India, China and the NATO
Imagine you own a plot of land and have plans for future, in place. How would you feel, if someone starts to build a road through your land, just because the Patriarch in his family dreams to have direct access to the main road?
Well, I will try to stop the bully by all logical means. It may begin with a direct conversation and if required may be scaled up to involve my well-wishers. If things do not straighten up, I will have to think of legal options. However, if the bully is too arrogant and cares to ignore any legal orders (evidenced by experience in recent past), what do I do? I may have to join a group that provides collective strength to silence the bully.
There may be many within my family who will criticize my decision to align with a team. However, in such instances, the end justifies the means. Instead, if I remain indecisive and shy away from acting today, my land will get split into two forever.
An almost similar situation is evolving with India-China relation. The Patriarch at the other end has a magnanimous dream of building roads that cuts through our land. We find ourselves unable to stop it. Unlike our case, the Patriarch has no opposition within his house. He does not have to align himself to face elections. The Patriarch is clever to use his voting rights at international forums to ensure that individuals who bleed us are not labelled. It can also not be ruled out that the Patriarch is fanning internal unrest and shouting in our house. What so ever be the systemic and historic reasons, we have slacked in our progress. Whilst we take pride in our social diversity, we continue to pay a price for it. Our high ethnocentrism comes between ‘us as Indians’ and ‘individuals as the beneficiary’. This gap is widely used as soft wood by people who keep us divided. Hence, despite sincere efforts, we are two decades behind in developing our fiscal and physical muscles so as to be respected by the Patriarch.
Our internal squabbles have emboldened the Patriarch to recently start work on a second road. Over this, he has reminded us to learn from history. I personally felt insulted on reading about this in newspaper. If we remain indecisive and do not act in the fear of internal protests, he will soon start doing more such. It is easy to nip in the bud and remind the Patriarch that our motherland is not something to please him and implement his dreams.
It is important to remember that the lag of two decades stated above, is a factor, which if articulated, can decisively be used by us. The Patriarch has recently permitted his citizens to produce more children. He has done so because, despite having the world’s largest army, the average age of his soldier is much higher. He is keen in opening new roads to facilitate fast movement of his aged soldiers. In two decades, liberally breeding population will help him bring down the average age of his army. By then, it will be too late for anyone to challenge him.
In spite of our best efforts, we cannot state with certainty that in two decades from now, we will make him respect us. The next best alternative is to team up with someone so that the Patriarch will have to think many times over.
Clinging on to our historic burden is not going to help us. Everything is bound to change with time. In a decisively more unipolar world, the question of alignment is irrelevant. Loyalty and commitment of old friends who are today themselves struggling to regain lost glory, cannot be taken for granted. It does not mean that we break away from them. Neither should it refrain from seeking new friendship.
Why should we even have second thoughts, if by joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), we can reign the bullying Patriarch?