Friday, March 23, 2012

Sri Lanka -Why raise the China bogey?

A lot of verbal diarrhea has flown into the sewers of the press since India voted for a watered down, non binding resolution over human rights abuses that was passed by the UN Human Rights Council. All of it can pretty much be described as paranoia, and we are certainly stuck in the foreign policy mess that we got as a legacy from Jawaharlal Nehru and his ideals of Non-Alignment as rightly pointed out by Sadanand Dhume. Again and again the China-Pakistan bogey has been raised. But all that is frankly nonsense if you were to ask me. Here's my counter to reasons due to which this move is being counted as a foreign policy failure in major sections of the Indian media.
India has pushed away its most trusted ally

Not true! Its a fallacy to think that any of the South Asian countries except Bhutan are trusted allies. One need not forget the double game that Ranjana Premadasa and TS Jeyawardene kept playing with our mandarins and leaders over the Tamil issue for decades, because of which we even lost 1000 soldiers in a disastrous Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) mission where LTTE and Sri Lankan government were hand-in-glove. Similarly, to think that we have pushed away Sri Lanka, remember that we are the single largest trading partner, so any effort by Sri Lanka to push us away only causes them more harm. We have tried the gentle way, and honestly, it has failed. So it was high time to up the ante.

China and Pakistan are going to take advantage 
This whole China Pakistan bogey is total hogwash. The links with China and Pakistan predate the whole voting issue, and were very much there during the 30 year civil war. G Pramod Kumar has written an excellent analysis on why this China-Pakistan bogey is nothing more than mere posturing. There is a very interesting Chinese legend about Zheng He, the eunuch admiral taking the King of Ceylon prisoner for refusing to accept the dominant status of China. To avoid history to repeat itself, the only way Sri Lanka can hedge its bets for the long run is to stay as far away from China as it can.


You are allowing China to draw a "string of pearls" around India

Frankly, this string of pearls theory should go into the dustbin. Do you really think India is silly enough to not do anything about it? Belated as it may. alliance with Vietnam, US and Japan amongst other countries allows India to draw a counter string of pearls around China. Allies of the US would be more than eager to "contain"China in every sense. Moreover, Russia and China do not see eye to eye on the foreign diplomacy front. Chinese history tells us that only those countries are respected which display their might effectively, and we will never be considered equal to China unless we hedge our bets in the right direction by allying with countries having issues with China, and not some random countries.

We do not interfere in other countries' affairs

Well, we have been on the wrong side of history far too long. Looking at the state of affairs in Libya and Syria has shown India, the world's largest democracy (albeit a flawed one) supporting absolute tin pot dictatorships (seriously, what common did India have with Muammar Gaddafi?), which leads to considerable international embarrassment when we start talking about human rights. It is this aloofness that has led to the formation of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, and also has led to the whole nuclear crisis surrounding Iran and Israel.

India will have to face similar resolutions on Kashmir and problem areas of the North East

There are major flaws with this argument. What it assumes is that a Pandorra's box shall be opened, and a host of resolutions and counter resolutions shall be launched. One tends to forget that these are "non binding" resolutions and have to be discussed threadbare. To think that they really matter is quite laughable at times, especially when countries like Pakistan move them. In any case, the truth is that India's record may not be golden, but it is certainly much more open to criticism nationally, and there have been enough international observers have been allowed into such conflict zones to let them realize first hand who's the real violator. Which other country who raises this bogey allows foreign observers in the conflict zones? Moreover, the human rights records of a majority of our South Asian neighbours leaves them open to severe criticism from the international community, and so we should stop fearing it.

It is high time India dropped the whole bogey of the Non-Alignment policy that has time and again raised its ugly head in an era where our national interests should be to rectify our past mistakes and stand on the right side of history. We shall not be sacrificing our national interests in any way by going with the majority, and we have nothing to hide. It is high time that we came out of our cocoon to really claim our rightful place in the world, and even before that, in South Asia.

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