Indo-US nuclear deal
The West won’t allow India to become a strong nation!
As I write America had unilaterally sent in its troops into Pakistan territory without Pakistan’s consent! Yes, may be to fight terrorism that has become “intolerable” as America puts it.
But then, where does the international order and peace, the existence of the UN and its other agencies come in?
What is the safe course for the future of the world? World peace?
Anybody asks? Not, not one major power or major voice we hear on such momentous issues.
India has much to worry about. In its internal as well as external environment.
There is unabated, it seems like that, killing and violence in Orissa. And yet the Centre doest even speak out. Let alone act. Kuldeep Nayar, the veteran journalist calls this inaction on the part of the Government as an act of our Indian cowardliness. This is correct but very simplistic.
We need more deeper analysis of the Indian psyche. I call upon the Indian intellectual establishment, the entire academic and the elite class, the experts, the strategic experts, economists, sociologists and the psychologists and psycho-analysts to come out with answers to the question: why Indians are inferiority-complex minded? Why this subservience? Why these master-servant relationships that fit easily into our mindset?
Our historians, our own native historians don’t speak out much, as they do in the West.
The West seems to indulge much in its unquestioned assumptions of its superiority, the Western superiority over the rest of the world.
The Indo-US nuclear deal pre-sages the long-term picture of the Americans establishing their own new empire, their own new imperialism?
This arises from a recent reading of one of the prominent, publicity-driven historian. Please read on!
From academic adventurers to hardcore right-wingers in the USA and UK, might destabilise the Indian mindset! They might come out with advice and much mischief even to see how Indian mindset can be undermined so that no new self-assertive independent thinking becomes part of the new Indian mindset.
Indo-US nuclear deal signals more fears than elation?
Can the Indian people believe the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister?
Do they have the peoples’ backing? Are their credentials believable?
Will America become the second world empire?
And, pray, wont India become a willing satellite country?
Indo-US nuclear deal is a great victory for India, says the Congress party. It is the greatest event in the 20th and 21st century India, said one Congress leader. Did he know what he was talking about? Perhaps, not!
Certainly, there is no convincing voice within the Congress party that represents the popular sentiments on the highly sensitive issue.
The Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, is certainly not the architect of the Indo-US nuclear deal. He was forced into it, say critics, by the Americans led by George Bush who wants to go down in history as the man who brought India into the US global agenda in the new century.
One might not agree with this assessment. But there is no denying the fact that the TV visuals, the body language and the gestures, the back strapping and much else showed the Bush-Singh team as one of master-servant relationship, say critics.
Certainly, we don’t know for sure what exactly, what critical aspects of the deal, the PM holds dear to his heart. Is he a strategic expert or a peace hawk or what else? When the nuclear deal is for energy generation or for peaceful uses only and when it would be turned into a strategic and bomb-making tool, to put rather inelegantly! At least we knew for long what leaders like Nehru had in mind when they spoke about atomic research. Even Indira Gandhi was interested in developing the nuclear “explosion” and started the Pokhran. Vajpayee exploded his own devices! What will Dr.Singh do in such circumstances? God only knows!
As for Mukerjee, his diplomatic skills are proven but his political convictions are zero and his moral fibre is weak. So, his entire post-NSG waiver must be taken with great deal of scepticism. In fact, the new claims and counter claims from the American Ambassador to lightweight spokesmen like Kapil Sibal can be dismissed as having no bearing on the real implications of the outcome of the deal.
There are also critics, within and outside India, critics who see the nuclear deal might bring with it its own risks, not nuclear profileration risk as such but greater political risks.
The unsaid part of the political risks is the historic risk. Wont it help the Americans to dictate terms to India and in one context or other might subdue India to toe its line. Dare one say its own imperial line?
Yes, that is possible, say skeptics. Why, even the more qualified specialists, analysts and historians and others who see the world from a distance and take a long-term view fell that America is going to emerge as the sole super power and already it is and it only helps Americans to tie with the Indians to win them over to their own strategic interests and once you get closer and get entangled then, circumstances can arise, unfortunately in the history of the world, if the past is any guide then, it is sooner that international affairs get clouded with suspicion and mutual self-destructive moods and irrational and often sheer foolish behaviour and actions like those of the many dictators, Hitler, Mussolini and Mao are the very big examples, the world comes to a standstill and the result is much bloodshed and misery to mankind only.
