It's time India fixed its lame, rickety policies

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Jan 20, 2014.



    Sep 22, 2012
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    Detroit MI
    It is rightly said that a country's foreign and domestic policy is a product of the national security and economic concerns.

    On the advent of a unipolar world order, former prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao set off the process of economic reform and rebuilding of international relations without the baggage of the Cold War years.

    He brought to bear a remarkable clarity on the situation by opting for economic growth through liberalisation and bilateralism as the basis of all relations, including the policy towards our neighbours, and maintenance of internal security on a totally secular plank

    Unfortunately, the policy formulation has in recent years got stuck in a kind of tentativeness that is difficult to explain. The messy outcome of the case of Devyani Khobragade, in a sense, reflects this inexplicable weakness of policy on the Indian side.


    Prime Minister's recent press conference was for a limited objective and could not deal with the challenge of dispelling the impression that our national strategy was lame and incomplete.

    A quick look at the recent past reveals how three policy segments collectively create this impression.

    Inconsistency on the Indo-Pak front, a desire to keep our stand aligned with the US at the cost of healthy bilateralism, and a disregard of the paradigms of Indian economy in a blind quest for foreign investment - by those non-political experts who steered the economic policy but did not have real connectivity with the common man here, sum up this picture

    Our foreign and domestic policies, in fact, got into a state of disconnect even with our own national security estimates. A borrowed doctrinaire approach came in the way of an 'Indian model of development' being built within the larger global economy.

    Our handling of Indo-Pak relations marked a desperate bid to keep India aligned with the US even when the latter maintained a tilt in favour of our hostile neighbour in the region, at our cost.

    The problem in our relationship with Pakistan was never about the people-to-people interface, but about the intrinsic asymmetry between a secular democratic polity and an Islamic State in the grip of an entrenched military dictatorship.

    The Pakistan Army needed to project India as an adversary, to remain in power. This was reason enough for India not to have any neighbourly expectations from Pakistan and opt for clinical reciprocity.

    What made matters worse for us is the fact that during the decade-long 'war on terror,' the West, led by the US, developed a kind of dependence on the Pakistan Army that emboldened the latter to continue with its proxy war against India without any fear of rebuff from the international community.

    Even after 26/11, the Indo-US differential on the Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism against India remains where it was.

    Today, the Pakistan Army knows that the US will have to bank on it even more to keep the Americans protected against the Islamic radicals after its troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

    Many think tanks in the US, speaking for their government, made a distinction between 'Political Islam' and 'Radical Islam' to draw a line separating India-specific militants headed by the Jamaat-e- Islami's front Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba from the Taliban-Al Qaida axis.

    It may be comfortable for the West to see a difference between 'good terrorists' and 'bad terrorists', but it does not make sense to India.


    India's only long-term strategy has to be to make the country a major component of the 'economic multi-polarity' in the world, besides an unhesitant build-up of our defence on the Indo-Pak and Sino- Indian borders.

    It is ironic that even though the development of Indo-US relations was put on an ascending graph in the sphere of economic cooperation - evolving through the NSSP to the conclusion of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal for energy, India has not been able to get the US to categorically support us on our security concerns.

    When President Obama called for 'geopolitical pluralism' in the context of Afghanistan, he was indirectly acknowledging a possible role for China in helping out the troubled South Asia. He certainly knew all about the Sino-Pak axis that had been causing so much concern to India and yet he envisaged nothing concrete about India having a say in Afghanistan.

    Indian diplomacy has still not spelt out how India's interests in this geo-politically-important territory would be protected.


    As regards India's economic policies, these have not been able to deal with inflation, problems of the farmers, and the strategic sectors of manufacture, education and health.

    It does not require a great economic expertise to see that a major reason why India could withstand the global economic slowdown was the reality that Indian economy was predominantly domestic. The learning was that FDI in retail had to fulfil two conditions - not causing a shrinking of domestic economy and generating employment.

    The debate on this turned out to be doctrinal and not rational. Finally, the tremendous challenge of running a successful public distribution system in respect of a certain number of essential commodities to check price rise, could never be seriously taken up because of lack of effective governance.

    India's economic security, like our national security, has on the whole, suffered because of an uncertain kind of approach to strategic matters.

    Read more: It's time India fixed its lame, rickety policies | Mail Online

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