economic size of G-7 countries has declined sharply in recent decades and a number of industrialising newcomers have increased their share dramatically.
The US remains the most powerful country by virtue of human and physical resources and size though far less dominant today than it was at the end of World War II. In the intervening period the US failed to adopt wise political and economic policies and wield objective strengths effectively to maintain primacy. The contemporary US is experiencing extraordinary mismanagement at home and its financial sector can only be described as criminal. They have captured the state and its institutions and one per cent of the population has increased its share of income from eight per cent to 24 per cent in the past three decades. Much of America’s national infrastructure is in a dismal state and a sixth of the population virtually destitute. Significantly, the US has barely prevailed in any military encounter since the end of the Korean War. It would win an all-out war because it continues to possess sufficient military advantages over rivals, but such a situation is unlikely to arise because of the dangers of escalation of a nuclear standoff.
Britain and France are barely worthy of comment, but recent events in the Middle East demonstrate their capacity for mischief and colonial plunder. They have joined with the US and intervened violently, directly and through comprador proxies, to subvert the popular revolts in North Africa and the Middle East in an attempt to perpetuate neo colonial control of these resource-rich societies. The Anglo-Americans continue to harbour ambitions to seize control of India and its institutions as well, but realise a direct assault, which they have unleashed against an admittedly poorly governed Libya, is infeasible. But in the past decade alone, successive Indian governments have facilitated rapid inroads by hostile Anglo-American agencies into India. Indian governments failed to see the wood for the trees, mistaking self-interested acts of US policy that have indeed allowed India some notable gains as evidence of general American acceptance of India’s autonomy and equal status.
The NDA government misjudged seriously in permitting the American CIA to establish an office in New Delhi. The CIA repaid this foolish act of ingratiation by suborning Indian RAW personnel and then insultingly spiriting away the traitors to a new, no doubt, agreeable life in the US. In addition, there is hardly a senior Indian bureaucrat who does not have offspring funded by a US foundation to study there. Many of them also aspire to settle in the US, which gives US agencies considerable leverage over their parents. US agencies and their collaborators in Indian politics and the media are now seeking to facilitate infiltration and subversion of India’s hitherto insulated armed forces by instituting relationships that might tempt Indian defence personnel to betray their country. The prevailing scale of Anglo-American and Saudi-Pakistani subversion of India’s film industry and influential media outlets, which are having their losses routinely underwritten by them through treasonous Indian partners, should constitute a salutary warning.
India’s neighbour, China is emerging as an aggressive revisionist power, asserting territorial claims against countries of the region. Lacking popular legitimacy with its own people, China’s Communist leadership has sought to justify dictatorial rule by espousing militant nationalism and achieving economic success. Its rapid economic growth has emboldened an increasingly militarist Communist Party leadership and provided ample resources to augment military capabilities massively. But China’s threatening posture has alarmed neighbours who are responding by reinforcing their own military forces. The number of neighbouring countries now arrayed against it should give China pause for thought because even those mistrustful earlier of the US are inviting increased naval deployment by it in the region. China also faces the likelihood of serious domestic economic upheaval because its national leadership has created a multiplicity of precarious economic bubbles to sustain economic growth and employment. Its quest for regional dominance and aspirations for a major global footprint may become elusive for the foreseeable future if economic growth wanes.
One of the major goals of Communist China, India’s nemesis, is to cut it down to size, an option apparently considered feasible and low cost. China regards India as a nuisance to be overawed and has being using its ally, Pakistan as a proxy to perpetrate terrorism against India. Indeed, Pakistani terrorism against India implies active Chinese operational complicity since it has assured Pakistan support if India launches retaliatory military sanctions in response. Unfortunately, the very existence of Pakistan as a nation is predicated on permanent warfare with India, which is therefore likely to persist indefinitely. A direct compact between China and Islamic terror organisations operating inside India, partly funded by Saudi Arabia, has resulted in the provision of weaponry through yet other Chinese proxies in Assam and Nagaland. In fact China has instigated the evident open collaboration between Indian Maoists and Islamic terror organisations. Regrettably, Indian foreign policy failures have ensured that neighbours in the immediate region are eagerly awaiting a denouement that would gratify them and allow pressing of assorted claims to territory, etc. against India.
Interestingly, Christian evangelists have emerged as protectors of Indian Maoists and both are currently facilitated by a sympathetic Indian government and collusive political Opposition. And evangelists perceive weak governance in India and socio-economic turmoil as favourable to religious conversion. Maoists are also carrying out targeted killings of Hindu leaders on behalf of Christian evangelists when they oppose their nefarious activities. These evangelical church groups are essentially instruments of US foreign policy, aiming to create a constituency that could be mobilised by a local Christian leadership to support US preferences. The Indian state, reputedly inclined to resist any illegitimate foreign presence on Indian soil, is routinely easing the entry into India of these foreign mercenaries, masquerading as religious dispensations, at the behest of its supreme Congress leader. It has not occurred to even Hindu nationalists that foreign governments long ago concluded Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom in India provided excellent cover for their agents to operate by claiming they are affiliated to some church or the other.
India appears to regard itself as a potential major global player though it remains diffident, perhaps because Hindus have only recently emerged from thousand-year enslavement though becoming comprehensively shackled anew in recent times. India is also besieged by a combination of growing internal revolt and external intimidation that has become intertwined, as foreign adversaries offer deadly succour to local disputants. It is not clear if Indian leaders are capable of meeting the huge challenges of converting opportunities into substantive achievements. Their limited horizon is to win elections at all cost, followed essentially by pre-occupation to enjoy the loaves and fishes of office. India’s captains of industry and finance do not possess sufficient sense of national purpose to moderate their obsessive pre-occupation with accumulating wealth and crass imitation of Western social mores and coda. In any case, India’s political and bureaucratic elites seem unsure of its place in the world, embarrassingly keen to please foreigners at high cost to the country. Perhaps the national propensity for self-flagellation explains why secular Indians privately denounce one of their greatest historic leaders, the visionary, Chhatrapati Shivaji, as a bandit.
The early industrialisers of the nineteenth century remain important sources of scientific advances, but they are experiencing chronic economic stagnation, which implies relative decline. Their ability to provide a moderately comfortable life for most of their own citizens has barely lasted two generations. The spectre of a new impoverishment threatens the relative social peace they have achieved. The globalisation of production is allowing industrialising newcomers in Asia and elsewhere to render the wages of a significant proportion of the workforce in advanced economies uncompetitive. The predictive power of international trade models that expected these workers to find better remunerated employment in production requiring relatively more capital is proving illusory. Living standards in advanced countries are falling before our very eyes, with 40% of Americans facing varying degrees of economic privation. Their nations will be obliged to occupy a less privileged place in international relations. Newcomers are jostling to climb a reordered hierarchy though not all will achieve elevation, some suffering prolonged setback and others falling by the wayside. Contemporary India’s fate is in the hands of a corrupt and incompetent elite and the nation’s ability to triumph over evil as Diwali is celebrated uncertain.