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The Question Of National Interests

Posted On: 26 Mar, 2013 पॉलिटिकल एक्सप्रेस में

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The question of country is, and should be, always superior to the question of government because, obviously, the government is just a tool for serving, protecting and taking care of the interests of the country. But here, just days before, when the issue of resolution moved by USA, in United Nations Human Rights Council” against Sri Lanka was in hot air, the scenario in Indian politics was completely discrepant.

As Karunanidhi led DMK withdrew its support from UPA-II and the news came to media the whole attention was focused on the question whether the government would survive or not! The ministers of the government seemed endeavoring to depict a stable image of the government and ensure its safety as well. But amid all that upheaval, the million dollar question was lying in solitude that how all that was going to affect the interests of the nation at large! Even though, some, if not many, journalists, writers and politicians talked vigorously about the side of national interest but the fact remains unchanged that the question of policy was made a trifle before the fate of the government. The government should stay to safeguard the interests of the nation and it must go, if inevitable, for the larger well of the country. In this case, the stability of UPA-II was not at stake as it has managed to fill its vulnerabilities even after DMK is now alienated. All that effort, which government put to protect itself, should have been put to protect the nation’s image and larger well-being. But unfortunately, the truth is reverse and the paradoxes and loopholes of our system and policy have been exposed not only in domestic arena but also on international platforms.

The decision on Sri Lanka in UNHRC was not a dispensable issue for India which could be handled in a light and casual way. Obviously, the government was not in a light mood and looking after it seriously but its initial mood, completely opposite to its later stand, has harmed Indian interests and foreign policies more seriously. Now we have an image of a nation whose key foreign policies on critical matters of national importance can be influenced easily by exploiting the political loopholes of the coalition government. This has cast doubts on nation’s political willpower and strategic unity.

India, unlike any other committed country, always looked in a dilemma over Sri Lanka in UN. India had already voted against Sri Lanka in 2012 in Geneva and this was another chance when India repeated its action, although unwillingly. This was obviously a politically inflicted decision on the government and this is quite dangerous that a government is not free to act according to its strategists and policies. The repeated choice to vote against Sri Lanka will be proven fatal to India in many ways in near future, especially in south Asian politics. Sri Lanka, even if not powerful, is an important country in south Asia and its importance increases many folds for India keeping its maritime position in Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka never had bitter relations with India, instead both the countries share many historical, cultural and traditional things in common. Tamils are also one the important factors which create a natural bond between the two countries and we must acknowledge it. Historically and genetically Tamils of India and Sri Lanka are same and thus we still share a common trait of nationality and we should do our best to settle the grievances of each other, but ultimately we are two separate states and thus we have some limitations. The question of ethnicity can never overcome the truth of national interests. There are 57 Muslim countries on a common platform of OIC and even many Arab Muslim dominated countries which share a lot in common, but when it comes to as states, they all defend their personal interests of their countries. Ethnicity, faith and culture are definitely most important factors behind the concept of nation as these all shape the minds of the people, but historical and contemporary factors finally decide the maps of the states.

India voted against Sri Lanka once again while its two bitter-most rivals and opponents in south Asia viz China and Pakistan voted in its favor. China has its deep interests in Sri Lanka and its water territory in Indian Ocean to deter India and impose a big pressure on it from south in any belligerent situation. China is already highly interested in Sri Lanka and has invested more than a billion dollar in sectors like energy and infrastructure. During the tenure of Mahinda Rajapaksa China has carried its relations with Sri Lanka to new heights and both the countries have committed in defense collaborations also. This is definitely a big concern for Indian side. Pakistan, which earlier supported LTTE to facilitate arms and ammunition, is now exploiting the opportunity which has been created by India against itself. Pakistan also has an added advantage of being credible ally of China which is using its Buddhist base to scramble into Lanka.

In such a condition, India’s weak and confused stand against Sri Lanka has given it a fresh reason to resent and rationale to bend towards China faster than previous. Even USA does acknowledge the importance of Lanka in Indian Ocean and the resolution moved by it in UNHRC was a strategic step to cover Sri Lanka under its influence. The initial draft of the resolution had many strict provisions against Lanka including the independent probe by international committee on human rights, but later on the final draft was much softer and it even didn’t directly include the name of Sri Lanka. I believe that the crucial changes in draft were result of under table negotiations between USA and Lankan government as USA, unlike countries like India, establishes dominating friendship of pressure politics with weaker countries. India, on the other hand, pushed for tougher amendments demanding an independent international probe. Initially it was believed that India is attempting to convince USA to drop such provisions in the name of sovereignty protection of a state as it believed that in that way it could also convince Lanka and fulfill the demand of DMK to vote against Lanka. This is difficult to understand that how our government dared to ignore the issue of Kashmir which can put India in same deadlock and it’ll become too difficult to confront similar move on Kashmir by other countries.

India could never exploit the plight of Hindus in Pakistan or Tibet in China to put pressure on its toughest opponents but strangely it did the same against friendly Sri Lanka. The decision to move in that way was not to save the government in central, instead it was taken keeping the loss and gain of congress in Tamilnadu in next elections. Congress just didn’t want to give a message in Tamilnadu that it was brushing off Tamil sentiments as it would be fight on the same grounds against DMK and AIDMK which are aggressive on Tamil issue.

Anyway, regardless of the reasons and factors behind the U-turn in its well defined policy of resisting the external interference into internal matters of a country India has shot itself in the foot and it may have to eat the crow in future on Kashmir issue, no matter how much Kashmir issue is different from Tamil matter in Lanka. The decision of Indian government to bring an amendment to favor Tamils seems more frivolous when it was almost clear that the amendments would not be passed by America as the later had excluded them under a clear strategy. However, the million dollar question remains unanswered that how and when will the questions of national interests be in center in Indian politics replacing the cheap vote bank
parameters??
.
-Vasudev Tripathi



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