“Incredible India”…

EDITORIAL, 30 Nov 2009

#90 | Johan Galtung

… they say in the publicity spots.  Yes it is truly incredible how India is selling itself to that bidder, USA, in one display of americanization after the other.  The Washington angle to this is easily understood. Their empire falling, fighting three unwinnable wars on terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq, allied with problematic regimes in Israel and Pakistan; in reality at war with Islam; rejected by most of Latin America, by all of Africa, increasingly by East Asia.  It must be good to find one willing, even enthusiastic partner.

As the present administrator of the US Empire, fighting all those wars, Barack Obama put it: “in a defining relationship for the 21st century”.  And Washington will use them for economic gains, exploiting defenseless small farmers and the dalits, as a partner against all the terrorism they identify in those Muslim countries, as a staging area for the war they fear (and plan) with China, scripted by the Anglo tradition of seeing the second biggest power as the natural enemy.

The Delhi angle is more problematic.  India has found an admirable solution to one major problem: its linguistic diversity.  The solution is a deep linguistic federalism, except for Assam, the Northeast.  Beyond that India has three major conflicts, all of them being aggravated by the relation to Washington.

They are the relation to China, to Pakistan and caste-class.  Underlying them is an Anglo-American colonization of the mind: seeing the world in terms of danger and threat, of enemies out to wreak havoc rather than in terms of conflicts that may be solved, winning potential friends all around.   Look at Turkey: they used to see their neighbors only as dangers, and then somehow decided to change discourse and course, seeing them all as potential friends.  Work is needed, work is going on.  It is possible.

Take caste-class.  Yes, there is economic growth in India, benefiting the vaishya, merchant class, enormously.  Graduates from the schools of business administration, entry points to wealth, make 100,000 dollars US and beyond.  All over the signs of wealth are displayed: the cars, restaurants, gated security quarters.  We live in the age of the merchant, well protected by the kshatriya, the police and the military to quench any resistance, and protected culturally by brahmins preaching private property, and its use to get more property, as a higher stage of evolution.

All at the expense of the majority, 2/3, 3/4, of sudras and dalits, common people, excluded people.  There has been progress.  Thus, sudra communities have made it into IT; remarkable dalit individuals have been included.  But 85% of the farmers live in poverty bordering on misery.  The green revolution works for those who have seeds, water, fertilizers, pesticides and the machinery– for the 15%–not for those who have to buy seeds monopolized by that grotesque machine Monsanto–US of course–and are attacked by goons when using their own and cannot pay their bottomless debt.  They may try to pay with land, with a daughter, with their wife even–but very likely is another way out: suicide.  We are taking not about thousands but tens of thousands; a tragedy crying to the heavens.  And land becomes corporate, catering to rich consumers.

So there is violent resistance, the Naxalites, “maoists” in media casting dark aspersions on China and of course “terrorists”. Needless to say, the USA joins in that war against terrorism, and the Indian Air Force gets pilotless planes to kill Naxalites.  Manmohan Singh talks about India as having growth with values, but then he used to be a distinguished economist, which may explain some of that moral blindness.  One day this may become a wildfire revolution over much of the Indian countryside.

Like in Nepal, where the “Maoists” won by having very concrete ideas–40 points–and in the end through nonviolence.  Naxalites could learn.  Delhi could learn, as did Kathmandu.  May it happen.

Take Pakistan.  Yes, there are problems, like Kashmir.  But the Indian card as successor state to the British raj is weaker than the Pakistani card, plebiscite, let people decide; besides, they also are a successor state.  Plebiscite in the parts rather than all of Kashmir might give Jammu and Ladakh to India, Azad Kashmir to Pakistan (recognizing de jure the Line of Control).  And The Valley?  An Indo-Pak condominium with very high autonomy, maybe one day independence.  And Kashmir as a whole?  Weave it all together in a Kashmir Federation with open borders, some double identities, and a Kashmir Free Trade Association.  A little goodwill, something like this, and Kashmir can get off the list of terrorism-state terrorism (with torture) battlegrounds.

But beyond that: how about India, Pakistan and Bangladesh coming together again in a Subcontinent Community, surrounded by the other five SAARC countries?  Letting what belongs together grow together?  Building on the love and longing there is across very artificial borders, like the catastrophic Mountbatten line? Breaking down the border posts like European youth did in the early 1950s, they wanted more than some council of Europe–and won out?  Building on citizen initiatives?  Not 1947- 1971 in reverse all the way, but a good half?  And explore the possible US role in the 26/11 (2008) mass murder in Mumbai–that mysterious Headley with double US-Pakistan identity–to understand what happened.  Possibly too mysterious to be disclosed.  Think big, think new.

Assam, so badly treated by New Delhi could break that bond and find its place in that community as an independent state.  Even if the USA might not like it, fearing a Hawaiian follow-up.

Take China.  Yes, there are border problems, the MacMahon line, the successor state to the raj and its ambitions.  Do some swapping; make some joint zones.  Use the pancha shila formula (Nehru-Zhou Enlai) of mutual and equal benefit; continue that peace tradition. May one learn linguistic federalism and the other how to uplift those at the bottom.  Do not yield to Anglo-inspired paranoia, especially not in a nuclear bomb infested region.

What is needed is a new mentality.  China is now searching for exactly that, breaking out of a century of humiliation (mainly by those very same Anglos), and a century of restoration.  May India do the same, like Japan seeking two, not only one big friend.

Incredible India, turning its back to the greatest of all its assets, that genius produced out of deep Indian reality, Gandhi. The line of thinking above is gandhi-inspired.  May India be true to its own conscience, not to somebody else’s schemes.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Nov 2009.

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