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Subbarayudu G Kameswara. December 30. 2013. FEDERATING S.ASIA


Editorial. Subbarayudu G. Kameswara. December XXX. XIII.

Federating S.Asia and W.Asia:


A Quasi-Diplomatic View

Subbarayudu G. Kameswara  By Subbarayudu G. Kameswara


India, China armament


In recent times, India  has been engaged in  some annoying international spats. The border (LAC) between China and India  is a constant irritant. The Italian marines who killed Indian fisherman off the Kerala coast caused a degree of consternation. Sudanese pirates have  given our maritime interests some  cause for worry. The diplomatic standoff between India and the USA on  the issue of immunity to our consular staff is too recent to forget. Pakistan’s  barbaric acts against our soldiers at the borders certainly rankle still. What is our  biggest worry besides a run-away dollar and a  rape of international diplomatic conventions?


Hafiz Saeed

Pakistan, surely, which probably hollers salaam! every morning to Dawood Ibrahim, and drops down on its knees every noon to Hafiz Saeed. If anything, the spat with the US on the Devyani issue, has actually  forced us to rethink our position in the international order, especially vis-à-vis China, the Asian giant; and Pakistan ,the north by northwest neighbor. China, we know, will not  escalate the border-row except occasionally, to remind us  that the Panch Sheel did not work. They’d prefer a stapled visa to  prick India’s bubble each time it seems to blow larger than China will find acceptable. That leaves us a Pakistan to contend with.


Kerala fishermen

Not so long ago, gravitating towards the Gateway of India in Mumbai, it was nothing like I had expected to see. There are more imposing structures I have seen, and  many more, I’m told, I have yet to see.  And  it seems to  invite hoards of passers-by. No wonder 26/11 happened.  It must have been too tempting for  those kids with deadly toys not to take Mumbai upon the gateway’s invitation. Similarly BSF and Army jawans  with outdated guns must have been too tempting for the soldiers across the border not to  perform the mythical queen’s command, ‘off with their heads’! (Alice in Wonderland)

And the icing on the dessert is our weak government’s strong protests! How come we are always at the receiving end ? With  a junked Admiral Gorshkov as our Navy’s proud possession and an LAC that’s still at least an year away from induction, and a Main Battle Tank (MBT) heavily reliant on supplies of foreign (German) technology and parts, we might as well wonder why  the incidents are not more frequent. Is it a sign of Pakistan’s relative weakness, including the compulsion to obey many commands in many voices?

Not if we take into account Pakistan’s  limited range tactical nuclear weapons deployed against India’s aged T-72 tank formations ranged along the borders. These 60 km range tactical weapons, according to Micheal Krepon, are of little use, but Pakistan points out that any use of nuclear weapons of any kind has  considerable consequences. And, Mr. Krepon… Pakistan is right.

So, what are we looking at, Indo-Pak relations and military adventure-wise? Kargil or Bangladesh? Or are we painted-devils, mutually, playing Kabaddi and withdrawing into our territorial safeties after each point scored…willing to wound but afraid to strike?

Cecil Victor, in an editorial “Pakistan’s Dubious Jihadi Policy” reviewed  a post-Kayani scenario vis-a-vis Musharraf’s Kargil adventure and the attitude towards ‘Jihadi’ groups and concluded that, “…[today’s] scenario is reminiscent of what happened as precursor to the Kargil invasion – constant daily violation of the ceasefire in the Drass sector. The next year the Pakistan Army entered the Kargil sector in large numbers. Something similar could be in the making early next year.”


What, indeed, are we looking at in an election year which promises to be the annus mirabilis in post-independence India? Will India fight on two fronts, a people’s republican ambition within, and an opportunistic  neighbour without?

Let us digress and recall a movie named Gadar (c.2000,Hindi). The Pakistani border-official and the agents hoping to smuggle an Indian couple across the borders into India have an interesting conversation about trade-relations and money transactions. The border official says : “Kya karein…  woh hamaara shakkar khaatein hain aur hum unka Banarsi ‘paan’ lekin donon ugaltey hain nafrat!” (They eat our sugar we eat Banarasi betel leaves, but both spew only spittle of hatred). Having done that for 6 decades or more with  moderate damage, are we to continue with the mode for another?

May be, we are too realistic to do more than spit venom at each other… starting a war is much tougher than  having impressive parades on ceremonial occasions and  undertaking a space mission  to Mars  to demonstrate our missile launching capabilities? And yet another successful Agni test-fire? Then how about greater pragmatism, please, trade  in other things than just sugar and betel leaves and spittle? May be…may be…

Look at the very interesting economic-geography: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran ,Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan , Tajakistan, , oil pipelines, silk routes, flourishing trade (including smuggled goods and narcotics - YES, it can’t be stopped, anyway!), employment,  water-sharing,  a sense of pot bellied self-sufficiency, and an occasional diplomatic spat to keep the political biggies satisfied  with big talk across borders, crazy drills at Wagah or  photo ops at the UN. I mean… dammit when there is so much else that we can do together in lovey-dovey fashion (or with section 377 of the IPC having been challenged  in our apex court, in a dovey-dovey fashion), why think of war?

Oh! yes, there is the little matter of  a line of control between India and Pakistan. But now that the Aam Aadmi Party has  brought participatory democracy to Delhi, may we not assume that one day  one day we may reach a stage of a large confederation of South Asian countries  that can conduct trade with a West-Asian confederation   while China, the watchful bada-bhai, is entrusted with global representation of these trade interests and basic defense of these lands and peoples?

Imagine how much can be spent on peoples’ welfare if the defense expenditure is brought down to some sane , ceremonial, level? Yes, the western suppliers of warlike-equipment will certainly mind it if their useless old aircraft-carriers and   ever-crashing Mig aircraft  are not bought. But that is a small price to pay for the kind of trade opportunities  we can open up (Pak’s 2% growth and India’s ever-optimistic projection of 8%, will surely experience some significant change?). Indeed, we can even resume Indo-Pak cricket and hockey. Pakistan can’t be happier than  that , you know! And if the Afghan team is allowed to play international cricket, we could even persuade Sachin Tendulkar to reconsider his retirement!


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