"Fools rush in...." Silence is often golden in foreign affairs New Delhi, 4 February 2011: From the perspective of "peaceful rise", how far should India go in managing/ manipulating/ influencing the internal affairs of other countries? Not far at all. This needs to be explained in the context of the Egypt uprising. Some commentators rue that India did not openly back/ support the movement against Hosni Mubarak. In this writer's opinion, India couldn't do more than it did, which is admittedly little. Countries should not box above their weight-class. This realization or hard pragmatism recognizably has come to India. Often, India is accused of not being able to manage its neighbourhood. This charge is not invalid. But there is only so much India can do. To her best ability, Indira Gandhi did what had to be done with Bangladesh. But her best was not good enough. It is not enough to win the war, as India did in 1971. You have to secure the peace. India has failed with that in Bangladesh. Securing peace is never easy. The United States copped out in Iraq. And it will soon withdraw from Afghanistan changing little to nothing on the ground. Or take India in Sri Lanka. India has lurched in opposite extremes in respect of the Tamil ethnic problem there. Indira Gandhi authorized military training to the Tamil terrorists but particularly the LTTE. Her son ordered military action against the Liberation Tigers. The Tigers assassinated him. A future Congress-majority government, that is the UPA administration, backed the Sri Lankan government to decimate the LTTE. The result is that a triumphant, chauvinistic Sri Lankan president, who has become more dictatorial than before, will no longer even accept the existence of the Tamil question. His chief hedge against India is China. Or consider Nepal, a so-called Hindu kingdom before the deposition of the monarch. An Indian semi-blockade forced the institution of Nepal's parliamentary democracy in 1991. But that appears on hindsight to have been an easier mission than managing Nepal's democracy since, which has derailed. Or take Pakistan, which has sought to avenge Bangladesh by becoming obsessed with Kashmir to the point of destroying its future. Steadfastly, this writer has urged India to leave Pakistan alone to sink whilst securing its territories against Pakistani terrorism. This is India's only option against nuclear-armed Pakistan unless Pakistan provokes a war, when all bets are off. Or check on China. It thought it strategically wise to weaponize Pakistan against India and to look the other way of its anti-India terrorism. Well, its blowback time now. Sinking Pakistan (a process this writer believes cannot be reversed) could conceivably leak nukes (dirty IEDs at the least, says Wikileaks) to the terrorists, including to China's restive Uyghurs who train with the Al-Qaeda in FATA. So what was the good of China's pro-Pakistan/ anti-India policy if it couldn't -- and cannot -- stop India's peaceful rise but catastrophically threatens it? The United States is the last of the great imperial powers, and it is in irreversible decline. The old concept of imposing peace (Pax Britannica, Pax Americana) is over. If China tries to be a full-throated Middle Kingdom, it will fail in this new world where chaos is the only certainty. If imperial overstretch unfailingly can apply to Britain, Soviet Russia and the United States, China cannot be an exception. The best policy is the policy of peaceful rise, which India has intuitively but genuinely embraced. It makes India not an evangelist state at all but a valuable status quo power. Where it can box within its weight-class (and even tiny land-locked Nepal may not qualify for such a place), it tries to do, and utmost unwillingly. Instead, it uses its economic levers, trade heft and development tools. Success with them takes longer. But they sustain. Partnership is the name of the game. India can have done little about Egypt. Egypt is an Arab state with diminishing influence since its peace agreement with Israel. The United States which has lead Egypt since corralling Anwar Sadat to abandon Abdel Gamel Nasser's policies has been dumfounded with the recent upheaval. It could not be bothered who ruled Egypt so long the oil economy and world trade via the Suez was not hit, Israel was safe, and the Tunisia "contagion" did not spread to client states like Saudi Arabia which is the epicentre of Wahhabi terrorism. What could India do in the circumstances? Support a (Middle-East) mass rebellion uncertain of the end-state? Which sensible government would drop its guard to do that? Foreign policy cannot be dictated by news-TV emotionalism. Governments, like it or not, have to be hard-nosed about such matters. That old adage, "Fools rush in...", eminently applies to the Egypt situation. Wait and watch may appear pusillanimous but is often the best policy. Indian civil society may feel completely empathetic to the Egypt street, and why not? But governments cannot become emotional. Even democratic ones like India's. Trust time to heal India's relations with Egypt, if any have been strained. The only thing India ought to be evangelical about -- if at all -- is peaceful rise.