So, the unasked questions at this stage of our post-nuclear deal scenario and still the seeming euphoria, no one seems to be burdened with the agonising thoughts of our own past slavery and our present not so clear independent mind-set our current class of rulers might not have the foresight and sagacity of looking at things in a multi-level thought processes.
Can we take Dr.Manmohan Singh-Pranab Mukerjee duo’s steering the ship of state into unchartered waters?
What the future holds for India?
Can history and the historians be of any help in a world- context like the current one?
Is it a first step towards a long-term discomfort to India and Indian interests and goals? Or, the deal is likely to enhance our capacity and capabilities to emerge as a new independent power?
Can history and historians be of some help?
This question came reverberating to me since the deal was cleared by the NSG waiver and the waiver was hailed by all as a victory of sorts for India. At the same time, I ran into a book by none other than the very noisy and therefore prominent current historian, I would call him as a historian of sorts, for having read and listened to such greats like Sir Isaiah Berlin, A.J.P.Taylor and Trever Roper and at Oxford of my time, the late Fifties of the last century, there was a strong group of historians and the like of Karl Popper and E.H.Carr and many others were holding our intellectual debates, we were taught history by tutors who all thought that the British Empire was all over and very much behind us and therefore we, specially the Indians of my generation were being prepared to accept the fact that the British Empire was after all a good thing for all of us, the Indians of the then and the previous generations of the Oxbridge trained men and women.
If we take Dr.Manmohan Singh as an example, he typifies that particular-type of mind set. What is that mindset?
The British Empire trained Indians to govern for themselves (Dr.Singh said so in the Oxford convocation held sometime recently, in the new century) and the British taught us the rule of law and order, governance and what Dr.Singh didn’t tell, perhaps he might have been scarred a bit for the reaction at home, he failed to mention that ultimate teaching of the British Empire is teach the colonies the “civilisation” of the Western imperialism!
In fact, there was a reaction for what the Prime Minister said at the convocation at home! Among others, Prof.Irfan Habib, the historian (he was my contemporary time research scholar in history, as Dr.Singh was also in my time at Nuffield; I was at New College, the one where Prof.Irfan Khan also belonged).
Now, the point is these sentiments are not just my own. I was surprised to find that one of the current practioners of history, namely, Prof.Niall Ferguson, who is listed in the Google as a Scottish historian, I don’t know this, but I know him as a TV channel presenter of history and the book collected in the name of “How Britian Made the Modern World”(Penguin,2003) tells us all.
This is a dangerous book in the sense that any Indian reader who reads it without some background would be misled to believe his many prejudiced versions and views of the world or world events.
I read in the introduction about Ferguson’s parentage and background. His family links were all with the Empire’s colonies. His grandfather worked in some African colony, his grandmother’s side too was somewhere in the Empire and he himself grew up in Africa.
The very selection of the photographs tells us all, all about the reach and suppressions and mass oppressions in more gory details than his own rather colourful and much simpleton-like hasty observations of very deeply touching and even offending issues like slave trade and what the slavery meant to the sufferers ,more than those who practised it.
Slaves, from the African colonies were dumped into crowded ships, often in the airless bottom of the ships, their faces show their agonies, the slaves held in iron chains, the haunting faces that show us the world that had no meaning just two hundred years ago for the vast majority of the human beings. No less worse is the situation for the Indians, India was the crown jewel of the British Empire and we see the Indian ayahs and the Indian soldiers who got their freedoms, it seems, by getting those lowly jobs. The Indian scenes are the most poignant for we see the Britts were really got scarred for the first time when the mutiny took place in 1857.
When the Luck now seige left the British helpless and when British women and children were massacred the British rulers got their first shock. It was too much to be faced with the reality that the Indians were capable of paying back in their own terms.
Ferguson says that it was from 1857 the Indian soldiers were not given the cavalry rifles for fear of getting shot back by their own Indian soldiers!
The slave trade in which the British had no qualms, they indulged to their full and in all some 30 million slaves were shipped across the Atlantic after 1850, says Ferguson.
