Why India should not cosy up with US

PM Narender Modiji is proceeding to US for a dialogue with the President Trump on matters ranging from world geopolitics, regional stability in Asia as well as South Asia, possibilities of joint production of military hardware including F-16s, membership to UN Security Council & Nuclear Supplier Group, US inaction towards terror heavens being operated from Pakistan to ongoing Qatar crisis. Issues are many and indeed it is always better to discuss at such level all similar issues not only with US and UK but with many other power centres in the world. India has treaded its way far too smartly, safely and in the best interest of the country till now. PM Modi has also so far taken right stances when it comes to foreign relations and world trade.  A balanced approach in the foreign relations have kept India out from many serious problems which rest of the world has faced in past few decades including 2008 economic meltdown and like of problems in Middle East.

dessert-2413241_1920

It is not difficult to understand the desperation of India to bring US to its side looking at its problems, small to large, with its immediate neighbours specially Pakistan and China. Although no bullets have been fired on Indo-Chinese border sine 1960 war, India’s anxiety with China is on the rise resulting from the increasing wealth of China as well as role of China in the troubles brewing in South China. The rise of infrastructure financed by China in the Indian Ocean and strategically encircling India’s shore line as well as China’s all weather friendship with Pakistan have only increased this anxiety. In spite of all these anxieties India has maintained its relationship with China in a more businesslike manner and it has worked very well so far. China’s OBOR project has however created some further anxiousness among Indians and has given room for more distrust towards China’s future plans. China’s investments in the immediate neighbourhood in countries rather friendly to India have further Increased this suspicion of India towards China.

With so many things going around India in this turbulent world, coupled with its own internal problems, country has its own insecurities and it is natural for India to expect favours and doles from traditionally the most powerful country i.e. US. Politically also it scores well for the current government to show benefits and favours flowing from US albeit it may be giving only a false sense of security and over-optimism with a country with its worst track record of friendliness and longevity of foreign relations. Before being too optimistic about US future role in the development and security of India and its future interests, it is important to understand the perception of US and its citizens about India as well as its neighbours in Asia.

It is no use of wooing US with the logic of India being a balancing power for the increasing might of China and as an important military base for US geopolitical interests in Asia, if we look from the US point of view of the situation here. India’s longing eyes on the 7.5 Billion USD proposed funding by US to India, also is not so positive for the country if we understand that US tax payers keep hawkish watch on every penny they pay in tax and returns they get in terms of doles meted out to foreign nations, however urgent purpose they may hold for the game of world geopolitics.

For one, it is silly to believe that US sees communist China as its biggest threat while not feeling the same way about a democratic India. It is not difficult to guess that US is as wary of China as it is for India’s economic rise. In fact it is likely to be more wary of a democratic India’s rise as superpower given the higher soft power India is likely to enjoy in a largely democratic world. The logic of India being a regional balancing power to China is too simplistic for a seasoned country like US. US in fact sees both India and China as highly populous abnormal nations, both ready to take over the world due to the natural shift of economic power from West to East. US see both countries with their humongous populations as encroaching upon the limited resources of this planet and as the liabilities for the inhabitant of optimally populated and presently rich nations of this world. Both the countries pose future threats to their current lifestyles, climate and resources. Therefore any geopolitical manoeuvre by US would be to deal with both the dominant countries of the future.

It is not the first time they have dealt with multiple adversaries together. Remember what they did with Iraq and Iran in conjunction with UK. First they created internal instability in Iran and then catalysed war like situation among the two countries, supplied weapons to both, covertly favoured more to Iraq and weakened Iran as well as later Iraq and then as next step finally disseminated Iraq itself. Even in the 1st and 2nd world war role of US had been just as an observer. In fact US benefitted substantially by other nations fighting it over with each other destroying their own economies, during both world wars and thereby weakening themselves, while US developed itself to become world’s leading power.

