Future Strategic Scenario for the Indian Subcontinent
As a brief review of the previous thread : [Rahul M, let me know if this is OK]
The thread opened up primarily on a premise proposed by me, that we can think of a core-periphery framework for anaylizing the strategic scenario for the future - of the entire subcontinent. By consolidating the core, and connecting with the periphery, we can think of making the periphery a part of the core and expand the core to occupy spaces it did not do before while helping to preserve and continue the core.
The debate that ensued tried to clarify and settle on :
(1) the definition and identification of core - civilizational, political, geographical
(2) this led to exploration of the concept of nationhood in the context of India
(3) the identification of the periphery - regions, and culture etc
One fallout of this debate was a subdebate on the need for dissolution of TSP. However there were intense debates on what to do with the remnants of that dissolution. One position was partial or complete incorporation of the land and people into new provinces of India. The other was to allow the remnants to form into new "nations". The differences lay primarily on India's willingness/benefits/risks/need to digest the possible social-economic-cultural costs of Jihadi virulence surviving in the remnants of TSP. The pro-absorption school mainly argued on the need for rashtryia control to sanitize and disinfect the erstwhile regions of TSP - which cannot be done if those regions become independent nations able to extract benefits and protection of Jihad from outside sources. The anti-absorption school argued that letting the new subnational conflicts between emergent fractions from TSP should be allowed to bleed each other weak.
The latter parts of the thread were also occupied with changing situations in the AFPAK region, and the various factors that allowed USA, UK, PRC, Russia, Iran and TSP to play along in the general conflict developing extending in both directions into TSP and TSP.
Thailand impound NK plane with military hardware claiming to deliver to SL
Officials study plane with weapons cache
Thai authorities on Monday sought to unravel the mystery of the ultimate destination of a plane that landed in Bangkok with a huge cache of weapons from North Korea, exported in defiance of a U.N. embargo on arms from the communist state.
Military analysts said the arms were likely destined for African rebel groups or a rogue regime such as Myanmar.
Thai officials impounded the Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane Saturday and said they discovered 35 tons of explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, components for surface-to-air missiles and other armaments.
The plane's manifest had described the cargo as oil-drilling equipment. The crew said the plane was supposed to deliver its cargo to Sri Lanka.
There are obviously many curiosities here. The first question is why would SL be overtly referred to as the destination for delivery and that too under "oil-drilling"? Is SL still a conduit for arms and hardware that includes possibly "missile" components? Even if it all goes back subsequently to Myanmar or Africa through other couriers (surface transport) such networks were typically supposed to be minded by the LTTE if anyone from SL. Given the possible connections of NK with PRC, and PRC arms supply to the SL gov, is it a continuation of older supply practice? Does SL have a new missile or other capability programme on board? Or is the connection further afield into AFPAK? But then such supplies would be easier to send through KKH. Or is it under greater surveillance in the northern areas and more vulnerable from US pressure there?
I could be mistaken, but Yechury appears to be in Copenhagen. Keeping the pressure on the Indian delegation perhaps? His ingenuous pointer towards an image of a "new global paradigm of four countries coming together - India, China, Brazil, and South Africa" is significant not because of the reality of such an alignment, but as a reflection of Left-Centre mindset.
Is it possible that with the passing away of MMS era, the core dynastic basis and coterie of the Congress centre, feels it necessary to align away a bit from the USA? Or that they have analyzed the situation or been convinced by others, that it is better to patch up a bit with PRC rather than rely too much on a possibly waning power represented by the USA?
I have a nagging suspicion that both MB and the Left in WB is being used to shape and tame each other up so that the Cingress can eventually appear to be the better option. The relations between the Left core and the Congress core need not be as cold as they might appear. Yechury's presence at Copenhagen is perhaps also a pointer to the bridge being sought with China. That could change equations slightly and temporarily on the WB front. MB has a cooler head now than 20 years before, so she might not turn the "enfant terrible" stunts, but interesting developments possible as the state gradually moves towards the election year.
MB, will not be able to stay on with the Congress for a long time after coming to power. She appears to be destined the Nitish way. Which however does not bode good for Islamist designs on the WB-BD frontier.
The process of centripetal aggregation instituted and implemented initially by Sardar Patel, despite the setbacks offered by linguistic reorganization of states, reached its perihelion in 1985 with the ascension of Rajiv Gandhi. That was the last time that the electorate handed a genuine mandate to any political party. Faced for the first time with the possibility of secession by an Indian state, people across the country rallied behind an untested leader whose sole value was that of a unifying emblem.
The counter process of centrifugal disaggregation had already begun to creep in around the edges, first with the linguistic reorganization of states, and later with the emergence of regional parties in the South, mainly the Dravidians in TN and Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh. The Maharashtra movement and the division of Punjab were other pointers in this direction. However, it was after the ouster of Rajiv Gandhi by V.P. Singh that the process of disaggregation and regionalism became the prominent trend. Even in the Gangetic heartland, the Yadav chieftains established regional principates who allied themselves with first one, and then another central power opportunistically.
The tendency to dissagregation was coupled with an erosion of the "national" party as a political concept. The Janata Dal-BJP combine fell apart, the Janata Dal splintered, and finally even the Congress was riven into regional entities such as the Tamil Manila Congress, Trinamool Congress, and Karnataka Congress Party. Only on the ideological left and right did some semblance of pan-Indian political organization endure; and on the left, the communists could at most aspire to be kingmakers. The mainstream itself seemed to have been chopped into myriad regionalist entities.
