Learn from Washington’s Folly – Extricate India from the American Stranglehold

What lessons should India draw from the stunning events of September 11? The answer seems to be quite simple and straightforward for the dominant sections of the Indian ruling classes. The propaganda machine of the ruling classes lost no time in identifying and welcoming the great new ‘opportunity’ that September 11 has supposedly opened up before India.

What is this new opportunity? The new found saffron representatives of the ruling classes can hardly suppress the glee in their eyes when they appear on the television screen to tell you that now is the time to curry favour with the United States, and that all our worries would be over once we are blessed with a permanent strategic partnership with the world’s lone superpower.

India, our rulers tell us, has been experiencing the horror of terrorism for the last two decades, yet the international opinion hardly took any notice; but now that the US too has experienced it first-hand, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn our battle into America’s battle and get the US to win it for us. Mercifully, the propaganda balloon got miserably punctured by the turn of events before it could even be fully inflated.

Prime Minister Vajpayee promptly sent a letter to Bush praying for a US-led global war against terrorism and offering India’s total cooperation in such a mission. And Brajesh Mishra was quietly dispatched to Washington to assure the American masters of complete Indian connivance with any possible American plan of retaliation. Yet not for once did India figure in even any statement made by any functionary of the Bush administration. All this while hectic parleys went on between the US and Pakistan and the latter made it clear that it wanted India and Israel out from any possible blueprint of US-Pak cooperation against terrorism.

It must be remembered that Pakistan was a staunch ally of the US all through the Cold War period while Indian ‘non-alignment’ kept oscillating between India’s initial proximity to the US and subsequent tilt towards the Soviet Union. Following the Soviet collapse, the Indian ruling classes began wooing the US with shameless desperation. But ironically, September 11 has only increased the importance of Pakistan in terms of Washington’s strategic calculations, making a complete mockery of naïve Indian attempts to pit the US against Pakistan.

A lot has been said in recent times about the growing profile of the Indian American community. Hundreds of Indian professionals and software experts perished among the thousands who met such a horrific end in the WTC collapse. While this added a terribly sad dimension to our perennial tragedy of brain drain, worse was to follow in the form of persecution of Indian Muslims and Sikhs who found themselves as helpless victims of a vicious campaign of hate crimes along with people of various Arab nationalities. We were told that the attacks on Sikhs were a case of ‘mistaken identity’! Apparently, angry Americans still cannot quite identify the Sikhs who have ironically been among the most visible and early Indian migrants to the US. So much for the growing profile of Indians in the US!

In recent years, our economic policy too has been very closely integrated with the American economic order. No wonder, we will have to pay heavily for our disproportionate dependence on and closeness with the US economy. The investment climate in India had already been shrouded in a pall of gloom ever since they started talking about the slowdown of the US economy. Now as the US assesses its direct and indirect losses and intensifies the war orientation of its military-industrial-financial complex, Vajpayee has begun to ‘warn’ the country about the likely fallout in India in terms of declining foreign investment, falling Indian exports and growing hardships for the common man. The value of the rupee has been falling continuously in relation to the dollar even as the dollar itself is suffering a fall in its value vis-à-vis other major world currencies.

Last but not the least; September 11 has once again exploded the myth of invincibility of the American military might. It has also underlined the fact that militarism and counter-terrorism can only compound, and can by no means resolve or even contain, the problem of terrorism. The fact that even ‘Fortress America’ with its fabled military arsenal and intelligence network is so utterly vulnerable to terrorist attacks should have some sobering influence on the Indian hawks who offer military solution to all problems and advocate nuclear weaponisation as the bulwark of peace in the subcontinent. If there is any lesson for India to learn from the September 11 tragedy, it is to avoid by all means the pitfalls of militarism and to free the country from the disastrous American stranglehold.