America’s new found friendship with India

What India should do to make world a safe place

The year just gone by saw a congregation of Nobel Laureates in
Sweden on the occasion of the centenary of Alfred Nobel. But the Nobel Laureates didn’t rise up to the historic challenges of international terrorism. Neither the other leading thinkers or intellectuals or senior leaders.
We didn’t get any assuring thoughts or insights from these geniuses. There were no world engaging big alternative thoughts or strategies. America continues its war, India too could be pushed into a war. Is war all that the world could think of? Are wars a solution to the world’s problems even now?

The year-end BBC Lecture by Bill Clinton was refreshingly original and his lecture came as a summation of what the world’s response to international terrorism should be. I thought that Clinton, out of office, was fading out. As others like Gorbachev or even Margaret Thatcher had receded from our minds. Not so Clinton. Here was a leader who in fact seemed to have re-emerged from ashes, as it were and he provided the one and perphaps the only response that could tackle the new terrorism threats in a lasting manner.

What Clinton gave as his solution? To put his ideas in my own way: Terrorism can’t be destroyed by military actions alone, though military responses are inevitable. Terrorists have the advantage of surprising the targets. They win in the first round. Because they don’t play by any rule. They take revenge by killing.
But then terrorism , the religious crusades, the holy wars has a long pedigree, starting with Christian crusades. There is anger and hatred against the targets. So the bloodshed in the name of god and religion is ‘justified by terrorists.

The anger and hatred arises out of fear of the other, jealousy of others’ riches, privilages, unequal wealth and power etc.
So, the wealth, the unprecedented wealth of the world’s rich countries has to be equitably shared, distributed.
Clinton made a quick and brilliant exposition of what are the issues and how we can go about them. Poverty. Clinton gave chilling numbers. the world has the potential, the technologies, money and thus a range of help, short-term to medium term to long term could be rendered. There is excess food and hungry mouths.

Then there are issues like environment deterioration, potentials of new technologies like non-conventional energy to provide a clean environment. The new technologies like Information Technology, Biotechnology are making world a well-informed and the possibilities of tackling AIDS and other mass killing diseases. Internet could deliver education and other services across the world as never before.

Genetic card, thanks to BT, could give every human being a reliable guarantee to possibly any diseases.
America does’nt say it would deal through UN, Unesco and other international bodies to bring nations to play by internationally agreed norms.

American military power is quite unprecedented. Says Paul Kennedy, Prof of history at Yale and author of such well-known books, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Preparing for the 21st Century: America can’t play the role of the world’s policeman even now. Its current unilateral policy of taking the war against terrorism anywhere it likes can’t go for long. “Americans who like to be liked, may find it hard to know they are very much disliked and feared in many parts of the world”. For us in India, the choices present many dilemmas. The new hand of friendship by the US we can’t welcome simplistically. Nor can we be isolated. We need political wisdom of the high order to steer clear of the traditional two big powers, US and Russia.

And we also must know Russia doesn’t matter, economically and militarily. America has both the material, military power as well as the cultural and technological power. 45 percent of Internet traffic takes place in USA, 75 percent of Nobel Laureates live there.

International students, highly educated professional flows take place only there. And what India can contribute? We have a tradition of peace, non-alignment and democratic wisdom.
Clinton, out of office, is only a lone voice. We have to learn to act through international bodies like UN or forums like World Economic and Social Forums. India has to be an articulator of the voices of the developing countries.

Only then, only if we build a broad-based consensus on what constitutes a stable world, we could halt the US’s current postures of solving the world’s problems by military and money powers.


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