Friday, September 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Without sense and census
HOSE writ runs in Jammu and Kashmir? That of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah or of the pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahideen? A few days before the first census operation in 20 years was to start the Hizb warned the nearly 20,000 enumerators that they would be killed if they were found performing the duty assigned to them by the government.

Disrupted communication 
ELECOM engineers claim to be working to rule but the STD is not working. The department bosses say things are back to normal and they are not. Towns and cities in the eastern region and much of the places in the southern part are affected by the undeclared strike. Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is both frustrated and angry. 


Beyond Malleswari’s

September 21, 2000
Pakistan under attack!
September 20, 2000
Not by disinvestment alone
September 19, 2000
Better Indo-US relations
September 18, 2000
South scrambles for share in IT cake
September 17, 2000
Finance Commission report
September 16, 2000
Revolution in military affairs
September 15, 2000
A Revolution at the crossroads
September 14, 2000
His master’s choice
September 13, 2000

Factors behind Clinton’s warmth
by Hari Jaisingh
OW successful was Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s US yatra? If we strictly go by the media hype back home, it was a grand success. In a way, it was so. But in today’s complex world of diplomacy, there is nothing like an instant success. 


Not another apartheid state
by S.P.Seth
T is amazing how Fiji has ceased to be in the news even though nothing has really been resolved in that country. To refresh memory, the small island country was rocked by a “civilian” coup in May led by a failed businessman, Mr George Speight. At the time he was under judicial investigation for fraud and related activities. 

America no place to preach economic idealism
By M.S.N. Menon
OU may preach democracy in America. You may preach diversity. But America is no place to preach economic idealism. In doing so, the Prime Minister has made a mistake.




Without sense and census

WHOSE writ runs in Jammu and Kashmir? That of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah or of the pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahideen? A few days before the first census operation in 20 years was to start the Hizb warned the nearly 20,000 enumerators that they would be killed if they were found performing the duty assigned to them by the government. The threat worked as it had in 1991, two years after the current phase of Pak-sponsored militancy raised its head. The Hizb leaders said that the census operation was meant to change the demographic profile of Jammu and Kashmir. The Hurriyat leaders nodded their head in agreement. Former National Conference leader Saifuddin Soz produced figures of the 1981 census to lend credence to the theory that the head-count was some kind of a government-sponsored attempt to change the basic demographic character of the state. However, it is the threat of the Hizb rather than the figures produced by Mr Soz which forced the enumerators to abandon the exercise. They had no choice. The various militant outfits active in the valley have shown time and again that they do not issue empty threats. And providing personal security to the 20,000 census workers and their families would have amounted to putting an unbearable load on the creaky security apparatus in the state. It is a matter of shame that neither Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee nor Home Minister L.K. Advani nor Defence Minister George Fernandes nor Dr Farooq Abdullah has succeeded individually (or collectively) in removing the fear of the militants from the hearts of the people. So long as the writ of the militants continues to run in the valley there is little they can do to restore peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir.

No leader of stature has thus far even tried to remove the misgivings about the purpose of the census operation conducted across the country at an interval of 10 years. Jammu and Kashmir is not being singled out with the ulterior objective of changing its demographic character. The format and the procedure for conducting the census are the same for the entire country and even a proven idiot would know if a different method were to be followed in Jammu and Kashmir. The basic objective of the census is to determine the total population of the country of which the states are the basic units. It provides useful data for planners and policy-makers. Reliable and updated census figures are essential for the balanced development of any region or state. However, the state government could have the data further analysed for finding out the exact number of state and non-state subjects in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Soz has added to the confusion by producing statistics, which he claimed were based on the 1981 census. The figures indeed show a sharp decline in the Muslim population and an equally inexplicable rise in the number of Hindus in Jammu, Doda, Udhampur and Kathua. He referred to a census supposedly held in 1987 "in which a strict count of state subjects was taken in order to find out who all deserved to be placed in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes categories". But the 1987 census report was never made public. Mr Soz is a respected politician. It is inconceivable that he has fudged facts for scuttling the census operation. If the government has an explanation, why is it silent? 


