India Cannot Be Taken For Granted! – Guest Author Nirmalya Chatterjee
The crisis in Ukraine has underscored the new reality that India has changed in the past decade. The country has refused to succumb to the continued pressure of the United States and Western Europe to engage in economic boycott of Russia. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in India’s view, is an European problem and not a ‘world problem’. The current leaders of India also do not believe that the United States and western European countries can write the book on world order and expect India to abide by that rule book. India sees the world to be bigger than just Europe and America. Consequently, India is not willing to make serious economic sacrifices simply for the sake of complying with the West.
India is a vibrant democracy. Domestic public opinion is a very important factor in guiding India’s foreign policy. No different from that of the United States. Indians are acutely aware of the exploitation by the British rulers just as they are aware of the Moghul invaders destroying the Hindu temples to replace them with mosques. Nothing has happened that can help the Indians to forget this painful history and overcome the mistrust of the foreigners. India’s governing party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is built on the strong foundation of nationalism. The country’s immensely popular leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has very effectively maintained an independent foreign policy which is now guided by its own national interest. India’s Hindu majority is very strongly behind the ruling party’s commitment to make Hindu civilization the center of Indian cultural and political life. This nationalist India wants to develop the Indian power and not let its sovereignty be dwarfed by the western powers.
India has now become a serious economic power offering a viable alternative to the giant American business enterprises who are becoming increasingly leery of continuing to depend on China. The United States government is concerned about the serious national security risks in having these businesses operating in China. India’s strategic location also makes it extremely vital for the United States to cultivate a strong military collaboration with India in order to contain China’s aggressive moves in the Indo-Pacific region. The role India can play in limiting China’s economic and military dominance is very significant.
United States and the other western countries need to recognize the new reality and treat India with much care and respect. The old habits will not work. Many Indians bristle when they feel they are being lectured by the American media while the US is suffering from racial injustice and mass shootings. They consider such lectures as the good old ‘western arrogance’. Majority of Indians want to see that India proudly maintains its independent identity. That is the mandate Indians have given to the ruling party. It is that pure and simple.
Nirmalya Chatterjee has been a senior executive of several Fortune 500 companies. He was the Chairman of the Hindu Temple of Las Vegas. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of a Las Vegas based company.
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