Sunday 30 May 1999

Indo-US Relations - Giving Away too much for Nothing

(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)

In this age of the cable, when soaps are just a button away, few
can be unaware that one of the rules of romance is to play hard 
to get. Should the maiden reveal her feelings prematurely, the 
swain is likely to take her for granted and, consequently, neglect 
her. This is what appears to have happened in the case of India 
and the United States. 

Nowhere did the collapse of the Soviet Union come as a 
greater shock than in Havana and New Delhi. Cuba, at least, had
the excuse of being far away. India and the erstwhile USSR were 
neighbours. .However, even when the putsch against Mikhail 
Gorbachov took place, one of the few embassies to cosy up to the
team of tired apparatchiks that had temporarily taken over the
Kremlin was the Indian one. After the collapse, India appears , 
anxious to enter into yet another comfortable security relationship, 
this time with. the United States. Hence the flow of conciliatory
gestures to that country.

Henry Kissinger, in his book Diplomacy makes clear the U.S.
perspective on unilateral concessions. These, says Kissinger, are
to be taken as signs of vulnerability, and the effort should,
therefore, be to squeeze out yet more concessions, rather than
reward such naivete by positive gestures. As the book had not
yet come out in l991-93 we may perhaps excuse the authors of
the many unilateral concessions this country gave to the U.S.
Alas for them, this policy was reciprocated by renewed American
pressure on sensitive issues like defence technology and Kashmir.

Security Curtain
Earlier, in 1963, this country had come close to entering into a
security curtain provided by the U.S. S. K. Patil, at that time a
Cabinet minister, had said that there had been informal high-
level discussions within the Congress leadership on working out 
security ties with western countries in response to the Chinese 
invasion of 1962. "However, both the British and the Americans 
then started pressuring us to make concessions to Pakistan on
Kashmir, and as a result the idea got dropped". Three decades
later another move for security ties with the United States had
begun to wither in the face of a renewed U.S. tilt towards 
Pakistan. The recent statements of a U.S. under-secretary for
defence that implied that relations with India were conditional 
on Pakistani approval, has at last, led to an Indian reaction. The 
Indian defence secretary's visit to Washington has been

The interlude not just from 1991 but from 1989 to the present 
may be seen as one when India neglected its security systems 
and, slowed down the development of missile and other 
technologies in order to placate Washington. Ironically, it is  
American policy and allies of the U.S. that have been creating 
security concerns for this country in the form of fundamentalist 
terrorism. Afghanistan is the obvious example. During the 1980s,  
U.S.-funded network of terrorist's was created that is now  
active as a mercenary force around the globe. Bolstering the ISI,   
which focused on religion as a means of generating morale and  
fighting spirit during the Afghan war, led to substantial sections 
of the Pakistan army coming under the spell of fundamentalism.  
Its utility as an anti-fundamentalist fighting force is today — 

Fundamentalist Forces 
The significance of this transformation is that should a government
take office in Pakistan that lays stress not on conflicts but on  
business, fundamentalist elements could well induce the armed ,   
forces in Pakistan to intervene and crush attempts at secularising 
that country's polity. Secondly, should there be an upsurge in  
any of the major Gulf countries on the lines witnessed in Iran 
when the Shah was to led, the Gulf sheikhdoms would no  
longer be able to count on Pakistan to provide a counterforce.    
The cry of jihad raised so often by Benazir Bhutto has the  
potential to destroy the cohesiveness of her country.  

Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are financing and supporting 
fundamentalist organisations on a much greater scale than the  
other theocracy in the region, Iran. In the process, their ruling  
elites may be in the process of nurturing a monster that will 
eventually devour them. As for the U.S., just as it supplied arms 
to Iran in the Shah’s time, it is doing so in Saudi Arabia and 
would probably like to in Pakistan, but for Congress. In contrast 
to the economics-oriented policy pursued by the Clinton 
administration in most of the world, in the case of the Gulf and 
Pakistan, little U.S. pressure seems to exist to make the ruling  
elites of these countries give precedence to a civilian 
administration over the military. In the case of Pakistan, in 
renewing a military alliance with that state, the U.S. may be 
sacrificing not just the possibility of a strategic alliance with 
India, but also stability in Pakistan. Any injection of arms there
will lead to a response from this country, thus triggering off an
arms race that will debilitate the Pakistani economy far more and 
far quicker than it can India's. 

