Monday, October 30, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Enigma of new foreign policy

GOING through Prof Bhupinder Brar’s article, “Towards an era of great powers: the enigma of new foreign policy” The Tribune, Oct 24, was a long detour of international diplomatic space.

Dilating further on the subject of Mr Vajpayee declaring the USA as a “natural ally”, the author emphatically points out that “The challenge to American unipolarity is not... going to be economic competition. It will have to be political and institutional” .

The professor is apprehensive that while “The USA will surely want to know on which side of the fence India will be when the chips are will be even more difficult, indeed impossible, to maintain equiproximity now” with the new natural ally, the USA, and the “traditional ally”, Russia.

There is no doubt that Russia, a strategic partner, wants “unipolarity to be replaced by multi-polarity (whereby) in that world system there would be not one or two superpowers but many great powers”.

As it is necessary to save ourselves from any “later-day embarrassment and disappointment”, and since we shall have only Russia as a strategic partner — the other two “non-Western Asian centres of power, China and Japan”, being doubtful — it would have been far more pragmatic for Mr Vajpayee to formulate our foreign policy in such a manner that instead of conferring on the USA the status of a “natural ally”, we should simply acclaim it as a working partner in the interest of democracy, fight against terrorism, human rights and global economic growth.

After all, USA has steadfastly denied us state-of-art technology and weapons, not to speak of the sanctions slapped in 1998. One wonders whether the “transnational Indians” believed to have captured “the minds of those who make foreign policy of India” can influence the US administration in this regard or alter the geo-strategic realities in and around South-Asia....

It is a different matter whether in the area of human rights violations by Pak-trained mercenaries in Kashmir during the last decade or in the new, unfolding situation of brinkmanship between Israel and Palestinians, the “working partnership” would stand the test of time. Yet, we must endeavour to maintain a cordial relationship with the sole super-power — sidestepping, of course, the harsher demands that a “natural ally” is likely to make, even though unable to do anything worthwhile beyond some self-gratifying investments by its MNCs here and there.

Without succumbing to hypocrisy and hyperbole of a natural alliance, it is still possible to correct the tilt and swerve back to a more appropriate alignment of our foreign policy unless, as Professor Brar has commented, “in the age of uncertain transitions, precision is passe”!

J. N. Narang



Relief package as slow poison

Relief packages are not only a drama but also a farce unless a permanent solution is worked out. Had it not been better if all the concerned people would have sat together and had given the paddy crisis a serious thought.

It seems we have developed the knack of putting off the issues of vital importance for tomorrow which we will perhaps never live to see.

The people at the helm are in the habit of washing off their hands after giving packages from the hard-earned national funds. They even don’t hesitate to get political mileage out of these crises.

Have these subsidies, reservations and relief packages served any purpose so far after over 50 years of Independence? They all seem to be like slow poison that has helped us reach nowhere.

Whosoever comes to power appears to be busy making hay while the sun shines. Who knows the world may end tomorrow! However, we must bear in mind that posterity will never forgive us for all this.



General Harbaksh’s role

I read the letter carried on October 20 in response to my letter on General Harbaksh’s role. The response appeared to be out of context. I quoted newspaper reports of September 1965, including those in The Tribune, which highlighted Harbaksh Singh’s dynamic role in the war.

Why the earlier war histories have not been recorded is primarily due to an undue concern for secrecy and refusal to learn from past mistakes, which we try to keep under wraps.

My letter was edited for space constraints, and possibly the crunch got left out in which I tried to address a query whether the Army Chief could indeed have ordered the withdrawal to a new defence line in the face of the initial successful Pakistani thrust, a fact which Harbaksh’s own ADC has verified.

More recently, noted defence analyst K Subrahmanyam has written: “The official history confirms that General Chaudhuri failed to coordinate with the Air Force Chief with the result that air operations could not be initiated along with ground operations on September 6...When Pakistan’s second armoured division advanced into Indian territory, he lost his nerve and advised Gen Harbaksh Singh to fall back to the Beas. To his eternal credit, General Singh refused. What the official history does not reveal is that he got through to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister and succeeded in eliciting their support in fighting the Pakistanis on the border.”

For an insight into how the senior military brass can bungle, and which will answer Mr Subhash Baru’s original query about whether a four-star General could panic, I had written, please read “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence”, by Norman Dixon, which is compulsory reading for senior US military commanders.



Bhutan and India

This refers to the article “ULFA threat to Bhutan’s security” published on October 3. The writer, retired Colonel P.K. Vasudeva has wrongly asserted that Bhutan is a protectorate of India and that India is responsible for protecting Bhutan’s sovereignty from external aggression.

Throughout history Bhutan has been a sovereign and independent country. Bhutan is a responsible and full member of the United Nations and also a founding member of SAARC. Currently it is serving as the Vice-President of the 55th session of the United Nations General Assembly and as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Bhutan and India enjoy excellent relations, which is regarded by many as a model of good neighbourly relations in the region.

Charge d’Affaires
Royal Bhutan Embassy
New Delhi


JMM bribery case

Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao is undoubtedly guilty of bribing JMM MPs to save his government. But how could the special court set free the Jharkhand MPs who have admitted to having taken huge bribes to vote for the Congress government? In fact, they are more guilty than Mr Rao. It was a case of party corruption so far as Mr Rao was concerned, but no personal corruption. The personal corruption of the JMM members of Parliament is a worse thing.

What is most shocking and amazing is that the Jharkhand MP who took the maximum bribe may be the next Chief Minister of the newly created state.




What could be the best toast to nuclear weapons?

Answer: May they rust in peace!


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |