Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lessons not learned.

The Chinese decided to give us two gifts this new year. The first gift was when Chinese patrol officers entered the Demchok area of Leh district in Jammu and Kashmir and reportedly intimidated the construction workers building a shed as per plans cleared by the state rural development department. The Indian government went into a denial mode rejecting all such reports of transgression. Army, too, downplayed the incident attributing the incursion to perceptual differences between Indians and Chinese over the Line of Actual Control.

The second gift was to raise temperatures in freezing Arunachal Pradesh in these severe winters by issuing stapled visas to two sportsmen from the state. The Chinese have been issuing stapled visas to the people from J&K since long and this issue was raised during the recent visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to India. But nothing conclusive came out of the discussions. Issuing stapled visas means Chinese does not consider these regions as integral parts of India. This despite the fact that India now considers Tibet as a part of China. The Chinese have raised their pitch for the merger of Arunachal with China as they considers the former as their territory.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to react with equal intensity to such acts that infringe our sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the same country against which we had the courage to fight a war couple of decades back. What happened during all these years after the war that we are now showing such docility?

Firstly, after the humiliating defeat in the 1962 war, the Indians got a clearer understanding of Chinese military superiority which has only increased in the decades that followed. Chinese are way ahead of India in all the different aspects, right from the number of military personnels to the quantity and quality of various defence equipments. Recently, Chinese tested their state-of-the-art stealth fighter aircraft while US defence secretary Robert Gates was on a visit to Beijing. The timing, of course, cannot be overlooked. Chinese are now in a different league altogether.

The second and more important reason is the economic superiority of the dragon. Chinese have a robust economy which is growing at a fast rate. It is the second largest economy of the world after the US. Its products are exported all over the world and has a major presence in the world market. It is the largest exporter in the world. The US has a trade deficit with China is around $227 billion and it also holds a significant amount of US Treasury debt.

China enjoys considerable clout in the world politics because of its economic might. The world polity today is more ruled by economics than anything else. Chinese are providing nuclear technology to Pakistan in violation of NPT and NSG guidelines. But have not met with the same objection as faced by Iran for flouting the rules of NPT. In fact the world has been watching silently while China continues to bend the rules of the game.

Commentators in India believe that India has not been able to progress at the same rate as China because India is a democracy and China is a communist regime. It is undoubtedly easier to take decisions and implement them in a communist regime. In a democracy one has to keep several considerations in mind before taking any decision. However, it should not be made as big an issue as it has been made. All the other major economies are democracies. It is not about the kind of political system we have in the country but the commitment of the leaders. A communist India could have been even worse. Now we can at least demand accountability from the government because of our democratic set up.

What we need to do is not to look for excuses for lack of development in the country vis-a-vis China but draw an inspiration from their success story and move ahead with bigger steps. We need to have a clear vision for the growth of our country. But most importantly we have to have a dedicated leadership that can steer the country in the path of development. We have a big economy but that growth in economy is not reflected in the human development indices. There is rampant corruption which cuts across the length and breadth of the country. It is sad that our leaders do not want to learn from Chinese leadership commitment towards one's country.

That economically powerful countries have a gretaer say in the world can be seen from our own experience. India's rising economic stature has resulted in the rise of India's political position in the world and increased its bargaining power at various international fora. But we haven't been able to utilize our potential. Lot of our public resources are used to feed the insatiable appetite of private individuals. It would be too naive to think that corruption doesn't happen in China and elsewhere. But the magnitude here far exceeds than that in any progressive economy.

It is time that our leaders play their role efficiently. The entire world says that one advantage that India has over China is that it is a democracy. A democracy is charactrerized by civil liberties granted to the citizens and the right for them to choose their government. The importance of these two things cannot be discounted. However, there have been cases where the government has stiffled the freedom of individuals. But this is not what I wish to ponder over just now.

What makes me wonder is that our politicians travel the world over. They see all the nice things around the globe. Don't they want to see their country as developed? Don't they ever feel like giving back to their country? Is money -making the soul aim of their lives? I don't expect them to give up corruption completely but at least the magnitude be reduced. If they make money, then at least utilize the rest of it earnestly. The Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games reportedly embezzled a massive amount of money and ended up constructing poor quality buildings. The CWG village is not finding many buyers because of low quality building material used. There needs to be a sense of belongingness which our leaders do not seem to have. Unless they think of this country as their own and link the progress of the country with their personal goals in life, it would be hard for India to come out of the clutches of widespread poverty.

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