Step Away From Lutyens Zone Silos, Soft Options To Reach Bharat’s True Global Potential, Says MD Nalapat In His New Book
Bharat must break out of the ‘silos’ of the ‘Lutyens zone’, reverse its penchant for adopting the ‘soft option’ on a plethora of issues and align itself with changes in the ‘policy-making matrices’ in countries like the United States, Russia and China will ensure that the benefits of the rapid economic growth of recent years are not “thrown away”, says renowned academic and strategic analyst Madhav Das Nalapat in his new book visionary, “75 years of Indian foreign policy”.
The book, published by Rupa under the general title “Journey of a Nation”, also warns against “feeding the fringe” as it “rarely does good politics, as this group is impossible to satisfy unless one submits completely to their demands at the expense of the rest of society”.
“The policy-making matrices in the United States, Russia, Australia, Japan and even China have changed. The same must happen in Bharat. These changes must be global rather than, as is the tradition in the Lutyens area, segmented into silos, the action of one leading to a dilution of the effectiveness of the action taken by the other”, explains the book, which is subtitled “War, Peace and the Realigned World” adding that what is needed are effective steps by the Ministries of Defence, Interior, Trade and Finance in this direction.
“The highest levels of government must set a correct direction for our policy-making matrix rather than working towards global control,” writes Nalapat, who was appointed as Bharat’s first professor of geopolitics and then UNESCO chair. of Peace from Manipal University and previously edited The Times of India, and before that Matrubhumi.
Lamenting that those who ruled Bharat “almost always refrained from exploiting the consequences of a breakthrough”, Nalapat writes that the “peaceful nuclear explosion” of Pokhran in 1974 should, “in rapid succession, have been followed more, rather than wait until 1998 for another prime minister to find the resolve to go ahead with another round of testing”.
Noting that after the Pokhran trials, “there was a surge of interest in India which for a time was reflected even in the growth of exports of manufactured goods – a country which could manufacture a nuclear bomb could count on him to make the trick”, the author denounces that even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister at the time, refused to follow up on Pokhran II.
“There has been a moratorium on further testing and India has locked itself into most of the confines of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, although it is not a binding document. “
“Avoiding risk and seeking the soft option has been the cause of much of the pain that India and its people have endured due to faulty (or at best inadequate) political structures. To ensure that the country getting the worst rather than the best of both worlds has become an art form in the Lutyens area,” says Nalapat, adding that the 75th anniversary of independence “has brought with it another opportunity for the country to leapfrog forward and escape the sub-optimal levels of achievement it continues to get bogged down in”.
Much could be said about ‘soft power’, but what is often overlooked is that ‘to be effective, soft power must rest on a solid foundation of ‘hard power’ – the tools that serve as sticks and carrots in international relations, such as as explicit promises of trade incentives and threats of economic sanctions or military action,” argues the author.
Bharat’s hard power, he writes, “grew with an increase in its economic clout and kinetic capabilities, and it is no coincidence that India’s image grew with it. Considering the interdependence of other economies with that of India in this modern reality and the impact of other countries on it, politics has to walk on two legs – foreign and domestic. The two must be in balance, because a lack of symmetry in the objectives would lead to complications which affect national life”.
“Foreign policy should promote domestic policy goals, which would include economic growth, and therefore improved living standards, rather than the other way around. Domestic and domestic opportunities must be identified and seized, and in this process foreign policy plays an indispensable role,” writes Nalapat.
Unlike in the past, the geopolitical opportunity now offered to Bharat by world events “must no longer be missed. Countries need to be assessed in practical terms and treated accordingly. A productive foreign policy that will help actualize the potential dividends for India is needed. What may seem like tough choices for our nation’s foreign policy today may, in fact, be the best course of action for the nation’s future,” adds the author.
Looking back in history, Nalapat points out that the UK’s rise as the preeminent global power of its time was not the result of a conscious strategy implemented from the top, but rather the consequence of its ruling elite. giving its citizens the freedom to think and act.
“A collection of individual actions, discoveries and conquests fused into the British Empire. Centralized states, such as Spain and France, at this time had no chance of matching the success of the British Empire A growing number of people from the lower strata of society have found their way to the middle, and some have even discovered pathways to the top of the food chain.
“Only that society is healthy where a middle class grows in proportion to the lower classes – a middle class from which many manage to migrate upwards in terms of income and achievement. A whole-of-government approach is indeed the panacea,” argues Nalapat.
In the case of Bharat, “it is unclear whether each element of government accepts that policy makers must overcome the illusion that balanced relations should always be the goal, even when such a position may be contrary to the interest national,” the author asserts.
In this context, Nalapat warns that any measure or message “that widens the fringe in any section of the population, thereby reducing the moderate middle in the process should be avoided and, in fact, resisted by policy makers. This is why it is important to qualify certain crimes, such as the fact of killing an individual for having eaten the meat of certain types of bovine population, of terrorist acts”.
“In the first place, democracies should not use the cudgel of the law to effect lifestyle changes related to diet, clothing, or sexual orientation,” Nalapat writes, noting that while some countries ban certain types of dress, lifestyle or diet (often on death penalty), this does not seem to “get the attention that India has from some members of the international community for hate crimes based on opposition to the choices of certain citizens”.
“In a smart world,” concludes Nalapat, “smart policy is needed, and citizens look to such an unprecedented situation with hope. If the chance for a generation of rapid economic growth, and the benefits that flow from it, are spurned, Indian historians might forgive those in power. History won’t.”
(The story was posted via a syndicated feed with an edited title and minor edits to conform to the HinduPost style guide)