Is there a rise of authoritarianism in the world?
Are the democratic forces stifled?
Some troubling questions for the democracies of the world. India is no exception?
Democracies in the large countries need some international oversight.
The UN reforms must focus on these new challenges. This new awakening could only help the human rights and other violations that threaten international peace and security.
President Obama cautions about China on the unusually quick rise and consolidation of power by the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The US President is interacting with his Chinese counter-part, had only come back from Beijing after a summit meet and had obviously watched the rise and rise of XI Jinping and so his words must be taken not lightly. In fact, Obama had referred to the former strongman of China, namely, the late Deng Xiaoping and how Dentg presiding over China for some 16 years unleashed the private market forces and also for the rise of capitalist path for faster economic growth. The outcome is the current status of the Chinese economy as the world’s number two, only after the USA.
Now, what Obama is worried about is the fact that China under Xi is also resorting to appeal for Chinese nationalism so that the country becomes more united and more powerful under the slogan of Chinese nationalism.
Also, Obama points out that how a newly stronger China invoking nationalist pride and its assertions had been causing much fear and insecurity in China’s neighbourhood.
In particular, Obama points to the maritime disputes with Japan and also in other South East Asian countries like Philippines and Vietnam over the South China Sea.
We were in Philippines and also in Cambodia recently and there the people of those countries refer to China’s various moves disturbing and they all commonly call China as a “bully”.
As for India, we can be sure of one thing. We are of course friendly towards China, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also show much friendship and yet we saw how China behaved by massing some thousand Chinese troops across the Indian border.
One can be sure what Mr.Xi felt over his troops so placed when he was on a state visit to India. But one can be sure, given the new Chinese President’s modern education and also a modern outlook with his equally cultivated life partner beside him, they, the duo must have been extremely embarrassed by the developments. Of course there are various explanations. One is that the Chinese army, called Chinese Liberation Army, is not directly under the control of the Chinese government but under the Community party.
We don’t know for sure what is the position correctly, but the fact remains that China with its new economic and political clout is not seen as strength to its neighbours but as a threat. This is not good.
Also, Russia is also not a source of strength to world peace and security but the opposite is what we see.
In a recent annual speech ranging from economy to school tests, the Russian President Vladimir Putin the other day evoked religious imagery and defended the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy as necessary for his country’s survival.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March this year following the ouster of Pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovich and was later accused of supplying pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and later annexing the Ukraine region by sending the Russian troops. This was seen as against the international opinion and practice. For the first time in modern times, we see a great country like Russian doing this. What would happen if other big nations do this sport of things.
So, Putin’s speech given at the Grand Kremlin Palace was seen not as good but as creating further tensions in that part of the world.
Now, the outside world, the USA and the EU imposing sanctions, Putin openly accuses the West as having caused an economic crisis of enormous impact on the Russian economy and lives of the Russian people.
Putin is also talking of nationalism, describing his action as Russia’s spiritual ground and “our Temple Mount “and added that “national pride and sovereignty are necessary condition for survival”
This is again causing disquiet and also some untold fears about Russia’s future actions. Already along with this news of Putin’s speech come the terror strikes in Chechnya and killing 19 in gun battle.
Chechnya is a troubled spot within the Russian soil. The re-emergence of terrorist attacks in the capital city of Grozny recalls the old wound that saw almost this state was about to break away. Even now, the state is led by Kremlin appointed leader. There are complex and complicated issues here.
This gun battle and the killings came just hours before Putin gave his state of the union annual speech at the Kremlin.
The crucial point here is that Russia is already a sort of dictatorship, the internal situation is not normal, Putin himself is in power for too long and in too unusual manner and also the new challenges after he sent his army into Ukraine he lost the trust the international community.
Putin had to receive a very cold reception in the latest G-20 summit and he had to leave before the concluding ceremony.
These are not very happy times for the Russian leader.
Now, the Russian leader is to come to India where he would address the Indian Parliament. This takes place just before in January US President comes to participate in the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.
Of course these are also important days for India under Mr.Modi.
How about nationalism in India?
This is again a troubling question for Indian people.
There are many incipient signs for Indian people. First, there is the Sangh Parivar keeping the flames of Hindu communalism simmering. Ram Temple issue might pose a challenge. Second, the more disturbing trend is the rise of communal flare-ups in 2014, till Oct, as many as 550 flare-ups! In which 90 people died and 1,688 got injured.
UP state tops the list. Of course, the statistics for the previous year’s shows equally high figures.
The BJP government is often talking in terms of a new Indian nationalism, Hindutva nationalism nationhood and much of the new found victory that spells many new unexpected likely twists and turns.
The point here is that the talk and the rise of nationalism, the invoking of nationalism in the three major countries of the world, namely, China, Russia and India also raises some troubling questions.
Can we say there is the trend towards a new form of authoritarianism in these countries?
Are there setbacks to the progressive rise and spread of democracies, democratic institutions in the years to come?
Is nationalism something that could spell not much good for the lives of the people, for the human rights, for the spread of an open society?
These are some of the troubling questions for our times, for our generation.