The Weekend Leader - Get aggressive

Let there be an aggressive edge to India’s Foreign Policy

M G Devasahayam


Vol 2 | Issue 36

In July this year a Chinese warship confronted an Indian naval vessel as it left Vietnamese waters. London-based Financial Times reported that the Indian warship was in international waters after completing a scheduled port call in Vietnam and China had no business to do what they did.

The action of the Chinese warship is the latest example of Beijing's assertiveness against India. China claims South China Sea in its entirety, rejecting the rights of other nations like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over the resource rich region.

China has also expressed serious displeasure about India's growing ties with Vietnam saying it would create "challenges" for them. The humiliating naval episode seems to be a sequel. India has not even lodged a protest.

This meekness is in line with India’s policy of servility instead of sovereignty while dealing with ‘powerful’ countries.

As part of this ‘servile diplomacy’ we have been tolerating all kinds of humiliation and taunts from China - incursions in the Northern borders, aggressive military relationship with Pakistan, Arunachal Pradesh territorial claim, stamped-paper visa, damming of Brahmaputra- without murmur.

To cap it all, India has now lost its hold over Sri Lanka, handing it out to Chinese hegemony.

After near annihilation of Sri Lankan Tamils with Mahinda Rajapakse using Chinese weapons, India acted as China’s surrogate in UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Commission to defend, protect and uphold Sri Lanka’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.

India worked with China for a $ 2.6 billion IMF bailout loan to Sri Lanka to cover these expenses. India has endorsed Chinese-type rule of oppression, repression, torture and concentration camps in Sri Lanka.

Some months ago Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, had cautioned that “China will launch an attack on India in 2012 and there are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century”.

Wittingly or unwittingly India itself is facilitating this supremacy by creating a hostile Sri Lanka that would have a massive military force, near-fully trained and equipped by China and Pakistan posing serious threat to our till-now peaceful southern seaboard.

It is thus evident that India’s ‘foreign policy’ on Sri Lanka has been palpably against national interest and security.

This dangerous fall-out does not find place in any of India’s security debate which is over-obsessed with Kashmir and Pakistan. Neither is the bartering away of India’s leverage over Sri Lanka for the benefit of China.

The question is – are India’s rulers inching towards emerging super-power China as the second master?

Ever since the emergence of USA as the sole super-power in early nineties India had a self-sacrificing relationship with that country. It is genuflection, prostration and crawling all the way with a ‘reform agenda’–financial and infrastructure - drafted and crafted in USA and pursued in India.

This has been topped recently with a $30 billion (Rs.1,50,000 crore) worth of business from India to USA to revive its sagging defense and nuclear industries.

A ‘Strategic cooperation’ has also been firmed up to cover non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, military ventures, energy, climate change, education, development, economics, trade, agriculture, science and technology, health, innovation and women empowerment. Confirmation of America as first master is complete!

However, Mohan Malik of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies is of the view that the US hegemony and Western politico-military dominance are now in an irreversible process of decline and final disappearance and China is becoming increasingly assertive on the international stage in ways that are inconsistent with regional peace, global stability and Indian interests.

While so, India is meek and is hardly doing any thing to assert its sovereign interests.

Unobtrusively and seemingly in cohort with a left-leaning cabal, India’s security and foreign policy establishments have been pushing India towards a subservient position vis-à-vis China.

This could be possibly due to the fact that since 2004, these two establishments are being run by bureaucrats from a left-leaning southern state whose careers have blossomed in the ‘land of the Dragons’!

During a recent Parliamentary debate on India’s foreign policy two questions were flying – does India have a foreign policy and if so, is it in India’s national interest?

Veteran Pranab Mukherjee responded saying: “Yes. India has a foreign policy and we have never deviated from its fundamentals.”

What these ‘fundamentals’ are- servility or sovereignty- was left unsaid. The answer to this question will provide the solution!

The author is a former IAS officer, who has also served in the Indian Army

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