The double-o-decade of the 21st century has given India a grueling time handling pluses and minuses in the affairs of the country. While never-ceasing internal problems have kept the establishment on its toes, mounting external security concerns have brought their own forceful thrusts. And times were not rare when one was compelled to hope that those sitting in Delhi, presumably guiding the fortunes of the 1.2 billion Indians, could have done better.
At the national level one of the major problems staring the country is the galloping food crisis. If vagaries of the weather are to blame for a major part of the problem, a not insubstantial share of it should go to the mismanagement in grain procurement at the bureaucratic level and corruption at the procurement and distribution levels. Compounding the critical problem, though essentially for survival in difficult times, is the farmers’ tendency to abandon cultivation of grains and pulses for more promising cash crops.
It is high time we realized that being optimistic about everything is one thing and readiness to address adverse situations quite different. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rues the bitter fact that India still lacks a strategic culture. Simply put, our so-called administrative visionaries have not yet developed an ability to peep into the future and anticipate challenges based on the current happenings.
In this context it would do well to remember what our first prime minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru said about the price one has to pay for sustaining the freedom we achieved: eternal vigilance. In the last four decades India and the world at large have witnessed numerous changes and we have to be deft at anticipating and appropriately responding to the challenges on a continuous basis. So it is essential to change with the times. For instance, it was a visionary politico-scientific approach that ushered in the green and later white revolution. While the White Revolution continues with strength, the Green Revolution seems to have lost steam amidst confusing and often self-defeating policies.
Similar is the scene at the international level. During the panchsheel era Mao Ze Dong and Chou En Lai could be counted among the dearest friends of India. Today perceptions and attitudes have changed with the red dragon spewing fire at us. Add to this what Defence Minister AK Antony described as of serious national concern is the Sino-Pak nexus in the military sphere. This along with Beijing’s cheek-kissing cronyism with Pakistan and the nonsensical attitude towards Arunachal Pradesh needs to be understood properly. Only then will we be able to shape an appropriate response. It is time we came out of the trance of an all-is-well attitude to protect the geo-political security of the country.
It is clear that China sees India as a rival in the race towards the coveted status of being the economic super power of Asia. Nothing wrong with it! China is leaps ahead with its all-round growth. It is already in the league of the US as an economic powerhouse. Economists the world over have predicted that China will be the new superpower by 2050. But the ground reality is that it is expected to reach that goal in the next 10 years. So while continuing to work towards our goal of building economic muscle, we need not do it through only competition. Let us prove it through increased and world class industrial output and infrastructure to match our status as the biggest democracy in the world. As of now, there is no comparison between India and China in these segments. Same is the case in the field of science and research.
As knowledgeably pointed out by foreign policy experts we are at an uncertain stage in international relations now. The friend of today may become an enemy tomorrow. It is such developments we have to anticipate and be ready to respond to. According to Sumit Ganguly, professor of political science at Indiana University, ‘‘China considers India its only viable peer competitor, a pesky rival, you could say.’’
So apart from the apparent camaraderie seen at Copenhagen, there are bound to be clashes of various kinds. And India needs to be prepared with properly thought-out responses to such problems.
It is in this background we should see the tough attitude of China towards India — as compared to the generous approach it has adopted with other neighboring countries — despite claims to the contrary from the external affairs ministry.
The immediate and most serious security threat has been the terrorism emanating from Pakistan. We are aware of the hundreds of terrorist training centers in Pak-held Kashmir and the total support this activity gets from the civilian government and the armed forces of that country. This is an ominous trend when a Jihadist upsurge is challenging a weak civilian government on a continuous basis.
Even when President Asif Ali Zardari and his able ministers claim that everything is under control and that the army is fully co-operating with the civilian government, world leaders find it difficult to conclusively believe that Pakistan would be able to safeguard its nuclear weapons from rogue elements. Has India worked out a strategy to deal with a possible scenario where the nuclear facilities fall into the hands of the Taliban or al-Qaeda?
Of course, all of us would love to hear India being described as a global power, but only a handful of our elected leaders may have the vision and strategy to bring about such a dawn. So while those in the seats of power have to work out a strategy to deal with future problems, it is essential for the people to ensure the election of capable leaders.