What is really galling is Ferguson’s history thesis. After all any historian, more so a professional historian must have his own thesis, rather the counter thesis, if not an alternate thesis.
He says in the very beginning: “It has long been fashionable to decry the British Empire as a relic of imperial repression, and while it is not my intention to excuse its worst excesses, it is important for a good-looking historian to take a contrary position”. Silly! What is a good-looking historian? To get a job at one of the many obscure tenured professorial chairs in a place like Harvard, he means?
So, what is his contrary position? He says: “So, I contend that it (British Empire) was also a considerable force for good”.
What good?” Every iconoclast needs a neologism; mine is Anglobalisation”. The thesis is that the Empire produced the world free market for the first time. Other empire builders were plain pirates, while the Brists were a different breed. They did exploit the resources and built up their home country, they built the huge country houses, the Nabobs of the Clive type of booty and Ferguson doesn’t say a word about how the others, more so the Indians of this generation, see the sort of plundering the Britts indulge as their second nature. Not only in India they did this repeatedly in other colonies, why even in the European pillages like moving the entire Agean marbles from the Greek polis!
Clive and his men are very good examples of almost indulging in day-time robbery, they, the Britis did this repeatedly not just in Bengal, also elsewhere, in Delhi and in the South at Tipu’s Palace at Srirangapattinam and very many places.
Ferguson, given his job, has done much research and collected some rare facts and statistics and it is a new addition to the understanding of what wealth the Brits accumulated for themselves and also what good and harm they brought to us, yes, some times unintended.
They brought in modern education, taught the new knowledge in the English language. This was a gain. But what the Brits also did is to ignore what they didn’t understand and know.
They didn’t understand the hidden treasures of our ancient civilisation and culture, our languages and literatures and art. They didn’t discover our arts, our music and our manufacturing. In 1750, Indians enjoyed a similar standard of living as that enjoyed by the British! They knew the Dacca muslin and traded in the Indian chintz and yet they sought to destroy it by imposing their own crude manufactures. Because of the industrialised ventures, they could sell cheap and drove out the rare and ancient art of Indian weaving, a cottage industry at all times. And the economics of trade and scale changed.
Ferguson writes not like a genuine scholar and researcher in the historic past. His very language gives his intentions away. Though his style is a bit breezy and what he has to say makes for compelling reading. Yes, the Britts practiced violence (Punjab massacre) cheating (Jagat Seths was tricked into by Clive) rule of law has to be seen with penal colonies like Anadamans (today’s Guantanamo Bay) etc. He intends to create controversy, catch the headlines and says many things that are atrocious and far-fetched. His very basis thesis construction is itself flawed. Either he does this deliberately or he is really a shallow person.
Either way, to say, as he does, that the British Empire made the modern world is to lay claim to too much of what others have also contributed.
It is also false to predict as he dares to predicts that the British empire now gone but now the American empire is on its way!
These are all questionable theses, at any rate and needs much more systematic thinking and argument. Ferguson, in our view, hasn’t done his home work in any serious manner and the result is a TV channel presentation and may be the TV presentation calls for such a colourful and yet highly untruthful remarks and generalisations.
The British legacy has many aspects. Some positive and some highly negative and had created permanent impact on the Indian psyche.
We can take all of Ferguson’s claims, yes, the British rule brought about unity of the Indian states and the peoples. This, Ferguson doesn’t seem to remember at all.
What he is interested is the cliché, law and order and giving civilisation to Indians. This also sounds ludicurous. This he might say for the new colonies like Australia or Canada. Not for ancient civilisations like India. That is why, now when the India and the new generation Indians have come of age and succeeded remarkably well in the software industry, every other visiting and other Britisher looks to ,say, the average Bangaloreans, more poor than other visiting Europeans. What a change in the span of one generation!
Even the work culture of the average Briton today, as from our own experiences in the outsourcing industry dealings, is bad and their terms of doing business is much below par than, say, the average American’s work culture. Ferguson, please take note!
The one damning thought for me is the state of the Indian psyche and the damage done to it by the 300 years of the British rule. Dr.Manmohan Singh himself can be taken as the symbol of this syndrome, I would call as the Indian mind’s burdened past and the continuing present weight of a slavery psyche.
