All posts by Madhav Nalapat

Madhav Das Nalapat holds the UNESCO Peace Chair at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations at Manipal University in Manipal, India. Mr. Nalapat writes extensively on security, policy and international affairs. He began his academic career as fellow of the Center for Political Research in 1974. He has contributed to leading publications throughout the world and has written six books. In 2000, Mr. Nalapat organized the first non-official India-China conference in which serving members of the armed forces of both countries participated. He is a Gold Medalist in Economics from the University of Bombay, India.

India-US Medical Alliance will cut deficit

The U.S. is Рand will continue to be for at least a generation more Рthe primary engine driving the international economy. If Asia has made progress during the post-colonial period (i.e.after 1947), one of the major reasons is the U.S. economy. Although the Eurocentric administrations in Washington DC refused to sanction a Marshall Plan for Asia the way they implemented for Europe, the private industry has made up for a lot of the slack. Although the Vietnam war of the 1960s and beyond was a disaster in several ways, including the devastation it caused to that land and people without being able to prevent the takeover of the country by the Viet Minh, yet the purchases of goods and services made by the U.S. from the countries of East and South-east Asia for prosecuting  the war created tigers out of pussycats. Even Hong Kong developed,once the British withdrew east of Suez and lost interest in the day-to-day running of the colony.

India under Indira Gandhi missed the US-driven bus. Unlike Thailand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, she refused to create the conditions needed for Indian businesses to take advantage in the spurt of U.S. procurement created by the Vietnam war. Indeed, she turned away from such opportunities, even rejecting an invitation to be a part of ASEAN. As for industry, Indira Gandhi continued with Jawaharlal Nehru’s policy of strangling the private sector through taxes and regulation, and creating state-owned monopolies that were citadels of incompetence and corruption. Small wonder that SE Asia and East Asia rapidly overtook India and entered the fold of middle-income countries two decades before India finally began to catch up in the mid-1990s,¬† a rise that has been threatened by the sharp increase in regulation seen in the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA since 2004.

Despite the return of frank Nehruism in central policy, India still remains a country where the newly-empowered private sector is fighting back. Honest corporates are happy at the increase in public awareness of the fact that it is graft on a monumental scale that is keeping them in such misery. Those traveling by the potholed roads of India; enduring power cut after power cut despite sky-high electricity prices; going through substandard public schooling at a time when the UPA is seeking to choke the private education sector through fresh regulations; and suffering such depredations as income-tax raids conducted just to collect bribes for settlement, are now coming on to the streets. If not in 2012, certainly by 2013, India will have its own Tahrir Square, with millions likely to picket the homes of the powerful trinity of corrupt bureaucrats, businesspersons and politicians who have aped the British colonial authorities by enriching themselves through impoverishing the country. For the first time since the 1950s, India seems to be on a path towards cleaner government and greater powers to the ordinary citizen vis-a-vis the colonial-style state,largely because of the pressure from the Supreme Court and the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is personally honest,and hence has no personal interest in continuing to cover up corruption.

This is the ideal time for a great democracy to create multiple linkages with India, so that civil society in both countries can benefit. In the field of energy, this writer has already pointed out how the negative bias of the non-proliferation lobby in the U.S. is creating the conditions for an Indo-Russian atomic alliance from which the U.S. will get excluded. Healthcare is another field in which India has several advantages. Indeed, it is this potential that is scaring pharmaceutical and fat-cat medical lobbies in Europe, making them invent risks in India that are unproven by scientific evidence. The Lancet, for example (whose advocacy of the medical mafia in the developed world is transprent) has been printing report after report warning individuals to keep away from India. The latest smear is that the country is swarming with a “superbug”. Unexplained is why such a “deadly” microbe has made zero dent on the country’s population, or in its health services. The reality is that cooperation with India will cost the medical mafia in several countries their millions of euros, hence the hysteria against India.

The fact is that only – repeat only – an alliance with India can reduce healthcare costs in the U.S. and the EU to levels that are compatible with continued prosperity. Instead of blocking low-cost Indian pharmaceuticals from entering their (or other) markets by the foisting of cases and by other means, EU governments should get their corporates to form alliances with Indian companies that can ensure low-cost healthcare to billions of people in Europe, India and in North America.

However, given their mindset (which is clearly still lost in nostalgia for the colonial era), it is unlikely that the EU will follow such a rational path. On the contrary, we can expect several more efforts to malign both the country as well as its medical profession, because of the fact that it can provide healthcare at a fraction of the cost charged by the medical mafia. Rather, it is the U.S. that needs to take the lead in forming an alliance with India, that would ensure enhanced Indo-US production of cheaper drugs and cheaper procedures. Unless this be done, the U.S. budget deficit will continue to balloon to a level that threatens the future of the world’s biggest economy. The sharing of healthcare facilities by India and the U.S. will ensure the saving of tens of billions of dollars every year, and in time form a fusion that can bring healthcare to the doorsteps of the needy in every country.