However, this does not appear to be clear to the individuals 
at the policy planning centres in the Clinton administration.
Watching them at work, one is reminded of those who steered
to the U.S. into the Vietnam war. All the calculations were right but
most of the conclusions wrong. In the decade ahead, the U.S. is
likely to enter into a conflict against a fundamentalist enemy
nourished in the past by American policy errors. Should Benazir
Bhutto have taken a stand against anti-secular laws, and choked 
off the irregular war against India in favour of economic
cooperation with this country, she would have earned the 
epithet bestowed on her by Clinton of "moderate". Today, this
is far from the truth. By ignoring the financial support given by
Saudi Arabia to fundamentalist organisations and the military
help given to them by Pakistan, the U.S. is acquiescing in 
cultivating an enemy not just of stability in the subcontinent but
of itself. 

U.S. Sanction
In the case of Iran, by attempting at quarantine ignored even by
the United Kingdom—the U.S. is reinforcing the siege mentality 
propagated by the religious zealots, thus weakening among the  
Iranian people the only counterjforce to theocracy, the bazaaris. 
Another country where sanctions "have lasted beyond a reasonable 
stage is Iraq, which unlike Saudi Arabia or Pakistan has attempted 
to craft a secular (though repressive) polity. While India has 
refused to follow the U.S. lead on Iran, in the case of Iraq too this
country needs to be more assertive within the international 
community in calling for an end to sanctions. A generation 
should not be allowed to form in Iran and Iraq that sees major 
democracies as tyrannies out to strangle their national existence,
or else future terrorist organisations may find rich pickings 
within these states. 

To predicate New Delhi's policy on the dictates of a country 
that has repeatedly shown extreme myopia in its dealings with
Asia is folly. Should India neglect to create defences against the 
fundamentalism being propagated by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan 
and others, this may prove fatal to its existence. Policy has to be 
formulated not to meet the political demands of those in 
Washington but to answer the security needs of the region in
which this country is situated.  

Saturday 22 May 1999

From Mahatma Gandhi to Madam Gandhi (Rediff)

Twenty-four years ago, at the Kochi headquarters of the Kerala Pradesh Congress committee, a telegram came to the state chief, the venerable Arecaparambil Kurien Antony. 'Organise spontaneous demonstrations across the state to protest against Sinha judgment', it read. In less than two hours, Antony himself was at the head of a 'spontaneous' demonstration on Kochi's MG Road attacking the verdict of Justice Sinha of the Allahabad high court, which held Indira Gandhi guilty of corrupt practices in her 1971 election. Thanks to orders sent on the phone to units across the state, similar marches took place in all district headquarters. Across the country, an orchestrated protest was spontaneously organized.

Today, almost nothing has changed. Both Vincent George and the (aptly named) Makhan Lal Fotedar have been at work creating the resignations, protests and cacophony of abuse against Sharad Pawar, Purno Sangma and Tariq Anwar. Just as she did when Indira Gandhi was alive -- when any refusal to oblige an Italian friend would be followed by the quick exit of Rajiv, Sonia and the two kids of Europe -- Sonia Gandhi has staged a theatrical walkout, to return only when her whims get fulfilled.

India is supposed to be a democracy. However, as in the Fascist Party that was so dear to her father Stefano, the slightest deviation from II Duce's wishes is treated as high treason. Instead of heeding the message, Sonia is getting the messengers shot.

However, let us assume that she is genuine about wanting to lavish every drop of her blood on the country that every month spends over a million US dollars on her upkeep. In that case, she should lower the financial burden on we taxpayers by moving out of 10 Janpath to the lavish Mehrauli farmhouse owned by her. Care should also be taken to avoid all those expensive phone calls -- all at taxpayer expense -- to Europe and North America. As for her frequent foreign trips, hopefully Sonia will stop the practice of taking along an army of security personnel on each such jaunt.

As Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a chivalrous individual, there is almost no chance that the citizens of India will be told how much is being spent on Sonia Gandhi's travel, telephones, maintenance and other expenses. Like Narasimha Rao, it is only when he is out of office, and at the receiving end of the PILs and cases filed by her minions, that Vajpayee will realize the extent of his error.

The Western press that lionises Sonia needs to subject her to the same inquisition that their own politicians face. In the United States, even the food eaten by the President and the First Lady is public knowledge. In India, few are aware that Sonia and her children love 'boloni', an Italian sausage filled with delicious beef and ham. Back in 1982, George Fernandes talked about Rajiv Gandhi's love for beef and ham. Swiftly, Indira Gandhi made her eldest son visit every second temple in the country, to deflect attention away from such charges. How could a devout temple visitor eat pork or beef? It must be a mistake!

In this writer's view, there is absolutely nothing wrong in eating ham or beef, and it is strange that Sonia Gandhi is taking such pains to keep the food habits of herself and her two children secret. Many Hindus eat ham, and some even consume beef. To admit this openly would reveal character, to conceal it would show a sly personality. In like vein, there is absolutely no crime in the fact that Sonia Gandhi and her two children are practising Catholics. After all, Christianity is one of the great religions of the world, and in India Christians have done much, much more than other faiths to spread health and education.

The present writer is himself the product of Christian schools, and is proud of it, just as he is for winning the Scripture Prizes at an all-India competition. Just as the message of the Gita is universal, so is that of the Bible, and all citizens of India should taught both. Thus, it is strange that Sonia Gandhi acts as though she were ashamed to be a Christian, and pretends to be a Hindu by visiting Tirupati as a 'believer'.

Similarly, there is nothing objectionable in the fact that the language of discourse in the Rajiv Gandhi household was and is Italian. Sonia speaks to her children in that language when they are alone, rather than in two languages that she is not familiar with, Hindi and English. It is because Italian is the language of choice for her and the children that Sonia still has a pronounced Italian accent, thirty years after marrying an Indian. It is the accent of the class that she belonged to, and again there is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that her father could not afford to complete even the school education of his three daughters. However, in his last years he died an affluent man. Indeed, the tax records (again hidden from the citizens of India, by obliging Italian governments that protect Sonia as fiercely as President Flavio Cotti of Switzerland does) of the Maino family show the rapid ascent into wealth after 1983. It would be churlish to link this to Ottavio Quatrocchi and Snam Progetti.

Rather than behave as though India were Afghanistan and hide behind a purdah, Sonia Gandhi needs to actualise the good in her European heritage, by transparency on her educational qualifications the wealth of her family her lifestyle and the expenses incurred on the upkeep of herself and her children and relatives.

As most of the publishers of Indian publications are drooling for invitations to 10 Janpath, they are not going to allow their editors to investigate such issues. Not, of course, that most editors wish to. They have an eye on jobs in the numerous foundations effectively owned by Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka. Hopefully, one of them is financing a crash course in Italian for Robert Vadra, for unless he speaks the language fluently, his mother-in-law will never save the exchequer crores of rupees by permitting the young couple to live under the same roof as the rest of the Mainos.

It is a commentary on the secrecy surrounding Sonia that thus far her preferences in food and drink, plus the language that she uses to communicate with her loved ones, has not been made public. In the United States, there are thousands of families where Malayalam or Bengali are spoken at home by citizens of the United States. It is an insult to the people of India to believe that they would be turned off it Sonia were to reveal details about her personal life.

Indeed, now that she is trying desperately to become prime minister, she has an obligation to make all this public and not to lie. India is maturing as a democracy, and lies will quickly get found out. No longer can the Nehru family own India, even though it still controls the Congress party.