Disrupted communication 

TELECOM engineers claim to be working to rule but the STD is not working. The department bosses say things are back to normal and they are not. Towns and cities in the eastern region and much of the places in the southern part are affected by the undeclared strike. Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is both frustrated and angry. He is sure the system has been sabotaged by tinkering with pass words but is reluctant to voice it as an accusatiion. Instead he threatens to punish those responsible for the “dislocation of the telecom services”. There is massive dislocation and it is an inside job. Otherwise the sophisticated equipment fine-tuned for automatic functioning would not have collapsed all over the country at about the same time. But with the engineering fraternity united in continuing the agitation, the top guns feel helpless and the Minister feels let down. His hurt feelings are understandable. He tried to bribe his way out of every trouble and the workers have stuck to their opposition to the impending privatisation in all but name. He offered 71 days wages as productivity-linked bonus and a free telephone to all employees and claimed that these were part of a deal under which the employees would cooperate in making the Department of Telecom Services (DTS) a corporate body like the LIC. There was no such agreement and the engineers union said as much even while thanking the Minister for his munificence. When the engineers fixed a date to begin their work-to-rule agitation he handed out a flat one-time pay increase of Rs 1000 and again said that everyone would pitch in and set up the proposed corporation by October 1. Instead he now has a full-blown crisis on hand. He is right in complaining that he has met all major demands of the staff but the most obvious one he has not and, in fact, cannot. That is to keep the new entity as part of the government set-up to guarantee that there will be no loss of jobs and their pension is secure. That will mean reversing the reforms process which will crush several mountain-sized egoes.

The immediate demand is that the engineers should retain their status as cadre officers as a shield against retrenchment. They are sure that their fears are justified. After the corporation will come competition from private operators in long distance telephone service. The tariff will come down sharply as will the earnings and share of the new body. That will be the time when jobs will disappear and in due course, the corporation will have no funds to pay pension. There is an exaggeration in this gloomy picture but just an exaggeration. All this may not come about in the next few months but in 10, 15 or 20 years. The Minister or the government has not been able to counter or remove these fears. Actually there has been no effort either. It is apparent that the government botched up the plan to convert the DTS into a corporation. Even before consulting and securing the consent of the unions, it went ahead and opened up the long distance to the private sector. The second decision should have come after the corporation came into existence and settled down to a new working rhythm. But there was evident haste in announcing privatisation well before the Prime Minister’s visit to the USA. That pleased the US telecom operators and incensed the employees. Even now everything is not lost. The government should openly share the fears of the staff over shrinking business and earnings. Then cooperate with the engineers to find new sources of revenue like carrying data from big business; there is big money in this line and it has an excellent infrastructure for this. Two, it can also enter the cellular telephone service and try to tap that growing market. These two eminently sensible proposals have been canvassed by an economic newspaper and deserve to be acted on. All that the Minister has to do is to lift the telephone and moot these suggestions to the striking engineers. October 1 is just nine days away. Top


Factors behind Clinton’s warmth
by Hari Jaisingh

HOW successful was Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s US yatra? If we strictly go by the media hype back home, it was a grand success. In a way, it was so. But in today’s complex world of diplomacy, there is nothing like an instant success. Therefore, his 11-day-long presence in New York and Washington will have to be seen as a two-way courtship between the Indian Prime Minister and the US President. It actually helped to consolidate the new thrust in the relations that followed Mr Clinton’s March visit to New Delhi. This is no mean achievement.

The road to Washington from New Delhi is not all roses. Along with rose petals the entire path is strewn with thorns of the Cold War days. Towards the end of his second and last term as President he has tried to come out of the Cold War shadows which invariably made Indo-US ties a highly mercurial affair.

The shadows of the old mindset are very much around in the US corridors of power, though there is one difference: the Clinton rays are bringing in some sunshine in the bilateral ties.

For the present, the Vajpayee effect is very much visible at the White House. But the credit for this mainly goes to President Clinton’s PR-oriented common sense and the new-found “love” for India.

What has brought about this change? A number of factors have been at play for quite some time which have not only corrected the famous Nixonian tilt but have also put Indo-US ties on an even keel.

