Continuing the book review of Dayan Jayatilleka’s Long war, Cold Peace — Part IV -INDIA A THREAT TO REGIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY
Posted on May 18th, 2013

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The main thrust in my friend Dayan’s political predictions — both domestic and foreign — is invariably aimed at projecting passing fears, laced with his political preferences / prejudices, into impending doomsday scenarios . In his calculations it is always going to be the end of the world for Sri Lanka if the 13the Amendment or any of his  other  prescriptions are not implemented. His latest book, Long War, Cold Peace, and his interview in the Financial Times (FT — (5/10/2013) titled “We are on the road to lose peace” summarises his predictions, based on his fears, which seems to be running parallel with that of the prediction in the Mayan calendar. In essence, he says that the military victory is commendable but the peace cannot be won unless the nation hands over territory, as drawn arbitrarily in the concocted geography of Vadukoddai Resolution, to the Tamil leadership which lost its claims to mono-ethnic extremism in May 2009. Either intentionally or unintentionally, his analyses, theories and predictions tend to pump oxygen into the Vadukoddai ideology — the rallying cry of the Tamil separatists — to keep it alive and kicking. As an “enlightened patriot” — he does not brand himself as a “nationalist” — he argues that there is no other way to win peace and keep the foreign wolves out of our borders.

He concludes his interview in the FT with  an apocalyptic sentence on Sri Lanka : “I think it (failure to give into the Vadukoddai demands) would make almost certain that we will see a Tamil Eelam carved out by external forces in our lifetime.” Earlier, when the pundits were declaring that the war was unwinnable, his theory was to appease the so-called “moderates” with concessions close as possible to the Vadukoddai Resolution which, according to him, would isolate the Tamil Tigers from the Tamil masses and bring them round to accept the “moderates” as the saviours who had won constitutional gains — a tactic that was doomed to fail because the “moderates” themselves were dependent on the Tamil Tigers for their survival. The nation won the the war without appeasing the “moderates” with a brilliant military response that stunned the world by winning the unwinnable war. From appeasing the “moderates” — mythical Jaffna jingoists who were committed to the violence of the Vadukoddai Resolution — he has shifted his current thesis to appease “the massive convergence of United States and India” because we do not have a super-power to back us like Israel or Cuba at the height of the Cold War. If we don’t win the peace on the terms laid out by the external forces the nation would be carved up like Yugoslavia in our life time, according to his “political science”.

This fear-mongering is marketed as “political science” — a fictitious science that can’t be applied to bring back his fellow-academics (500 of them) who had bolted to greener pastures abroad after going on scholarships, let alone finding solutions to the nagging ills of mankind. Let that be for the moment. What is of concern is Dayan’s “political science” which claims that he is “almost certain that we will see a Tamil Eelam carved out by external forces in our lifetime” if we don’t give in to the demands of the Jaffna Tamil leadership. Some Indian imperialists may want to do this. But any Indian military assault on Sri Lanka must be weighed against the geo-politics enveloping the SAARC and the Indian Ocean regions.

In plain English Dayan is predicting that India will step in with its military might to divide Sri Lanka into two ethnic enclaves if the 13th Amendement — India’s baby — is not adopted by Sri Lanka. That is easily said than done. Nevertheless, let us factor in the possibility of direct Indian intervention and imagine for a moment that India, combined with the backing of US, marches in to implement its will to balkanise Sri Lanka. India did step in once and can do that again. Of course, the problem is not in marching in. Sri Lanka hasn’t the strength to stop that. But how is India going to get out? That will be the critical problem to India. Sri Lanka has the strength to make its soil India’s Vietnam as demonstrated in its previous incursion with the IPKF. Besides, can India just walk out after carving Sri Lanka into two ethnic enclaves? Who is going to protect the long land and littoral borders that divides the nation? Will the Tamils have enough military capacity to protect their new border without Indian forces? Will not India have to maintain a permanent military force to preserve and protect the porous land and sea borders?

India is already having enough problems in protecting (1) the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir, (2) Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladahk, and (3) the territory it seeks to hold in Arunachal Pradesh which is challenged by China claiming it to be a part of Southern Tibet. Just a few weeks ago — between April and May — the forces of China’s Peoples Liiberation Army marched into Indian occupied territory in Ladahk and refused to move. After some haggling China went back to status quo. As opposed to this there are those who argue that the staggering increase in trade (current $75 billion heading towards $100 billion in 2015) will put the brakes on any escalation of politico-military confrontation. But the intermittent Indo-Sino confrontations in land and sea have led both Western and Chinese analysts to conclude that at least one or the other is likely to engage in a short whack-and-withdraw operation like the one in 1962 when China crossed the Indian border to teach India a lesson. The potential to flare up is always there hovering in the horizon in every incident that explodes. Who will blink first is anybody’s guess.

India, for its part, is testing the waters of South China sea and complaining that China is obstructing international sea lanes. India is jointly exploring with the Vietnamese the sea bed off the coast of Vietnam for oil and gas. On one occasion when a Chinese fishing boat cut a seismic cable attached to one of Vietnam’s vessels exploring for oil and gas near the Gulf of Tonkin, an act apparently intended to inhibit Vietnam from pursuing energy deposits, India threatened to send its navy to patrol the waters of South China sea. China, apart from putting together “a string of pearls” aroung the neck of India, is also surveying the Indian Ocean sea bed for scientific knowledge which is vital for its future naval operations. Once when a Chinese “spy ship ” moving around Andaman Island was challenged by the Indian Navy it rushed to seek shelter in a Sri Lankan port, according to hysterical screams of the Indian media. The rivarly and the rising tensions in the east are a part of the cat-and-mouse game played by both big powers in the region, trying to throw strategic rings round each other. China has already boxed in India from the east (Arunachal Pradesh), north (Ladahk) and the west with its ally in Pakistan. With China sitting on top of India in the north and holding a commanding position in the east and with Pakistan in the west can India afford to lose its southern flank in Sri Lanka?

Indian foriegn policy is determined mainly by  (a) domestic compulsions, both at the centre in New Delhi and the peripheral states like Tamil Nadu; (b) shifting geo-political needs to join hands with “strategic partners” (examples: USSR or USA) and (c) economic factors, particularly growing international trade. Though India  has been fixated on Pakistan in the past in recent time it has increasingly focused its attention on China which has risen rapidly to the commanding position of super-power in the East. US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper summed it up when he told the Senate Intelligence Committee: “India is increasingly concerned about China’s posture along their disputed border and Beijing’s perceived aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region. The Indian Army believes a major Sino-Indian conflict is not imminent, but the Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean,” he added. The Chinese think tank, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) too have arrived at a similar conclusion in its very first analysis of Indo-Sino relations.

The emerging geo-politics of the East is loaded with explosive uncertainties. Is India ready to add another explosive issue by getting bogged down in Sri Lanka ? In Sri Lanka it has literally and metaphorically caught the Tigers’ tail and is in a dilemma  not knowing whether to let go or hold on. For domestic reasons it has to be with the Tamils of Jaffna who had infiltrated Tamil Nadu politics. But for external security it has to be with an undivided Sri Lanka. So any Indian move to break up Sri Lanka is a risky gamble with unforseen developments that are bound to spin out of control, as seen in the IPKF operations, leading to unmanageable consequences that eventually will boomerang on India’s security and future.

With India’s enemies surrounding her in the north, west and east she needs some space to breathe in the region and if it aims to dominate the Indian Ocean Sri Lanka is indispensable. India cannot be a key player in the Indian Ocean without the good will of at least one neighbour sharing the Indian Ocean. And if India intends to put its boots down in Sri Lanka as an occupying force, which is what Dayan predicts, then  the South Bloc and Dayan both will have to get back to the text books on America in Vietnam and USSR in Afghanistan.  India’s presence will unify the nation as never before and no national party in the south can rise to power on the backs of the Jawans. 

India is parading as the cock of the walk in the East right now banking on America, another declining power of the West which has too many irons in the fire like India. The grim reality is that India does not have a single “strategic partner” among its SAARC neighbours in the Indian Ocean. The South Bloc had to go beyond several seas and oceans to find a “strategic partner” in USA. This exposes the disastrous failure of India foreign policy in the region. India ‘s Big Brother attitude, wielding the big stick, to push its dictatorial neo-colonialism has no welcoming recipients in the SAARC neghbourhood. The success of India’s foreign policy can be tested by counting the number of SAARC members which are on its side. If it can’t win at least one neighbour located stretegically in the Indian Ocean then India’s security, peace and stability will be vulnerable to foreign threats. How safe is a house surrounded by hostile neighbours?

