Much before President Barack Obama rediscovered Asia’s importance to the world and announced an American “rebalance” towards Asia-Pacific region in January 2012; New Delhi had quietly upgraded its two decade old “Look East” Policy to “Engage East,” demonstrating a new resolve to play a pivotal role in its extended neighbourhood.
As India has pivoted towards the East, the term “Indo-Pacific” has suddenly gained currency acknowledging India’s growing stature in Asia. At the moment, New Delhi’s surge to the East is dictated primarily by economic and trade ties with ASEAN nations.
The successive visits of French President Hollande and UK Prime Minister Cameron to India this month can be viewed from different angles. Both countries clearly attach increasing importance to the India relationship. Opportunities in India are considerable even now despite the current economic slowdown, and will grow vastly as India continues to rise. Interest in India is also part of the wider reality of economic power shifting steadily towards Asia, with France and the UK, therefore, needing to retain and expand their share of a market that is fostering linkages eastwards.
Dr. Sudhir S. Bloeria, Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Jammu and Former Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir
(This is the text of presentation made by Dr. Bloeria during Vimarsha series of talk at the VIF on 22 Feb 2013)
In this prestigious institution dedicated to the memory of Swami Vivekananda, it will be only appropriate to start my presentation with a famous quote from Swamiji which has been taken from “Taitreya Upnashid” and which means arise and awake.
Much as one loves India --- and I am xenophobic about it --- one cannot help but ask the question, are we a nation which worships symbolism more than substance? As a people are we given so much to tokenism that tokens salve our conscience, tokens dictate our policy and tokens are what we offer when faced with a grave problem. Let me give one example. Our national approach to women’s issues has been one of either total blindness or only very selective sight, which has caused us to fail in reading the very clear signals on the status of women.
The back-to-back visits of the president of France, Francois Hollande, and the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, last month have put the spotlight on India’s relationship with Europe. Some belittle the importance of this relationship as Europe is seen as economically crisis-ridden, lacking in dynamism, to be declining militarily and too prone to act as a super NGO in propagating its values. The belief that economic, political and even military power is shifting towards Asia underlies this depreciation of our partnership with Europe.
Sri Lanka is facing second successive resolution in as many years at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) this month. Exactly last year at the 19th session of the UNHRC, a US-sponsored resolution was passed against the island state.
Backed by 24 countries, including France, Norway and India, the resolution placed three requests for Sri Lanka:
When we were caught unawares by the Pakistani intrusion into Kargil a high powered committee was set up under Shri K.S. Subramaniam, who had been Defence Secretary of India, to suggest measures whereby we could avoid intelligence failures, provide for a quick response to a Kargil like situation and take such counter insurgency measures as would make India secure. Like all reports of this nature the Subramaniam Committee report also was never meaningfully implemented.
The hideous massacre of unarmed Indian Satyagrahis who had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh to show their displeasure at draconian laws adopted by the British government in India is much in the news these days. The British Prime Minister’s visit and his terming the gory episode ‘shameful’ has generated debate and has again brought to the fore highly uncomfortable episodes in the British empire’s history.