Thursday, September 18, 2008

Manubhai, Motor Chali ...Pum ... Pum ... Pum

कीस्मत तेरे तीन नाम, परसी परसु परसराम
OK! Here we go!

Some reader reactions to my blog on India's Pakistan Fixation! Some outraged readers came back saying that I am an apologist for an India, which is standing up! Another wrote back that I was a sheep in sheep's clothing (that one hurt, OK!). Some patronisingly, reacted with allegations how I had come unstuck. After all, how could I fault India in the Indo-Pak relations imbroglio.

Let us give the devil his due! So, assume Pakistan is the bad apple. To be fair, let us examine India's brilliant record with India's other neighbours.


Nepal is the world's only Hindu country. We have a special relationship. Indians trust Gorkhas with their banks, buildings, borders - everything. Majority of Indians and Nepal share the same religion and Indian currency is also freely acceptable in Nepal. Nepalis are for all purposes Indians - and Indians enjoy a special status in Nepal. This is even as "most Nepalese regarding India-Nepal relations as one between dajubhai (brothers)."

Inder Malhotra, a respected political commentator, blames "traditional anti-India sentiment" of the Nepalese elite for the renewed demands to end the peace treaty.

Major General Ashok K Mehta (retd), makes something of his experience with Gurkhas and Nepal. Speaking for himself he says,

"For someone who has spent a lifetime with the Gurkhas of the Indian Army and walked 30,000 kms through the length and breadth of Nepal, I should understand...

Being Himalaya-locked, the Nepalese have gravitated only south for succour and salt. They have become conditioned to blaming India for their ills, frequently motivated by the ruling establishments and its adversaries and more lately, by external forces. So when there is a drought, floods, cholera, or a price rise, Nepalese usually hold India responsible. Proximity not just familiarity, breeds contempt though it is generally ignorance...

Regardin reasons for...

'recent anti India demonstartions, he continues, " So with the Nepali Congress now in power, what has sparked off the Hrithik Roshan riots? Take your pick from among these -- the ISI, Maoists, other Left parties, the palace, a carry-over of the Bombay underworld, infighting in the Nepali Congress and the party's crucial Pokhara convention next week, even China and spontaneity.

As for Nepal, it wants to eat the cake and have it too." (Ellipsis , italics mine).

India is seeing spies under their beds, ghosts in every nook and corner. Another 'think tank' writes,

"China’s political leaders are visiting Nepal. Pakistan and China already have a working coalition against India. Current Government of Bangladesh and the homegrown jihadists are probably more anti-Indian than Pakistan. And now we learn Nepal is having a close door session with Pakistan!


In 1971 India 'liberated' Bangladesh from Pakistan. The Bangladeshis are now supposed to live for all eternity in gratitude to India. Any sign of independence from the Bangladeshis is also a sign of 'ingratitude.' How dare the Bangladeshis try and become 'independent' of India?

A journal from another Indian 'think tank' writes,

"Since its inception, Bangladesh has been suffering from an identity crisis...Like most of the countries born through a revolution, good governance has eluded Bangladesh. The country is today characterized by extreme poverty, rampant corruption, overpopulation, violent political culture, growing Islamic fundamentalism and politicised armed forces.

The big brother syndrome with respect to India looms very large on Bangladesh ’s security horizon and therefore its threat perceptions are perhaps more imagined than real. While to India , Bangladesh is one of the seven neighbouring countries; for Bangladesh , India is the only major neighbour. Therefore, there is a tendency to exaggerate apprehensions or fabricate threats from India . This has given rise to an anti-India lobby within the Bangla populace and polity, which has severely impaired and inhibited some mutually very beneficial cooperative proposals and ventures between the two countries...

it would be logical to infer that till Bangladesh emerges as a stable, prosperous and confident nation, it will continue to consider India as its perennial and pervasive adversary."

Another analyst from another think tank drops his pearls of wisdom,

"Bangladesh is conscious of the fact that its territory is being used by Pakistan’s ISI, Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups for anti-India activities. India has cautioned Bangladesh on this count. The significance of Indian military escalation in 2002 against Pakistan would not have been lost on Bangladesh... (The report continues) ...

Analytically, it would not be too simplistic to suggest that Pakistan has had a role in egging on Bangladesh towards a full strategic embrace with China and also facilitating it. General Musharraf’s visit to Bangladesh in October 2002, his tentative apology for the 1971 Pakistani genocide of the Bengalis and the mutual discussions centering around Pakistan’s perceptions of India’s military escalation would have helped in Musharraf’s exaggerating Bangladesh’s strategic concerns.

Another Indian, Sudha Ramachandran writes in the Asia Times Online,

"New Delhi has been drawing attention to the presence of anti-India militant training camps in Bangladesh and the growing fundamentalist extremism there.

The growing role of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in training anti-India militants based in Bangladesh has worried Delhi for some time now. India's Border Security Force director general, Ajai Sharma, told the media in September that there were "firm reports" that the ISI had set up new training centers for terrorists in Bangladesh. "The terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir are also being trained there ... It [ISI] is now fully concentrating in Bangladesh," he said."

Sri Lanka

Srilanka is possibly the only country where we have been there and done that. From the 1991-boycott of the SAARC Summit, India has travelled a distance. A Srilankan analyst writes,

"While India-Sri Lanka's relations have improved quite significantly in the 1990s along with changes in political personalities as well as regimes in both countries, Sri Lankan governments have also moved closer towards Pakistan in situations where the relations with India had suffered setbacks. In the mid-eighties, President Jayewardene sought to improve cooperation with Pakistan, indicating that that measure of cooperation could have entailed Pakistani military assistance to Sri Lankan government to fight the Tamil secessionist rebels. In 1999, in a somewhat similar development, President Chandrika Kumaratunga sought and indeed obtained direct Pakistani military assistance when the LTTE rebels threatened to re-capture the Jaffna Peninsula. There was also explicit displeasure among Colombo's official circles that India in 1999 refused to come forward to Colombo government's rescue with military assistance. Thus, Sri Lanka's turning to Pakistan for military assistance has had a complex logic with implications for relations with India."

The Neighbourhood

Where does this leave India? Indian analysts have often drawn attention ad nauseum to

China's encirclement of India, its deepening engagement with all of India's neighbors. This encirclement has now increased with huge Chinese involvement in Gwadar port in Pakistan, ports in Myanmar and now Hambantota in Sri Lanka. China's "string of pearls" is tightening around India, says a former Indian intelligence official, referring to the string of bases in Asia in which China has a presence.

India is, of course, blameless, spotless, and responsible for all the good things that are happening in the neighbourhood. All negative developments are due to the others. When will we grow up?

With Or Without The West

For 60 years, India has managed, in spite of the West. India’s defense production, its nuclear program or its space program and its India’s software success are homegrown. As are its successes in industry, stockmarkets, education, films and television programming, its democracy and the rise of its middle class. In the nuclear industry, India’s thorium approach to nuclear energy design will possibly open new realms in nuclear arena. At various times, when India has been stuck, it has been the West that has pushed India further into a corner. Even in matters of foodgrain, when India was a user of PL-480 grain. Or for instance, the Kaveri jet engine or the cryogenic engines.

While our Manubhai is chasing the chimera of Western approval and panting and drooling to 'sit at the high table in the global comity of nations,' the back yard, Manubhai is burning.

India! Wake up and smell the coffee.

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