First of all, I shall give full marks to professional Indians — loosely called the Indian American community. More than Mr Vajpayee, their success in the USA has made all the difference.

There are over a million Indians in the USA. They are making waves in every critical segment of American society, including information technology. Their spirit of entrepreneurship has evoked commendation from President Clinton. He has acknowledged this repeatedly, including at the impressive White House banquet given in honour of the Indian Prime Minister.

September 17 was virtually an Indian evening at the White House. Over 900 guests were present at the banquet, the largest ever such gathering at the White House. I met a cross section of the successful American Indians as well as key functionaries in the USA, including the Secretary of State, Mrs Madeleine Albright, known for her not-so-friendly attitude towards India. She too sounded somewhat positive about the visit, though she told me categorically: “I hope India will sign the CTBT.”

Let me keep Mrs Albright aside. I would like to quote some passages from the US President’s speech at the banquet. He said: “There are more than one million Indians here in America now. And I think more than half of them are here tonight. (Laughter and applause.) And I might say, Mr Prime Minister, the other half are disappointed that they’re not here. (Laughter.)

“Indian Americans now run more than 750 companies in Silicon Valley alone. In India, the best information available on maternal health and agriculture can now be downloaded by a growing number of villages with Internet hook-ups. And Indian Americans can now get online with people across the world who speak Telugu or Gujarati or Bengali.

“Americans have fallen in love with Indian novels. I’m told that Prime Minister Vajpayee, when he’s not writing Hindi poetry, actually likes to read John Grishan. (Laughter.)

“And, don’t forget, whether we’re in California or Calcutta, we all want to be a crorepati. Now, for the culturally challenged Americans among us, that’s from India’s version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire’? (Laughter and applause.)

“Of course, our interdependence is about more than commerce and culture. We are also vulnerable to one another’s problems, to the shock of economic turmoil, to the plague of infectious diseases, to the spread of deadly military technology, and, as we have all too painfully seen, to the terrorists, drug traffickers and criminals who take advantage of the openness of societies and borders.”

Well, President Clinton’s positive response towards India is the second major factor which has generated the right atmosphere for improved ties between the two countries.

President Clinton’s PR is perfect. He says he has been fascinated by India and there is no reason to doubt his bona fides. However, the moot point is: will the warmth visible now continue when the new President occupies the White House in January next year?

My personal assessment is that the new thrust seen recently in the US policy towards this country will, more or less, remain there irrespective of the fact whether Mr Al Gore (Democrat) or Mr George Bush (Republican) comes to power.

Of course, none of them will be emotionally exhibitionist as Mr Clinton is with regard to India. He has established a personal rapport with Mr Vajpayee. Both of them hit it off very well.

The making of the US foreign policy is, however, not a simple affair. It is a complex exercise in which a number of players like the Pentagon, the State Department, the Under and Assistant Secretaries, the National Security Council, the US Congress and think tanks actively participate.

This brings me to the third major contributory factor in the improved ties. That is the growing strength of the India caucus in the US House of Representatives and the Senate. It is put at 120. This is quite an achievement.

It must be said that some Indian diplomats and lobbyists have played a key role in properly projecting Indian viewpoints among US Congressmen and in this context I must mention the name of Mr Taranjit Singh Sandhu, First Secretary (Political) in the Indian Embassy in Washington. He handles India’s interaction with the US Congress.

During the meeting of Mr Vajpayee with the influential international committee of the House, its powerful Chairman, Congressman Gilman, told the Prime Minister that “China’s hegemony, the spread of terrorism spilling out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the narco-dictatorship in Burma, the occupation of Tibet are serious concerns to both of our nations. Accordingly, we praise India for giving refuge to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to Burmese refugees and other people in the region struggling for their rights.”

The responsive US Congress apart, think tank and the institutions they represent play an equally important role in the formulation of the American foreign policy.

It must be said to the credit of Mr Vajpayee that he chose to have an interaction with think tanks at Blair House in Washington on September 14. Here I would wish to quote the Prime Minister since his observations reflect a wider perspective in India’s foreign policy projection in the USA, particularly with regard to India’s neighbourhood.

