The Great Balancing Act: India at the International Arena

Disclaimer: This post is not an endorsement to any political party or persons directly or indirectly. It is just my own observations and opinions as I see it and may act as an eye-opener in the context of elections on the kind of relationships India needs to share with other countries to grow itself into a developed nation. This article doesn’t have a continuous flow but is a mixture of various bits and pieces of information.
The election in India, to elect the next ruler of the nation is more against the current ruling party.The Indian media too has taken active part in ignoring as well as denouncing the government’s achievements and hyping few candidates, though it is true that India and its citizens are looking for a change.
When the resolution was passed in the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) to conduct an international & independent inquiry into the alleged war crimes and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka during the final phases of civil war in 2009, India abstained from voting to stay neutral. India is referred to as a powerful neighbor to Sri Lanka, the island nation in the Indian Ocean just under the southern tip of Indian peninsula. Along the years, we saw India abstaining from voting on many UN resolutions and maintaining its neutral stand. Who is India friend to? Russia or USA? Technically, USA and Russia are ideological enemies and still at cold war till date. Just for the sake of it, they showcase difference of opinion on resolutions taken in the UN. This enmity doesn’t go under the carpets even when taking decision on providing humanitarian assistance. This was clearly evident in the recent voting to send humanitarian assistance to parts of Syria. Upset by this turn of events the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote that the resolution “should not have been necessary” because “humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated — it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law.”
So what is the kind of relationship India shares with these both world powers?

United States has been a strategic partner to India for many years. USA being a super power is trying to rub its friendship with every nation and the same applies to India. But, Russia was a friend from longtime at least since the time of Indian independence. Russia has also been a major supplier of weapons to Indian armed forces, which is recently followed by the USA. Amidst all this comes China, which is considered a major enemy and threat to India, than their little neighbor Pakistan. China and Russia shares a very close bond being neighbors and communist countries. Though Russia provided India with weapons during the Indo-China war, its support always lied with its closet alley China. China is one country which shares close ties with North Korea and Russia, while the entire west is against the ideologies of these countries. But, being a growing economic power, China is also a strategic partner for many western nations. When it comes to International relationships, India or at least the Nehru-Gandhi family led government of India has been very faithful to their partners, never willing to hurt them and in-turn not losing the benefits received from them.
In the recent Ukraine conflict, when Russia annexed Crimea, the eastern part of Ukraine into its country, the UN voted for a resolution terming this move by Russia as illegal and invalid. Though the resolution was passed with majority of votes, the Russian President in his address to the country thanked China and India for abstaining from voting along with their continued supported to the country. Russia is such a close friend to India. Here, though China clearly voted No to the resolution, Indian hasn’t even voted and the similar stance was followed in the Sri Lanka resolution. What India is trying here is to maintain a very balancing diplomatic act.
India has always been positive about humanitarian assistance(It even provided North Korea with rice and other pulses, many a times) and showing resistance to human rights abuses at the International platform. But, why this exception for Sri Lanka? The abuses in the Sri Lanka are related to the government forces killing many, claiming them to be the supporters of Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) in the island nation. LTTE, is a guerrilla organization based in Sri Lanka that sought to establish an independent Tamil state, Eelam and was headed by the late Velupillai Prabhakaran. It has carried out many strikes against the Sri Lankan government and its forces. Due to many geo-political reasons, India has trained many members of LTTE through its intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) on its mainland. However, the first country to ban the LTTE was again its former ally, India. The Indian change of policy came gradually, starting with the Indian Peace Keeping Force-LTTE conflict, as India opposed the new state Tamil Eelam that LTTE wants to establish, saying that it would lead to Tamil Nadu’s separation from India though the leaders of Tamil Nadu are opposing it. This was followed by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, who was the then Prime Minister of India, by a suicide squad of LTTE.
From this moment on, India was after LTTE to bring the accused to justice and was also covertly planning to eliminate LTTE and its head Prabhakaran. Many LTTE suspects of this assassination were arrested and undergoing trail for many years. However, the wife of the late PM, Sonia Gandhi is unhappy with the phase and progress of this case and its proceedings. At this very point, she entered the main stream politics, though she herself was against her husband entering politics initially after their marriage.
As India is considered the big brother and the powerful neighbor of Sri Lanka, this island nation does things to keep the neighbor happy. India or atleast the Nehru-Gandhian led government wanted the revenge for the killing of their PM. In August 2006, when the talks between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE failed, a full scale war started between them and continued for years. LTTE gradually started losing their strong holds in various parts of Sri Lanka and by 2009 their head was killed. LTTE was by then non-existent and defeated in the war. India’s long wish was fulfilled by this action of Sri Lankan government, as multiple attempts by India and its forces to eliminate LTTE’s head failed. During this war in Sri Lanka, it was accused by media and human rights organizations that many innocent civilians were killed by the army in the pretext of quoting them as supporters of LTTE. It was also said by some, that this is a dililberate ethical cleansing against Tamils in Sri Lanka by the local government.
The resolution passed by the UN is to investigate these killings of innocent civilians to which India voted in negative. Though India covertly instructed Sri Lanka for the removal of Prabhakaran and his group, the island nation took this as a chance to resort to ethical cleansing of Tamils. As its purpose was fulfilled, the Indian envoy to UN was asked to stay mum during this voting, without providing any explanation to the council of countries.
The similar stance was followed when the entire world voted against Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. India refrained from voting, so as not to hurt its largest supplier of weapons. This move by India surprised many in the USA, as it supplies crucial medical assistance to the health sector here, along with the weapons.

