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India is No U.S. Vassal State: It is a Proud Country with an Independent Foreign Policy

India’s recent moves with the US are not an act of realignment with the West. They are carefully calibrated actions based on hard-headed calculations of Indian national interest.

Siddharth Pathak

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The close bonhomie India is sharing with the US in the last few years is certainly going to raise some eyebrows among those who cover the alternate perspective, a more realistic perspective I might add, of the changes going on in Russia and China, and the realignment of world polity. It will be mind-boggling to comprehend how a country, which was firmly in the Soviet camp during the Cold War and whose main enemy (Pakistan) is supposed to be in the American camp, is becoming closer to the US. Wouldn’t the second most populous country and one of the most egotistical civilizations in the world want to be part of the newer alliances shaping the political realignment?

It is here that we must pause, and question this narrative and punch it with nuances that many often miss, trying to view India from the same dichotomous lens of “them” (the US and the system of its allies) and “us” (the belligerent countries challenging the US dominance). In my view the application of such a lens is no different than how the US sees the world, and indeed Russia. We have to move beyond the concepts of “sameness” and “otherness” that have hijacked the world ever since the Dulles brothers started this in the 1950s, as explained by Stephen Kinzer. Otherwise those who try to analyze what is going on in the minds of the mantris in Delhi will be forever doomed to misunderstandings.

Yes, it is true that India is moving closer to the United States – not close as in buying a few weapons close, but close in a far more impactful manner. India is closely cooperating with the US military, and a treaty, which will allow each other’s militaries to utilize the bases of the other, is in the final works. Now, it would be fair to criticize this, but to claim that the closer cooperation between the two countries means the projection of US hegemony through India, that is simply not true. The current government, formed by the Bharatiya Janata Party does give an image as if it is a West leaning, capitalism heavy political entity, but this image arises from a fundamental misunderstanding those outside of India have when it comes to analyzing how domestic politics work.

Before I explain the origins of the BJP, I would like to layout a simple model of a democratic system which I shall be using to explain the BJP. In a democratic system, there are elections held at regular intervals where people decide to vote a particular party into power. This structure creates elections as some sort of a sporting event in which each party tries to win by securing votes. And they go about this business by differentiating themselves from the other, which leads each party or any political entity to evolve a set of core kernel of beliefs, using them as a legitimacy to gain power.

The kernel defining the identity of the BJP in India is the misunderstood concept of Hindutva. Now many prominent self-identifying liberals – who suffer from an acute lack of understanding of Indian ethos and local issues – try to create links between Hindutva, the political ideology and Hinduism, the religion. In their criticism of Hindutva, they argue that BJP is a communalist party which is bent on creating a nation for just Hindus – contrasting the reality that India is the third largest Muslim nation in the world. But Hindutva is a concept which is very different from this. It is an idea which mixes India’s culture, her history and the colonial experiences to create a set of narratives seeking to unify Indians under a common identity. It is no different in its conception than the distinct brand of Communism that sprang in China as a way to respond to the infringing of Chinese interests by the outside world.

Hindutva defines Hinduism, which is far lesser understood by Indians themselves, as a cultural framework rather than a religious one, where all Indians are woven into its fabric. The Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, while giving an interview to the New York Times, said:

“India is a Hindu nation in the cultural sense. A Catholic in Goa is also Hindu culturally, because his practices don’t match with Catholics in Brazil [a former Portuguese outpost like Goa]; except in the religious aspect, a Goan Catholic’s way of thinking and practice matches a Hindu’s.”

This quote is at the heart of what the BJP believes in and considers it as the model for India. But the most crucial aspect of Hindutva which is casually brushed aside is how the idea is structured in the broader framework of the global world – after all there is no such thing as “isolationism”.  As I mentioned it earlier, Hindutva was formed largely as a reaction to Western imperialism. James Gelvin, an American scholar on Middle East, coined the term “defensive developmentalism” for a framework whereby indigenous institutions oriented their policies and behavior by strengthening their efficacy and control over resources and governance structures as a way to react to asymmetrical relationships with other states. Development from this perspective was seen as a way to address the imbalances in power. The concept can be widely used to explain the set of changes that occurred in China between 1911-1949, in Japan under the Meiji era between 1868-1912, both the Koreas in the post Korean war, and also, India, between 1857-1947. Hindutva was one of the avenues for such a reaction.

The hallmark for such ideologies is the justification of strengthening national security and local military apparatus. It is then, no wonder that the BJP and its political ancestors have always supported efforts by the Indian government to strengthen India’s military capabilities. Atal Behari Vajpayee who is one of the most influential statesman and politicians in the Republican era of the country, despite being fundamentally opposed to the Indian National Congress (the chief opponent of the BJP) wholeheartedly supported Indira Gandhi from the Congress when she railed against international opposition to develop nuclear weapons.