India cannot win friends or influence in the neighbourhood by waving a big stick. A classic example is the lesson taught by President Ranasinghe Premadasa to India. When India, at the eleventh hour, boycotted the 6th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Colombo, President Premadasa got on the phone and with direct talks to the neighbouring heads of states taught India a lesson in foreign policy at a time when India was manipulating internal anti-Premadasa forces to teach him a lesson for refusing to be subservient to India. Besides, India was operating hand in glove with Lalith Athulathmudali-Gamini Dissanayake combo to move the impeachment motion against Premadasa. When the other SAARC members rallied behind President Premadasa India came crawling back, with its tail between its legs. realising that the combined force of small neighbours is greater in the region than the single giant force of India.

Sri Lanka, sitting right in the middle of the Indian Ocean, has been and will be a strategic centre for not only shipping lanes but also for defence of India. Sri Lanka is to India what Cuba was to America : it can’t let its enemies plant nuclear missiles just next door. Hemmed in already from north, east and west India cannot alienate its south to its rivals in the Indian Ocean  — currently the most strategic expanse of water in global politics. Sri Lanka not only opens up space for India  in the south but it can also be the indispensable ally to ensure its security in a region hotting up with rising tensions. From any security angle it is absolutely clear that India needs Sri Lanka more than Sri Lanka needing India. As things stands, and with the increasing tensions in the east, Sri Lanka has become the indispensable nation for India’s future.

India, for all its super power posturing, is not great as it thinks for the simple reason that it is dependent entirely on the American-led West for its future which, right now, is using India as its shield to consolidate its position in the East. This does not augur well for the SAARC region. Just as much as it pushed the neighbours to back USSR when India was aligned to communist bloc she will now manipulate the neighbour to back America. In other words, India’s foriegn policy is operated on the pinciple that what is good for India is good everyone else in the neighbourhood.

India has been the mother of all its problems in the neighbourhood. It has, through its short-sighted policies, created a neighbourhood that would not rush in a hurry to its aid and stand by India at crunch time. In any case, from day one India’s foreign policy has been to rely on the west — Britian initially, immediately after independence, then USSR , then Russia after the collapse of USSR, and now USA — rather than build a defensive fortress with its neighbours, based on mutual interests.

For a brief while, when Nehru was leading the Non-Aligned Movement, India stood tall and even strong in between the two giant big power rivals. It was a moral power with the backing of the small nations around the globe. It was a towering moral force that stood for the powerless. But India lost that moral stature with Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, who replaced morality with feral femininity. Rohinton Mistry’s masterpiece, A Fine Balance, depicted the internal horrors of India under her Emergency rule. She turned out to be the reincarnation of the Kali — the evil goddess of death and destruction. Arguing from the base of karmic theory some Sri Lankans maintain that the bullet she aimed at Sri Lanka ricocheted and laid her down. Even her son, who followed his mother’s evil politics, finally became a victim of the Tamil monsters bred in Mother India’s womb.

These  body blows to India demonstrate that  its dictatorial interventions in the domestic affairs of its small neighbours have not helped India to consolidate its power in the region. Like American interventions in Vietnam, or USSR interventions in Afghanistan, Indian interventions in Sri Lanka boomeranged on Delhi causing irreparable domestic damage and loss to its image as the super power in the region. India can claim to have a legitimate right to intervene if there is a serious threat to its security, for instance, by a neighbour aligning itself with India’s enemy. Sri Lanka posed no such threat even though it had aligned with US under JRJ at a time when India was aligned with USSR.

US burnt its fingers in Afghanistan by unleashing Islamic fundamentalism against USSR. India learnt its lesson by unleashing Tamil terrorism in Sri Lanka. The primary lesson is simple: whenever Sri Lanka’s security and stability are threatened the ripples of these factors flow over to India, impacting heavily on its own stability and security. For instance, there is, no doubt, that the death of Rajiv Gandhi in particular is related to his attempts to destablize Sri Lanka. If India had fostered a stable and non-violent polity in Sri Lanka Rajiv Gandhi would not have died in vain. India intervened to dictate terms to Sri Lanka. But in the end India got whacked by a naval rating who stood in the parade to farewell Rajiv Gandhi and, worst of all, by the very Tamil terrorist forces it created to destabilize Sri Lanka. If India is keen on preserving its security it must look backwards and learn its history lessons from Sri Lanka.

