Indian power and the threat to the world
India's economy continues to grow at around seven per cent each year or ten per
cent, which is feasible, it will prefigure an end to the dominance of world
affairs that white Europeans have enjoyed since Christopher Columbus landed in
America. Already, the achievement of sophisticated nuclear weapons capacity has
seriously unsettled NATO, the international counterpart of the Ku Klux Klan, and
the ultimate inciter of the on-going proxy war against India. If India were to
become a country with a per capita income of $ 12,000, the new arithmetic
diminishes the overall relative international primacy of the US and the NATO
Imagine an India with a per capita income of $ 12,000
and the effective capacity to increase its defense expenditure by a
corresponding six-fold? At present, US global hegemony as well as the security
enjoyed by its subservient European allies are underpinned by massive economic
superiority over the rest of the world. This primacy was only reached in 1989
with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US subsequently unleashed a brilliant
campaign to cause political and economic disarray within Russia by sustaining a
corrupt, incompetent and drunken Boris Yeltsin in power and infiltrating
so-called Western 'experts', actually employed by the CIA.
If a wealthier India achieves great power status, it is
likely to set off a chain reaction and international political realignments that
will end undisputed US world hegemony. Within Asia, Japan, which has been cowed
and diffident since its surrender in 1945, will find India an irresistible
prospect as an economic and political partner. The reason will be its
traditional dream of leading an Asian bloc to counterbalance the West and the
India's massive purchasing power will enable Japan to
diversify its economy away from its present vulnerability to constant Western
blackmail over market access. An Indo-Japanese understanding will neutralize
China's growing belligerence, not only vis-à-vis Japan, but also in
relation to other Asian countries. At present, fearful of China's growing power
and claims they, including Vietnam, uneasily welcome a US presence in the
region. But the US has simply taken advantage of the situation and treated these
countries as second class.
The glee of Wall Street during the recent Asian
financial crisis and the attempt at the virtual theft of Asian assets (owing to
artificially low prices after the exchange rate collapse) was a stark reminder
of their role as cattle feed for international predators. Singapore, despite its
huge successes, remains much less important than Belgium for reasons that are
not difficult to guess.
The goal of the US is to retain its hegemonic global
pre-eminence rather than merely protect its own security and ensure a tolerable
level of influence by participating in an international balance of power to deny
any one country or bloc the ability to dictate. It only acquiesced in China's
great power status because its additional weight was useful for curbing the much
more threatening military might of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The US can afford to continue humouring China because
although it is the only major country with an independent voice, it remains
relatively weak in relation to the Western alliance. And its goals are likely to
remain regional for the foreseeable future.
The US also believes that within the wider global
arena, China will remain a supplicant because of the fear of a resurgent Russia
and possibly, a revisionist Japan. However, both the US and China have cause to
worry if India emerges as a major centre of power and influence simply because
its size alone means that it will have large surplus resources to embark on a
destabilising, independent path in world affairs.
The emergence of India as a new centre of power will
inevitably cause huge uncertainty for the current pattern of alliances and
international relationships, predicated on the existing distribution of
political and military power. Such Indian aspirations were one of the reasons
for the deep earlier US mistrust and dislike of both Nehru and Indira Gandhi, as
available US public records confirm.
With the ascent of India, the global political and
economic centre of gravity will shift from Europe to Asia. It may even undermine
the Western alliance because some historical animosities persist among key
European countries. The British and French, for example, were initially
staunchly pro-Serb during Yugoslavia's disintegration ("He helped us a
lot," said Serb leader and war criminal Radovan Karadic of then British
prime minister John Major) unlike the Germans who fomented Croat and Slovene
The earlier historical rivalry between Japan and Russia
is unlikely to be an issue given the interposition of a powerful Chinese buffer
between them and the truncation of Russia itself. Russia will eventually
reassert its authority in Central Asia, which has been usurped by the US, and
secure its western frontier against a revanchist Germany that has advanced
further than Hitler did, under the cloak of NATO. Hitler had only reached the
Curzon line before war broke out with the Soviet Union.
But both Russia and Japan will have to deal with US
machinations that might range from economic blackmail to military encirclement.
