Monday, January 25, 2010

Summary of the Book “India Doctrine” written by Barrister MBI Munshi

In India Doctrine, the writer Mr. Munshi has tried to lay emphasis on the point that India from the very beginning has been pursuing a policy of establishing hegemony in the region.

Mr. Munshi through evidences, arguments and her practices has tried to prove that the intentions of India are nothing short of this. To materialize India’s objective the EU and the USA have also joined hands with her. The USA has concluded a treaty for cooperation in the nuclear field with India although it (USA) propagates non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This nuclear agreement she did to contain the Chinese influence in the South Asian region. This is a direct threat to peace in the region. Besides the propaganda onslaught against Bangladesh and other countries here through some persons and media is on. The visit of Shaikh Hasina to India in 2003 and again in 2005, were of considerable significance. The 2007 election was also important for them since it was the desire of India that Awami League should come into power. The insurgency in Chittagong Hill Tracts was creation of India. In brief India has been instrumental in destabilizing situation in Bangladesh as well as in other countries of the South Asian region like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka etc.

The book says India was partitioned in 1947 but India followed the undeclared policy of re-unification or Akhand Bharat since then. The skirmishes along the borders, the unabated killing of innocent civilians of Bangladesh, insurgencies in Nepal, Pakistan (Baluchistan) Sri Lanka are pointer towards this.

India does not believe in two nation theory since they consider that there are other common cultural, ethnic grounds for forming a nation. India viewed emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state which negates the division on the basis of religion.

Nehru’s ideology centred round non-partition of India or the Akhand Bharat as detailed in his book, “The discovery of India” (1947). And this policy has been followed subsequently even after partition in 1947. Nehru/ruled from 1947 to 1964 and his successors were no different from him. The situation of Sikkim in 1973-75 was similar to that of Nepal’s in 2006. In both cases the rulers were over thrown. The former became a constituent part of India while the latter (Nepal) began to be ruled by the persons of choice of India.

As regard Pakistan, Indira Gandhi at a public meeting on Nov, 30, 1970 observed, “India has never reconciled with the existence of Pakistan, Indian leaders always believed that Pakistan should not have been created and that Pakistan nation has no right exist”.

The book says that, keeping the above in view it could be said that India’s role in 1971 war to help Bangladesh was according to her own policy consideration of Akhand Bharat. The later events like looting and taking away of military equipments after Pakistanis were defeated, unequal distribution of Farraka water, killing of Bangladeshis at the borders, inciting insurgencies within Bangladesh territories, indirect interference in shaping Bangladesh foreign policy, creating problem for garment industries etc. loudly speak of the Indian intentions.

The book says that, Henry Kissinger, the then National Security Advisor and Secretary of State thought that India’s help for the then East Pakistanis in their struggle for liberation was purely motivated by self-interest guided by the dream of claiming of all territories ruled by the former British colonial power. J. N. Dixit, the vet-ran diplomat in his book, “Liberation and beyond”, gives the impression that it was Pakistan which wanted to break India and created condition in the former East Pakistan to make a cause to attack India. This is an absurd proposition for it was India which impeded the return of refugees when a political settlement was in the offing in the later part of 1971. Further, after 9/11, there were sufficient reasons to believe that India instigated insurgences through JMB out-fit as the confessional statement of its deceased leader proved. This was done to tarnish the image of Bangladesh as a terrorist state.

After liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, India started propaganda offensive both within and out side India against Bangladesh. Noted left leaning writers are on their pay rolls in Bangladesh. This is done to materialize their goal of Akhand Bharat. Hence it is felt necessary that against their propaganda offensive, RAW’s clandestine activities, counter offensive both through media measures and active intelligence surveillance are must.

The book says that the six points became a great plea for going into a tougher movement. Had that been accepted, it was presumed that Pakistan would not have broken and nor independent Bangladesh emerged in 1971. After 1971, India became more active to make the newly emerged state its part. For this she appointed Chittarangan Sutar as Shaikh Saheb’s representative in India. Sutar had direct access to Indian Prime Minister and other high officials there. His plans however failed following assassination of Shaikh Saheb in August 1975.

