- Oct 10, 2009
How India Gives Global Governance the Biggest Headache - By Barbara Crossette | Foreign PolicyThe Elephant in the RoomThe biggest pain in Asia isn't the country you'd think.
BY BARBARA CROSSETTE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010
Think for a moment about which countries cause the most global consternation. Afghanistan. Iran. Venezuela. North Korea. Pakistan. Perhaps rising China. But India? Surely not. In the popular imagination, the world's largest democracy evokes Gandhi, Bollywood, and chicken tikka. In reality, however, it's India that often gives global governance the biggest headache.
Of course, India gets marvelous press. Feature stories from there typically bring to life Internet entrepreneurs, hospitality industry pioneers, and gurus keeping spiritual traditions alive while lovingly bridging Eastern and Western cultures.
But something is left out of the cheery picture. For all its business acumen and the extraordinary creativity unleashed in the service of growth, today's India is an international adolescent, a country of outsize ambition but anemic influence. India's colorful, stubborn loquaciousness, so enchanting on a personal level, turns out to be anything but when it comes to the country's international relations. On crucial matters of global concern, from climate change to multilateral trade, India all too often just says no.
India, first and foremost, believes that the world's rules don't apply to it. Bucking an international trend since the Cold War, successive Indian governments have refused to sign nuclear testing and nonproliferation agreements -- accelerating a nuclear arms race in South Asia. (India's second nuclear tests in 1998 led to Pakistan's decision to detonate its own nuclear weapons.)
Once the pious proponent of a nuclear-free world, New Delhi today maintains an attitude of "not now, not ever" when it comes to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. As defense analyst Matthew Hoey recently wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "India's behavior has been comparable to other defiant nuclear states [and] will undoubtedly contribute to a deteriorating security environment in Asia."
Not only does India reject existing treaties, but it also deep-sixes international efforts to develop new ones. In 2008, India single-handedly foiled the last Doha round of global trade talks, an effort to nail together a global deal that almost nobody loved, but one that would have benefited developing countries most. "I reject everything," declared Kamal Nath, then the Indian commerce and industry minister, after grueling days and sleepless nights of negotiations in Geneva in the summer of 2008.
On climate change, India has been no less intransigent. In July, India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, pre-emptively told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton five months before the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen that India, a fast-growing producer of greenhouse gases, would flat-out not accept binding carbon emissions targets.
India happily attacks individuals, as well as institutions and treaty talks. As ex-World Bank staffers have revealed in interviews with Indian media, India worked behind the scenes to help push Paul Wolfowitz out of the World Bank presidency, not because his relationship with a female official caused a public furor, but because he had turned his attention to Indian corruption and fraud in the diversion of bank funds.
By the time a broad investigation had ended -- and Robert Zoellick had become the new World Bank president -- a whopping $600 million had been diverted, as the Wall Street Journal reported, from projects that would have served the Indian poor through malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and drug-quality improvement programs. Calling the level of fraud "unacceptable," Zoellick later sent a flock of officials to New Delhi to work with the Indian government in investigating the accounts. In a 2009 interview with the weekly India Abroad, former bank employee Steve Berkman said the level of corruption among Indian officials was "no different than what I've seen in Africa and other places."
India certainly affords its citizens more freedoms than China, but it is hardly a liberal democratic paradise. India limits outside assistance to nongovernmental organizations and most educational institutions. It restricts the work of foreign scholars (and sometimes journalists) and bans books. Last fall, India refused to allow Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan journalists to attend a workshop on environmental journalism.
India also regularly refuses visas for international rights advocates. In 2003, India denied a visa to the head of Amnesty International, Irene Khan. Although no official reason was given, it was likely a punishment for Amnesty's critical stance on the government's handling of Hindu attacks that killed as many as 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat the previous year. Most recently, a delegation from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a congressionally mandated body, was denied Indian visas. In the past, the commission had called attention to attacks on both Muslims and Christians in India.
Nor does New Delhi stand up for freedom abroad. In the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Human Rights Council, India votes regularly with human rights offenders, international scofflaws, and enemies of democracy. Just last year, after Sri Lanka had pounded civilians held hostage by the Tamil Tigers and then rounded up survivors of the carnage and put them in holding camps that have drawn universal opprobrium, India joined China and Russia in subverting a human rights resolution suggesting a war crimes investigation and instead backed a move that seemed to congratulate the Sri Lankans.
David Malone, Canada's high commissioner in New Delhi from 2006 to 2008 and author of a forthcoming book, Does the Elephant Dance? Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy, says that, when it comes to global negotiations, "There's a certain style of Indian diplomacy that alienates debating partners, allies, and opponents." And looking forward? India craves a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, seeking greater authority in shaping the global agenda. But not a small number of other countries wonder what India would do with that power. Its petulant track record is the elephant in the room.
An article that comes out scathingly against India by Barbara Crossette, a former New Delhi bureau chief for the New York Times. let me start one by one on the points she has made
1) She talks about India not signing the Nuclear Non- proliferation treaty but is India's safety possible if we sign it in a region as volatile as ours is the question she fails to answer.Also the timing of the NPT agreement in 1968 was decided keeping in mind that India was fast progressing on an nuclear weapons path and would soon conduct a test(which it did in 1974), the NPT timing was designed to try to keep India out. As for the Pakistanis following Indian tests in 1998 it is widely rumored that they conducted their first test at Lop Nor in May 1983 the same was attended by the then Pakistani foreign minister Yakub Khan. The nuclear proliferation in south Asia was accelerated by A.Q.khans nuclear walmart not by anything India has ever done.
2) As far as environmental issue are concerned India has a far lower per capita ratio of carbon emissions than most if not all of the developed world. India has also put in a rigid system of environmental controls wherein we are trying to control pollution without signing any agreements" the DPCC directive to all five star hotels in Delhi to get ISO14001 certified being one". Copenhagen failed not because of India refusing to sign "As she herself says we are but a nation of little bearing in world affairs" she should read the article below
If you want to know who's to blame for Copenhagen, look to the US Senate | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The GuardianIf you want to know who's to blame for Copenhagen, look to the US Senate and in specific to Obama. Obama went behind the backs of the UN and most of its member states and assembled a coalition of the willing to strike a deal that outraged the rest of the world. This was then presented to poorer nations without negotiation: either they signed it or they lost the adaptation funds required to help them survive the first few decades of climate breakdown.
as for Doha one needs only to follow the link to see who the experts blame
International Economic Law and Policy Blog: The Doha Failure: Plenty of Blame to Go Around
3) While vested Interests within the Indian Polity may or may not have pushed for the removal of Paul Wolfowitz, corrupt interests have been known to do far worse however for the sake of further study i have attached a pdf on the reasons wolfowitz was removed by the Montreal international forum.
4)As far as limiting international assistance to education and limited NGO's. i would say it is the right thing to do given India's rainbow social fabric with a multitude of different ethnicities, religions and linguistic groups all co-habitating in the same space. India needs to make sure that any foreign group does not disturb this balance if that means leaving the Evangelists and Jehovah's witnesses out well so be it.
5) i will not comment anything more on the denial of visas to the amnesty head except saying that it was a political move by the party in power at the time and does not reflect Indian foreign policy as a whole.
6)On the last point let's just say each nation including India has skeletons in it's closet,International votes are decided on the vagaries of geopolitical considerations not on morals. the author being a citizen of the nation that has through it's foreign policies been directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions of civilians in other nations of the world should realize that.