India’s emergence as star player in a changed world!
If we look at India in terms of population, then one sixth part of the world resides in India. As a consumer market, India is one of the fastest growing countries. In space science, it is rapidly climbing its peak. In every sense, India is in such a position today that it can not be ignored and naturally this position has not been attained overnight. When we became free, our country was called the land of snake charmers, but it has been good fortune of ours that we got one visionary leader after another who put India on the world map. These great leaders include from India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee and now Narendra Modi. The foreign policy of all of them was such that India started emerging as a force rapidly.
There is a huge difference in circumstances during the tenures of the other Prime Ministers and Narendra Modi. Earlier the world lived in the era of the Cold War. Either be with America or with Soviet Russia. In that period Nehruji strengthened the principle of non-alignment and his decision gave an opportunity to move Indian foreign policy in a free way. However, despite this non-alignment, we actually moved closer to Russia. Russia has also played a great role in friendship. It has always been in the role of a true friend for us. We have never been directly opposed to America, but America has never treated us as its friend.
Now the circumstances are changing rapidly. Our engagement with America is increasing. The reason for this is not that America has suddenly started favouring us. The reason for this is that America is no longer the only power in the world. The weakness of Europe and Russia’s renewed assertion under Putin’s leadership and China’s rapid emergence have worried the US. Under the circumstances, India is seen as a support which is also an emerging power and the world’s big market too! India also needs the US to curb the growing influence of China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not let this opportunity slip through. He forgot the bitter episode that once the US had refused to grant him a visa. He extended a hand of friendship to America. This is the identity of a successful politician that he does not let personal grouse stand in the interest of the country. He went to the US and came out with a smile.
Although before becoming Prime Minister, he had no experience of foreign affairs, he never felt this shortcoming. By inviting the heads of the SAARC countries to his oath-taking ceremony, he gave a big message. Actually, he avoided collision with any country so that he can give new direction to the relations. However, where he has to express his resentment, he expresses it with great passion. For instance, on one hand, he reached Pakistan without calling Nawaz Sharif, and on the other, he did not look at Nawaz at the inaugural function of the SAARC summit. For, that day was a sad reminder of the Mumbai terrorist attack, but the next day he extended his hand to Nawaz. His message was clear!
Now look at the latest events. At present, the Chinese and Indian armies are face-to-face on the border. China is constantly threatening but Modi did not respond to it. They were waiting for the meeting of the BRICS. There, he joined hands with China’s President Jinping and the circumstances emerged in such a way that both of them praised each other from the forum! Modi knows how to respond to the neighbours’ activities with diplomatic skills. Moreover, Jinping knows that India will not give in to China’s ambitions under any circumstances. How can Jinping forget that only last year India, Japan and America conducted joint war drill in the South China Sea! It was a direct threat to China! Modi is working closely with the US, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Australia, which are upset with China’s policies. This is a big diplomatic victory.
In addition to strengthening relations with the Europe, Africa and Latin America, India has shown an attitude of accommodation to those countries which were generally neglected in the Indian perspective. Last year, the members of the Modi cabinet visited such 68 countries. Of course, the benefits of these visits have accrued to India.
Indeed, India is currently claiming its real place in the world. India has conveyed the message to the world that now onwards India’s role is not only of the country whose people believe in the rules but it also has the capacity of joining the rule makers’ group. India has taken a different stand. On one hand, we are pushing our friendship with the Arab countries from where we need oil and on the other, there is friendship with Israel, from which we are getting better supplies of weapons and hope to get new technology. We have built bridges with Iran to encompass Pakistan. Building friendship with Iran, Arab countries and Israel at the same time is an amazing feat and Narendra Modi has done it.
India knows that the world will not go forward without Indian support and its voice is as important. Now the voice of India is very effective in the WTO and India is also a member of the G-20 and East Asia Summit. The time is not far when India will join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and also become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Indeed, the world knows that India has the potential to become the natural leader of South Asia. We are moving forward to achieve this prime position. In the globalised world, India is fast emerging as a shining star!
Before I conclude
If your thinking is unique and there is dedication to go through with some technique, then nothing is impossible. This has been proved by Shraddha Minj of Ranchi and her friend Sanjay Murmu. Both are tribals. Shraddha is studying veterinary science but is proficient in mathematics. Last year when a company gave them free internet, their talent came out. They uploaded the first video to teach mathematics in Hindi to three and a half lakh people. One of their videos has been seen by 35 lakh people. Their viewers are spread across 208 countries of the world. I salute this initiative of Shraddha and Sanjay.
Why the dream of Opposition unity is incomplete?
The irony of the present day Indian democracy is that there is no such thing as unity among the opposition parties. So how can they expect to win? In fact, when the opposition appears to be so weak and helpless, then all possibilities of keeping the powers that be on a leash are over. This situation can not be called a good sign for democracy. It is natural for the common man to be worried and it is also an inevitable question to ask why our opposition is so scattered? Why all efforts of solidarity remain incomplete?