Recently the current government, UPA was accused by their opposition NDA, for not complying with the peace truce made with Pakistan when they were in power. Whom did they made this pact with? Is it with the legitimate government or a traitor who opposed democracy and now facing charges of possible death sentence(Though my sympathies still lie with Musharraf). If a country now makes with a pact of national interest with pirates of Somalian pirates, it doesn’t make sense. However unfruitful it could turn out to be, pacts should be made with legitimate governments. As democracy was restored in Pakistan, a new peace truce should be made with the current PM, there by treating the old pact with the military chief as null. 
In India, most of the times terrorism is portrayed as a religious issue and always seen as people from a certain minority community carrying out attacks against the majority, which is very wrong. If this is the case, what are Islamist countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and many other African countries are now suffering from? It is all terrorism, and all of them belong to the same community. So, terrorism has not nothing to do with any religion and is the brainchild of few fundamentalists fighting for some gains and basically fighting against the state.
The Indo-Pakistan border issue was so much blown up by politicians and media along these years. I see that many Indians grow up, beginning to learn hatred against Pakistan and the same applies in Pakistan as well. This very clearly reflects when a game of cricket is played against these two nations. Tensions raise high among audience, as if a war is being waged. Why doesn’t this apply to game with a England or Australia or South Africa. This is just an example of how Indians sub-consciously hate Pakistan and the same applies to the people on the other side of the border. Just a half century ago, both of these nations were under the same regime and are part of a single country. I see that this fighting as a very minute issue being blown out off proportion. It just takes the willingness of politicians from both sides to sit, discuss and resolve the issue, forgetting their personal gains from this conflicts. Many a times, it is painful to hear Indian politicians speaking on public platforms asking to chop of heads of Pakistani soldiers and to get back Kashmir or similar violent statements. People, what happened to your humanity? They are not aliens. They are your neighbors and were once part of you. To err is human. India boosts of great ethics, morals and the holy books that contain every possible knowledge in them. What happened to all the good you were taught from these books. Thus, the saying goes, “What you sow, so you reap.” Your hatred to your neighbor Pakistan turns into a hatred towards people from other states within your own country. You feel like, they are invading your space, though the constitution gives right to every citizen of India to move across the country freely and make a living. A recent example is the state of Andhra Pradesh, where people lived in harmony all these years. There are many who are struggling for a separate identity of Telengana since the time of Independence. In the recent years, due to the intervention of few greedy politicians the issue sky rocketed, halting the growth and development of both the regions(Telengana and Seemandhra) and throwing normal life out-of-gear. What we saw along these six years is many innocent people dying and the functioning of state disrupted, creating chaos everywhere and each region protesting against other. Once brothers, they are now divided and see each other as ideological enemies. Did the people wanted it? Technically, No. The person who orchestrated this division, now put out his desire to become the ruler of the divided state. People are the puppets of many greedy politicians and they make you think like bigots. There are greater problems in this world: famine, poverty, drought, ethical conflicts, war and other serious humanitarian concerns. (Another article on problems faced by the world in 2013 is soon coming up). Among all these, our border issue is negligible. Consider the Israel-Palestine situation. It is a everyday struggle for Palestinians to live in their legitimate land. Ukraine is being divided by the super powers. When humans achieve a greater thinking, all these issues look petty. But this thought process was never allowed to happen.
It is also said that the plane hijacks, their negotiations and releases done during the congress-led government were downplayed and only those during the BJP-led government were being highlighted and hyped. Though it is true that the then external affairs minister flew to Kandahar in Afghanistan to oversee the release of the Indian hostages on Indian Airlines Flight 814, it has always been a question of ambiguity in releasing the three dreaded terrorists in exchange. This failing negotiating factor itself put the NDA regime in the bad lime light and the rest of the 7 hijacks in India are never mentioned. 