Clearly, India can come. But how long can it stay? And what is India’s exit strategy? Which pundit / “political scientist” can predict the answers?

8 Responses to “Continuing the book review of Dayan Jayatilleka’s Long war, Cold Peace — Part IV -INDIA A THREAT TO REGIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Well said HLDM.

    Now we are CERTAIN DJ is a traitor.

    It was the govt. that HANDED THE CHICKEN TO THIS FOX to look after!! Now he has prepared a chicken soup for the Endians.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    India is a motley collection of fiefdoms assembled for the convenience of administration by Imperial Britain. In this way India is similar to other Imperial constructs like Indonesia and Malaysia. It is inherently unstable as a nuclear bomb and given the correct impetus it can explode destabilising the whole South Asian region in its wake. Since independence India has grown as a regional power and this is not to the liking of the Christian West and now is the reason for their efforts for India’s balkanisation.

    For this effort they have chosen Racist Tamil call for Eelam in Sri Lanka as the stepping stone. India is extremely foolish in trying to be the big bully in the region. India must recognise Sri Lanka’s role in protecting her southern flank. Western Imperial powers led by the US are now actively posturing in the entire region on fire – just as they are doing in the Middle East and in Africa.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    “Since independence India has grown as a regional power and this is not to the liking of the Christian West”

    Not true.

    1 MOST Endian leaders are Christian WEST EDUCATED. REAL Endian leader from 2004 to 2019? is SONIA – an Italian Christian fundamentalist. Her children too are Christian WEST EDUCATED!

    Compare Christian educated JR, CBK, Premathasa against MR.

    2 Britain CREATED Endia! There was no Endia before. Obviously Britain wanted it to become ONE big country.

    3 We CAN beat Tamil Madu but not Endia.

    4 Western countries IGNORE Kashmir problem because they want to keep Endia in one piece.

    5 SL’s biggest enemy is Endia. United Endia stands, divided Endia falls.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    At last the Russians have got some brains.

    Russia now has 15 warships near Syria. Will also give them missiles. IF Assad falls now as things are, ALL non-Sunni people will be killed. For that reason ALONE he should stay. Otherwise he too is an extremist.

  5. Senevirath Says:

    I knew that dayan j was a traitor even in nineties. my book JATHIYA PAAVADEEMA contains how he and thisarani worked against JATHIKA CHINTANAYA. At that time THISARANI was a director of researsh in the peoples bank. I TOO WAS IN THE SAME BANK.

    I organised a seiries of lectures to wake up sinhalese by the name”APE URUMAYA HANDUNAGANIMU” HIGH RANK ARMY OFFICER HELPED ME FOR THIS but dayan and thisarani contacted then army comander cyril ranatunga and told him that teaching our heritage is an encoragement to J.V.P ERS . Army comander asked my friend not to continue it .

    During PREMDASA” time dayan was very powerful ONE TIME PERUMAL MAN–. ONE TIME PREMADASA MAN –ONE TIME MAHINDA MAN…………

    ” KATUSSA” VANAHI PAATA VENAS KIRIMEHI ATHI SAMATHEKI”””

  6. Senevirath Says:

    MY BOOK JATHIYA PAAVADEEMA WAS PUBLIDHED IN 1999

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    The ADVERSE IMPACT of Local Politics in India on India’s Foreign Policy is being hotly debated within India.

    The following article is but ONE example. We can nurse a fond hope that SANITY will ultimately prevail, and India will be able to suppress these Local Demagogues and better treat its neighbors.

    In my view, at the ROOT of India’s troubles is its failure to ERADICATE discrimination within its own society, on the basis of caste, ethnicity etc etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. India has permanently embedded communalism within its weak federal structure pitting its various communities against each other to gain government benefits. This has become a tried and tested path to power for power hungry politicians who grow like weeds in the grass in India.

    As a result, Local and State politicians have seized the opportunity to create political power bases on communal issues that make them law unto themselves, to the detriment of India as a whole. Today Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha and Mamata Banerjee are perfect examples of such communal politicians, although in the past Mamata had advocated the dismantling of caste based system of preferences to one based on NEED alone, irrespective of communal attributes. Clearly, she has decided to win by joining the devils rather than lose by confronting them.

