Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Random Walk: Dollars and Borders

Dear All,

Burp.......Yeah, I had a nice dinner that day. Which day? Well, four days ago when I left you wondering with an extravagant idea. India needs Space and India must move beyond its territories. Yes, I know you had a lot of queries to satiate yourself and I had stopped the conversation abruptly.

Never mind, today we will proceed along that direction and you will have no complaints. Meanwhile, I am sure that you must have met Mr Obama. Yeah, he has left the capital this morning itself, I know. Quite interestingly, he appears to be satisfied with the business he could generate here. Ten billion US dollars, after all.

In fact, hopefully we shall not be duped in the long run as Mr Obama did vouch to provide us a 'permanent seat' in the Security Council. The American President, through his overtures, unequivocally declared that if India relents on certain matters, then the US is also willing to 'walk that extra kilometre'. 

At present, the US sees the conferment of the permanent seat in the Security Council, at least in rhetoric, as a simple trade-off with the Indian signature at the Convention for Supplementary Compensation and helping the Americans in battling through their worst economic slump since the Great Depression of 1929.

Much to the joy of Dr Singh, Obama did not utter anything spectacularly denting for India regarding Kashmir. However, all these were rather 'denting' for our 'childhood enemy' and the information I could gather indicated that the Pakistani Foreign Office was a bit flabbergasted with the content of Obama's speech delivered to the Indian parliamentarians.

Nothing to really worry, Pakistan. The US still has to fight the 'war on terror' and unless India takes a pro-active stance in Afghanistan, that is, unless South Block peregrinates in some sort of hardball diplomacy by getting involved in the war on terror, a post-US Afghanistan, if not fully, then at least partially will be for you to enjoy.

One thing, though, is quite clearly embedded in the wall. Obama is no fool to alienate India as the latter remains one of the key 'prospective' partners for the US in Asia. In fact, Obama's speech should be interpreted as an open offer for the Indian establishment. Now, it's for South Block to take a firm decision. Both Washington and New Delhi are wary of Chinese national chauvinism. The Americans are always assertive, at least since 1917, in the platform of Realpolitik. However, the question is, shall the Indians be equally reciprocative in that domain?

Without denial; science, technology, commerce, civilian nuclear energy and defence; are some of the key components in the Indo-US relationship and shall continue to be so. Obama had to grab some 'jobs' very badly in the backdrop of the dismal mid-term and hence were the business deals. He, along with his associates, have offered to 'proffer' more to India, only if India responds. By conservative estimates, the Indo-US relationship in the coming decade, would rotate about the quid pro quo axis and the geopolitical  significance of China shall not be centrifugally missed in that motion.

Today morning, Rizwan, one of my students, shared with me something apparently innocuous; nevertheless explicitly dangerous and disastrous for India in a long term perspective. One Chinese website was offering an Anti-virus for free download! Are you listening? Yes, a Chinese website.......And Yes, software...........

I think you are aware that Sino-India bilateral trade has been skyrocketing. At the same time, India is on the negative side of the Balance of Trade. Yes, I understand your point that the Chinese are good at manufacturing, their labour is cheap as they can control that sector because they have an autocratic form of government,,,,etcetera ......etcetera.....etcetera......

But, how about the Chinese in software? Are you feeling uneasy? Better be.

Well, I very well appreciate the concern of the skeptics regarding the progress in Indo-US camaraderie. Americans are neo-imperialists. They have decimated Iraq and now producing blizzards in Afghanistan. If India aligns with them, it shall endanger its position in the world in the long run,,,,,,etcetera ......etcetera.....etcetera......

However, let me posit some arguments, which not necessarily shall counter the viewpoints of the skeptics, but shall definitely attempt to chart a clear path for India's foreign policy.

Even if China may go for a currency evaluation by relenting to US pressures, that would not preclude the scenario of a power-conflict between the two. In fact, such a Chinese move would rather accentuate the conflictual scenario. I believe that Chinese national chauvinism shall simply not vanish by making a whimper. 

Undoubtedly, India is at some 'loggerheads' with China and considering the 1962 'scar', it does not seem to transform into "Chindia" soon.