He said, “What is India’s neighbourhood? Do not see India in a limited geographical context, or in the routinely delineated South Asian identity alone or only when you think of our western neighbour — Pakistan. Please recognise that India is but one hundred kilometres from Indonesia. Till 1947, we had common borders with Iran, as indeed with Afghanistan, too. With Tibet and China we have our longest land border. These remain, among others, our geo-political determinants. I am, therefore, somewhat perplexed when ‘South Asia’ is described as ‘a dangerous place’ or ‘a nuclear flashpoint’. I find in these phrases the echo of alarmist calls raised by our neighbour —Pakistan. But this amounts — paraphrasing what a former Prime Minister of the UK had said, to supplying the ‘oxygen’ or anxiety and publicity that terrorism needs. Do reflect whether your expressions, however, well-intentioned, not produce precisely the consequences that you seek to prevent.

“I urge you, therefore, not to simply stick labels. Do distinguish between cause and effect, between the malaise and its symptoms.

“The tensions that we are witnessing in our western region, focused on Afghanistan and over-spilling in all directions, are manifestations of the growth of extremism in our neighbourhood. This affects us directly. In fact, it is directed against us.

“This extremism is the consequence of anyhow justifying an untenable ideology: of a variety of medieval malevolence founded on a perverse interpretation of faith. It is an attempt to establish a point, through violence, that a pluralist, secular, all inclusive and democratic society cannot exist in the region. And all this for a profoundly important reason, because it challenges the proclaimed basis of nationhood of some.

“When we hear calls for ‘jehad’ against India, when calls for the destruction and dismemberment of India are made and when international agreements like Shimla and Lahore are belittled, then the people of India wonder whether the problem lies in the valley of Kashmir or in this constant attempt to define nationhood in terms only of compulsive animosity towards India.

“India is, of course, capable, and is determined, and we shall do everything it takes to preserve India — its integrity, stability and security.

“We have faced this challenge in the past. It is not a geographical India whose undermining is desired. It is the values on which our society — and yours — is founded”.

This is a well thought-out projection of India’s foreign policy perspective, though I must say that we generally go by adhocism and hardly do any serious exercise in policy options as is done in the USA.

Looking back, it must be said that President Clinton’s first term was marked by a steady deterioration in Indo-US relations. It reached its nadir by the end of the first phase. Passing of the Brown Amendment, although Mr Clinton was aware of the nuclear and missile development programme of Pakistan, and letting loose Ms Robin Raphael on India – a person notorious for baiting India (she questioned Kashmir’s accession to India and called Kashmir a disputed territory) – these were designed to put maximum pressure on this country to give in on economic issues and give up its nuclear programme. And the USA was all the time supportive of Pakistan, including its terrorism and fundamentalism. And worse was to follow – Mr Clinton supported the secessionist forces in India!

All these changed during his second term. Ms Raphael was dropped. And Mr Strobe Talbott engaged Mr Jaswant Singh in a series of talks on India-US disagreements. This was unprecedented. The result was a better understanding of India’s nuclear policy. Mr Talbott said: “We realise that for India the issue of deterrence is complicated by the Chinese factor... we respect India’s right to make that determination”.

How did all these dramatic changes take place? By a change of heart? Not at all. It was by design. All American policies are by design. Even the apparent madness of some of them. And they are based on calculations of the opening of new market avenues.

It is not that Mr Clinton did not know his India. In the second term, he said of India: “The potential of India to play a bigger role in the future of civilisation than ever before it did in the glorious moments of its past, is staggering”. What a contrast!

America recognised India’s need for a minimum nuclear deterrence. And India conceded the significance of the nuclear non-proliferation programme. Thus the major differences were over.

In a way, Kargil compelled the final shift in the US policy. Washington realised the dangers of Pakistan’s policies. The fear of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan was genuine. Islamabad had threatened to use the bomb in case it faced defeat in a conventional war with New Delhi. Since defeat in a conventional war is certain, a nuclear war became inevitable.

Mr Clinton’s visit to India was thus a clear demonstration of this shift in the US policy. During his stopover in Islamabad, he told Pakistan to respect the LoC. He made it clear to the military regime that national borders are not to be redrawn in blood in our times. It was a call to respect India’s territorial integrity.