    India, and Indians, like to preach to Sri Lanka the superiority of their “Federal” system of government in the “world’s largest democracy”, and advocate devolution of power to Eelamists in Sri Lanka.

    BIGNESS alone does not a better system of government make, for now India is a country teetering on the threshold of disintegration into its constituent regions PRECISELY because of its WEAK Federal Government and the FLAWED COMMUNAL POLICIES it had adopted in governance since independence.

    The final chapter on India disintegration remains yet to be written. Indians remain myopic, casting stones at smaller neighboring countries while being oblivious to the cancer that is consuming itself. Blind to the end, they ignore the lessons to be learned on the blowback on Tamil separatism in India that they inherited by blindly supporting and pandering to Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka.

    Empowerment of Communalism being the BASIC THREAT to National Survival, Sri Lanka should REJECT all FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED Federal Prescriptions for Communal Autonomy advocated by India that is itself plunging headlong into OBLIVION. If India wishes to committ HARAKIRI scratching its Sores in Communal Valhalla, that is India’s business. SURVIVAL as a thriving unitary sovereign nation of a united people … is Sri Lanka’s business.

    One of the few BENEFITS of SMALLNESS that Sri Lanka enjoys is that it does not need the Multilayered, Intrinsically Weak, Governing Structure of a Federal state required to govern large countries such as India and the United States.

    Let us mind OUR OWN BUSINESS of GOVERNING Sri Lanka with the SIMPLEST, MOST STREAMLINED, CENTRALIZED form of Governance we can DEVISE OURSELVES to preserve Sri Lanka’s INTEGRITY, ensure EQUITY for its citizens without regard to communal attributes, and GROW our ECONOMY towards becoming the New Wonder of Asia.

    The GOSL should inform those who advocate Federal Systems for Sri Lanka, that they are SIMPLY NOT QUALIFIED TO OFFER ADVICE on the basis of their own experiences; they should look towards squashing centrifugal tendencies within their own countries FIRST.

    …………………………
    India’s foreign policy is not soft. It’s “soft power”….

    By Prashant Panday
    TimesofIndia.IndiaTimes.com

    May 03, 2013

    In the vicious political environment that exists in India today, every incident – no matter how tragic – is quickly converted to a political issue. Even as Sarabjit Singh died yesterday, the BJP was out calling our foreign policy “soft”. Begs me to ask: What would the BJP have done differently if it was ruling? Attacked Pakistan? Is that going to be the BJP’s foreign policy if it comes to power? Do they even understand what foreign policy means? All of Vajpayee’s extensive foreign trips in the 1970s have yielded them this understanding???? For this dimwittedness alone, the BJP should never come to power.

    The BJP has the habit of raising the pitch sky high. On every issue, but most notably on foreign policy issues, where it appears to prefer a “hardline” approach. If one were to follow its advice, India should attack China and Pakistan both. And while we are at it, let’s also show Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also how tough we can be. And if we haven’t attacked them yet, it shows we (sorry, Congressmen) are cowards. For a street bully (or ruffian) that the BJP wants India to be, attacking is the only way to demonstrate power. Beat up the guy next door, even if it means getting a bloody nose yourself in the process too. That’s a sign of “bravery” and “courage”. But the BJP forgets that even the street dog knows which fight to pick. It never fights a Rottweiler. And if someone calls it a coward for this, so be it. Lest we forget, China is a Rottweiler. Even the US and Japan acknowledge that. Japan and China have been sparring over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. Japan is seeking to establish a “hotline” with China to “discuss” things out. It is even seeking help from Mongolia. It has the US backing too. But Japan hasn’t attacked China. Does that make Japan a “coward”????

    And yet, the defining characteristic of the BJP is not its hardline on foreign policy. It’s its doublespeak. When the BJP ruled, it did NOTHING to demonstrate its preference for a muscular foreign policy. In fact, quite the opposite. It was Vajpayee who cuddled up to Musharraf, even as he came to India and insulted us. It was under the same BJP regime that Afzal Guru attacked the Indian Parliament, and save for more high pitched statements, the BJP did nothing to show him the gallows. And worse, as evidence of the party’s muscular foreign policy and it’s “bravery”, they released known top-deck Pakistani terrorists in exchange for a hijacked plane. That time, they called it a “sympathetic” move to save the hostages. Today, they would call it “softness” or “cowardice” if the Congress did the same thing. Today, they say India should have a “no negotiations” policy with terrorists, like Israel has. Yet when they come to power, they will forget all about it. The BJP is nothing but double-speak; so its politicization of the Sarabjit death is understandable.