Thus, national security – which is seen as a modicum of strengthening sovereignty in the BJP’s kernel – is a key factor in understanding why India appears to be leaning towards the West. It is not due to corruption, or nepotism, or even an opposition to Russia and the growing power of China entirely. It is because from the viewpoint of India, the US is an entity which is willing to share its military capabilities which India can tap into and build the foundations of its military reforms. In other words, it is engaging in exactly the same kind of copying of US technologies that the Chinese do (or did?), but unlike China, India enjoys a benign view in the minds of the American leaders. In reality India has nothing to do with the imperialistic philosophies of the West – after all it is a victim of those exact philosophies.

Apart from access to military technologies another factor behind the push towards the US is due to the India-Pakistan conflict. Now, Delhi does realize that the future lies in the land routes of Eurasia – shown by the special interest the Indian Prime Minister has shown in the Russian city of Astrakhan. Astrakhan is a special city because until the 18th century, Indian traders used to be a common feature in the city until the advent of the sea routes wrecked the trading networks. But India cannot utilize these trade routes, which in history ran all the way from Bengal to Baku, Tehran, Qom, Nishapur, Samarkand and Astrakhan in the West, until its relationship with Pakistan is resolved. Naturally, Indians wish to settle their political feud, but it is advantageous for the them if the deal occurs on terms they want. But for this to happen, India has to manage outside influences from China and the US. One way to achieve this is to develop a close relationship with the US. So the relationship between the US and India is not about giving up sovereignty and becoming a vassal state. It is about bootstrapping the development of the Indian military by tapping into what the US has to offer, and also about resolving its long running, but counter-productive feud with Pakistan.

It is vital that the analyses of US-India relationship don’t fall victim to the inanely naïve analyses that the clueless think tanks of Washington produce. There is a lot more diversity in the structure of the world, even in “our” camp and “their” camp. If the analysis has a prejudice of confining India in the camps of blindly following what Russia and China seem to be doing, then India will be an enigma producing a series of disappointments. And if we confine the country in the Western camp, it too shall produce nothing but disappointments. Instead of this, it is more insightful and more accurate if one recognizes that India is a country that has never fallen into any cages of dogmas, and has always strode in a manner justifying its immense ego, wishing to be independent.

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Some Russian monarchists want Tsar Vladimir Putin

Latest news from Russian monarchists highlight the debate over bringing the Russian Empire back to life in modern times.

Seraphim Hanisch

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A December 13 report in The Wall Street Journal shone light on a notion that has been afoot in the Russian Federation since the fall of Communism in 1991 – the restoration of the Monarchy as the form of government, complete with a new Tsar of all the Russias.

Of course, some of these monarchists have a top contender in mind for that post, none other than President Vladimir Putin himself.

This idea has long been used in a pejorative light in the West, as various shadowy and not-so-shadowy elements in the American media speculated over the years that Mr. Putin was actually aspiring to become Tsar. This was thrown around until probably the time that the Russian president spoke, lamenting the fall of Communism, and since then the prime accusation has been that President Putin wants to bring back the Soviet Union.

This is not true. It also does not appear to be the case that the Russian president wants to be Tsar. But the monarchists are not fazed in the slightest. Here is excerpted material from the WSJ piece, with emphases added:

The last time term limits forced Russian leader Vladimir Putin to step down from the presidency, he became prime minister for a few years.

This time around, a group of pro-Kremlin activists have a different idea: Proclaim him Czar Vladimir.

“We will do everything possible to make sure Putin stays in power as long as possible,” Konstantin Malofeyev, a politically active businessman, said recently to thunderous applause from hundreds of Russian Orthodox priests and members of the country’s top political parties gathered at a conference outside Moscow. They were united by one cause—to return the monarchy to Russia…

Even among those who want a monarchy, however, there are splits over what kind it should be. Is an absolute monarchy better than a constitutional monarchy? Should a blood line be established or should the czar be elected? For those who favor male succession, would it be a problem that Mr. Putin reportedly only has two daughters? Some have even suggested others besides Mr. Putin should accede to the throne.

There is a very keen interest indeed among some in Russia that propose various options as to who might best become Tsar in the event that the Monarchy is restored.

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and his mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, together with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Department of External Relations

One candidate that has received significant attention is a man by the name of George Mikhailovich Romanov. He is an actual member of the Royal family, the heir apparent to Maria Vladimirovna Romanova, Grand Duchess of Russia. There are other heir apparents as well, and the issue as to who it should be has not been settled among the surviving members of the Romanov family.

