Monday - 24 June 2024 - 6:45 AM

Being patriotic is not being chauvinist

Sudhir Kumar

It was like ‘dream shattered’. Unilateral withdrawal of an agreement between India and Iran for the construction & development of Chabahar port in Iran and further laying a 600 km long railway line connecting the port to Zahidan city bordering Afghanistan enabling India easier accessibility to Afghanistan and central Asia in order to boost mutual trade and commerce has come as a shock.

The said agreement also established Indian diplomatic superiority over its arch rival Pakistan and was deemed to be a befitting answer to china Pakistan deal of developing Gwadar port nearby under CPEC(China Pakistan Economic Corridor).

Despite India having very cordial relations with Afghanistan and other central Asian counties like Tazakistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, is not able to undertake trade in sizeable magnitude in the absence of direct land connectivity as them being  land locked physically. The unilateral withdrawal came as a big shock to India as it amounted to  diplomatic failures besides huge strategic loss. Iran is said to have  an agreement  with China instead with a huge lucrative long term infrastructural investment of estimated $400 bn in a span of 20 years Iran attributed this unilateral withdrawal to the delayed and slow implementation of these projects by Indian companies.

Setback is huge and an irreparable loss in term of diplomacy and regional superiority. Though this is not officially confirmed by Indian authorities but international media and newspapers are aggressively substantiating it. Chabahar deal with Iran therefore was of utmost importance diplomatically and strategically to India and its unilateral withdrawal is like ‘dream shattered’

Peace and prosperity of a nation, as generally visualized, is linked to its geo political location and boundaries. Similarly economic, diplomatic and military strength of a country too is quite dependent on its geo political boundaries . Political and physical boundaries of countries after second world war though is more precisely defined and demarcated yet the minor border disputes are not uncommon. 

Ancient and medieval era witnessed frequent geopolitical changes in their boundaries as ‘might is right ‘was the law of the land. On the contrary forcible changes in geopolitical boundaries in this era is few & far between, unless consented between the nations.

Geophysical changes are though not very common but in the larger interest of mankind the innovative humans  have to their credit making of iconic Suez canal, which connects red sea to Mediterranean and has incredibly reduced the sea route distance between western Europe and south Asia by almost 8000 km and has facilitated transportation of goods and passengers.

India desperately need to have access to Afghanistan and central Asian countries to prove its diplomatic and strategic superiority over its arch rival Pakistan and to have an equal terms with bullying china. And also to find a passage to facilitate its trade with affluent and oil rich middle east Arab nations. The middle east  incidentally is most happening region in the world militarily, economically and politically. Chabahar deal with Iran therefore was of utmost importance to India, and its unilateral withdrawal is like ‘dream shattered’.

Unpartitioned India had direct land connectivity to Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia (then USSR) via gilgit balistan .Bullying China too was not bordering India in that part as Tibet existed as an independent sovereign state in between .The geopolitical location would have made India thus strategically unignorable after independence as an state.

The geographical boundaries of undivided India placed it almost at par with our neighbor superpower China which happened to be much larger in geographical areas and boundaries with USSR ,Central Asian, East Asian and South East nations directly. The economic diplomatic and military dominance of china upon its neighbors is irrefutable.

Partitioned India had both its wings chopped off. Partition and creation of Pakistan (west & east) relegated India to a negligible global role due to its insignificant geopolitical location. It boundaries with country like Burma, Bhutan, Nepal and Srilanka and had very little role to play as big neighbor. Pakistan on the other hand is most strategically located having geopolitical boundaries with Iran, Afganistan, Central Asia and China.

Prudence and vision of our leaders, who were at the helm of affairs at the time of partition by agreeing to existing mode of partition is highly questionable and subject to critical analysis. Our leaders could have easily negotiated and bargained a direct access to Afghanistan and central Asia at least, if not Iran. A strip/passage adjoining north west of present PoK enabling direct access to Afghanistan and central Asia could have easily been negotiated. This not only would have separated j & k geopolitically from Pakistan but also any feasibility of Pakistan having border with ever bullying china. But unfortunately it appears that they lacked vision and were in hurry to grab power and rule. Nation and its countrymen are suffering with ever border disputes resulting in colossal loss of peace and prosperity. Posterity too will continue to suffer ever.

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Geopolitical location of our country though can’t be altered but with our huge human resources, sizeable military power and potent economy can always play an important role worldwide. The country has to look for a role model and follow their traits in word and spirit.

Israel as a nation is an epitome of grit, courage and determination.

Geopolitically Israel too is surrounded by unfriendly nations but despite all adversaries it has displayed unimaginable degree of will power to dispel all the myth of affluence and religious bigotry of their neighbourers. It has extraordinarily withstood the constant onslaught of its unfriendly neighbors and various religiously motivated terrorist groups and has sustained with insurmountable proud and honor ever since its existence in 1948.Despite its insignificant geographical area of around 22000 sq. km and a meager population of almost 8 million it has made itself invincible, inimitable and unignorable . Its exemplary achievement in all spheres viz defense production agricultural productivity academic excellence scientific research  and  indefatigable military power are yet unmatched. Though surrounded by the most dreadful ethnic terrorist groups but they never ever muster courage to play foul with Israel.

Historic ‘Raid on Entebbe’ to free their hostage in Uganda in late 70’s and taking revenge to the massacre of their Soccer team in Munich Olympic by their dreadful intelligence agency Mossad by eliminating the last person responsible for heinous act speak volumes of their velour, dedication and high degree of training. It has displayed amazing ethnic social harmony too with its almost 16 percent of Palestinians Muslim population.

Recently we must be aware that this tiny nation has brought all its affluent Arab nations to their knees and most of them are making beeline to establish diplomatic & economic relations. A miracle only mighty Israel is capable of.

India is uniquely multi racial, multi religious, multi linguistic and multi cultural country. So an inclusive growth model and cohesive social frame can only take it ahead in all sphere of development .The country cannot afford to be  patron of any form of social discrimination on the basis of caste creed or religion and it is inherent to democratic form of governance to maintain social harmony.

The nation India has to adopt the traits of Israel in order to be much publicized an ‘Aatm Nirbhar’ in all spheres of development. Be it agriculture, defense production, science and technology, advanced health system. And not the least, inherit ‘deep sense of meaningful patriotism’.

India besides implementing the various social welfare measures to alleviate poverty, improve health system, eliminate illiteracy etc, too has to keenly focus on agricultural productivity, science and technology ,heavy engineering, defense production and human resource development to count a few.

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India with its huge young human resource and its worldwide dominance in information technology is capable of excelling in all unexplored or partly explored spheres. To accomplish these unfulfilled dreams the present leadership with its political will and supremacy, is endowed with all the traits to lead it to a state of excellence and make it an unignorable superpower.

To conclude……a word of caution. The words ‘nationalist’ & ‘patriotic’ is getting arguably contentious from social & political perspective and indisputably will have adverse impact on social harmony.

And so, we all must not forget that ‘being patriotic is not being chauvinist’

(Author is Ex. IAS officer)

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