    But here’s the other point. We Indians are behaving as if this is the first case of an Indian death on Pakistani soil. Let’s be clear here. Pakistan is a sworn enemy of India. It’s hand in Kashmir is well known. Any peace overtures we make are with the full knowledge that they may not work. And yet, there is no other way to handle a neighbour like Pakistan; one that will surely self-destruct one day. India does what it does because that’s the best – in fact, the only – way to protect itself. Attacking Pakistan is neither feasible, nor smart. It’s plain naivete to think India can attack Pakistan and subdue it. It smacks of ignorance. It may help the BJP politically, but it will hurt India by dragging it into an avoidable conflict. It will cost us billions, and will slow our economic growth down for decades. Worse, it may bring the international focus back on Kashmir, something that India’s “soft” foreign policy has so smartly avoided so far.

    At this point I know what the BJP apologists will say. We’re not talking of going to war to Pakistan. But there is a way to teach them a lesson. Oh really? Please enlighten me. You didn’t when you were in power.

    The only way for any country to exert power is through soft power. As a country’s economic clout grows, so does it influence in the world. We have got where we have because our economy has become a force to reckon with. The US didn’t welcome us into the nuclear club because they suddenly fell in love with us. They did it for their own self interest. Yet, how did we return the favor. By not giving them any nuclear plants to build (whatever the reason). By not giving them defence contracts so we could prove to ourselves that we are “independent” and not under the influence of the US. It’s building relationships that matters in foreign policy. India needs to woo the US. That’s the only way it can counter both Pakistan and China. But will we do that? The same BJP will say “we’ve sold our soul to the US”. Why talk only of the US? We have messed up our relationship with Italy and the EU now. Forget getting support from them if we ever get jammed.

    And then we have the likes of Mamata Banerjee who also want to have a hand in foreign policy. Had she not torpedoed the Teesta water deal, we would have forged a stronger relationship with Bangladesh. But she had her parochial Bengal politics to think about. Today, as we talk of “exchanging enclaves” with Bangladesh, the BJP finds it unacceptable. You want to know why? Because India will be giving away a little more that it will be getting in return. Such small thinking is making Bangladesh move away from India. Their politicians are saying “It doesn’t help to be a friend with India”. One day, they will welcome China into their country. That day, the BJP (which will forever remain in opposition, if it continues like this) will lecture us about “India doesn’t have clout with Bangladesh”. But hello….how does India get clout over Bangladesh? By attacking it? Or by being like the “generous big brother”, and behaving like one?

    It’s the same with Sri Lanka where Jayalalitha decided that she was the savior of all Tamilians, no matter what their nationality. And now that our relations with that country are messed up, why not blame that on the Congress too? Honestly, if the Congress should get tough, it should be with those inside India; not outside.

    And is the BJP any different? Just look at the irony. The man who is responsible (directly or indirectly) for the “extra judicial” massacre of thousands in Gujarat makes a statement accusing Pakistan of having carried out extra-judicial killing! If this is not a case of the pot calling the kettle black, what is?

    Let’s not beat around the bush. Foreign policy cannot be practiced as it is being right now. We cannot have state governments playing local politics one day, then blaming the Center when relations sour. We cannot have our media playing up jingoism, then demanding why India doesn’t have friends in the neighborhood. Foreign policy should be left to the experts, and kept completely out of the public domain. And most importantly, there is no place for extremism or false bravado in foreign policy. Understanding global relationships as they exist between nations is a complex task. Its not for us naïve locals to think about.

    The real truth is that thanks to vicious internal politics, India’s long standing foreign policy is being questioned. A foreign policy built on “soft power” is being called “soft”. A demand for a more muscular policy is being made. At this rate, we may soon have a war on our hands. Maybe with China, who everyone dreads, including the US and Japan. But the BJP’s deep-seated inferiority complex may push India towards a war. But why should the party care? It is only interested in winning power in 2014. After that, it can go back to releasing terrorists and entertaining dictators all over again….