The restoration of the Russian monarchy is unique because to carries strong religious significance. As far back as the 8th and 9th centuries, A.D., a host of saints and prophets appear to have foreseen the advent of the Soviet times and the restoration of the Tsar after their conclusion.

Some such prophecies are attributed to anonymous sources, but some are named. Here are two with rather extensive editing, so please go to the site linked for the fullest description of the prophecies.

Monk Abel the Prophet (+1831).

In a conversation with Tsar Paul I (+1801), after prophesying the destinies of all the Tsars from Paul I to Nicholas II:

“What is impossible for man is possible for God. God delays with His help, but it is said that He will give it soon and will raise the horn of Russian salvation. And there will arise a great prince from your race in exile, who stands for the sons of his people. He will be a chosen one of God, and on his head will be blessing. He will be the only one comprehensible to all, the very heart of Russia will sense him. His appearance will be sovereign and radiant, and nobody will say: ‘The Tsar is here or there’, but all will say: ‘That is him’. The will of the people will submit to the mercy of God, and he himself will confirm his calling. His name has occurred three times in Russian history. Two of the same name have already been on the throne, but not on the Tsar’s throne. But he will sit on the Tsar’s throne as the third. In him will be the salvation and happiness of the Russian realm.”

“Russian hopes will be realized upon [the cathedral of Hagia] Sophia in Tsargrad [Constantinople]; the Orthodox Cross will gleam again; Holy Rus will be filled with the smoke of incense and prayer, and will blossom like a heavenly lily.”

And from one of the most famous saints in Russian history:

St. John of Kronstadt (+1908):

“I foresee the restoration of a powerful Russia, still stronger and mightier than before. On the bones of these martyrs, remember, as on a strong foundation, will the new Russia we built – according to the old model; strong in her faith in Christ God and in the Holy Trinity! And there will be, in accordance with the covenant of the holy Prince Vladimir, a single Church! Russian people have ceased to understand what Rus is: it is the footstool of the Lord’s Throne! The Russian person must understand this and thank God that he is Russian.”

“The Church will remain unshaken to the end of the age, and a Monarch of Russia, if he remains faithful to the Orthodox Church, will be established on the Throne of Russia until the end of the age.”

What may surprise those in the West is that there are a great many people in Russia and in Orthodox Christian countries in general who take these prophecies quite seriously.

Interestingly enough, when the idea of restoring the monarchy was brought to President Putin’s attention, he regarded the idea as “beautiful” according to Lt. General Leonid Reshetnikov, but also expressed concern that it would lead to stagnation within the country.

A second statement, this one by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, noted that President Putin does not like the idea of bringing back the monarchy, but offered no comment on the conversation with Mr. Reshetnikov.

The idea of restoring the monarchy is not completely absurd. Britain overthrew its own monarchy in 1649 during that country’s Civil War, but it was restored shortly afterwards under King Charles II. Spain cast aside its monarchy in 1931, with its king, Alfonso XIII going into exile, but after sixteen years this monarchy, too, was restored.

Both of these monarchies have become largely ceremonial, with most governing functions carried out through some kind of Parliament and Prime Minister. It is therefore not clear what a ruling monarchy in Russia would look like.

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US confirms pullout from INF treaty, Moscow will respond if missiles placed in Europe – deputy FM

Moscow will respond to possible attempts to place short and intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles in Europe if the US decides to go on with this plan.

RT

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Via RT…


Washington has confirmed its decision to withdraw from the INF treaty is final, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said, adding that Moscow will ‘take measures’ if American missiles that threaten its security are placed in Europe.

“Washington publicly announced its plans to withdraw from the treaty (the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) already in October. Through the high-level bilateral channels it was confirmed to us that this decision was final and wasn’t an attempt to initiate dialogue,” Sergey Ryabkov told the Kommersant newspaper.

The Deputy FM said that Moscow will respond to possible attempts to place short and intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles in Europe if the US decides to go on with this plan.

“We’ll be forced to come up with effective compensating measures. I’d like to warn against pushing the situation towards the eruption of new ‘missile crises.’ I am convinced that no sane country could be interested in something like this,” he said.

Russia isn’t threatening anybody, but have the necessary strength and means to counter any aggressor.
Back in October, President Donald Trump warned that Washington was planning unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty because “Russia has not adhered to the agreement.” The US leader also promised that the country would keep boosting its nuclear arsenal until Russia and China “come to their senses.”

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington will suspend its obligations under the treaty within 60 days if Russia does not “return to compliance.”

