Revisiting: Can India Be A Great Power?

It was Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”  Centuries before Gandhi, the Roman poet Virgil had stated: “Anger carries the mind away.” Pietro Aretino, the 15th century Italian author, categorically defined “anger” as an anti-intellect human emotion: “Angry men are blind and foolish…” Aretino declared. Modern social-psychology claims that anger is an emotional risk in communication, both in understanding it and in the process of communicating.

Many many Hindu Indians are angry – very very angry. This happened after this writer’s article “Is India a Great Power?” appeared in The Nation of January 26th, when angry Hindu readers (names indicate they are Hindus) unleashed a barrage of offensive emails (going as far as using indecent and foul language) and inconsistent political counter-attacks devoid of logical arguments or reason.

And yet, the overall effect of this hostile reaction has provided the opportunity to once again make the point that has been completely lost on Indian observers, foreign policy makers, political gurus, neo-con pundits and some readers of the said article – pure anger has replaced reasonable understanding!

Let us go back to some fundamental ground realities: Yes, India is a massively large country. Yes, it is an enormous economy (as some Indians claim, the fourth largest in the world). Yes, India’s foreign exchange reserves are tremendous. Yes, its information technology and universities have made quantum leaps. Yes, Indian nationals are making considerable contributions in commerce and other sectors in the US and other countries. Yes, India has a high profile in the eyes of the US and the Western world in the present geo-political environment.

But the question is: Does all that make India capable of being a great world power? More specifically, the question becomes vitally important when India’s entire march “forward” is in the context of a socio-economic-geo-political “status-quo” imposed globally by the US-West’s notion of ideological capitalism and hegemonic military-political imperialist doctrine. India is striving to find its place in global leadership “within the box,” imaging “great power” status precisely on the US-West’s lines.  India’s fire-power and military ferocity (as claimed in wiping out China and Pakistan in a matter of 4 hours) is not exactly what will make it a “great power.”  Thinking so is a paralysis of its political mindset inconsistent with the present-day needs of the masses all over the world – and particularly so to the majority of the Indian population living below the poverty line.   And that is precisely where the problem lies.

Consider the seductive psychological treatment meted out to India’s consciousness in the last decade or so.  Supposedly, India is in the forefront of a so-called cultural renaissance, jump- started by the US-West’s incessant “hail India” media-propelled intoxication: India has a “Miss World” (does it make any sense that there is only one single most beautiful woman in the entire world –  where are the modern Indian feminists?). After Hollywood, Bollywood is the unquestioned entertainment leader of the world (is film entertainment and semi-naked women  the opium of the starving poverty-stricken masses of India?) India has Noble Laureates for Literature in its fold (are not the Noble Prizes used as a seductive tool of political-psychological manipulation of the masses?) Cricket – yes, India is the world leader (it has turned a “gentlemen’s” game into money-making scams truly in the precise image of “Mafioso-ism”- hasn’t it?) And the list goes on of Western capitalism’s unholy encroachments on the moral-social-spiritual fiber of the Indian society.

Isn’t this entire phenomenon of “India First Now” a part of the manipulative US-West’s political strategy – a caressing “Kama Sutra” diplomacy to entice India into a psychological bliss making it lose its rational bearings? When seductive pleasure is over, India will certainly get a wake-up call to the harsh realities of its sad existence. For India, the cruel truth, beyond Shah Rukh Khan’s show-biz eminence and Anil Kapoor’s glamorous debut on the popular American TV show, 24, is that it has a poverty-stricken disfranchised population.  And on top of that comes the Indian political establishment’s dream of India as a “great world power,” focused primarily on military might, taking on China, Pakistan, and whoever else. Quite an incredible political manifestation!

Let us be fair enough in conceding the fact, highlighted by the angry Hindu Indians, that Pakistan, compared to India, has made a mess of its country in the last six decades and is continuing to do so presently as well. And it is here, in this admission of a factual ground reality, that the crux of my argument lies for India’s future politics: a vitally important reason for Pakistan’s sixty years of a continued political abyss is in the Pakistani ruling-elite’s love affair with the US. This alliance with the US-West’s global, ideological, military and political objectives and goals, has driven Pakistan to its present state – in fact, a failure in constructing a viable democratic public welfare state. Unfortunately, India is heading in the same direction now with its recently-found love affair with the US.

This does not mean that America is an evil nation.  But it is quite certainly an evil empire. How else could the recent George W. Bush’s era, over a hundred military conflicts engineered by the US during the last century, the havoc of the destruction it has carried out in every corner of the world and the explicit moral-political contradictions in its policies, be explained?

The problem lies fundamentally with the American ideological foundations: Capitalism thrives on the basis of worldwide military conflicts, political domination and economic exploitation of other nation’s resources as well as subtle control of their political leaderships and elite ruling groups. In modern times, media and psychological manipulations have taken a central role in this process of penetrating in the decision-making structures of Third World countries.  It empowers the US-West and thereby to intervene and to influence political outcomes in favor of themselves, as well as benefitting a select group of local elites in several of these nations. Pakistan has been a victim of this exploitive process (indeed with full and complete collaboration of its ruling elite – they are the ones to be blamed). And now India stands at the verge of falling into the same trap.

Angry Hindu Indians should understand that once a nation is hooked up to this kind of seductive US-West’s strategy and diplomacy, then there is no exit from this route. It invisibly, slowly and gradually leads to social disharmony, widening gaps between the rich and poor, economic disparity, social disorder and injustice, civil discords and the ascent of a select group of elites to economic and political power including a celebrity culture (largely comprised of film stars and athletes). The masses remain deprived, marginalized and helpless – hypnotized by a scandalous view of “greatness” seduced by media blitzes and tall grandiose nationalist claims.

At the present stage of human civilization, masses all over the world no more aspire to imperial grandeurs, neither do they identify with the glorious empires. They do not want wars, military conflicts, skyscrapers in urban centers, lofty ideals and claims of unprecedented military power capabilities to wipe out other nations and their innocent people in a matter of minutes.

I would assume, and it seems a reasonable supposition, that common Indians, all of them, wish to see an India that would take care of their gloomy and undoubtedly difficult existence, wipe out their deprivations and sufferings of poverty, disease, un-wellness, socio-cultural disorders, sociological disparities and ever-waning hopes of a truly socio-cultural renaissance.

I would also assume that the majority of Indians would prefer peace, stability, and prosperity over war, instability and lingering poverty.

The US-West’s “Kama Sutra” seduction and ideological romance with India will not deliver any of the above for its masses. Ideological “capitalism” is simply not compatible with the needs of the present-day world and is not able to offer resolutions to the suffering masses problematics.

Why doesn’t India espouse a visionary dream of a new world order and become an important global player to achieve a political entity for itself as a modern spiritual state that places pre-eminence to the masses welfare above and beyond a notion of a “Great Empire”?

Why doesn’t it think of its future as a nation of “saints” and moral spiritual sagas; a nation of peace – and moral high ground – a neighbor worthy of an emulative model of true human emancipation?  After all, in spiritualism, that is how “greatness” is defined.  Isn’t it?

That is the question I wish to pose to the angry Hindu Indians!

After all, India has the potentials: Wasn’t India the champion of the “Non-Aligned Movement”?

But many Hindu Indians are angry, very angry…

Perhaps, they never carefully listened to Mahatma Gandhi! They certainly didn’t! It was Mahatma who once said: “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” !!


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