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    8 Myths About India’s Growth

    On closer inspection, the Indian miracle turns out to be pretty ordinary after all.

    By Daniel Altman
    ForeignPolicy.com
    April 29, 2013

    Is India different? Last month, India’s finance minister confidently declared that nothing could stop his country from becoming the world’s third-biggest economy. He may well be right, but size alone does not make India a special case. Its growth has been fast, but it is no trailblazer.

    Here are eight popular myths about India’s growth, all of which are easily debunked:

    India has outperformed other emerging economies in the recent past. In the two decades from 1992 to 2012, average living standards in India did rise faster than those in most countries that started from a similar level. In fact, only nine other countries in the world saw living standards, measured by purchasing power, climb more quickly: Albania, Armenia, Bhutan, China, Equatorial Guinea, the Maldives, Mozambique, Sudan, and Vietnam. Faster growth was to be expected in countries that started out with lower living standards than India’s, but several of these — Albania, Armenia, Bhutan, China, and the Maldives — actually started out with higher purchasing power. Relative to them, India underperformed.

    India will grow faster than other emerging economies in the future. For the next five years, the International Monetary Fund projects that living standards in several countries will grow faster than India’s. Among them, again, are countries with a higher starting position: Bhutan, China, the Republic of Congo, and Georgia. India will likely outperform many other economies that have similar living standards today, but it hasn’t unlocked every secret of economic growth just yet.

    When India finally opens its markets to trade, exports will supercharge its growth. India is not the easiest place to be an exporter, but it’s hardly the most difficult, either. In terms of both time and money needed to ship a container of goods, India ranks in the middle of the pack, according to the World Bank. If anything, exports could become more expensive for Indian companies if the United States and others forced India to drop some of its remaining export subsidies. In 2011, India’s exports and imports represented 54 percent of GDP, about the same share as in China. It’s unlikely that exports will change the growth story anytime soon.

    The urbanization of India’s huge rural population will lead to unprecedented increases in living standards. Urbanization has been a critical ingredient to economic growth for many countries. Simply putting labor next to capital by attracting people into cities tends to raise workers’ productivity and, eventually, their incomes. More than two thirds of India’s population still lives in rural areas, compared with less than half in China. But India is not under-urbanized compared to other poor countries; if you look at how living standards compare to urbanization among all the world’s countries, India sits right on the best-fit line. There’s no reason to believe that urbanization will help India’s growth more than it has for any other country.

    India’s service industry will provide a huge boost to employment. India’s legions of call-center staffers, software developers, and information-technology experts have led some analysts to proclaim a “service revolution” that will provide an alternative to manufacturing as a path to prosperity. Yet economists suggest that India’s service sector has merely caught up to international norms, and there is no particular reason to believe that it will take over a much bigger share of the economy as the country grows. The literacy rate in China is much higher, and it’s not clear that India even has more English speakers. Moreover, as wages rise in China, the opportunity for India to raise living standards through manufacturing — not services — will expand enormously.

    India has more mathematical, scientific, and engineering geniuses to drive its economic growth than other countries. In absolute terms, this may be true; after all, India has a population of more than 1.2 billion people. But a population this big will have more people at either end of the distribution of economic ability: more geniuses, and more people with serious challenges to their cognitive capacity. The question is whether the extra geniuses will have a positive effect that is disproportionate to India’s population. If this were true more generally, populous countries like Germany and France would have higher living standards than smaller countries with similar advantages, like Switzerland and Denmark. Clearly, this is not the case.

    As a democracy, India is more conducive to free-market capitalism. The links between democracy and economic growth have interested economists for decades, and the rise of state capitalism in non-democratic countries like China and Saudi Arabia has posed an ideological challenge. India is often touted as the world’s biggest democracy; the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators rank it in the 59th percentile for “voice and accountability” of citizens and government, just shy of several members of the European Union. Still, India’s markets are far from free. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom calls India “mostly unfree” with a ranking of 119 out of 177 countries, as a result of heavy government involvement in the economy, from regulatory requirements to trade barriers. It’s also one of the toughest places in the world to start a business.