Amidst such a backdrop, what is the best possible solution for India? Well, there are a few paths:

1. Remain frozen in the foreign policy regime and deal on a case by case basis. But that shall be difficult in the coming period as India is now a part of the Security Council, though as a temporary member. Furthermore, if India seeks a permanent position in the Council, then it has to yield to some US tantrums; viz. on the Iran issue or chastising North Korea and Myanmar.

2. Else, India can take a pro-active stance and essay to forge an alliance with China to counter the American-backed western threat in Asia. That seems highly unlikely keeping in mind the misgivings both the countries have for each other as well as the Chinese stance of belligerence toward India.  

3. Third, India can take a pro-active stance and essay to forge a 'covert' alliance with the US to counter China and Pakistan; in fact, mainly China. Offering to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) can be part of that bigger strategy as merely speaking, India does not have any geopolitical significance in Afghanistan, at least in 'real' terms. Furthermore, such a move thwarts Pakistani designs in Kabul in a post-US scenario and corners both Islamabad and Beijing for the time being, psychologically. Whether Dr Singh and company discussed such things with Obama behind closed doors is a matter archived in classified documents.

Well, let's take a decisive step in foreign policy. Let's come out of the shackles of a 'defensive' foreign policy zone; which rhetorically harbours an unrealistically liberal 'Sulh-i-kul' approach and falls flat on the platform of Realpolitik. Let's emulate Chanakya and Bismarck.

Let's de-institutionalise India's Foreign Policy. 


Coming back to the Space Theory for India, you ask where can we move and how shall we move? I am not at all advocating a blatant invasion on the Hitlerian model. Nevertheless, the Indians, whether they are intellectuals, or workers, or peasants, or students, or businessmen, or actors, or professionals in other fields, need to move out and settle in other nation-states; in large numbers. And mind you, this should not be indexed as a 'Brain Drain' as India has enough brains. Our only problem is to manage them and allocate proper resources to them.

Hence, India should cater to the needs of World Civilization through Brain Exports. Where to go? Simple. Target those states which have declining growth rate and or large empty spaces. For instance, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America.

Aare baba, I know that we have large number of NRIs in these places already. But, there is something new in this Space Theory. This targeted flow of Indians should be incorporated in the official policy stance of the government. Yeah, I know it's problematic, if not impossible. However, we can implicitly espouse a Space Theory by not denouncing any sort of Brain Drain. Rather, eulogise the NRIs and stay connected with them. In fact, we have been doing such things for some years now.

What ought to be the duty of these outflowing Indians?

Today I don't need any carbohydrates or proteins, but some amount of peaceful sleep. You have really turned out to be a nocturnal, disturbing element in my life.


Uddipan Mukherjee is a late riser. Still, he works 'very hard' to edit Indian Policy. By the way, he writes in diplostratics 


  1. Definitely well visioned..draft...but I would add on a dimension i have observed with which our foreign policy works...It has evolved or is still evolving, with every new situations it faces..but the one focus which has been followed is " To trust till it is broken" Once broken then just Keep only Isolated one-2-one relation..may it be with china,pakistan,bangladesh or Russia (no major dispute yet) or US ( we have always been democratic ally or to say Democracy is the fundamental bridge). I feel it is quite well principled with our Indian democratic values.& gives us an Individual identity with still being a part of big leagues.
    I like your Space theory..I would again add something in that too..just think I guess as internet allows us to be anywhere and still exchange all data irelevant of our location....similarly Indians anywhere can contribute in India's or world's Progress using the same medium and in same way.
    One more stuff..Free Virus is not a new thing ..Indian websites also allowed it some time back ( If u remember mantraonline.com issue)..I believe fundamental problem is definition of "peaceful life" according to different nation differs largly. so We look it as non-interferance whereas chinese look as interfere so that no one dares to interfere u...;)

  2. thanks Abhilash for the comment. Post more on IP...btw,,,my point regarding the chinese anti-virus was not to harp on the novelty of the software per se,,,,but just to highlight the chinese attempts in foraying into a hitherto uncharted territory which has been a grossly 'exclusive preserve' for the Indians...