India centric views were always part of the British strategic thought and also of Viceroy Lord Curzon.
Only western educated Indians started looking at the world through the eyes of the west and pst independence the media made several generations look at the world from the western eyes and NOT from the Indian centric eyes. This is the power of media indoctrination. We see the effect in the discussion on the nuclear deal.
Jaswant and Lord Curzon's legacy
By C. Raja Mohan
NEW DELHI, JAN. 27. Is Lord Curzon of Kedleston back in political favour? Two very different men recently invoked his ideas to define India's new standing in the world.
The first was Henry Kissinger, a former American Secretary of State who was talking about India's role in the region stretching from Aden to Singapore. The second was none other than the External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh.
At a conclave organised by the India Today magazine last week, Mr. Singh quoted extensively from Lord Curzon's celebrated 1907 Romanes lecture on `Frontiers'. Taking off from Lord Curzon's discussion on the diplomacy of fixing physical frontiers among competing powers at the turn of the 20th century, he was leading to a discourse on the new frontiers that Indian diplomacy must conquer.
Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, Viceroy of India (1898- 1905) and British Foreign Secretary (1919-24), might only be mentioned in our text books as the man who partitioned Bengal. But within the foreign policy elite, he is recalled as the man who outlined the grandest of the strategic visions for India.
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Why should the imperialist vision of Lord Curzon - outlined nearly a century ago for British India - be of any significance to New Delhi's foreign policy? Some diplomatists suggest that the political context might have changed, but geography has not. If geography is destiny, India has a pivotal role in the Indian Ocean and its littoral, irrespective of who rules New Delhi.
While many strategists lament that New Delhi has failed to live up to the potential of Lord Curzon's vision, others insist it is outmoded. They argue that his ideas were drawn with reference to the imperial extension in India of the world's then sole superpower, Britain. New Delhi's strategic condition, they suggest, is not that of London in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
While Indians disagree on the value of the Viceroy's legacy, many in the neighbourhood, in particular Pakistan, have always accused the Indian foreign policy of Curzonian ambitions. For them, independent India's foreign policy has always been a continuation of the British imperial legacy. They believe Jawaharlal Nehru and his successors have only couched the ambition in different words.
The challenge for New Delhi, in balance, is to retain the essence of Curzon's vision that is rooted in India's geography while discarding the hegemonic aspects of it. As India grows stronger, it will inevitably called upon to play a larger role in the Indian Ocean littoral. The real question is not whether but what kind of a role?
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In his book `The Place of India in the Empire', published in 1909, Lord Curzon talks of India's geopolitical significance. ``On the West, India must exercise a predominant influence over the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan; on the north, it can veto any rival in Tibet; on the north-east and last it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Siam,'
' he wrote.
However, much one might dream about India's strategic future, this is not the kind of role India can play now. Nor is the world going to parcel out the Indian Ocean littoral to India. New Delhi can, however, significantly contribute towards the advancement of the region through political cooperation with other great powers.
That precisely is what Mr. Kissinger was talking about when he referred to the ``parallel interests'' of India and the United States from Aden to Singapore. These shared interests include energy security, safeguarding the sea lanes, political stability, economic modernisation and religious moderation.
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Lord Curzon's emphasis on the value of fixing boundaries, conceived in the context of expanding empires, remains very relevant for India. Settled boundaries can make India's frontiers into zones of economic cooperation rather than bones of political contention.
The assessment that ``frontiers, which have so frequently and recently been the cause of war, are capable of being converted into the instruments and evidences of peace'' is even more true in a globalising world. By leaving territorial and boundary disputes with its key neighbours - Pakistan and China - unresolved for so long, India has tied itself down.
Lord Curzon seems to have been aware of the tendency to avoid boundary settlements. ``In Asia,'' he wrote, ``there has always been a strong instinctive aversion to the acceptance of fixed boundaries arising partly from the nomadic habits of the people, partly from the dislike of precise arrangements that is typical of the oriental mind, but more still from the idea that in the vicissitudes of fortune more is to be expected from an unsettled than from a settled frontier.''
Can India take Lord Curzon's advice on frontiers and seek a final resolution of the Kashmir problem with Pakistan and the boundary dispute with China? There may be a historic opportunity for the Government of Atal Behari Vajpayee to move decisively on both the fronts. http://www.hinduonnet.com/2002/01/28/st ... 280900.htm