Appalling poverty in ‘shining’ India
Nazia Nazar
2/14/2012

 

Indian economy is growing fast; its prodigious foreign exchange reserves and booming stock market paint a rosy picture of shining India. Its nuclear agreement with America, and defence cooperation with Israel have contributed to India’s military might. And America is poised to use India as a countervailing force to China in this region.

But there is a perception that India would neither flex muscles with China nor would it go to war at the behest of America remembering its defeat in 1962. But with America’s pampering and cooperation, a stage may come when India after transforming into a monster gets out of control of its mentor. The US therefore needs to define the limits and place appropriate checks on the India’s military might. Anyhow, India’s plans to spend huge amounts on military build up and purchase of sophisticated arsenals from all over the world especially procurement of sophisticated weapons from France, Israel, Russia and the US, is emblematic of India’s hegemonic designs. Disregarding the needs of the teeming millions living below the poverty line, India is on a shopping spree with more than $100 billion in hand, and entering into defence deals with developed countries. After signing nuclear deal with the US, Nuclear Suppliers Group’s countries are selling nuclear-related materials and equipment to India. Apart from France, Britain, Germany, Japan – a strong opponent of nuclear proliferation – eyes India’s lucrative market. Indeed, India as a state is rich but it is a land of appalling poverty where more than 400 million people are living below a meanly defined poverty line. Multi-millions are living in slums and sleeping on the footpaths, because Indian government is diverting a very large part of its resources to become a regional power, rather world power. It also harbours ambition to become permanent member of United Nations Security Council. After the approval by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, top leaders of the developed countries had visited India to benefit from its prodigious economic growth. Major world powers turn a blind eye to India’s human rights violations because they want to benefit from India’s economic growth. Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, during his visit to India had launched a fierce verbal attack on Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of allowing terrorist groups to form safe havens in its territory. He said terrorist groups were free to launch attacks on India and NATO troops in Afghanistan from Pakistan. His comments echoed the remarks made by British Prime Minister David Cameron who during his visit to India by end of July 2010 had said that Pakistan could not be allowed to “look both ways” or export terrorism to its neighbours. During her visit to India the same year, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in reply to a question said: “India is suffering as a consequence of terrorist attacks. We still remember the attack in Mumbai. At that time we criticised what was done by these perpetrators. We want to do whatever we can to ensure that these terror attacks are not repeated.” It is true that foreign relations are no altruistic pursuit but extremely self-centered, self-serving motivated actions. But it is difficult to imagine that heads of above three European countries could stoop so low as to issue statements against Pakistan just to appease India for selling their military hardware and other stuff to India. After Indo-US nuclear deal, India’s capacity has increased from its current production capacity of six to 10 additional nuclear bombs a year to several dozen per year. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India was the latest in a series of high-profile visits by leaders of almost all major countries. A slew of 30 agreements signed by the two sides, covering areas ranging from nuclear and space co-operation, defence and business to counter-terrorism and culture, showed the expanded scope of the relationship. During the Cold War era, India’s traditional defence relationship with Russia was that of a customer, with Moscow meeting 70 per cent of its arms and equipment requirements. New Delhi allocated $11 billion to build and buy six new-generation submarines in what would be one of the biggest military contracts that India ever signed. The Times of India had reported that the Defence Acquisitions Council, chaired by federal Defence Minister A.K. Antony took the decision on the deal. Since January 2010, India is preparing for a possible ‘two-front war’ with China and Pakistan. Indian newspapers had reported that Indian Army was now revising its five-year-old doctrine to effectively meet the challenges of war with China and Pakistan, deal with asymmetric and fourth-generation warfare, and enhance strategic reach and joint operations with IAF and Navy. Work on the new war doctrine – to reflect the reconfiguration of threat perceptions and security challenges – was underway under the aegis of Shimla-based Army Training Command. The then head of the command Lt. General AS Lamba said that a massive thrust in Rawalpindi to quieten Pakistanis within 48 hours of the start of the assault. He, however, did not realise that war between the two nuclear states is not an option. In 1998, India and Pakistan had detonated nuclear devices and drew flak from US, the West and Japan who suspended economic aid to both the countries. Japan, having seen death and destruction during Second World War when the US had dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has been the most vocal opponent of nuclear proliferation. Many student organisations and members of civil society of Japan had sent delegations to India and Pakistan to make a fervent appeal to them to abandon further development of nukes. Earlier, Japan had declined to sign a civilian pact with India because it was not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and had barred Japanese companies from supplying nuclear products to India. But seeing that countries of Nuclear Suppliers Group would benefit from multi-billion dollar business from India, Japan also wanted its share and did not like to be left behind. On 29th October 2011, Japan agreed to resume civil nuclear negotiations with India that were stalled after the Fukushima disaster. This means that commercial considerations won and principles were sacrificed by those who had earlier taken a principled stand.