Offstumped question for the new week:

Is a benign neighborhood a pre-requisite for a functional and sustainable democracy ?

It is definitely true of all of Western Europe. The more recent converts to democracy in Eastern Europe are still sorting things through but by and large the unstable ones are those with troubled borders and not so benign neighbors. Further to the east Turkey while being steadfastly secular has seen elected governments toppled at least 4 times by the Military. On the other side of the pond if the United States is fretting over border controls it is hardly on account of hostile neighbors.

Down South, Brazil saw 21 years of military domination while the rest of Latin America can hardly be described as a case study in sustainable democracy. Across the International dateline, down under the neighborhood is as benign as it can get.

Which leaves us with 3 long running democracies across the world – Japan, Israel and India (South Korea’s tryst with democracy being only a couple of decades old).

All 3 of these long running democracies share one thing in common – A not so benign to downright hostile neighborhood.

But then India is the lone exception for democracies in Japan and Israel have been sheltered by the American military might.

Which brings us to the original premise and the reason for this lengthy preamble on sustainable and functional democracies across the globe.

India is the lone independent democracythat has been both functional and sustainable despite sharing its frontiers with not so bening to downright hostile neighbors.

Today’s election results in Nepal that saw the Maoists on the path to power while effectively spelling the end of the Monarchy in Nepal, are of significance to India for many reasons.

With the exception of Bhutan, India is now effectively surrounded on all sides by an amalgamation of hostile state and non-state players. While this maybe a tribute to the inherent strength of the Indian Democracy it is also a cause for concern for strategic reasons. The forward march of our economy cannot be held hostage and allowed to be bled by salami tactics of our hostile neighbors. This leads us to the following questions.

How is that significantly smaller nations in our neighborhood are able to sustain themselves despite an anti-India posture overtly or otherwise ?

Why is it that popular sentiment in these nations is generally anti-India ?

Why is it that even after 60 years of Independence we have no strategic allies amongst our neighbors ?

In fact it begs the question if we have any strategic allies at all outside of our neighborhood ?

What will it take to make our neighbors to see that their own strategic national interests will be served only by allying themselves with us ?

And therefore what will it take to make Prachanda realise that not only can he not afford to maintain equidistance from India but he also cannot afford to provide sanctuary or safe haven to Maoist Terrorists operating across India ?

And what will it take to make China and Pakistan realise that they cannot afford to play salami tactics by peddling aid for influence with our neighbors ?

And finally what will it take to make the Americans realise that there cannot be a dichotomy of American and Indian interests as far as our extended neighborhood is concerned ?

Questions to which there perhaps are no easy answers given the political environment in India.

A sycophantic Congress wedded to self preservation with support from China serving Communists can hardly be expected to do what it takes to serve Indian strategic interests.  

It is not enough for the BJP to swear by nationalism while being utterly naive about engaging with our neighbors on strategic affairs. The Maoist victory in Nepal is a lesson for the BJP on how out of touch with reality its support for the discredited monarchy was.

Offstumped Bottomline: A dysfunctional government on life support run by an electile dysfunctional surrogate can hardly inspire confidence in prospective allies or instill fear of consequences in our not so benign neighbors.  If the BJP is serious about upholding National Interest it must spell out its strategy to create and sustain an Indian sphere of influence with our neighbors for allies that is supported by the Americans and respected by the Chinese.

“If you want to play with the big dogs then stop pissing with the puppies ……”

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Offstumped is written by Yossarin from the Indian National Interest—–

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