Monday, September 08, 2008

India as a `Great Power' --- my article on the LRS page

Here is my article on the subject on the LRS page, reproduce below for fear of link-rot.

India as a `Great Power'

What does it mean for the people of India?

by B. Ananthanarayan

In the preceding months there has been a tremendous amount of activity in the political mainstream and elsewhere on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Much has been written about the supposed surrender of sovereignty by India, and even more about the pros and cons for the people of the country in terms of the energy security offered, and a lot of bandwidth consumed by pitiless analysis of the 1-2-3 Agreement, etc.. There have been hairs split about whether or not India is right in brokering these arrangements with the hated Bush administration of the sole imperialist superpower of the world. The Left Parties have criticized the deal mainly in the context of giving in to imperialism, and have argued that the people of India have serious reservations about making any deal with the USA.

While all the above may be true, it has been less clearly enunciated that the Indo-US Nuclear Deal actually comes at a time when the Indian ruling circles have clearly capitalized on the gains they have made in the post-cold war era and have emerged on the world scene as an ascendent imperilialist power.

In an interviewed granted to the newspaper Daily News & Analysis dated August 23, 2008, the India scholar Dr. Marie-Carine Lall says that the deal has nothing to do with energy and instead that ``It has a lot to do with India getting the Great Power status. In the UN Security Council, for instance, all the permanent members are recognised nuclear powers. Even though India was known to be a nuclear power since 1974, due to the Nuclear-Non-proliferation Treaty, it was not recognised as one. The Manmohan Singh government is trying to rectify that. This was only going to be possible if the US did this kind of a deal with India.'', and further that, ``Even if the deal fails, the fact that the US has extended the deal and tried to negotiate it with India means that recognition has already taken place.''

Such being the case, it may then be contingent to ask what does this really mean for the people of India, and indeed for the peoples of the region, and that of the world. Indeed, the people of India need to quiz the ruling circles of India on what they plan to do with such a `Great Power' status. Such a quiz would necessarily lead to rejecting the vision of the ruling circles and would pave the path for offering a different one.

It may first be important to ask what `Great Power' status has historically meant in the context of the Big Five. World over, the opinion would be that this status has been treated as a license by these countries, with the possible exception of China, in the last several decades, to willy-nilly interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, destablize governments, help organize coups, make countries favoured destinations for finance capital, and at times the launch of outright
wars of aggression and conquest. Is this the kind of `Great Power' status that the people of India would like their country to enjoy? An answer to this question cannot come without first considering the historical realities in the country at this time.

At this time in the country, we have a situation where there are increasing attacks on all the peoples of the country, here in the name of crushing naxalism, there in the name of
curbing Islamic terrorism. We have a situation where anyone opposing any activities of the state, whether it is opposing SEZ laws, or seizure of tribal lands, is simply locked away. There are brutal
police firings on a daily basis, here in Kashmir, there in Jaipur, once in Andhra, another time in Orissa. There are fires being set ablaze between religious groups in Kashmir and Orissa and
elsewhere, while simultaneously there are preparations for the general elections in 2009 and state elections across the country. While there is mass discontent, the ruling circles are closing
their ranks to put up a united defence of their interests, while it promises more devastation for the people of India. While the people of India are acutely conscious of what it means to live
under the yoke of such a ruling class, and such a political system as the one under which they find themselves, this system is praised by the USA and other western powers as `the largest democracy'. Given this grim scenario, there can only be alarm if a `Great Power' status
is accorded to a country of which such a ruling class is at the helm. Indeed, the `Great Power' status can come in handy to whip up jingositic fervour and divert the anger of the masses against an external perceived enemy. It can be used to hound religious minorities in the country and cause bitter divisions among the people. It can also be used to interfere in the affairs of other countries to create favourable conditions for Indian big business to operate. It can be useful to carry out militarization of the region on a scale unparalleled in the past. And most importantly, the `Great Power' status can be used to obtain immunity from international law to carry out criminal activities within the country against the peoples of the country, and outside its
boundaries. This is the precipice at which the people of India and the regions are staring at, at this time.

What then are the people of India to do? They must reject the vision of India that is modelled on the European model of great nation states. They must reject the complete divorce between the polity and the people. They must show that to separate the economic and political discussion from the actual impact that it has on the people is not to the benefit of the people. A discussion must begin on how India can be a factor for world peace, a factor for a secure future for the people of the country as well as for the region. Its immense wealth and resource, its trained population, its self-sacrificing working masses and peastry, must be put the service of the people of India and of the region, and not just to that of the rulers of India. The absence of a discussion on this subject would prepare the grounds for an aggressive India that will heighten the risk of war in the region, and the risk of utter devastation for a large fraction of the population of the region. The challenge of the times is to initiate and carry forward such a discussion.

1 comment:

JF said...

I haven't studied what else you've said about India and nuclear weapons.

Can you please tell me if you're implying any of these?

1) India shouldn't have nuclear weapons.
2) Having nuclear weapons is okay for India, but India shouldn't attempt to be a major nuclear-weapon-power.
3) India should be a nuclear-weapon-power, but it should be one with a different mentality.

Typically, words such as, "A discussion must begin on how India can be a factor for world peace...", and "The absence of a discussion on this subject would prepare the grounds for an aggressive India that will heighten the risk of war in the region...", go together with adamant opposition to nuclear weapons, and opposition to a "peace through strength" philosophy.

It's good for a country to not rule over its own citizens as a tyrant, or rule over the rest of the world as a tyrant, but tyrants will exist in the world, so if a country doesn't have "peace through strength", the country will eventually be subject to tyranny.

Tyranny by means of your own government is only one form of tyranny.