The potential and problematic dimensions of change notwithstanding, like other republics of the world, India is evolving inwardly at its own pace. It cannot, however, be averse to expressing its sensitivities, when it has reasons to presume that its credentials are being challenged in an unwarranted manner by elements that do so with a concealed agenda.
Strategic experts are reported to be examining the possibility of involvement of agents of foreign intelligence agencies and international conglomerates of arms suppliers for the latest leakage of classified Henderson Brooks Report on the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962. That the release was timed to coincide with a vicious political campaign in the run-up to general elections for the 16th Lok Sabha has not been missed by the New Delhi establishment.
While who triggered it all would remain central to entailing set of probes, various possibilities emerge. Is the trigger factor linked to the countries whose ambit of diplomatic privileges was cut short after a disproportionate and systemic misuse of these was revealed in recent months? Is there any connection between the disclosure and recent cancellation of high-value arms deals by New Delhi that have hit the Western arms suppliers hard?
In whatever zone the answer lies, a bitter legacy of colonial taint gets manifested in these recent events and exposures. They remind us that despite the end of colonialism, there is a wide credibility gap between the erstwhile colonial powers and the people they colonised through the policy of divide and rule.
A glaring evidence of this can be found in the trust deficit between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh today. The three nations were part of the British empire in the subcontinent. Yet the very people who united to fight the British to establish themselves as independent nations can rarely move in unison. On the other hand, global colonial powers like the UK, France and Italy that competed and fought against each other are today putting up a joint front and working in cohesion.
In the arena of armaments and weapon-building, the gap between national strategic capacity of India and those of the so-called advanced industrial nations that go by the name of Group of Eight (G8) is wide. The GDP of G8 itself constitutes more than 50 per cent of global economic generation. The US and Russia are the two largest suppliers of weaponry to the “once colonised” and the rest of the world. Apart from Beijing, Paris and London, Washington and Moscow, enjoy the incremental veto-power as permanent members of the UN Security Council. The P5 countries have used this power to protect their national interests that are not entirely or directly related to maintaining peace in the world as per UN Charter.
There is no disputing the fact that issues do arise in their dynamic power interplay among the industrial world. The increasing isolation of Russia that has resulted in its suspension from G8 following accession of Ukraine’s Crimea region is a case in point.
By and large, however, it is the writ of the “strong and the empowered” that runs in the world today. This is a privilege that is denied to materially less empowered India. New Delhi’s growing dependence on defence and national security imports is closely linked to the strategic failure of India’s indigenous defence industry. This strategic dependence syndrome for military imports visibly impacts India’s attempts to seek inroad into higher parlours of a restructured United Nations.
China’s oblique yet assertive campaign, aimed at maintaining status quo ante in the world body’s power equilibrium, is music to the ears of the other four permanent members. Despite promises and noises to the contrary, Beijing’s strategic intent seems to be to deny permanent presence within UN Security Council (UNSC) to both Japan and India.
Indian diplomacy has so far striven hard getting a permanent voting right at the UNSC. Yet the fact remains that UN related global diplomacy is still deeply entrenched in statics of status. The dynamics of decision-making power in the world body is premised more on perceptions, less on ethics of choice. This is a zone wherein G8 member countries take precedence over India.
The essential logic of mentorship over the world at large lies preponderantly on the industrial power vectors and national capacities the powerful countries muster to cause potential harm to the countries that show signs of challenging their hegemony. These prevalent power vectors not only define what non-compliance is but also decide what punishment should be inflicted on the countries that do not fall in line. Under these circumstances, India, one of world’s largest arms importers, finds itself in a predicament of its own making.