The candour of Digvijay Singh, Ashok Gehlot, Giridhar Gamang and Shiela Dixit has to be admired. All four have admitted that they owe their loyalty not to the Republic or to the voters of their states, but to the Maino family. Should that clan tell them to do anything, those words would supercede any other. Shiela Dixit in particular was articulate that for her, only Sonia mattered, which was presumably why she worked so hard to defeat the Congress party in 1996.

The four are reminiscent of Ramrao Gundu Rao, who cheerfully said he would auction the Vidhana Soudha if asked to do so by Indira Gandhi. Mercifully for admirers of that superb structure, this request was never made. Rao was explicit that his constituency was Indira Gandhi and her two sons. Not the MLAs, whom he treated with contempt. Not the people of his state, who rejected him with the same contempt in 1983.

Today, watching the tearful performance of the four Maino chief ministers (they have made it clear that to them Maino is more important than the Congress) shows that the spirit of Gundu Rao lives on, and indeed has got further strengthened by the entry of Sonia Maino into the prime ministerial sweepstakes.

However, what of those who are foolish enough to cherish democratic ideals? Who believe that India should remain a society where authoritarian impulses get curbed, and where pluralism reigns? Who believes that a mere expression of (legitimate) concern should not lead to a political execution? Clearly, such individuals have no role in the Congress, just as those who attacked II Duce had very little future in the Italian blackshirts.

The irony is that it is the Left parties who are today supporting such undemocratic tendencies. In 1942, the Communist movement went against the forces of nationalism. It is still paying the price of that decision. Today, once again, by their support to NATO's favourite, Sonia Maino, they are again ranging themselves against the forces of national dignity in India. Hopefully, they will realise their error before it damages them permanently.

In both Kerala and Bengal, the BJP is poised to make huge gains, thanks to both the Congress and the Left being Maino followers. Both the Forward Bloc and the RSP realised this. The CPM and The CPI have -- thus far - not.

The battle of Pawar and his two friends is a fight to restore inner-party democracy in the Congress party. By fighting them, Congresspersons are sealing their own fate. Soon it will be the turn of the Jitendra Prasadas, the Rajesh Pilots, the Kamal Naths and the R K Dhawans... A little over six decades ago, a similar process took place in Germany, and made total the grip of that other admirer of Mussolini, Adolf Hitler.

Saturday 15 May 1999

India First (Rediff)

As predicted, President Kocheril Raman Narayanan gave sanction to the Vajpayee government to prosecute Madhavsinh Solanki, one of the many involved in ensuring that the guilty escape the Bofors net. Rather than blame the President of India for a seven-week delay in approving the prosecution, a finger needs to be pointed at a government that waited eleven months before asking for sanction. Indeed, even today the Vajpayee government is not taking steps against Gopi Arora and Sarla Grewal, two others deeply involved in the decisions associated with Bofors. The case of Gopi Arora is inexplicable unless one factors in the fact of his having numerous friends in diplomatic and official circles.

Should the Vajpayee government prosecute Gopi Arora, it is to be hoped that both he as well as former defence secretary S K Bhatnagar will not hesitate to reveal the truth. Should both come clean, they should be treated with leniency, as the goal should be to ascertain who were the actual beneficiaries of Bofors, rather than just the minions who rubber-stamped whatever was put in front of them. Both Arora and Bhatnagar will redeem themselves if they were to tell the whole truth about the decision to switch from the French gun to the Swedish. That is, if the Vajpayee government actually files chargesheets against them, and gets them arrested. Both in Delhi as well as in London, there are powerful individuals against such a course.

A list of the journalists and officials who have been given jobs, assignments and scholarship -- for themselves and their family members -- by the many government-funded trusts controlled by the Maino family will be instructive. This will indicate the depth of the reach of the family into the core of the decision-taking apparatus in India, and why newspaper editors (to the satisfaction of their proprietors) are so hesitant to uncover the facts about India's most powerful family: Predebon Maino, her three daughters and her two grandchildren from the Indian son-in-law. Not their assets around the world, nor details about their lifestyles or their travels.

To take just one example, Priyanka Vadra is much more often seen at 'watering holes' of the elite Delhi circuit than she is in orphanages. Many are the editors who have bumped into the young lady at such places, and yet such sightings are NEVER written about. Just as the "free" press in India has not mentioned the whereabouts of Rahul, Indian citizens can be pardoned for not being aware that he spends more time in Europe and the United States than in India. At whose cost, no one is told. Unlike Priyanka, who for example was given a handsome fee by a Japanese association in exchange for her 'expertise' on the Nehru family, Rahul has not so far been occupied as an authority on his father's branch. As he seldom talks to his Indian relatives, preferring to spend time with the Italian ones, this is no surprise.

In a truly democratic country, much would have been written about the Sunday brunches at Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's official residence, how the guests at these intimate affairs were drawn from diplomats and visitors, with Indians largely excluded. The phone bills of Sonia Maino would have been made public. However, thanks to an indulgent government, the lady goes undisturbed even in the various state-funded organisations that she and her family control. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, for example, has yet to submit properly audited accounts for several expenditures to the Government of India.

However as (in effect) a No Objection Certificate is needed from Sonia before any Indian official gets appointed to an international organisation, any number of obliging officials are quietly working to ensure that the institutions remain covered in secrecy. India is the one country where an individual often sells the national interest in order to get a job at the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. Those seconded to these and other UN-affiliated bodies usually defend alien interests rather than New Delhi's. Indeed, they appear every now and then in India as spokesmen for such interests.

Not that they can be blamed. From the choice of Louis Mountbatten as India's first Governor-General, the Nehru culture has been to subtly denigrate Indian culture and traditions, and make a selection only from European alternatives. These were seldom mainstream options, as Jawaharlal preferred esoteric versions such as Fabian socialism or Leninism. He ensured that advice from both stunted Indian industry and spawned a huge army of babus on the USSR model. Today, it is in the fitness of things that the CPI and the CPM are working hard to ensure that the Nehru heir, Sonia Maino, becomes prime minister of India. Only Sonia can revert India to the Nehru days, away from the freedoms introduced in the Narasimha Rao period.

Any visitor to 10 Janpath will be able to grasp the nuances of Sonia's style of governance. For hours each day, Arjun Singh waits outside her room, in the anteroom occupied by V George. On some days, the curtains get parted and Singh can actually behold the object of his adoration, seated on a sofa inside. Very rarely, she speaks a few words to him, either scolding him for some plot gone wrong, or patting him on the back for a success. On those days, Arjun Singh is ten feet tall. He strides into the AICC and barks out orders, with the glow of Sonia speak surrounding him.

The entire episode that saw the fall of the Vajpayee government and the sabotage of an alternative Sonia regime was marked by the absence of consultation with the Congress Parliamentary Board and the Working Committee. In this, Sonia was following the Nehru model, of seeing subordinates as kitchen staff, to be given orders to rather than consulted. In 1984, after the death of Indira Gandhi, President Zail Singh was ordered to fly back to India and install Rajiv as the new prime minister. These orders were transmitted by Arun Nehru and R K Dhawan to the President, who merely nodded in assent without giving any verbal reactions. Service staff are meant to be seen and not heard. Thus a pilot with zero governmental experience was made the head of the government.

Of course, he claimed credit for the 1984 sympathy wave, overlooking the fact that even Pranab Mukherjee would have got 400 seats in the fevered Lok Sabha polls that followed the killing of Indira Gandhi, just as a rudderless Congress got the full benefit of the (weaker) wave that followed the Rajiv assassination in 1991.

Had Sonia Gandhi called a Working Committee meeting, she would have faced no problem. In the meetings of this august body, it is not very long before Arjun Singh shouts out "Let's leave it to Madam". At this, there is pandemonium as the others scramble to say "Yes, Yes," to this brilliant idea. After the "Empower Sonia" resolution gets passed, the tension eases. Members of the CWC crack jokes about P V Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri. Some may even say a few uncomplimentary things about the BJP. Others speak about how Sonia is just like the other Madam, Indira Gandhi. At this, someone may protest: "No, our Soniaji is even better", at which cries of approval will rend the air and the new Madam smile at her "advisers".

Had President Narayanan sworn in a Sonia government, it would have been one dominated by the Maino family. No existing Indian leader in the Congress dares to even look in her direction these days. In towns across Italy, the expectation is that the 600 million voters of India will soon make the Right Choice and install Sonia as prime minister of India. If the Congress tally crosses 180, this will become a near-certainty. If 220, then a certainty.

In this age of tribal loyalties, one cannot fault the Western media for ignoring Sonia's lack of formal education or the fact that her only 'qualification' is that she married Rajiv Gandhi three decades ago. Few write about the total absence of unrehearsed appearances, or the frightening fact that the Indian (and international) public do not know what her views on major issues are. That is, if she has any. No one mentions the dictatorial grip of the Maino family on what was once a political party. That would be letting down the tribe, and as the Western reporting on Kosovo has shown, the Western media are as "patriotic" as the Stalin press during 1929-52.

Clearly, standards for India have been pegged a wee bit lower than for Europe or North America, where any attempt to make an individual prime minister on the basis of marriage would have been rejected. Ask Dimitra Liani, the air hostess who married Andreas Papandreou of Greece, and who has now vanished into obscurity.

The ironic fact is that the private Sonia is actually a likeable person, warm and friendly to those she trusts. Had she remained out of public life, there would have been no reason to comment on her. But a prospective prime minister of India needs to come not just under the magnifying glass, but an electron microscope. This is what happens in mature democracies, and what would have taken place here, had there been a free press in India.

Unless the Congress party sheds its dynastic baggage, it will not survive. It is pathetic to watch the Ghulams (so aptly named) wail for Priyanka to stop her other activities and enter into the electoral fray. It is disconcerting to watch senior Congress leaders wait in the 10 Janpath anteroom for hours in the hope of catching Sonia (or Priyanka's) attention. Unless internal democracy returns in that party, it will atrophy.

Both Manmohan Singh and Sharad Pawar have the capacity to lead India. Their boss does not, as even they know. However, if the Congress gets enough seats, it is only Sonia who will come as prime minister, with Laloo holding one side of the apron and the CPI-CPM the other. The BJP is showing its capacity to respond to the future, by casting off its hardline agenda and by openly accepting the reality of coalitions. The Congress will need to cast away Dynasty if it is to survive. Those who point this out are not the enemies of the Congress. That position is reserved for those who wait in the 10 Janpath anteroom in the hope that the wind may shift the curtains enough for them to scurry out shouting, "I've seen Sonia!"

Monday 10 May 1999

Changing to Conquer-Adjusting the BJP to Indian Reality

(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)

Despite the electronic help he gets both onboard and from the
control tower, the pilot of a large aircraft has to make several
course and engine pitch corrections before he finds the right
approach for a safe landing. Similarly B]P leaders, who today ,
appear to be at loss over how to deal with being the party of
governance rather than a permanent opposition, need to identify
and actualise the course corrections required for their party to
replace the Congress as the natural beneficiary of the public
trust. What served the party well during its ascent may prove
less effective now that it has become the largest national party.

The reaction to the destruction of the Babri masjid on
December 6, 1992, is an illustration of how different India is from
countries like Pakistan and pre-Hasina Bangladesh. In both of
India’s neighbours, numerous temples have been destroyed over
the past 50 years, yet there was no national outcry. In India, the
destruction of a disused mosque generated a national uproar.
Six years after the event, the antics of the kar sevaks are still
highlighted by the international media, though neither CNN nor
BBC has yet got around to a news story on the destruction of
temples in Bangladesh or Pakistan. This is not owing to double
standards, rather it is a recognition of the belief in India as a
secular state.