We take pride, I mean; the Indians take pride in our English education. Today, the very poor want English medium education. Nothing wrong. This has come about from the past slavery of Indians. Indians who went to Oxbridge education came back not as freemen but as slaves fully conditioned by the British assumptions. Our ICS brigade is the first trained slave trade that the British successfully implemented after what they learnt from their own crude first wave of African slave trade! So, they Brits didn’t have any remorse but they became hardened to the core and when they trained the ICS cadre they injected the false notion into the humble Indian unsuspected minds and the psyche that the ICS Indians are superiors and their own brotheren back in India, the very same stock, the very same caste and social status as inferiors!
Thus was born the flawed notion that the ICS is the most respectable status to which Indians can aspire. That is why even the first ICS came from the Tagore family, from nowhere down the social scale.
So, the slave trade in India had a different connotation. Then came the barristers, the humble clerks. They all started or taught to think they were a class apart and they were superior to their own native brotheren. So, the remaining mainsprings of innate belief systems became weakened and I am now more concerned with this persisting syndrome of a slavish mindset of the Indians.
We have to become a bit hard-nosed realists. Our nationalist awakening came to us rather in a circuitous way, the European Enlightenment didn’t come to us, the British establishment and the missionaries saw to it the intellectual currents of mainstream European thought didn’t touch the Indian shores. What little came and that came to be called the Bengal Renaissance.
But nationalism as such came after much longer. First world war, break up of Ottoman empire and then events thereafter came to make Indians feel they are one nation, one people.
Otherwise, the Indians were severely divided, suppressed by the petty rent collectors, maharajas or zamindars and the Brists didn’t care.
But the decline of Brits didn’t reverse our mindset’s syndrome. That was exhibited when Dr.Manmohan Singh went to receive a hon. degree from Oxford. Dr.Singh cant be personally faulted. Because he was the incumbent Prime Minister of a country that had much to understand and overcome the disabilities of the colonial hang-ups, the educated Indians of the new generation got annoyed with Dr.Singh’s historically expounded and expounded by such historians like Ferguson himself, to become a symbol of those persisting disabilities.
A Prime Minister exemplifying the colonial disabilities of mind and belief system?
Yes, that is what I want to convey here.
So, given this burden of the average Indians to hold on to the colonial hang-ups, how much weight or credibility we can give to Dr.Singh-Pranab Mukerjee “sweetener”, that is the assurance that Indian had won back its sovereignty, our sovereign rights to conduct nuclear explosions as we like!
This is plain silly, to say the least. May be ruling politicians, to overcome some current difficulties might sweeten up things by talking of getting things done.
But there lies an underlying reality or a series of realities.
That is the future of the country, the future of the world and the future of the American rule.
Will America become another, a second British empire? Ferguson raises such a question and surprisingly gives an almost affirmative answer. I consider this simple non-sense!
The world that was conducive for the rise of the British empire is no more. Some 350 years ago, the world was almost dark. There was any awareness.
Now, the awareness level of the average world citizen is very high. That may be one reason why the world hasn’t seen a major world war since the end of the second world war.
The world really learnt some bitter lessons.
Yes, the world is unipolar but not conducive for America to practise any new imperialism, in the way imperialism of the past is defined.
There is a tremendous spread of democracy, press, citizen rights, human rights, women rights, civil society and the technological revolutions.
IT and Internet has led to creation of wealth on the largest possible scale and so too the reduction of poverty in one generation.
Yes, there are concerns. The 9/11 was a terrible reminder of the reverse role of the small vs. the big. What the future portents for the war on international terroirsm? One cant say clearly.
But one thing seems clear. America or Russia or for that matter China cant push themselves, push their military and economic power unilaterally in any big way.
So any new imperial power, any new empire, on the lines of the British one, is impossible.
What is lacking in the world today is not scholars and historians and economists like Ferguson, who are good in educating the public in an entertainment format, be it TV serials or public platforms.
We don’t have men and women, not enough to stand up to the dictators, as always the great and courageous ones did, to speak for the benefit of the mankind.
Tenured professors like Ferguson, can always find it easy and cosy to get tenure at Harvard and use the vantage point to sensationalise issues.
We need more substantive enlightened guidance from Indian scholars, the NRIs who are, like Ferguson, perch in materially comforting jobs and then come once again for public orations and then retire to the nest and then, shall we say, die and forgotten!
