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India Irrelevant in Global Hotspots – Not Only in Egypt

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By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - Official India does not call itself a ‘Superpower’. The preferred term is ‘Rising Power’. However, Rising Power or ‘Rising India’ is no less of a misnomer as it is unsuited to India’s status and relevance in world affairs.

There is not a single international event or development of consequence in recent times that saw India rising to the occasion. To the contrary, every major development in the world proved to be a forceful reminder of the growing irrelevance of India in global affairs.

Be it in Myanmar, Maldives, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in West Asia, in the case of Julian Assange or the cause of Edward Snowden, India is a player of little or no consequence. The unimportance of India is unmissable on every issue. New Delhi’s craven acceptance of U.S. cyber snooping shows that our ministers and mandarins cannot speak even where issues of sovereignty and national security are at stake.

Tiny Ecuador has acquitted itself more creditably than the world’s largest democracy in defending democratic freedoms and standing up to the intrusive bullying of western powers.

The violent churning in Egypt is one more reminder of India not rising to play a role it should, and could, have. India was neither seen nor heard during the Arab Spring. Similarly, when the uprising in Egypt ousted a military-backed dictator, India was nowhere in the picture.

Chequered relationship

Although India and Egypt have a long and chequered relationship and the two, along with Yugoslavia, were the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, New Delhi did not come out in support of the Egyptian people and their democratic rights throughout the period of turmoil.

When the first round ended with Mohammed Morsi, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, becoming President, India could have seized the opportunity to strengthen ties and emerge as a factor in the sustenance of democracy in Egypt.

In fact, President Morsi, who was overthrown by the military, could have survived had he looked to India and learned from its experience of managing electoral outcomes. He would have then realised the advantages of hastening slowly.

Besides, the situation in Egypt being akin to that of India’s troubled neighbour Pakistan — in terms of US links to the country’s armed forces and its acceptance of an Islamist agenda — it is to India that Morsi should have looked.

Seething cauldron

The world’s largest democracy is a seething cauldron of multiple and overlapping conflicts rooted in caste, class, religious, linguistic, regional and ideological divergences. The politics of representative democracy has been — cynically so, some might say — about managing diverse and disparate tendencies; about strengthening the state and boosting its power regardless of the ideological bias of those elected to govern.

Indian electoral democracy succeeded in mainstreaming Marxists, separatists and “communalists”. The CPM’s rise to elected office in Bengal where it ruled for over three decades is a landmark. So-called separatists like the DMK and the Akali Dal co-exist — and at great profit — with their one-time tormentor (the Congress party). In fact, national parties can learn from the DMK on how to cash in on opportunities at the Centre.

The “secularist” forces could not stop the BJP-led NDA of Vajpayee from forming a government in 1998 and 1999. The process Congressised the BJP and cast the Congress in a softer hue of Hindutva. Power is about survival, about pragmatism, and it makes nonsense of ideology.

India, which is assisting Nepal and Afghanistan with expertise on building a sustainable electoral democracy, could have taught President Morsi a thing or two for continuing in office. And, in the process, shown itself to be a Rising Power of relevance to a region in turmoil.

*The author is an independent political and foreign affairs commentator. A version of this article appeared on Daily News & Analysis (DNA) on July 30 and is published here by arrangement with the writer. [IDN-InDepthNews – July 30, 2013]

2013 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Shastri Ramachandran's previous articles at IDN:
http://www.indepthnews.info/index.php/search?searchword=shastri%20ramachndran&ordering=newest&searchphrase=any

Useful links:
India-Egypt Joint Declaration on the State Visit of H.E. Dr. Mohamed Morsy, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt (18-20 March, 2013)

Egyptian-Indian relations

Image: Egypt’s Morsi with India’s PM Singh in March 2013 in New Delhi | Credit: Muslim Mirror

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