It is not a difficult task to find out the reasons. Rather, let's say that everyone knows but the self-interest of the leaders is so much that none can walk on one path for the opposition unity. On May 1, the birth anniversary of the famous socialist leader Madhu Limaye, leaders of Congress, Marxist Communist Party, Communist Party of India, Janata Dal (U), Bahujan Samaj Party, NCP, Lok Dal and many other parties had gathered in Delhi. The theme was- "The unity of progressive forces". This meeting was also like there are other meetings organized for unity.
Yes, one thing has definitely emerged in this conclave that it is not necessary for the opposition coalition to see which party has got or getting what percentage of votes in which state. It is essential that the coalition policy and programme are united. This is the biggest problem, where opposition attempts to unify reach the danger zone. For example, the policies of the Congress and the Left can not be on the same page. Congress is a party which brought a new stream of development in this country. The Congress had prepared the real ground for foreign capital investment. The BJP is only harvesting the crop today. Left parties are still strongly opposed to this policy and they consider it a path to capitalism. Naturally, neither Congress will budge from its policies nor will the Left party change its own thinking; it is evident that in such a situation both parties can not be united with one another. If they ever talk about being one, then it will be only for the time being.
Now look at the other parties. In Uttar Pradesh, leaders like Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav talk about socialist policies, but the fact is that their party has nothing to do with socialism. The whole party is person oriented. There is no such thing as cadre. Those who are in the party are devotees of their leader. Whatever Netaji says, that is the last word. Lalu Yadav is like the Rashtriya Janata Dal Private Limited Company. They worry about their families more than policies. After joining any coalition, they will directly see to their own interests. The entire Janata Dal (U) is surrounded by Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav. This is the case with other parties too.
It is clear that in such a situation, Opposition needs such a central point for unity that can unite everyone. Only the Congress has the capacity to play that role, but the Congress has weakened itself to such an extent that the other parties do not believe that going with the Congress will have any benefit for them. Though on the issue of presidential candidate, 17 parties (Congress, NCP, Rashtriya Janata Dal, CPI (M), CPI, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, National Conference, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, JDS, RSP, JMM, AUIDF of Assam, IUML, Kerala Congress and National Lok Dal) have been united but how much strength most of them have? Mayawati first went to support BJP candidate Ram Nath Kovind, but she has changed the tack and now she is supporting the opposition coalition candidate Meira Kumar. Nitish Kumar is still out of this unity. It is ironic that Lalu Yadav's party and Nitish are running together in Bihar but the two have different views on the issue of presidential elections. The Opposition has not got the support of even the Biju Janata Dal, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and YSR Congress. Indeed, if you look at reconciliation of the parties, then the Bharatiya Janata Party looks much ahead. There are more than three dozen parties with it. It is a different matter that many parties have no members in the Lok Sabha nor in the Rajya Sabha! But then there are not even one and a half dozen parties with the Congress!
Actually, the opposition has only one point - communalism! All the parties opposing the BJP term the BJP as communal and appeal to the public to save the country from this communalism, but is the public listening? We have seen recent election results in Uttar Pradesh and other states. Opposition parties should understand the public mood and what the people of this country want? In fact, opposition parties are unable to understand the mood of the country, so they are constantly lagging behind and the Bharatiya Janata Party is spreading in those areas which used to be quintessentially Congress citadels.
All opposition parties have to understand that the issue of communalism has been outdated. In particular, the Congress will have to play an important role because it is the only party whose reach is in the entire country and on which the country can rely. The strength of the regional parties is in a particular area, their attitude is also regional. In the opposition parties, the Congress is actually the only party that has a broad vision. Other parties should get out of their self-interest so that the country can get a strong opposition. Powerful opposition is very important for democracy.
And the opposition will have to explore new issues related to the public so that the BJP can be confronted squarely! Congress will have to take the lead with new thinking. New thoughts will have to be put before the people. One fact is for certain, the more the regional parties prosper the greater will be the loss for the country. It goes without saying that only the Congress has the strength to stand before the BJP. Once upon a time, the Congress was dominant all over the country and there was no other party before it. Today BJP has become an all India party. I think some of the parties in the South may merge into the BJP. As things stand today, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are batting furiously and the opposition parties in the ground are not able to stop the run riot.
Before I conclude
Both the candidates contesting for the presidential election are wonderful in terms of personality, qualifications and experience. I have got the opportunity of proximity with both of them. With NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovindji I have worked for a long time in the Rajya Sabha. He was the Chairman of the House Committee and he had allotted the residential quarter to me. He used to come there. His work in the Rajya Sabha was highly exemplary. His speeches were marked with profundity of thought. He used to talk on the basis of facts. The statistics of victory are seen with Kovindji, but I would like to say that both of them are fully qualified for the post of President.