Inside India, we have also seen the so-called ruling class, the bureaucracy, is a shameless entity. Our democracy is flawed at many levels. An unelected Prime Minister, his ministerial colleagues, many are plainly committing heavy Constitutional improprieties. They might all think that if the PM can do this why not we? So, you have got a former Chief Election Commissioner made into a Cabinet Minister? What sort of Constitutional propriety is this? So on and on…
From one impropriety to another. Indians seem to have lost their native DNA, fear of God etc! Indians have developed think skins, so to say, so that no finer refined thoughts enter their minds and psyche. Civilisational values seem to be weak in India still?
So, they became, I often wonder, from the long periods of slavery and submission, more often through brutality and much violence by the alien rulers, and the theme of violence and ruthlessness doesn’t interest Indians? Indians are losing their humanity and thus mentally conditioned to remain slaves in mind, though freemen in appearance. What a contradictory Indian psyche!
So, I come to conclude that Indians cant become free citizens through formal Constitutional guarantees alone. We need a new mental revolution, a new transformation of the Indian society through a new formulation of a liberal and yet committed open society ideal as a way forward.
The Congress now had lost direction and lacks vision. There are no persons of any stature with enough qualifications and pedigree to articulate the Congress party’s long-term visions and its ideological nuances to bring out a new liberal and open society democratic order.
It is a patchwork of self-interested individuals joined for collective gains. The BJP had lost track of history, the past and the present and also the future. To revive Hinduism-based polity is a lesson not from history but from bigotry.
The Communists or the Left in India seem to hang on for the simple reason there is no new viable left platform after the collapse of Communism. Inside India we didn’t grow the many liberal ideologies, the variations of the Left, Liberal Left or the Centrist platform. Or, even radical Right is better than unthinking and dogmatic fundamentalist beliefs.
Let us learn from post-Communist societies.
There is need for much political debates and as an open society, let us cultivate some of the best American open society practices.
Our democracy can learn from the American Primaries, the processes where every citizens’s voices count.
It is this legacy the Americans can take pride and Indians can learn and also contribute to the enrichment of the modern, liberal and open societies.
Pax Britannica, now Pax Americana?
Yes, say some of the blindly jingoistic British-origin writers in the USA. Niall Ferguson, the rightwing historian operating out of Harvard university and Oxford university says so. In his book, Empire: How Britain made the modern world, Penguin, Ferguson says many things that are audacious and outrageously absurd and plain sounds racist and arrogant. He says Britian built am empire and now the US would build the second most powerful empire and that is good for the world. How stupid and silly and outlandishly and invitation for new war adventures, following Afghanistan and Iraq. And now, in Pakistan what George Bush is doing might impact the very region and must have implications for India. Can we expect Dr.Manmohan Singh to speak to Bush when he meets him on September 25th, as indicated in the media?
The point there is no point we can simply dismiss such writings and observations and sit back.
The universities like Oxford and Harvard have great reputations and we also have eminent Indians teaching there but these Indians also must take courage and stand up for India and even for a more benign world order.
Unfortunately, our Amartya Sens, Lord Meghnad Desais and C.K.Prahalads must respond to such timely issues.
For explaining to the world and the wider public what the Indo-US nuclear deal means to India and for the world. How non-proliferation is also such a big issue for India and what India would be doing.
Also, India’s possible and needed initiatives to promote arms reduction, disarmanent and also nuclear disarmament. There are fearas and reservations within India itself about what the Indian government would do in these areas.
So, disinterested intellectuals and lovers of India and the world peace must come out with their own insights and inputs to push India into the from league.
India should not be seen as a reluctant partner with USA in pursuing an independent peace policy. Given America’s stature as a superpower, its role and its perceptions of what constitutes world peace and world order might differ from that of India in critical ways.
But then, the whole purpose of seeking NSG waiver and much else is to come out with an alternative and even parallel line of a foreign policy that might sit well with our stature as the world’s largest democracy and a tradition of leading the Third world countries into a more balanced world order, rather than allowing the big countries to squeeze the smaller countries into tight corners.
It is here we leadership emerges in unexpected manner from unexpected quarters. I hope India rises up to this worthy position and gives room for such leadership emerge.