Signed in late 1988, the INF agreement was considered a milestone in ending the arms race between the US and the USSR.

In recent years, Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other of violating the INF deal. While the US has alleged that Russia has developed missiles prohibited by the treaty, Russia insists that the American anti-missile systems deployed in Eastern Europe can actually be used to launch intermediate-range cruise missiles.

The deputy FM said that Washington “never made a secret” of the fact that its INF treaty pullout “wasn’t so much about problems between the US and Russia, but about the desire of the Americans to get rid of all restrictions that were inconvenient for them.”

The US side expressed belief that the INF deal “significantly limits the US military’s capabilities to counter states with arsenals of medium-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles,” which threaten American interests, he said. “China, Iran and North Korea” were specifically mentioned by Washington, Ryabkov added.

“I don’t think that we’re talking about a new missile crisis, but the US plans are so far absolutely unclear,” Mikhail Khodarenok, retired colonel and military expert, told RT, reminding that the Americans have avoided any type of “meaningful discussion” with Moscow in regards to its INF deal pullout.

While “there’ll be no deployment of [US missiles] in Europe any time soon,” Moscow should expect that Washington would try to void other agreements with Russia as well, Khodarenok warned.

The INF deal “just stopped being beneficial for the US. Next up are all the other arms control treaties. There’ll be no resistance from the NATO allies [to US actions],” he said.

“The neocons who run Trump’s foreign policy never have liked arms reduction treaties,” former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT. “The new START treaty which comes up for renewal also could be in jeopardy.”

“The risk of a new nuclear buildup is really quite obvious” if the US withdrawals from the INF treaty, Dan Smith, the director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told RT.

“I think the relations between the great powers – the US and Russia as well as the US and China – are more difficult than they’ve been for a long time,” he added.

However, with Washington having indicated that it wants China to be part of the new deal, “there are still possibilities for negotiations and agreement,” according to Smith. Nonetheless, he warned that following this path will demand strong political will and tactical thinking from the leadership of all three countries.

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US Pressures Germany To Ditch Huawei Over ‘Security Concerns’

This news will likely not go over well in Beijing, which is still struggling with the US and Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

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Via Zerohedge


First it was Australia, New Zealand and Japan, now the US is pressing the German government to refuse to use equipment manufactured by Chinese telecom giant Huawei as Europe’s largest economy seeks to build out its 5G infrastructure.

According to Bloomberg, a US delegation met on Friday with German Foreign Ministry officials in Berlin to talk about the security risks presented by Huawei’s equipment, which the US says is vulnerable to spying. The meeting in Germany follows a report from late last month claiming the US had launched an “extraordinary outreach campaign” to warn its allies against using Huawei equipment (while its vulnerability to Chinese spying has been cited as the reason to avoid Huawei, it’s also worth noting that the US and China are locked in a battle for who will dominate the global 5G space…a battle that Huawei is currently winning).

Germany is set to hold an auction early next year to find a supplier to help expand its 5G network. The Berlin meeting took place one day after Deutsche Telekom said it would reexamine its decision to use Huawei equipment.

US officials are optimistic that their warnings are getting a hearing, though any detailed talks are in early stages and no concrete commitments have been made, according to one of the people.

The US pressure on Germany underscores increased scrutiny of Huawei as governments grapple with fears that the telecom-equipment maker’s gear is an enabler for Chinese espionage. The Berlin meeting took place a day after German carrier Deutsche Telekom AG said it will re-evaluate its purchasing strategy on Huawei, an indication that it may drop the Chinese company from its list of network suppliers.

France is also reportedly considering further restrictions after adding Huawei products to its “high alert” list. The US has already passed a ban preventing government agencies from using anything made by Huawei. But the telecoms equipment provider isn’t taking these threats to its business lying down.

U.S. warnings over espionage are a delicate matter in Germany. Revelations over the scale of the National Security Agency’s signals intelligence, including reports of tapping Merkel’s mobile phone, are still fresh in Berlin five years after they came to light.

Huawei is pushing back against the accusations. The company’s rotating chairman warned this week that blacklisting the Chinese company without proof will hurt the industry and disrupt the emergence of new wireless technology globally. Ken Hu, speaking at a Huawei manufacturing base in Dongguan, cited “groundless speculation,” in some of the first public comments since the shock arrest of the company’s chief financial officer.

This news will likely not go over well in Beijing, which is still struggling with the US and Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. In an editorial published Sunday, the Global Times, an English-language mouthpiece for the Communist Party, warned that China should retaliate against any country that – like Australia – takes a hard line against Huawei. So, if you’re a German citizen in Beijing, you might want to consider getting the hell out of Dodge.

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