    The British legacy of a strong legal system gives India an edge. If it does, it’s not a very big edge. Geographical factors like coastline, rainfall, and temperature can explain a big share of the differences in living standards between countries today. Controlling for these factors, former British colonies tend to do better than the average among all countries. But among the former colonies, India is one of the worst performers. Indeed, its living standards are worse than you might have expected given its geography. That may be because the vast majority of India’s workers operate outside the strictures and protections of the legal system, in an environment more reminiscent of London’s 19th century slums than Canary Wharf.

    To sum up, there’s little basis for any sort of mystique surrounding India’s economic growth. On its current path, India shows no obvious signs of rewriting the textbooks; on the contrary, it has confirmed much of what economists already understood about urbanization, industrialization, trade, and institutions. Don’t get me wrong — India is undoubtedly a fascinating country for many other reasons. But to an economist, it’s just another poor country that happens to be very, very big.

    When India finally opens its markets to trade, exports will supercharge its growth. India is not the easiest place to be an exporter, but it’s hardly the most difficult, either. In terms of both time and money needed to ship a container of goods, India ranks in the middle of the pack, according to the World Bank. If anything, exports could become more expensive for Indian companies if the United States and others forced India to drop some of its remaining export subsidies. In 2011, India’s exports and imports represented 54 percent of GDP, about the same share as in China. It’s unlikely that exports will change the growth story anytime soon.

    The urbanization of India’s huge rural population will lead to unprecedented increases in living standards. Urbanization has been a critical ingredient to economic growth for many countries. Simply putting labor next to capital by attracting people into cities tends to raise workers’ productivity and, eventually, their incomes. More than two thirds of India’s population still lives in rural areas, compared with less than half in China. But India is not under-urbanized compared to other poor countries; if you look at how living standards compare to urbanization among all the world’s countries, India sits right on the best-fit line. There’s no reason to believe that urbanization will help India’s growth more than it has for any other country.

    India’s service industry will provide a huge boost to employment. India’s legions of call-center staffers, software developers, and information-technology experts have led some analysts to proclaim a “service revolution” that will provide an alternative to manufacturing as a path to prosperity. Yet economists suggest that India’s service sector has merely caught up to international norms, and there is no particular reason to believe that it will take over a much bigger share of the economy as the country grows. The literacy rate in China is much higher, and it’s not clear that India even has more English speakers. Moreover, as wages rise in China, the opportunity for India to raise living standards through manufacturing — not services — will expand enormously.

    India has more mathematical, scientific, and engineering geniuses to drive its economic growth than other countries. In absolute terms, this may be true; after all, India has a population of more than 1.2 billion people. But a population this big will have more people at either end of the distribution of economic ability: more geniuses, and more people with serious challenges to their cognitive capacity. The question is whether the extra geniuses will have a positive effect that is disproportionate to India’s population. If this were true more generally, populous countries like Germany and France would have higher living standards than smaller countries with similar advantages, like Switzerland and Denmark. Clearly, this is not the case.

    As a democracy, India is more conducive to free-market capitalism. The links between democracy and economic growth have interested economists for decades, and the rise of state capitalism in non-democratic countries like China and Saudi Arabia has posed an ideological challenge. India is often touted as the world’s biggest democracy; the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators rank it in the 59th percentile for “voice and accountability” of citizens and government, just shy of several members of the European Union. Still, India’s markets are far from free. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom calls India “mostly unfree” with a ranking of 119 out of 177 countries, as a result of heavy government involvement in the economy, from regulatory requirements to trade barriers. It’s also one of the toughest places in the world to start a business.

    The British legacy of a strong legal system gives India an edge. If it does, it’s not a very big edge. Geographical factors like coastline, rainfall, and temperature can explain a big share of the differences in living standards between countries today. Controlling for these factors, former British colonies tend to do better than the average among all countries. But among the former colonies, India is one of the worst performers. Indeed, its living standards are worse than you might have expected given its geography. That may be because the vast majority of India’s workers operate outside the strictures and protections of the legal system, in an environment more reminiscent of London’s 19th century slums than Canary Wharf.

    To sum up, there’s little basis for any sort of mystique surrounding India’s economic growth. On its current path, India shows no obvious signs of rewriting the textbooks; on the contrary, it has confirmed much of what economists already understood about urbanization, industrialization, trade, and institutions. Don’t get me wrong — India is undoubtedly a fascinating country for many other reasons. But to an economist, it’s just another poor country that happens to be very, very big.

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