But the final test of US sincerity towards India lies in whether it supports India’s permanent membership of the Security Council as also its willingness to democratise the world order.

Though Mr Vajpayee says that there is no pressure on India signing the CTBT, the message from Washington is sharp and clear. Of course, a lot will depend on the new occupant at the White House. Perhaps the USA would like to link Indian concessions on non-proliferation and other controversial matters to its support for a permanent Security Council seat.

Perhaps the Prime Minister would like to prepare the nation to accept the CTBT, etc in return for a privileged seat in the UN Security Council.

During his earlier visit to the USA, the Prime Minister had told the Asia Society that America’s Asian policy had created adverse security conditions for India. He said then that India would not have good relations with the USA unless Washington changed its policy towards Islamabad and Beijing. It appears Washington has changed its Pakistan policy. But will it change its policy with regard to China?

Not yet. As already pointed out, the US policy-makers go by the size of market. And India comes second. Indeed, strategic calculations apart, Indo-American policy will mainly be decided on economic considerations. Herein lies the challenge to India. 


Not another apartheid state
by S.P.Seth

IT is amazing how Fiji has ceased to be in the news even though nothing has really been resolved in that country. To refresh memory, the small island country was rocked by a “civilian” coup in May led by a failed businessman, Mr George Speight. At the time he was under judicial investigation for fraud and related activities. He and his cohorts, including a section of the country’s armed forces, overthrew Fiji’s popularly elected government with Mr Mahendra Chaudhry as Prime Minister. Mr Chaudhry’s fault was his ethnicity. Fiji’s dominant indigenous political/military establishment felt threatened by the workings of the new constitution even when they approved it in 1997. Therefore, Mr Chaudhry and his government had to go.

Mr Speight just happened to be most enthusiastic for the role, though he was not the mastermind behind the coup. According to reports quoting Mr Speight, the real coup leader lost his nerves at the last moment. Who was this mystery man? Mr Sitiveni Rabuka, the 1987 coup leader who lost elections in 1999 to Mr Chaudhry, would probably fit the bill.

He had started the destabilisation process soon after Mr Chaudhry became Prime Minister. And was among the first prominent indigenous leaders to throw his weight behind Mr Speight’s goal of re-establishing indigenous racial supremacy, even though he didn’t agree with his methods. He was apparently deterred from donning the role of the coup master, as Fiji’s armed forces weren’t too keen at that stage to be directly associated with another coup.

Mr Speight, however, was politically expendable once the coup objective was achieved. But as we know, he refused to step aside. His trump card was Mr Chaudhry and his government taken as hostages. He threatened to kill them if he was thwarted or threatened. And when finally he agreed to release them after being granted total amnesty, he was in the box seat to dictate the formation of an interim government. And that is where he erred.

Having lost his trump card by releasing hostages, Mr Speight and his co-conspirators were now vulnerable. And when they were nabbed and arrested, the expected and anticipated popular indigenous insurgency didn’t eventuate. The bubble had truly burst.

But Fiji still remains a legal and political travesty. When a lawful government, led by Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, was overthrown and replaced by an arbitrarily appointed alternative, the entire process is illegal and unconstitutional. To selectively prosecute Mr Speight and his cronies (though they deserve whatever might be coming to them), and let others reap the rewards of his coup is, therefore, like turning the law on its head.

As New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Phil Goff, recently said, “It (Fiji’s interim government) is self-appointed and unrepresentative and has no democratic mandate.” It, therefore, “cannot condemn Speight for treasonous actions while being content to remain the beneficiary of what he has done.”

Both Australia and New Zealand have made the right noises for the restoration of democracy in Fiji. But, at the same time, they are also prepared to deal with a patently illegal political order in Fiji. Fiji’s interim government is being urged by Canberra to restore a semblance of democracy. It is like asking the burglar to judiciously use his booty.

To discourage any future coup, Fiji must go back to the 1997 constitution with the restoration of the popularly elected Chaudhry government. Any other constitution with simply entrench apartheid in Fiji, with Indo-Fijians as the country’s political underclass. Australia and New Zealand, as the South Pacific’s major power, must not become a party to this by their dealings with Fiji’s interim government. The new regime need to be shunned and isolated until true democracy is restored.