India entered into a 7 point agreement with the then Bangladesh government in exile (located in Calcutta) which contained provisions like no standing army for Bangladesh, Joint forces for Bangladesh with the command lying with the Indian Army Chief, identical foreign policy etc. The defeat of Pakistani army and its surrender to the Indian General, (Sans Bangladesh Army Chief) and the terms having never been shown to Bangladesh, apparently spoke that virtually Bangladesh belonged to India since India won the war with Pakistan and took its soldiers captive. The Mujib Bahini, the Rakhi Bahini etc. were created to seek their assistance in consolidating the Indian Government’s authority in Bangladesh and also to use them when the appropriate time had come as thought by India. Their authority was further strengthened by the 25 years treaty of friendship which also fortified the 7 point agreement made by the government in exile. As said before the plan of subordinating Bangladesh failed following assassination of Shaikh Saheb. India could have walked over but restrained itself for fear of international condemnation etc. It however continued its effort to destabilize it and others by harboring insurgencies through RAW and other agencies in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka Nepal and Pakistan. The insurgencies in Chittagong Hill Tracts are worth mentioning.

The book has been further enriched by the valuable contributions from the eminent writers of both home and abroad. Professor Khodeja Begum in her article laid emphasis on the India’s concept of Akhand Bharat or united India quoting authentic references like the 7 point agreement made between Indian government and Bangladesh government in exile. She also quoted the Ananda Bazar Patrika’s observation following 1991 election. The Patrika said that the people in Bangladesh should raise their voice for merger with India. Brig Gen (Retd) Shakhawat laid emphasis on geopolitical condition of Bangladesh and suggested for careful move for making relationship with USA, China and more importantly India.

Other Nepalese and Sri Lanka writers have also blamed India for inciting insurgencies and instability in the neighboring countries. Maoists in Nepal and LTTE in Sri Lanka are the beneficiaries of the Indian government.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

'India Must Show Genuine Respect to Nepal'

Indian movie star Hrithik Roshan sparked riots in Nepal last month after he allegedly expressed dislike for the country and its people in an interview. He later denied making the remarks, but five people had already died in the violence, several Indian businesses in Kathmandu were destroyed, and relations between the two countries took a turn for the worse. India's former foreign secretary, Salman Haidar, who has been involved in important negotiations with Nepal in the past, spoke recently to TIME contributor Maseeh Rahman about the peculiar nature of relations between the two South Asian nations. Edited excerpts:

TIME: Did the intensity of the violence in Nepal surprise you?
Haidar: It came out of a clear blue sky, so it was bound to be a surprise. But it does illustrate the touchiness of Nepalese opinion over any sense of big brotherly treatment from India, any expression of disdain or a lack of regard and respect. It shows how easily a situation can heat up even when the evidence [of Indian disregard] is so shaky.

TIME: How does one try and understand such a reaction from the Nepalese?
Haidar: Our neighbors see us more clearly than we see them. This is natural, since India is a very large country, and our neighbors are much smaller. A great deal of Nepal's day-to-day activity, economic or otherwise, is tied up with India. Given the disproportionate sizes of the two countries, they have to keep a constant focus on what's going on in India. Nepal is very close to us -- it is closer culturally than any other neighbor. But it is also a very proud country with its own tradition of independence, which is older than India's. They feel that India is not sufficiently mindful of their feelings and their interests.

TIME: India has supported Nepal's pro-democracy movement in the past. But despite the historic links, there are strong anti-Indian lobbyists within Nepalese political parties.
Haidar: It's a curious matter, but democratization of politics in Nepal has increased the possibility of misunderstanding. There are a number of political parties in Nepal, and quite a few groups within these parties, all of which have ample scope to air their views and mobilize public opinion in their favor.

TIME: India and Nepal have a special relationship. With millions of Nepalese working in India, and Indians active in business in Nepal, shouldn't ordinary Nepalese feel less suspicion and hostility toward India?
Haidar: For exactly this reason the suspicion has increased. The inequality of size and capacity gets emphasized because of these realities [of dependence], and increases the Nepalese sense of vulnerability. You use the word "special." I recall more than 30 years ago an Indian delegation that had gone to Nepal, and came back empty-handed because of this word "special." The Indian delegation felt some reference to a "special" relationship had to be included in the final communique. For Nepal, this was unacceptable. Sovereign equals have normal relations. A special relationship implies a certain inequality. That's not acceptable as a concept for Nepal.

