Monday, September 15, 2008

INDIA AND THE US: PARTNERSHIP OR SUBSERVIENCE?


When India finally got an exclusive waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) to mark its all but formal entrance into the Nuclear Club, a wave of elation washed over most Indians, particularly because it was perhaps India’s first ever ‘victory’ over the Chinese. Never mind that it was Bush who forcibly pushed it down unwilling Chinese throats; India had something to crow about.

The waiver caused a sudden change in India’s forever bullied stance against incessant Chinese arrogance and its belittling of India at every available turn. The Chinese ambassador was served a demarche at 3 AM, its Foreign Minister on a visit to India was made to face some music, and India made public its displeasure and anger at the devious efforts that China made to scuttle the deal despite assurances to the contrary at the highest levels. After 46 years, India began re-growing a spine.

No one knows why Bush went out of his way to do for India what he did at Vienna. Everyone knows, of course, that the US is very keen to enter into an altogether unprecedented strategic relationship with India. While most believe that the Indo-US Nuclear Deal is a manifestation and almost the beginning of that strategic partnership, the BJP and the commies think that the deal will actually lead to “strategic subservience”.

The celebration of this new relationship that two sovereign nations have entered into in their perceived national interests has, in many quarters in India, acquired a different dimension altogether.

Many analysts and commentators have once again started mixing up the ‘social partnership’ that Indians have always had with the US with the strategic partnership that India is embarking upon now. It is perplexing, to say the least, to hear leading and otherwise well informed citizens say that India and the US are natural allies because a lot of Indians study and work in that country, many Indians in the US are leading academics, entrepreneurs, business leaders etc; Indians love all things American, including TV shows, fast food, rock stars, music – the American way of life, in sum. Because of all these social factors, they argue, the Americans can no longer treat India as it has done in the past; the nuclear deal is simply an extension of this reality!

If nations had been guided by such sentimental and essentially irrelevant considerations, this world would have been such a nice, happy family.

Stalin, arguably the most powerful Soviet leader was not a Russian. He was from Georgia. Today Georgia is an independent country at war with Russia and dying to join the NATO. Millions of Bangladeshis have found a home and life in India. Yet Bangladesh is happy to play host to anti-India terrorist outfits ranging from the ULFA to HUJI. Till not long ago, people of Western Europe were fighting each other in a manner that the world had never seen. Pakistanis have more in common with Indians than Indians have with Americans, yet they our implacable enemies who want to bleed us to death ‘with a thousand cuts’. The Taiwanese are all pure Chinese. Need more be said?

This mixing up of the social with the strategic is a malaise that afflicts perhaps Indians alone. And the celebration of this social interaction is where the real subservience lies. Indians are happy to praise and be in awe of all things American. Their aspiration ends at getting to America and doing well there; they are satisfied that in that success they have become minor/major ‘celebrities’ for folks back in India. Most importantly, they are more than content to play second fiddle to America and Americans.

Disturbingly, playing second fiddle has almost become a part of the psyche of Indians, thanks perhaps to centuries of colonial domination. It is not just the Americans who are benefiting from the Indians' lack of national ambition and pride. The Chinese have gained the most from it. Both India and China were at the same level of economic and military capabilities in the fifties. In 1962, India meekly accepted a humiliating military defeat and then just watched with indifference as China went leaps ahead over the next few decades to become an economic and military super power.

Today, it is difficult to spot an Indian who wants his country to recover lost ground and get to where China has reached. There is a ready, defeatist and passive acceptance of being beaten without a fight, and remaining a distant second best as a nation.

The BJP is wrong. India’s strategic subservience to the US is not going to become a reality because of the clauses included in the 123 Agreement or the Hyde Act. It will happen because of the appalling subservience that exists in the minds of Indians who as individuals simply love admiring and aping all things American, except the ones that generate the pride and patriotism that have made America the greatest nation in the world.

Indians just never get fired to beat the Americans as a nation, as it were, by scaling new heights of excellence collectively as Indians. Individually a few former Indians will excel in the US. That is not India, that is America excelling, while India remains mired in the mediocrity that makes second-rate nations. Unless this is understood and corrected, India will remain little more than a subservient tool in the strategic vision of America. And Indians will keep taking great pride in all things American, as if they were their own.
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Readers may like to read: Chak De India, Second Best Means Nothing