The US will enjoy carte blanche in Latin America alone because the
deracinated, Mulatto local elites of Mexico (through NAFTA), Argentina (which
abandoned its national currency in favour of the dollar) and Brazil (bought out
by US investment) have already surrendered their economies to the US. India
remains a weak country that needs to be deflected from the trajectory of
economic growth and political prominence through subversion and direct assault.
The principal vehicle for causing an immediate and
decisive setback to India would be a war on two fronts at a moment when Russia
is too weak or distracted to respond. China has lately been examining various
strategies for demolishing India's military assets in a limited war in the
northeast. Recently, it deliberately precipitated floods and destroyed bridges
in order to cut Arunachal Pradesh off from the rest of India. It has cultivated
the Burmese military regime assiduously in recent years while India has allowed
itself to be hypnotised by an egotistical and ultra-Westernised dissident,
instead of engaging in the ruthless calculation its dangerous vulnerability to
Burma's geopolitical location demands.
China is also financing and arming dissidents
everywhere in the region from Nagaland to Assam, as rebels surrendering to
Indian security forces continue to reveal. It is China that has transferred
nuclear weapons to Pakistan, with undoubted US government connivance, an
inference Congressional investigations have made irresistible, in order to tie
India down all along the border, stretching potentially from Gujarat to Ladakh.
India is being forced to only fight defensively against
foreign incursion for fear of uncontrolled escalation when the situation it
faces constitutes a textbook case for an offensive war for defensive purposes.
Infiltration along such a long border by suicide squads will only end when its
sponsors make a political decision to desist because they fear severe punishment
elsewhere (example: the loss of Lahore).
Finally, India's relations with Nepal have taken a
dramatic turn for the worse, partly because of a history of sheer Indian
incompetence and stupidity over five decades, but also owing to the decisive
intervention of China and the US in recent years. Nepali intransigence is now
reinforced by Sino-US reassurances of support against India (including the
establishment of a so-called UN peacekeeping academy in Kathmandu at US
instigation). Nepal is awash with petrodollars as well and its politicians and
bureaucrats, with few exceptions, are not known for refusing money.
India's unimaginative policy makers do not seem to
understand that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are no more Pakistani than US cruise
missiles on European soil are European. The strategic implication is that they
will only be launched if China does not fear retaliation against its own cities,
a potent threat that India has failed to insinuate. This is the same reason why
Europeans were unconvinced that the US would risk American cities by launching
its nuclear missiles in Europe against Soviet cities.
India's politicians (though not defence experts) will
also have to come around to the realisation that they are far weaker in relation
to the Sino-Pak axis than Pakistan is vis-à-vis them. It is India that
stands isolated, not Pakistan, notwithstanding the determination of middle class
Indians to believe otherwise because they cannot bear to believe their ardent
attraction for the US and all its decadent sensuality cannot elicit some pity,
if not reciprocity.
Purposive troops movements alone will suffice to tie
down most of the Indian armed forces along the Sino-Indian border. In that
event, India may have to use the threat of early nuclear escalation against
China on the battlefield, exactly as Pakistan is doing despite the secure
knowledge of Chinese assistance in the event of a serious encounter with India.
Kargil and the Kandahar hijack were merely US warnings
to India to curtail its nuclear programme, no more. Ironically, the successes of
the Indian armed forces at Kargil compelled US intervention to save Pakistan
from complete rout, although the media, extraordinarily, portrays it as having
been for India's benefit! However, the Indian nuclear programme may now be
shelved (especially missile development) reverting to a status quo ante
worse than the pre-Pokhran situation, which should please India's 'peaceniks'
Unfortunately, the scale of Sino-Pak and US
infiltration in India is growing phenomenally. The US, which has obvious
preferences of its own for electoral outcomes in India, has sponsored detailed
studies (overseen by the late Mancur Olson) of every Lok Sabha constituency to
examine the changing alignment of forces since the retreat of the Congress. It
has numerous assets in the Indian media and some bankrupt newspapers receive
Gulf petrodollars through the intercession of the US.
Indian officials are aware of one national newspaper
editor who has a relationship with British intelligence and have denied him a
berth on the NSB. There is no Indian civil servant above the rank of deputy
secretary who does not have a close relative working or studying in the US,
creating points of contact and vulnerability to blandishments.
Keeping a fractious India constantly off balance and
divided, though actual secession itself would be the real prize, is deceptively
easy when caste, region and religion cleave its sense of national purpose and so
many Indians are eager collaborators. It is highly probable that many of the
bomb makers and subversives being discovered in various parts of India are
controlled jointly by Pakistan and the US, which alone has extensive insider
knowledge. It need have no other direct involvement beyond the provision of
invaluable information to its friends in Islamabad.
The US has been the pioneer in using Islamic radicals
(though not in Iran or with its proxies in the Lebanon and the Hamas) against
secular, nationalist Arab regimes since the 1950s, as Said Aburish has shown.
The US has sought to install and maintain harsh, unpopular monarchical Islamic
regimes beholden to it, without so much as a squeak from liberal and feminist
America, and nourished their absurd claim to Islamic rectitude when Arab rulers
violate every major tenet of Islam. The Taliban Afghan enterprise began before
the Soviet invasion and remains firmly tied to the US and the CIA.
The state department also brazenly manufactures stories
of anti-US activities by Islamic radicals. These are designed to stop ordinary
Muslims, who clearly take a less benign view of the US, from reflecting on the
unusual coincidence between the insistence of the alleged defenders of the faith
that their political and personal freedoms lack divine sanction with US
interests and an enlightened oil policy. That some canny operatives like Osama
Bin Laden actually end up becoming anti-American 'rogues' is not particularly
surprising, since the scale of the undertaking is so large and complex.
Of course, they also have violent inclinations against
conceited pagans deemed to oppress the umma. The idea that the US will
repudiate its relationship with Islamic radicals and curb their activities to
save India's bacon is unrealistic in the extreme, since so much is at stake and
US Arab policy depends on the seamless international web of its radical Islamic
assets (especially of Pakistani provenance).
India can never provide the invaluable services to the
US that Pakistan's elites can, like for example, suppressing popular revolts in
the Gulf or entry into Afghanistan and beyond. The relative importance of Indian
economic ties for the US, compared to even Thailand, for example, is minuscule.
Pakistan's ruling order (essentially the landlords of
the Punjab and the Sindh), in turn, needs the sub-continental imbroglio to
resist the democratisation of Pakistani society that they have feared since the
pre-independence Congress threatened to abolish the zamindari system,
transforming previous landlord indifference towards partition in the Punjab to
fervent support. They regard even a proper census as a threat to stability.
State department Islam cannot endure democracy, as the Jamaat's utter electoral
failure in Pakistan itself resoundingly confirms and democracy in the Third
World has always been the enemy of Western imperialism.
However, it may be anticipated that radical Central
Asian Islamic regimes will also find friends in Washington should they seize
power. The tragedy of most contemporary Islamic politics is that it is a product
of the Cold War and the political economy of oil and originates in Washington,
as many Muslim intellectuals themselves have insisted.
The final problem for India's great power pretensions
is the slow pace of economic reform, which is an absolute prerequisite for
attaining international stature, unmatched by a level of rhetoric that only the
Indian polity seems able to generate. In every area, sectional interests and
self-serving politicians are failing the Indian economy, its people and
especially the poor who are mostly unemployed or underemployed as well as
The public sector continues to bleed the rest of the
economy, including agriculture (so much for concern about poverty) and
supply-side bottlenecks are strangling areas that would otherwise grow rapidly.
It is unbelievable that even today garments and knitwear are reserved for the
small and medium sector, all of which will simply be blown away after 2005 when
the WTO textile accord on free trade is implemented. Despite so much animated
high level talk, the urgent problems of India's publicly owned airlines remain
unresolved with all sorts of corrupt influences being peddled to ensure that
high prices remain no matter who owns them!
Paradoxically, the CPI-M and the RSS have adopted a
similar posture with regard to economic reform, defending organised workers who
are a small and privileged minority and opposing international economic ties
with an unreasoned obduracy that has no historical precedent. It is a source of
grave concern that the best policy makers that India can muster, and they
compare favourably with any in the world, remain apathetic when it comes to
decisive action. But this is India and self-indulgent ideological peregrination
a cover for business as usual.
Dr Gautam Sen is a lecturer in politics of the world
economy, London School of Economics and Political Science, and a member of the