Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why this cat and mouse show?

As Mr Hardy would have sternly told Mr Laurel: “Well, there’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into”. Except that Manmohan Singh and associates are not doing a Laurel and Hardy show. It’s more like a cat and mouse show. India, rising economic power and IT giant, looks today like a cornered mouse being teased and taunted by a gang of sadistic cats.

Consider the fine mess. America’s military boss reports that growing Indian influence in Afghanistan is a problem because it will invite Pakistani counter-measures. Washington is finalising an aid package to beat all previous aid packages to Pakistan. To Indian protests that American-supplied weapons are used by Pakistan against India as Musharraf testified, America replies that Musharraf is a private citizen.

At the UN, America puts unprecedented pressure on India to sign the non-proliferation treaty called NTPT which India has strongly resisted. America tacitly accepted the Indian position when it signed the nuclear deal with India ( during the Manmohan-Bush Bhai Bhai days). But now America says, that was then, this is now.

China puts pressure along the Himalayan border. “Unofficial” blogs talk of India splitting into 20 or more countries while official circles deny a visa to an IAS man from Arunachal Pradesh because Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese, they say. In the wake of reported incursions, Indian military chiefs admit that we cannot match China’s might. Which is what China wants the world to note.

Pakistan does not budge an inch on the Mumbai attack issue. The world knows Pakistan is involved. The US has said so publicly. But Pakistan smartly goes to war against the terrorists who bother America. America then leaves Pakistan free to promote and protect the terrorists who bother India.

The world’s longest ruling dictator, Muammer Gaddaffi, performs in the UN to demand that Kashmir be made an independent nation. Has he been reading Arundhati Roy? Israeli intelligence warns that another Mumbai model attack is being planned by Pakistani jehadists. According to NATO intelligence, Somali pirates have been equipped by Al Quida to attack Indian ships. Australian racists are always ready to attack Indian students. Nepali Maoists are on the look out for any Indian priest lurking around Pasupatinath. LTTE operatives met secretly in Trivandrum recently for a seminar.

It’s almost as if all the sinister forces around the globe have joined hands to torment India. Why? It cannot be that India poses a potential hegemonic threat as Soviet Union once did and China does now. The care with which even adversaries treat China is a case in point. We’ll have to conclude that the world likes to kick India around because (a) the world does not respect India, and (b) India’s internal weaknesses invite a kind of derision.

Despite the Great Leap Forward that caused a famine that killed 20 to 43 million Chinese, and despite atrocities like the Tienanmen Square massacre, China is respected because of the modernity it has achieved and the military might it has built up in a short period. India has made significant progress too, but the large-scale corruption and the continuing influence of middlemen have ensured that a good proportion of our defence budget is wasted. Our military preparedness is not what it should be, or could be.
Our personality-based politics prevent our system from either achieving the national unity required on crucial issues or eliminating social disgraces like poverty and discrimination. Our vast filthy slums and our atrocities against women and dalits are open for all the world to see. No country can allow mass misery among its citizens and win the world’s respect. And a country that is not respected becomes a mouse for cats to kick around.