Imagine the Prime Minister of a democratic country being barred from visiting other countries? What crime the country would have committed to invite such a bad reputation on the nation? In the age we live in, a country can develop its economy only by improving their relationship with other countries. When you are unable to export the surplus and in-turn not able to import what is essential and unavailable in your land, your growth is stagnant. So, international ties are very important in a nation’s growth. When a foreign partner comes for diplomacy with your country, they not only look at the nation but the person heading it. The relationship they share with the country depends on the head of the nation and his/her background. India being a pluralist country, other nations looks for a secular government here. Though every government proclaims themselves to be secular, their actions seem to tell otherwise. With India, entering into the 16th term parliamentary elections, many nations are planning their strategies beforehand on the kind of relationship they should share, if the more hyped and not so seasoned(on the national front) politician becomes the head of the nation. They are also pointing fingers at the riots that occurred in his home turf few years ago and also fear about the communal conflicts which may erupt if this person takes on the highest post of the country. This brings severe skepticism among countries to do trade with us, let alone having ties with us. India does a lot of export and import business with African and middle east countries, which are mostly Islamic states. When making deals, they also look into how a country is treating their brothers in that region. If you are doing business with European Union or United States, they look into how secular a country and its ruler is.
Many political parties accuse the ruling party of rampant corruption. Corruption was there with every government in every nation. It is human tendency to be corrupt and it is a part-and-parcel of life. Corruption starts right from our homes and to the highest level possible. Show me a country or a government which is not corrupt. Even developed nations suffer due to corruption. I feel manifestos of political parties should concentrate on real developmental issues, than mostly on curbing out corruption.  How many political parties have given priority to health care in their manifesto’s? The country and its people are suffering from various diseases and still no mention of this real-time issue. How are governments going to improve the sector of Science and Technology? Who are going to look after the environmental concerns which are a serious threat to our very existence? What about the foreign policy? They only see the mention in some dark corner of their priorities. Developed countries are excelling because they have invested a lot in Science and Technology and are now reaping its fruits.
Now it’s our call to take the right decision and exercise our right to vote,
not just by looking inside the country, but also around the country.

Crime and corruption can be reduced with
an educated, empowered and employed(working) society.

Development just can’t happen between the four walls of a country.
A nation can only develop with give-and-take policies with other countries.
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