TIME: But wouldn't Nepal lose a lot if the two countries had a "normal relationship?"
Haidar: Their perception is that certain realities are irreversible. For example, there are so many Nepalese living in India that you cannot suddenly clamp down on them and say you can't live here anymore. [Nepalese are free to live and work in India without visas or permits, and around four million do so.]

TIME: For decades India and Nepal have been in negotiations over the use of their common boundary river, the Mahakali. You were involved in the 1996 Mahakali River agreement, but it still has not been implemented. What's happening?
Haidar: Natural resources by their very nature are a very sensitive matter politically. We agreed to help develop the area, and we envisage there will be more such agreements allowing both countries to jointly exploit the tremendous hydroelectric and water resources that Nepal has.

TIME: Yet Nepal's parliament has still not ratified the agreement.
Haidar: The issue was deliberately politicized by a group within the UML [United Marxists-Leninists] party that felt uneasy with this kind of linkage between India and Nepal. The UML supported the Mahakali agreement when it was in the ruling coalition, but by the time the agreement came up for ratification before parliament, the party was in opposition. And under the influence of a group within the party, the UML took a contrary view. This demonstrates how in a democracy, groups that are very much a part of the political system are capable of having a disproportionate impact on events. It's not very different from what you see in India, where quite often, small pressure groups can have a huge impact. The agreement is not dead though and may well get implemented.

TIME: Historically, New Delhi has been wary of China's influence in Kathmandu. How far does that account for problems in India-Nepal relations?
Haidar: After the India-China border war in 1962, there was extreme sensitivity on India's part and great reluctance to see Nepal as just another neighbor with whom normal relations could develop. We felt that for India's security, a special relationship needed to be affirmed. This provided an opening for China, and Beijing made a determined attempt to wean Nepal away from a dependence on India for its economic growth and political structures. But as relations between India and China have taken on a different character, the sense of Nepal being able to play one against the other has faded. Today, I don't think that Beijing is a decisive factor in India-Nepal relations.

TIME: There's a lot of talk about Pakistan, especially its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, fishing in Nepal's troubled waters.
Haidar: Let's not lose perspective. On the whole relations between India and Nepal are very good. Communication between the two governments is excellent. But problems are bound to crop up due to the imbalance [between the two countries]. Organizations like the ISI can fish in the troubled parts of Nepal's waters -- there will be groups that are susceptible to ISI influence, but these are not groups that dominate or control Nepalese policy. They can and do make trouble for India, and we know that some politicians are very close to the ISI and are ready to do their bidding. But let that not be seen as evidence of the ISI dominating Nepalese policy.

TIME: So it would be simplistic to say that the latest anti-India riots were organized, as some commentators insist, by either the Bombay underworld or the ISI?
Haidar: The match could have been lit by anyone, but what is more significant is that the tinder is there. There is uneasiness among various Nepalese over how India can dominate them, and violate their sentiments and their rights.

TIME: So what can India do to try and improve this "big brother" image it has in Nepal?
Haidar: India has to tread with care and show some genuine respect. It has to understand that Nepal is a sovereign country that will not move at India's bidding, even in matters where India will be touchy. Nepal may not want to get absorbed into an Indian pattern of economic growth, and may want to pursue a different path. A greater respect on India's side for Nepalese sentiment and independence, for autonomous processes of growth and development, would be helpful. But even if India adopts a sensitive policy, the risk of an accident remains due to the imbalance in size and capacity of the two neighbors.

TIME: Around 100,000 people of Nepali origin who were thrown out of Bhutan continue to live in refugee camps in Nepal without much hope of going home. Can't India do more to help Nepal overcome this problem?
Haidar: Nepal and Bhutan are friendly neighbors, and if we get involved, we'd be blamed by both. President Clinton expressed hope recently that this issue would be settled. And there have been some high-level American visitors [to South Asia] also trying to find a solution. There's an expectation now that the stalled process of identifying those refugees eligible for repatriation back to Bhutan will be resumed. This is a matter in which India's good offices should be made available to both sides, but so far New Delhi has chosen not to intervene.