Friday, July 29, 2011

New humility for the hegemon

This article and comments of readers are worth examining.
There is no doubt that India's relations with it's neighbors leave much to be desired. The Indian leadership and in particular The Indian Foreign Service need to answer for the present state of affairs.
I believe that the Indian Foreign Service treats neighboring countries as dumping ground for not favorite ambassadors and staff. The top IFS officials like to fly to exotic European and US cities and do not have the time to visit near by capitals. Most likely, for top promotions postings in Europe/USA etc carry more weightage. All this matters.
Our bureaucrats/ IFS do treat our neighbors as inferiors and we do have Big Brother attitude. It is surprising that India does not have desired relations with the only other Hindu majority country ie Nepal!
We do need improved relations with our neighbors to ensure greater progress and security.
Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen

New humility for the hegemon
Too slowly, India is realising that poor relations with its South Asian neighbours hold back its global ambitions
Jul 30th 2011 | from the print edition

NO ONE loves a huge neighbour. For all that, India’s relations with the countries that ring it are abysmal. Of the eight with which it shares a land or maritime boundary, only two can be said to be happy with India: tiny Maldives, where India has the only foreign embassy and dispenses much largesse, and Bhutan, which has a policy of being happy about everything. Among its other South Asian neighbours, the world’s biggest democracy is incredible mainly because of its amazing ability to generate wariness and resentment.

Until recently it operated a shoot-to-kill policy towards migrant workers and cattle rustlers along its long border with Bangladesh. Over the years it has meddled madly in Nepal’s internal affairs. In Myanmar India snuggles up to the country’s thuggish dictators, leaving the beleaguered opposition to wonder what happened to India’s championing of democracy. Relations with Sri Lanka are conflicted. It treats China with more respect, but feuds with it about its border.

As for Pakistan, relations are defined by their animosity. One former Indian diplomat likened reconciling the two nuclear-tipped powers to treating two patients whose only disease is an allergy to each other. The observation underscores the fact that it takes two to have bad relations, and to be fair to India plenty of problems press in on it—many of them with their roots in India’s bloody partition in 1947. Pakistan has used a long-running territorial dispute over Kashmir as a reason to launch wars. It also exports terrorism to India, sometimes with the connivance of parts of the Pakistani state. India thinks Bangladesh also harbours India-hating terrorists.

With the notable exception of India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who has heroically persisted in dialogue with Pakistan in the face of provocations and domestic resistance, India’s dealings with its neighbours are mostly driven by arrogance and neglect. It has shared shockingly little of its economic dynamism and new-found prosperity with those around it. Just 5% of South Asia’s trade is within the region.

Too little and too late, the neglect is starting to be replaced by engagement (see article). This week Sonia Gandhi, dynastic leader of India’s ruling Congress Party, visited Bangladesh—a first. And on July 27th India’s foreign minister hosted his Pakistani counterpart, the first such meeting in a year. He promised a “comprehensive, serious and sustained” dialogue.
To read more click here

No comments:

Post a Comment