Only a united India can become a world power
The nation's unity is always of supreme importance but it is more vital now. Divisive politics at this critical moment may win a few seats in the legislatures but it is inhibiting our role in the near and distant neighbourhood and is taking us miles away from the dream of greatness. Only a united, secular India can become great and may, at some stage, emerge as a world power, says I. K. Gujral
DREAMS of the nation's great future need not be dismissed disdainfully. In our lifetime we have witnessed fulfillment of two great dreams : the Gandhian miracle and the Nehruvian accompliments. It was in the midst of the war of words between the USSR and China on the one hand and the White House -Kremlin Cold War, on the other hand, that I had an interesting discussion with a Communist Party apparatchik in Moscow. Being a Marxian ideologue he talked of theories and concepts : What made the USA and USSR into superpowers?
To him it was their competitive ideological-cum- armed strength that enticed and pressurised different parts of the world to accept their supremacies. Their effective diplomacies ensured the desired results. The two having full knowledge of each other's weapons avoided armed confrontations and they did not go beyond rhetorical name calling. Even while favouring the rival powers during the Bangladesh war they made calculated moves and left it to the contendors to fight and settle the issues. The Cuba missile crisis was another example when Kruschev wisely called back his naval fleet and dismantled the battery of missiles in Cuba. This Lakshman rekha was inadvertently or foolishly crossed in 1979, when Brezenov's advisers did not discover the minefields that the USA had laid for them in Afghanistan. But this conversation took prior to the fall of the USSR. My academic interlocutor asked: Why was it, after all that China—despite the myths of its power and membership of the P-5—was not classified as a superpower ? Nor could Japan and Germany, despite their enviable economic strength, get membership of the coveted P-5 club. Though France and Britain, like China, possessed the bomb their ranking was lower in the power hierarchy. A combination of economic supermacy, highly lethal weaponry and favourable world events determine the course. In the absence of vision on the part of the leadership, the world history tells us, made the USSR pay a high cost in Afghanistan.
We like to hear the rhymes of the Kissinger orchestra that assigns a venerable place to India in this millennium. We must know that the climbing up in the world hierarchy is hazardous and full of potholes requiring a visionary leadership backed by a united nation. Also we must identify the short-term and long-term adversaries and those who would exert their might to stop our ascendance. As it is, some who are otherwise friendly, do not like our getting even a seat in the Security Council. A skillful diplomacy must know how to turn the 'blacks' into 'greys' and the known 'greys' into 'whites'. The game of diplomacy is complex and calls for a clever mix of cooperation and competition at the same time.
With the incorporation of
Hong Kong and Macao, China's cumulative foreign exchange is now in the
proximity of $ 374 billion and the Taiwanese and the Singaporean Chinese
continue to pour in baskets full of dollars to sustain its 8 per cent to
10 per cent rate of growth and the large US markets and investments are
boosting its economy. Despite all this and even the formidable large
nuclear inventory it would not across narrow Sea of Taiwan to forcibly
get back the defiant Taiwan. It prudently choses to entice its cousins
via its culture and profit-making investments. It does not push the USA
beyond occasional bouts of rhetoric. Trading with he USA being of
Also with remarkable skill, it has erased the history of animosities with Russia by not letting the past imprison its future. A friendly Russia is needed for its diplomatic initiative in Central Asia and will, to an extent, affect the Indo-Russian closeness.
Despite its long history of wars with Vietnam and clash of interests in the Spartlay Islands, it has flourishing free trade with members of ASEAN. Its strategic-cum-economic entry in Myanmar has byepassed the straits of Mallacs, that is an outpost of our security zone. Unless we are cautious our estrangement with Bangladesh may induce it to ape Myanmar.
Viewed in this context, SAARC provides a bulwark for our security and contributes to our economic strength. Our indifference to the regional cooperation can be perilous.
The collapse of the Soviet Union presents a new scenario in Central Asia, where the security borders of India and Russia join but China's borders too butt in and it wishes to advance its interests in the oil-rich Caspian. The Shanghai Six is a dynamic security-cum-economic organisation. India still has to work out its relationship with it.
A concern- causing situation is surfacing regarding Iraq. This is ominous for our economy and strategic interests. Our power limitations and internal phobias are denying us a role in the post war era that is likely to present us daunting challenges, particularly if our internal cohesion does not hold. The nation's unity is always of supreme importance but it is more vital now. Divisive politics at this critical moment may win a few seats in the legislatures but it is inhibiting our role in the near and distant neighbourhood and is taking us miles away from the dream of greatness. Only a united, secular India can become great and may, at some stage, emerge as a world power. The passage to that status passes through the region's unity that India must help in shaping.
The writer is a former Prime Minister of India