The problem, however, is that some responsible quarters in Australia continue to suggest that Prime Minister Chaudhry was somehow responsible for the Speight-led coup. The latest is Australia’s High Commissioner in Fiji, Ms Sue Boyd. She recently suggested that Mr Chaudhry could have averted the crisis by his deft handling of growing indigenous Fijian discontent. According to her, “...he (Chaudhry) did not manage the perception of his policies well. He didn’t sell his message well.” Even though Mr Chaudhry wasn’t seeking to advance ethnic Indian interests at the cost of indigenous rights, he allowed such an impression to grow, argued Ms Sue Boyd.

Such utterances have tended to provide a rationale of sorts for the Speight coup. It is unfortunate. Because: since when a coup became justified because the incumbent Prime Minister was failing to sell his policies well to some of his constituents? A verdict on this can only be delivered by the people at the next election, as should have been the case in Fiji. But this was not to be.

During his Australia visit (soon after his release), Fiji’s deposed Prime Minister was a disillusioned man. Even in the midst of all the courtesies accorded him, the host country’s message seemed quite clear: he should forget about the restoration of his government and Fiji’s democratic constitution. His disillusionment was reflected in what he had to say.

A good question? But is anybody listening? Going by the experience of the last coup in 1987, it took Fiji a decade to come out with a new democratic constitution in 1997, which became the basis of the 1999 elections. It was not long after (a year to be precise) that Mr Chaudhry’s popularly elected government was overthrown.

With such history, the prognosis for democracy in Fiji is bleak and the future of Indo-Fijians even bleaker. Unless, of course, Australia and New Zealand (wielding the most economic clout in Fiji) decisively reject an apartheid state in Fiji.


America no place to preach economic idealism
By M.S.N. Menon

YOU may preach democracy in America. You may preach diversity. But America is no place to preach economic idealism. In doing so, the Prime Minister has made a mistake.

And it is time we spoke less and less “for all”, and more and more for ourselves. India’s universal idealism has not brought it any rewards, not even a good word.

It is true, an economic system which keeps one-third of the people in easy street and two-thirds in poverty and squalor cannot be sustained. It is unacceptable. But who is responsible for this? It is easy to put the blame on “imperialism”. But who is responsible for the population explosion, for the debacle of the public sector enterprises and for the rampant corruption? These have done great damage to the newly free countries.

The Prime Minister’s proposal for a comprehensive global dialogue on development with New Delhi as its venue was, therefore, a mistaken idealism. The issue before us is good governance. It will ensure development.

There is little scope for idealism in American business. American “idealism is confined to its philanthropy. And that is to salve its conscience. America will be no party to an economic utopia. Let us be realistic for a change.

India cannot leave economic matters to the market forces, either. With a billion souls to look after, India is sitting on a volcano. Failure to manage the economy can explode into social and political anarchy. And failure attracts only sneers, not help. If India fails, no one will come to its help. Certainly not America. It is India’s success, which has made it worth wooing. And success begets success.

A strong, democratic and prosperous India to vital for the stability of Asia. And for the future of humanity. But this perception has taken a long time acoming. Even today, there is the “shadow of hesitation” on the part of America to acknowledge it, as Prime Minister Vajpayee pointed out. We are, therefore, happy to hear from President Clinton that it is not possible to build the kind of world we want over the next 10 to 20 years unless there is a very strong partnership between the USA and India. This must be music to Indian ears.

There is only one country which can really help India to overcome its abject poverty. That country is America. And there is only one country which can sustain American world leadership for some more decades. That country is India.

What has frustrated even India’s meagre efforts at development is the cussedness of our neighbour, which has now taken menacing proportions. In five decades we have had three wars, and for the last two decades we have been facing a proxy war, terrorism and drug traffic. If we do not control these scourges in time, they will overwhelm us, and in turn the world. It is here, I submit, that we can test the sincerity of America. If America thinks that India has a constructive role to play in the world, it must try to free it from these scourges. Then only its energies will be released for other activities.

