Tuesday, January 27

Lobbying the new administration

India is apparently making some significant lobbying efforts to be excluded from the South Asian group of problem countries. It does not want to be clubbed together with Pakistan. This reminds me of the numerous times when during discussions with friends and colleagues, I have made an effort to distance myself as an Indian from Pakistanis. Trying to point out how the bigger problem is Pakistan, not India; Pakistan is the rogue nation in the region, not India. In spite of appreciating that our nuclear program has been an act of proliferation, I never wanted it to be rated on par with that of Pakistan's in terms of the risks and proliferation concerns it raises. But the truth is that the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) was largely in reaction to and to avoid the repetition of situations like the first Indian nuclear tests. It is also true that the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation treaty is very likely to undermine nonproliferation efforts.

While it can be flaunted as my patriotism and love for my country, it does not take away the holier-than-thou attitude inherent in it. We are a part of the problem. Maybe not as big as Pakistan or Afghanistan is, but definitely a part. And we should be willing to recognize and deal with it if the tensions in the region are subside. While I am with the government on not wanting to internationalize the Kashmir issue, it is unofficially an international issue. There is an UN mission in the region. The U.S., UK, China talk about it in the same breath with Pakistan. Various international non-profits are involved in helping people deal with the consequences of the constant conflict. It would be oversimplifying if I say that solving the Kashmir problem will solve all Indo-Pak problems. But it would definitely reduce them.

We, as a nation have to appreciate that we are part of the problem. And we will have to be an active part of the solution. We cannot go on with a holier-than-thou attitude forever. That will only alienate other countries in the region. We would be following the U.S. path if we do that. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is not a big success because we are seen as the dictating big brother in the region. Being proud and being arrogant are two different things. We cannot afford to be arrogant if we really want to be an economic and regional superpower.

No comments: