The second term in office for Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh has been quite a rough ride. Never ending scams, scandals, corruption, violence against women, economic slowdown, and all them leading to rise of NaMo despite series of counter attempts by the savior – RaGa, the “prince” as the opponents call him. While the Congress government was already in enough trouble “dealing” with invective opponent, trying hard to allay the fickle and frustrated public enticed by the idea of having a party of the “common man”, it now has an additional problem. The Indian government has to take on global heavyweights – the US, Italy / European Union.
India is a rising power with studies suggesting her economy bound to surpass traditional powerhouses in a couple of years time, while she is already the global leader in importing defense equipment. With this, sooner than later, India is gonna get to make her say in the international stage during events of global power play. Until now India has been mostly quiet, basically choosing no sides, having none to very less to say, excluding the issues related to Pakistan and China. While India’s “minding own business” might have been a good strategy while being completely focused in development. But that was 80s and 90s and we are already in second decade of 21st century and somehow Inida will certainly need to have her own voice in global politics, apart from echoing the US. While Pakistan and China have always been the traditional adversaries of Inida, but Indian people will certainly demand their country to take stand, no matter who may be on the opposite side. Taking such stands is very unlikely as long as India only echoes what her ally says and have nothing more nor less to say.
Almost two years back, two Italian marine soldiers guarding a private vessel opened fire killing two fishermen in Indian water. While Italians argue that they mistook the fishermen for pirates, Indian side presses that the soldiers opened fire without following standard procedure when pirates are suspected. Almost two years and the formal case hearing against the marines is still pending. Meanwhile, the marines flew to their country for voting in their general election as well as celebrating Christmas, and finally returned back after India pressed hard, despite some reluctance by Italy in sending them. Who is gonna file the case against them, and at what charges, it is still undecided and Italy on the other hand is doing everything from mobilizing European Union to sending delegates repeatedly to India. While the central government could opt towards softer treatment, the Kerala state government is in no mood for any soft measures and wants harsh punishments to the marines. The stakes are high for Indian government, bilateral ties in one side and the upcoming general elections on the other.
Few weeks back an Indian diplomat – Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip searched in the US, for allegedly underpaying her domestic help. US attorney refused to drop charges against her and ultimately she flew back to India accounting the diplomatic immunity she had for working for the UN. The charges against her are still in the court in the US. India in response asked two American diplomats (Wayne May, who headed the US embassy’s security team in New Delhi, and his wife Alicia Muller May ) in Delhi, who openly mocked India in social media. An article in FIRST POST says :
In their three years in India, the couple let their dislike for the country they served in run freely on Facebook. May’s wife Alicia joined a discussion over an article that claims non-vegetarians are more inclined to commit violence and sexual crimes to say, “It’s the vegetarians that are doing the raping, not the meat eaters — this place is just so bizarre.” When another friend said that he had never raped anyone, Alicia wrote, “Applies only to Indians, not westerners!”
The Indian “holy cow” is a recurring theme in their posts, starting from the time May was posted in New Delhi in 2010 where he bemoans the unavailability of beef in India. His wife Alicia captions another photo “Stupid Cow”. A friend comments, “You just insulted their god…,” Alicia retorted, “Not the first time, not the last time.”
In a photograph posted online, they commented that their pet dog Paco looked bigger and in better health than their Indian gardener. May crowed that this was because his dog got more protein in his diet than the gardener did.
These are just representative events and things like these are certain to happen in the future and will happen with many other countries as well. While India might enjoy superiority, and at times even dictate the south Asian neighbors to get the work done as required for the Indian government, now is the time India should step up. South Asia is no place anymore for India to try and test her power. It will be for the good of India and yes, South Asia too, if Indian government tries to analyze the bigger picture here. Internal conflicts apart, a comprehensive agreement is necessary between all parties and governments in India to amend their foreign policies.
Meanwhile, it is equally important India have her own “voice” in global issues and not just stay silent or echo her allies. Otherwise, who’s gonna take India seriously, of course, beside Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan etc. ?