US is likely to play similar game in Asia to deal with both India and China. It is in the best interest of US and its citizens to substantially weaken both India and China by creating serious fissures between the two countries, without shedding any blood from their own side. In any case it is idiotic for India to expect any emotional favour from an experienced and mature country like US. Moreover in the present times no country like a weak nation, expecting doles and favour from another country. Every strong nation today favours a strong and self developed nation and takes moral side of such nations. No nation is likely to drastically differentiate between South Asian nations including India and Pakistan, when it comes to their positive or negative perception about the culture of people in this region. They may actually club India and China too in that respect. Therefore any expectation of extraordinary favour from US is unreal.

So what is the way forward for India at this juncture? Every nation in the world today is going through uncertainties, internal problems, and insecurities of their own. And remember every nation is busy solving their own problems. In the rat race to out manoeuvre others, no nation has time for others. In this environment, India must learn to live with its own problems and insecurities and solve its problems through indigenous solutions rather than look towards other nations however powerful they may be. Therefore the only way forward for India is to build on its own, secure its border, whatever way it can, focus on business like relationships with all the rich and developing nations including all its neighbours, without giving undue attention and favour to some. It should play a constructive role in world affairs and in solving various challenges being faced by humans on this planet and secure the future of coming generations of India. A strong, healthy and self made India will be envy of many and fancy of many others. There will always be friends and foes in this world. Trick is to engage both the types.

Advertisements

Understanding WTO agreements and its structure

WTO’s contribution to world trade is enormous. Countries like India and China must thank the organization to make it possible for these countries to become potentially strong economic force in global business. It is due to the process adopted by WTO which is resulting into the convergence of income levels around the world. In the past many countries has been directly or indirectly benefited from WTO to raise their income level. Perhaps the biggest gainer in recent future is likely to be India. However WTO has been criticized time and again in failing to enforce its sanctions on rich members like US. However one would not accuse WTO for such gaps if one understand how WTO works. The most important pillars of WTO process are its 6 part agreements structure. These agreements are negotiated multilateral agreements which result into rules which must be followed by each member and contribute to the functioning of WTO.

Click here to see a video to understand the nature and categories of these WTO agreements

What is wrong with India’s kind of capitalism?

Capitalism is always contrasted with socialism. Yet both have great similarities. Not in terms of what the two ideas advocate, but in the sense that both are the product of philosophical ideas of how humanity should be working, living and owning. It is debatable which of the philosophical ideas is more logical and more practical for good life. The answer to this question lies in understanding the point of the philosophers and administrators.

The difference between a philosopher and an administrator is that a philosopher thinks with a free mind without the constraint of being responsible to rule a sea of its subjects in most challenging ways. Philosopher writes based on the free will and provides lots of examples and reasoning for why his concept is right and perhaps why others may be wrong. It is the part of the philosophical writing and research. Criticism is most welcome to such free thinking and there is no final word in philosophy. As ideas, most philosophers will convince you the basis and logic of their concepts of human life and controls of the subjects in a society, and it is up to the administrator, if he is able to fully or partially adapt to the idea successfully to rule its people in his region or nation. Therefore what happens is that an administrator needs to adapt to a particular philosophy most suitable to ground realities of the cultures and life style of its citizens.

What US did by adopting the idea of free capitalism was to use the philosophy to benefit from the advantages while avoiding the pitfalls as mentioned in the original philosophy of democracy and free market economy. It was achieved not in decades but over centuries of experimentation with the philosophical idea of capitalism, modifying the idea to suit to the practical realities of ruling a peculiar set of population with specific demography as prevalent in that part of the world. USSR on the other hand, perhaps could not really experiment with the idea of socialism innovatively enough to suit the requirement of an administrator and tried to dream the philosopher’s way, leaving no space for administrative modifications required in a purely philosophical idea. Finally the idea failed in that part of the world, leaving the remnants of the idea to People’s Republic of China, which wowed to preserve the philosophy of socialism and experimented with it to suit the administrative requirement of its own realities, like what US did with their original philosophical idea of free capitalism. In case of China the timing of such experimentation came out to be perfect and today, China could prove the efficacy of its own kind of capitalism which is result of experimentation of its own kind of socialism too.