Strong Centre
By behaving like Pakistani fanatics, the vandals who
lowered the prestige of 970 million people on December 6, 1992,
have gone against the very heritage that they claim to project.
Another example of such behaviour among the self—proclaimed
‘Hindutva’ fold was the ransacking of Maqbool Fida Husain's 
home in Mumbai. Any Indian citizen has a
right to the history of the subcontinent, including the mythology.
Indeed, the concept of a unified ’Hindu' society is a relatively
recent phenomenon. Logically, all those who believe in
moderation and respect for different perspectives that characterise
the philosophy of Hinduism should be accepted as being within
the fold of 'Indutva', or Indian culture.

The Congress party, which is trapped in the Nehruvian
strait-jacket, keeps harping on about the need for a ’strong
centre'. By this, it means a Nehru—style government that forces
state governments to accept its diktat on most aspects of policy.
However, rather than an all—powerful central government, what
will preserve the unity of India is the acceptance of a strong social
centre that avoids extremes and works towards a synthesis
of different trends. With Punjabis learning Bharatanatyam and
relishing dosas, and Malayalis taking to tandoori food and Daler
Mehndi, this is already happening. Jugalbandhis of north and
south, east and west, have by now become so common that they
are hardly noticed.

'Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai’
Thus, rather than return to a political centralisation that was the
economic ruin of India, our major national parties need to focus
on social and cultural ecosystems, linking them together across
regions and communities. For example, the BJP will never realise
its goal of getting a parliamentary majority on its own unless it
can attract a significant part (at least 25 per cent) of the Muslim
vote. The Bajrang Dal rhetoric which scares away Muslims will
also keep away the moderate Hindus who this time, especially
in the south and east, have increasingly preferred the BJP to the
Congress which today has adopted an unrealistic position on
both domestic and foreign policy.

An example is China. Beijing repaid Jawaharlal Nehru’s trust
in its good intentions by stealthily expropriating Indian territory,
launching a war in 1962 and repeated incursions since then.
Today, China covertly arms Pakistan with strategic weapons
against India, using so-called private companies and countries
controlled by the People's Liberation Army. It also encourages
insurgency, especially in the north-east, and is the primary
strategic partner of the ISI in its drug—financed terrorism. Despite
such a record, the Congress party has joined the CPM in
supporting Beijing in a confrontation with Indian interests.
While the Marxists have been consistent in their support for
China, it is disquieting to see the former party of Indian
nationalism in its corner.

Conspiracy theorists see a link between the muscular China
lobby in New Delhi and the flood of journalists, academics and
others visiting Beijing as state guests. However, this would be an
unfair allegation. As for reports that the Chinese regime is
covertly funding political and other groups in India through
fronts, this has not yet been conclusively proved. Unlike in the
United States, where funds originating from the Chinese
Communist Party have become a live issue, in India the activities
of the China lobby have so far escaped attention.

Strangely enough, one reason for this is the fact that the
dominant strand in strategic thinking in the United States is still
very positive about China. Those influenced by such thinking
have also absorbed the pro-China message implicit in such
scholarship. Thus, even in the political and NGO sphere, pro-US
and pro-China groups have entered into a tacit alliance. The
difference, however, is that the United States, being a moderate
democracy, is a long-term strategic partner of India, whereas the
present Chinese regime cannot be. Until the Han people enjoy
the full benefits of democracy, it will not be possible to actualise
the 'Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai’ that Nehru talked about.

Foreign Capital
The rejection by the Congress party of the nationalist centre has
given the BJP an opportunity, provided it does not subscribe to
the Nehru—style romanticism about China and Pakistan. Within
the BJP government, L. K. Advani appears to have the clearest
perspective on foreign affairs. A combination of the Advani line
of external relations and the Vajpayee thinking in domestic
policy would serve the country well. However, elements in the
BJP appear to want to reverse the order, putting into play a soft
external approach with a more exclusivist domestic approach.

What India needs urgently is to concentrate on economic
development, which includes welcoming foreign capital fuelled
not by speculative but by investment motives. Clear signals have
to be sent to Pakistan and China that India will no longer play 
possum when confronted with their covert war. Above all, we
must preserve the moderate traditions that have nurtured Indian
culture for millennia. These are among the stands that the BJP
needs to knit together for its future survival.