Middle East: Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

Sometimes, foes get identified as friends, something that India has been enduring¬†since the 1980s, the period when Pakistan began its assymetric battle for Kashmir. To this day, the jihad in Kashmir has around it a protective shield of Western NGOs, diplomats, conflict resolution specialists and a miscellany of do-gooders who back them in their violent war against the unity of modern Asia’s first democracy. Uncritical distribution takes place of video footage of jihadi elements in military fatigues molesting women and other innocents, elements that they cull from the pool of those they consider too moderate for their cause. These are transmitted as “evidence” of “atrocities by the Indian army”. Unverified repetition of claims of torture and intentional killings of the Muslim population of the Kashmir Valley by the armed forces get made by such well-meaning but misguided citizens of countries not otherwise known for tolerance to jihad and its numerous violent manifestations. In the many teary accounts of the travails of jihad elements in Kashmir that regularly appear in Western publications, few correspondents seem to have understood that the purpose of the Kashmir jihad is to set up a Wahabbi emirate in that state, one where minorities would be either driven out or exterminated ( as indeed, most have been in the Valley) and where women would enjoy the exalted status they had in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

What may be termed the hard core of the Wahabbi movement is a mass of individuals united in their belief in the supremacy of their 300-year old faith. This core is distributed throughout the Middle East as well as in locations such as Turkey, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and it has taken a lesson from the Saudi Arabian and ISI playbook of professing fealty to western interests and values while clandestinely undermining both. These days, the coverage of channels such as CNN across the Middle East would be laughable, were it not so tragic. An Arwa Damon goes breathlessly around the east of Libya with a collection of youths who come from the same tribal and other groups that have ensured a steady flow of Libyan citizens to the ranks of the jihadists. These have understood the fact that the only bait that they need to throw in the direction of western correspondents are fuzzy words about democracy, interspersed with cries against dictatorship.

Like Pavlov’s canines, correspondents leap at such titbits, fashioning a narrative that ignores the reality that much of the current ferment in the Middle East is driven not by a yearning for western-style democracy, but for a Wahabbi emirate. In such reporting, they resemble the many western journalists who have taken the side of the jihad in Kashmir, and in the 1990s, wrote much romantic twaddle about the Taliban in Afghanistan. As indeed, they have about the Pakistan army, the only substantial military force in the world that has jihad as its official motto. After the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement that established the French and the British zones of influence in the Middle east, arbitrarily drawing boundaries that made little geopolitical or historical sense, UNSC 1973 has opened the door to a 2011 version of Sykes-Picot, with France and the U.K. once again in the lead. However,the Middle East is not Eastern Europe, nor is it the former Yugoslavia. The current chemistries and future societal trajectories there are entirely different. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi surrendered to the West in 2003, giving up his nuclear program and disarming himself of WMD. In a previous post, it had been warned that the treatment given to him would discourage other despots- notably in Iran and North Korea – from agreeing to surrender their nuclear weapon programs. The North Koreans have already expressed the view that the self-disarmament of Muammar Gaddafi – who acted on the advice of his spoilt and nincompoop sons, the way any doting father would – is the reason why he seems to be on the same path that Saddam Hussein, heading towards capture and execution.

Since the heady days of the 1980s,after Brezezinski-Casey ensured U.S. muscle to the more extreme elements of the Wahabbi faith in their obsession with a moribund USSR, several misguided elements in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait who mistake Wahabbism for Islam have been funding groups of ultra-Wahabbis,especially in non-monarchical Arab states such as Egypt, Syria and Libya. It is these groups that have formed the core of the so-called “democracy movements” in these countries. In contrast,in East Europe,it was the Christian churches who formed the base of the ideological resistance to Communism, a set of beliefs somewhat at variance with Wahabbism and its practitioners. In countries across the region, through the use of catchwords that they know will ensnare western journalists and policymakers, Wahabbi groups are seeking to replace regimes that came down hard on the faith. Not that they have been secretive about this, or at least not until they saw the need to taolir their message so as to appeal to the sensibilities of the populations of the NATO powers that are helping to install them in power. Even a cursory perusal of the literature churned out by the very elements now posing as liberal democrats would reveal that the basis of their opposition to Gaddafi is the fact that in Libya, women are permitted to go about without the veil and – even more horrifying – actually work alongside males. If this is not degeneracy,what is? There are few calls for democracy in the numerous tracts against Gaddafi, if we exclude those brought out by Libyan and other expats living in the West, who are proving to be about as accurate about ground reality in their country as were the Iraqi expats so dear to Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz. By taking sides in what is in essence in part a tribal war where the primary faultline dividing regime elements from their foes is not democracy but fealty to Wahabbism, Sykes-Picot circa 2011 is likely to create a fresh round of boundary change in the Middle East, with the effective partition of several states and the spillage of unrest into the monarchies (this time because of the groups funded by the mullahs of Iran). The Wahabbi wolves have dressed themselves as sheep,and are prancing before a gullible international audience. Once victory gets assured through NATO arms, the disguise will come off.