With this development came the era of coalition politics. "Third Front", "NDA" and "UPA" governments were the order of the day from the middle of the last decade through the end of the present one. Disaggregation continued as new regional states splintered off from existing ones: Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh.
Today there is a conscious, concerted effort in process by the second UPA administration to reverse the process in favour of centripetal aggregation once again. The "Dynasty" has been restored. Piece by piece, state-level political entities seen as "regionalist" are being either co-opted or subverted, the TDP being a case in point.
If you look at the emergence of "Naxalite" militancy, it fits a pattern that corresponds to the watersheds of "regionalism". Look at the Red Corridor and you will see that it overlaps the new states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh; the eastern part of Maharashtra, which had always been a headache to that state's inconveniently ambitious satrap Sharad Pawar; UP and Bihar, lost to regionalist strongmen in the wake of the Rajiv Gandhi government; West Bengal, where the CPI(M) is for all practical purposes running a regional principate; and Andhra Pradesh, the fount of the original Telugu Desam.
What does "Naxalite" militancy by well-armed militias ultimately achieve? Does it not increase the degree to which State governments become dependent on the Centre, and vulnerable to dismissal by Presidential Ordinance should the law-and-order situation in their States be deemed "untenable"? It's an old, old trick... remember Bhindranwale vs. the Akalis, Pirabharakaran vs. the TULF/EPRLF/TELO.
One might argue that the reinstatement of a centripetal order is a good thing, one that might eventually lead to a government capable of formulating a national vision and gaining the mandate to implement that vision.
The problem today is that the Centre itself relies too much on the support of those whom Brihaspati has described as being of the "Mercantile" mentality. Quite literally... the MMS/Sonia regime has successfully persuaded the new urban elite and business classes to invest in the "stability" represented by its continuance in power. (Ironically the BJP, which opened the floodgates whereby those classes garnered their new-found wealth, failed abysmally to co-opt them... thanks to its own lack of vision).
But as we know, a power elite backed by the "Mercantiles" alone is worse than a house of cards, because the "Mercantiles" are short-term opportunists and by their very nature inimical to the formulation and implementation of a strategic vision. Indeed, the malady spreads upwards; and the central leadership itself becomes tainted with "Mercantilism" to an even greater extent than before, afflicted by its disparaging contempt for the electorate's right to information, by its myopic opportunism, by its narcissistic conceit of knowing better what's best for the nation than the nation itself.
So our government stumbles around maintaining a veil of opacity against the people it represents, thereby blinding even itself to all but the most immediate goals of short-term profiteering and keeping the chair warm for Yuvraj. Hello, East India Company!
I submit that there is an alternative. Indians do tend to be afflicted by the "Mercantile" mentality most easily; to our peril, as history has shown. But I believe there exists an alternative archetype that, despite the depredations of invaders and the collaboration of "Mercantiles" for centuries, has fostered the continuance of our civilization more or less unscathed. At least thus far.
Let us call this archetype the "Cultivator" mentality. I don't mean that they should literally be farmers, any more than the "Mercantiles" are necessarily shopkeepers; but the fundamental ways they differ from the "Mercantiles" involve having very deep ties to the land; a commitment to the nurturance of existing assets and the creation of new ones; a belief in the generation of value by the tending of their ancestral bounty and the exercise of their own skills rather than the wanton exploitation of resources and the skimming of trade profits; a devotion to the idea that what is possessed now must be built upon and bettered for the good of generations to come rather than squandered or betrayed for the profits of next week.
When the Turko-Afghans first invaded our subcontinent, many of the kingdoms that fell soonest, or betrayed each other, were afflicted by the "Mercantile" mentality. Those who held out longest were "Cultivators", such as some Rajput kingdoms, or states where the "Cultivator" mindset encompassed and subordinated the "Mercantile", such as Vijayanagara. When resistance to the Mughal rule came, it was from "Cultivators" who were literally farmers and animal herders, in Marathwada and the Punjab.
With success and decadence, kingdoms founded by "Cultivators" eventually fell prey, as they always do, to "Mercantile" interests... leading to their inevitable enervation.
M.K. Gandhi realized that when the time came to oust the British, it could not be achieved by a Congress party that was to a large extent "Mercantile", but required his leadership in the role of a "Cultivator" archetype that he took great pains to validate by deliberately discarding all the trappings that the masses associated with "Mercantilism".
Coming back to the point of my post, the effect of this neo-centripetal aggregation that the present GOI has undertaken, has been not only to "Mercantilise" the centre of power but also to marginalize the "Cultivators" into petty satrapies. For, when overwhelmed and defeated, the "Cultivator" does not seek to expand but rather withdraws into the small ideological and literal territory that he feels sure he can defend for his children.
"Mercantilism", given its proper place to flourish, is not entirely a bad thing. Look at the British Empire, after all, founded by a "nation of shopkeepers". "Mercantilism" is virile, rapacious and expansionist to the core. Ideally its place to flourish should be beyond the borders of one's own nation. The hallowed ground of the urheimat itself, must be handed to the Cultivators to preserve.
The future is always open, and cannot be closed in the present. Hopefully we can continue to discuss relevant topics, news and information, as well as have great analysis and brainstorming.