On the other hand India just decided to experiment with the capitalism in its most basic form, 60 years back, after Britishers were out of the country. It was like reinventing the wheel again. Many countries like South Korea, Malaysia and others just copied the capitalist practices of long practiced US capitalism supported by its own kind of democracy. While India came out to be the largest democracy of the world, it did not choose to copy the administrator’s form of capitalism long practiced in US and Europe. India tried to build upon the basic philosophical idea, but had been sluggish to learn and experiment with the same to suit its ground realities, a mistake similar to what was done by socialists in Russia. The result is that India today faces major challenges in reaping the benefits of democracy, which in its present and recent past form is at best flawed if not junk.

The biggest problem with the Indian capitalism is that, it is not supported with an administrator’s kind of democracy, at best adopting a philosopher’s kind of democracy and more as a formality and on paper rather than being as a mission to achieve results and in its true spirit. Away from so called Meritocracy as invented by Singapore and later adopted by China. That is where the real contrast comes among Chinese Capitalism and the resulting current situation of Indian capitalism.

On the other hand, difference between US capitalism and Indian capitalism can be best seen from the point of view of the resolve of US to make sure that every American is provided equal educational opportunities supported by a dynamic and sound school infrastructure at the state cost and available to both poor and rich entrants (born in random households / parents perhaps by the will of so called GOD) in this world but as US citizens. The idea ensures the true fruits are reaped of the idea of democracy and free capitalism, lest only children’s of rich families will be able to show their inborn strengths to take the country’s capitalism to new heights. The same is not true for India, where only rich families are able to provide right opportunities to their children, while poor kids never see the light of even basic middle-income life. Lack of basic school infrastructure defies even the very idea of free capitalism in its administrative form rather than philosophical terms. It is interesting to note that lack of schooling to the poor kids of India’s population which forms a majority results into a lot of inborn talent being wasted and not put for the national growth because of unequal opportunities available to poorly born kids in poor households/parents of India.

In other words without the right riders and enablers, the idea of democracy is farce for a country like India. It was more so when it was born 60 years back if not today. A literacy rate of around 74% way below world average ensures a lot more talent not being put for national growth leave aside a thought of meritocracy irrespective of family background of new entrant of this world as Indian citizens. China do not have such a situation albeit different route taken with respect to its political idea. Therefore the most debated concern related to ‘China’s future political stability’ may be a mere figment of imagination of certain philosophers, not too happy with the administrator’s experimentation with the basic idea of Chinese socialism.

In all, India needs a major rethink of its own kind of capitalism which needs to be supported by a real workable democracy which is result oriented like that of US, and which makes popular but real sense and considers checks and balances of the original philosophical idea of democracy in a form which gives prosperity and economic growth. Otherwise India needs to junk its 60 years old idea and perhaps restart afresh, after all the race can not start with different starting points, to be fair to the real winner.

Indian Political Eco System Vs that of US

For one it may be thought ‘out of place’ to compare Indian Politics with US Politics. For a change let us compare these two so called distant eco systems.

We generally tend to think Indian politics is the result of the thought process of a large number of uneducated, unprivileged, primitive thinking people as against more refined educated, elite, world class electorate of US. Therefore it may look inappropriate to compare the two political ecosystems. It is being debated that today US political system is largely dysfunctional as far as important policy decisions are to be taken for the common good of the people and to bring out the economy from current mess. The so called ‘free thinking features’ of world’s most refined democracy are proving to be fatal to the country’s destiny. One such important legal feature of the US political system is proving to be very detrimental to the growth of US economy is the ‘political lobbying’. In fact if we look at the state of affairs of the ‘political decision making’ and consensus for important legislations required for US policy making, ‘lobbying’ is the only way to get certain laws passed albeit more favoring the lobbyist than the common Americans. Otherwise the partisan nature of the US politics which has plagued the US political ecosystem in recent decades is making it difficult to allow policy makers to get their legislations passed through consensus among democrats and republicans. The divide between the two major parties is so huge and so opposed to each other that good sense is finding it difficult to prevail. Important measures required for bringing back the economy of US to its erstwhile glory are not being passed due to lack of consensus among the major parties.

