Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Successful Tour

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent tour of the five Central Asian 'stans' as well as the BRICS and SCO summits in Ufa, Russia was clearly a major success for Indian diplomacy. For long, India has cherished to join the SCO, which has developed mechanisms to combat terrorism from the Middle East that is seeping into Central, South and East Asia. With full membership now in place, India has the ability to make use of those facilities. More importantly, by putting Central Asia in the spotlight, the Prime Minister has clearly acted on his belief that foreign policy must come to the aid of economic growth, which is really the only way to bring prosperity to the country. The renewed agreement on uranium sales from Kazakhstan as well as oil and gas agreements with other states will be important for a growing country.

The BRICS summit too was notable, with the Prime Minister suggesting ten steps (das kadam) towards building the order that holds potential in challenging the Western order that has dominated the world since World War II. In BRICS lies the convergence of independent political interests, some inimical to the West (like Russia and China) while other open to working with the West but on equal terms (India, Brazil and South Africa), all looking to create a new world order where the decline of Europe and Japan is almost set in stone while the decline of America as the world's hegemonic state is becoming increasingly apparent. The world is in great flux today not just because of American decline but because of the rise of terrorism in its most brutal form in modern history in the Middle East. Thus, by holding the SCO and BRICS summits together, Russian President Vladimir Putin set the tone for a new approach forward to the world. And this time, India is at the high table.

It is unfortunate that despite all these excellent developments, the Indian media only woke up to Ufa for the meeting and join statement between the leaders of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the SCO summit. It is not wrong to say that friendship between India and Pakistan is impossible in this century and that Pakistan has become nothing more than a nibbling problem for India on its periphery. The joint statement was quite factual in nature, with hardly anything new in it, and barely deserved any news space at all in an otherwise successful tour. Contrary to what both the Indian and Pakistani media portrayed it as, Kashmir was not left out, because the phrase 'all outstanding issues' is a byword for Kashmir. The fact is that India does not need Pakistan at all and aside from the terrorism that emanates from there, India should barely be bothered. Indeed, as a country dependent on the IMF for its solvency, it is Pakistan that needs India, a creditor country to the IMF. 

No comments: