India should take it as a departure for a new policy for Asia
Kuldip Nayar, the veteran journalist and a thoughtful Indian of some stature has written a New Year eve column in a newspaper. It is all about the current scene in South Asia, more so in India and Pakistan and by extension what is happening in the Asian region, in special focus in the SARC region. SARC, South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation, is a bloc of eight countries and SARC in spite of having done much to promote understanding and peace is far from achieving such laudable objectives.
The picture of Asia today is far more reassuring than what, say, we can say about other blocs like European Union, EU, of 27 countries. EU came about through a long process and with so much bitterness of wars and bloodshed, Hitler and Mussolini and much else behind its creation or evolution.
The countries of EU had seen the worst of modern man, the worst of human egos. The point is that even in SARC, the play of egos is no less!
If not, it is more and more dangerous and no less bloodletting and much violence and turmoil and the life for average Asian, if we can assume such an entity is more brutal.
India is the only democracy standing so shining in the surrounding sea of so many autocracies and mindless brutal regimes.
Mynamer, Pakistan and Nepal and at another end are regimes of various stability, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and you can name it and we can give a suitable description.
China stands out in Asia with so many questions and also so many answers. There is a whole array of China watchers and China experts!
Now comes the Japanese Prime Minister with a fresh mandate and a fresh party capturing power in that country after a long regime of the Liberal party.
Japan is a great country with a great civilisation and a great heritage.
Japan was for long a great friend of India, not necessarily in politics but in the great cultural exchange.
To cite one example, that when Rabindranath Tagore was alive he went to Japan, more than once, and there were visitors from Japan to Santiniketan and India ,names like Okakura, the poet and philosopher and Tagore and Okakura established many cultural links.
When I was a student at Santiniketan, there were still Japanese scholars, and I even attended a Japanese language class! In fact, there was and still is the Cheena Bhavan for a long time at Santiniketan and I was an ardent Chinese language class and Chou En Lai visited our class and I had the privilege of shaking hands with that great leader.
Why I say all these things here is the fact that India was always looking East, India had a special place in the minds and imagination of Japan and China for ages.
As Pandit Nehru used to remind us students at Santiniketan that India was bounded by civilisations bonds with Japan and China by the great Buddha, the Buddhist religion was India’s great bond with South Asia, South East Asia.
I had in my Santiniketan days great many friends from these great countries, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. Nehru as Chancellor of Visva Bharati, made it a point to bring in lots of students from Asia to Santiniketan. In fact, this tradition of cultivating Asian nations into a new entity started with Tagore time and this continued under Nehru.
I mention these facts to only show and urge that under our current leadership, we must start the process once again.
Of course Kuldip Nayar talks of so many other things, the current issues, of terrorism in Pakistan and the breakdown of relations between the two countries and doings of China, as the Big Brother, as Nayar says and much else, the rise of Maoist menace in India and the threat coming from Nepal and the issues in Sri Lanka and the unsaid part of Nayar’s burden is to call the attention of New Delhi what we should be doing inside and outside of India to make India find its balance and its centre as a great democracy surrounded by a sea of autocracies or imperfect democracies.
In India democracy is neither perfect, nor lead by men and women of any vision or mission.
We all seem to have become small men and women, as Pandit Nehru used to remind us in his own time.
Then, imagine where we are now as a nation?
We have succumbed in a fit of insecurity to the Telengana and we are not sure where we are heading internally?
We need to have a new perspective and a new vision for Asia.
We need the application of great minds to evolve a new vision. We need historians and we need philosophers, we need creative minds of all fields, artists, poets(like Tagore and Okakura) and political leaders of the stature of Gandhi and Nehru and all the great leaders of Japan ,the Prime Ministers who came from Japan to cultivate a new relationship with India.
Japan was a great Asian power, in fact, the first great Asian power when it defeated Russia in 1904.Thus arose the new national consciousness and when the Japanese Nationalism reached its high, Tagore warned.
Indian leaders must read Tagore’s passionate pleas and warnings.
Asian arose and much else happened. Then, came, equally, the Chinese nationalism, Sun Yat San and then came the Chiang Kei Sheik.
China was a great leader of China and the two Soong sisters, the wifes of Sun Yat San and Chain Kei Sheik, were great friends of India. We should not forget.
So, India was seen as a part of this new nationalist consciousness.
Then, came the other nations. The then Burma, Indonesia were all once closer allies of India, the two great leaders of these two countries were friends of Gandhi and Nehru.
I myself had seen once in Chennai, when I was a students, the great Indonesia leader, Sukarno, on the steps of the Connemara Hotel, when he came there. He was a great hero, a great orator and a liberator and great friend of India.
Now, entirely a new situation has arisen. Obama is at the White House and he sees China as a great ally of USA. He, as Prof.Sugata Bose (Harvard and a nephew of Subhas Chandra Bose) says China is now both a neighbour and a sort of threat to India. India is now a strategic partner with USA, yes, we have to and yet we have to recognise very crucially, China is no friend. China is realising its rising clout and so does things that doesn’t contribute to peace and stability in Asia. China is no democracy, it is an one-party dictatorship.
China is still an odd man out.
This, gives China, it seems a sense of unease and irritation at the sight of India rising in the estimation of the world for all that it represents. India is a democracy, the largest, in fact its ideological ally in Asia is Indonesia, the fourth largest democracy. USA, India, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia are the rising democracies, besides anything else.
Now, says Prof.Bose, India after the May 2009 elections, the Indian electorate has the remarkable maturity and intuition to elect a government for stability. This we have to keep in mind, the leaders!
There is ,warns Bose, a likely winter of discontent!
India must look at the broad canvass.
India must not be seen as a begging nation with every visitor to give India a nuclear deal!
India must, as the Japanese Prime Minister wants must look at the broader picture and must be seen as a willing partner for world peace. Let China be a member of the UN Security Council, the world opinion is sympathetic to India’s peace stance. It has become a habit with media and other diplomatic community to stress the military strength.
We, in India, the public opinion, must be educated to realise there is much strength in a country when it talks the language of peace.
In India, we at the moment seem to be pretending to adhere to some institutions like the Commonwealth. No, it is dead!
We abandon the Commonwealth or keep it going as it is, but we go for new initiatives in India.
We co-operate with the new Japan which, after its world war atomic bomb nightmare is very sensitive to nuclear deals, so we concentrate as wanted by Japan in preventing nuclear proliferation and disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons ultimately.
This language, Dr.Singh is not talking.
We, the civil society, even the other sections ,must think out of the box and we must emerge as a country with much in-depth resilience and inner power and inner reserves of power and energy to think innovatively and we must engage the new world, the new century with a new vision and a new world outlook.
India must become the country for new peace offensive. We call all the peace activists, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and other leaders.
It is a great strength that India is a host to Dalai Lama.
On the New Year day I saw many strange coincidences.
At Vatican I saw Pope bemoaning the world, men living in small enclaves and small pockets about their own small concerns. Man must reach out to fellow men.
So too Dalai Lama was pointing out how Hinduism was so accommodating to other religions. Buddhism, Jainism, even Christianity and Islam.
I was wondering where our own great religious leaders are.
Our Mahants, Shankaracharyas and other great minds?
Yes, sometimes we have to think on broader fronts.
There is now a rising migration of people of different religions and ethnicities.
These are going to create new situations.
Image Source : telegraph.co.uk