Is Indian Political system also plagued by similar partisan politics of the type being expeeinced by US system? Commoners say it does not matter whether it is BJP or Congress all are of the same school of thoughts. Then it is very different from what is the situation there in US. However lack of consensus at parliament and wastage of political time at the venue of political gathering of world’s largest democracy shows similar signs of partisan politics away from common good of the people, quite similar to what one see in US politics today. It is being debated that US politics need a ‘radical center’ (a term invented in the US referring to the moderate centrist political party ready to bring radical changes). This third front already seems to be emerging in India with experiments by common people of civil society of India, while its need is still being debated in US. To that extent Indian political lab seems to be at the advanced stages to reinvent new political ideas suitable to modern democracy in tune with the aspiration of current generation of voters. That makes Indian political system perhaps more resilient to current changes of the voters than the US political system.

Is US Going With The Wind?

There has been quite a debate in recent past about US lost its position geopolitically. It may not be appropriate right now that it is not true given all the economic and financial indicators about the country. The political scenario at present is at its worst, with lots of partisan politics and a possible lack of understanding on what are the ills facing this great country on this planet. Consensus among political players on important long-term measures is not forthcoming with each opposing party toeing the opposite views on almost every issue facing the country. The infrastructure throughout the country is dilapidated. People do not seem to be putting their best efforts to work hard. Saving rate is still very low. Educational excellence is not forthcoming. Skilled immigrants are still being shooed away. The success formula so exploited by the country till recently is being ignored.

But all is not lost for the country. I recently talked to some senior business leaders in Singapore and Malaysia about their views on the loosing sheen of US, they argue that US is still the most sought after destination for the best of scientists, talented IT professionals, distinguished educationalist and other top professionals. They still have no other choice to show their best. US still remain one of the freest economies with a lot of potential for new entrepreneurs and new start-ups. Moreover, it is still a country where all kinds of professions or professionals are still respected. Innovators are still hopeful for this country to offer them a ground and finances to do their experiments with their creative ideas. US still remain one of the best mixes of races, gender and cultures. It is still the country which offers more commanding jobs to women than men in their navy fleet.

So what can be expected of US in near future, in terms of taking a lead it has taken in the last century on the world stage? It is argued that if the US citizens are ready to forgo some of the major expectations from their governments mainly related to social security and the government is ready to take call on long-term measures to bring out US economy out of reds, there is still a strong possibility to see the US coming back to its original glory. Political leader’s attitudes and responsible behavior seems to be the key to its recovery, it has been suggested.

Geopolitical Scientists of Ancient India

In the modern world the term Geopolitics was first coined by Rudolf Kjellén, a Swedish political scientist, at the beginning of the 20th century. The doctrine of Geopolitics gained attention largely through the work of Sir Halford Mackinder in England and his formulation of the Heartland Theory (World Island, Rimland and Periphery) in 1904. According to his theory the world was divided into three regions – Heartland (the secure part of the world consisting of large parts of Russia, Northern parts of China, Eastern parts of Europe, Mangolia) which was seemingly secure and had potential to prosper due to cushion provided by the rimland (the second part of the world consisting mainly of regions of India, Southern and Eastern parts of China, Sahara Desert, large parts of Western Europe) which were more prone to attackers from the sea-side and the peripheral world, which consisted mainly of large parts of Africa, Australia, US continent and numerous island countries of far east which were likely to be in most turmoil to be able to prosper. Today although the situation is very different and world geopolitical view is very different.