But are we making the mistake of putting all our eggs in the American basket? Should we marginalise our relations with Russia, an old and tested friend? Should we relegate the EV to a secondary position? We must have a clear idea of the emerging realities.

Political and military power is an expression of economic power. This being so, the world is moving inexorably to multipolarity — to a multiplicity of major powers. We have in Asia — Japan, China, India and Indonesia; in Africa — South Africa and Nigeria; in Latin America — Brazil, Mexico and Argentina; in Europe — Germany, France and Russia — these are the new powers which will count for much in the coming years. American preponderance will begin to wane in the coming decades. America cannot perpetuate its advantages for ever.

America came out of World War II a super power. It was the sole creditor. It was able to create highly favourable global conditions for its economy.

One of the first things the USA did after the war was to force the colonial powers to open up their closed markets by denying them assistance. This was followed by imposing the US dollar on the world as the international currency. This enabled America to print dollars by the millions not only to meet its import bills but also its needs for investments and to pay for its wars (the Korean and Vietnam wars, for instance.)

Being the sole creditor for decades, America was able to link credits to its exports. This also helped the USA to charge higher prices (50 per cent more than international prices) for its products, and force the use of the US cargo ships. In short, the USA was able to determine the terms of trade in its favour.

There is a strong belief that the oil crisis of the early seventies was manipulated by the US Government and US oil companies. Whatever may be the truth, the USA was the principal beneficiary. The USA itself imported little oil. But the US oil companies made their billions. What is more, the oil producers (mostly Arabs) banked their petro-dollars in US banks. Reckless lending by banks ended in the Mexican crisis. This ruined the Mexicans, but was a net gain to the American economy.

With banks bursting at the seams with capital, there was need to boost world trade and for freer movement of capital. By forcing countries to bring down the import barriers, the USA was able to boost its exports. And by forcing convertibility on a number of countries, the USA was able to secure freer movement of capital.

With globalisation, which was designed for the free flow of American goods, services and capital, America has nearly achieved what it set out to do. But the free flow of capital brought about a major financial crisis in Asia. It ruined the natives, but, again, the USA was a major beneficiary.

Thus, America is rich not so much because it has better technology, better knowhow and better management, but because it has been able to create favourable global conditions for itself. In short, it has been able to manipulate the global economy to its advantage. No other country can aspire to secure these advantages now or in the future.

We see here a country following its national interest with a ruthless determination, unmindful of what happens to the rest of the world.

It is possible there is a genuine change of heart in President Clinton. But is there a change of heart in Wall Street, among the US MNCs and the thousands of American business associations? Is it possible that they will give up voluntarily all the advantages they enjoy? Only time can tell. If it happens, there will be a major shift in Indo-US strategic relations. It can affect our relations with other countries. Prime Minister Vajpayee spoke of it vaguely. But this is a thought that calls for another article.Top


Spiritual Nuggets

How swiftly men who praise themselves perish, unappraised of their real measure, unable to live in peace with others.

—Tirukural, 474; Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Weaver’s Wisdom, chapter 48


Paradoxically, we fight for peace, but peace can be established only by shedding selfishness and narrow mindedness.

—Baba Hardev Singh, Gems of Truth


Many are working today for the promotion of world peace, without having peace in themselves. Their loud propaganda, big talk and lectures cause more confusion, conflict and discord.

—Swami Shivananda, Bliss Divine, chapter 45


The way of peace requires that men and nations would recognise their common humanity and use weapons of integrity, reason, patience understanding and love.

—S. Radhakrishnan, Religion and Culture


O well-beloved ones!The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.


Be ye as the fingers of one hand, and the members of one body. Thus counselleth you the Pen of Revelation.

— Baha’u’llah, cited in The New Garden (a Bahai publication)


Give to all nations unity, peace and concord.

—Book of Common prayer: The Litany


One of the easiest ways to acquiring tranquillity, poise, self control, soothing of jingled nerves, is by breathing in a regular pattern known as Pranayama. Prana means breath or life-force or vital air, and ayama means its control. Pranayama consists of inhaling, withholding, exhaling and suspending of the vital airs.

—F.D. Colaabavala, Tantra:
The Erotic Cult, chapter 7Top

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