Ancient India had its own great geopolitical scientists. One most astonishing example seems to be that of Chanakya, (3rd century BC), the great teacher, a great politician and a person who really had a great regional view if not the world view of that time. His geopolitical understanding of the time was very deep which helped him to get to the job of uniting a number of independent states on the Indian continent and around. Without an understanding of risks involved with fighting the foreign invaders with a united power, he could not have achieved was he could achieve in his life time. His geopolitical understanding of the time was remarkable given the lack of communication, education, infrastructure of his time.

Originally a teacher at the ancient Takshashila University, Chanakya managed the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta’s rise to power at a young age. He is widely credited for having played an important role in the establishment of the Maurya Empire, which was the first empire in the archaeologically recorded history to rule most of the Indian subcontinent. Chanakya served as the chief advisor to both Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.

Chanakya is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise called Arthaśāstra. As such, he is considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science in India, and his work is thought of as an important precursor to Classical Economics.Chanakya’s works predate Machiavelli’s by about 1,800 years. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta dynasty and not rediscovered until 1915.

Two books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra and Neetishastra (also known as Chanakya Niti).

The Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. The text also outlines the duties of a ruler.Some scholars believe that Arthashastra is actually a compilation of a number of earlier texts written by various authors, and Chanakya might have been one of these authors.

Neetishastra is a treatise on the ideal way of life, and shows Chanakya’s deep study of the Indian way of life. Chanakya also developed Neeti-Sutras (aphorisms – pithy sentences) that tell people how they should behave. Of these well-known 455 sutras, about 216 refer to raja-neeti (the dos and don’ts of running a kingdom). Apparently, Chanakya used these sutras to groom Chandragupta and other selected disciples in the art of ruling a kingdom.

Other works of ancient India geopolitical scientists are attributed to the development of Vedas and Puranas, mostly geopolitical accounts of ancient India political situations of as far as 2500 BC India. Although most of the Geopolitical accounts of ancient India have debatable accounts and sources of information is limited, they give a glimpse of prowess of great Indian geopolitical scientists and thinkers.

Who will rule Eurasia?

After the end of cold war, Central Asian countries were looking at US to perhaps increase its hegemony in this region, as the clear winner of the war. However lack of imperial instincts among US citizens did not let that opportunity to be exploited in this way. Nevertheless setting aside the claims of Turkey and Germany, US did increase its geopolitical position in the region having set up military bases in black sea region, South Caucus region and increasing its investments in the oil supplies from Caspian Sea in the initial years post 1991. It also promoted the ‘color’ revolution in break away countries.

Having already controlled the Arabian Resources and now having an opportunity to extend its control over Central Asian resources, it looked like US would rule Eurasia. But there are indications contrary to this belief. For one reason world is not ready to accept the covert and overt geostrategic initiates to continue to control more than 50% of world wealth by the 6.3 % of the world population living in US. Other contenders are claiming to be wealthier by sheer hard work. China is a natural contender for the Central Asian resources. New found cordiality in the relationship between Turkey and Russia is another indication of US might not capture all of the spoilt in this region. Moreover the distances between the region and US are unlikely to make it cost effective for US to control the resources particularly the Petroleum Gas. Local contenders like Turkey, Russia and even China are likely to take the front stage.

Increased consumption in China in good and fortune times has ensured energy demands are at the peak from this country. For sustaining the current industrial growth, oil and gas resources are key for China. Apart from investing in Siberian resources, China is heavily investing in Central Asian Region. With Russia finally agreeing to commit pipelines to China, the stronger new contender seems to be right on track.

Economic downturn has further reduced the morale of US to be a significant player in the New World of Eurasia. The lessons of the downturn are significantly indicating world powers to cooperate and not compete. In such a situation it is unclear about ‘who will rule the Eurasia’ in foreseeable future. Russia’s dwindling foreign currency reserves, European economic downturn and US crisis are keeping the traditional contenders postpone their dreams in Eurasia. It may look like that world is moving towards truly multipolarism, at least from the perspective of Eurasia.