India’s Delusion of South Asian Hegemony

The writer is a  political science and history  graduate from LUMS and is interested in religion and world politics, colonialism and central&south Asian history

The writer is a political science and history graduate from LUMS and is interested in religion and world politics, colonialism and central&south Asian history

Following the recent geo-political developments in the region, the Indian government has proved its unrepresentative nature. After alienating indigenous populations and signing economic agreements with American corporations, the Indian political elite began to believe that they had addressed the country’s growing economic and political crises. However, little did they know that the hegemonic economic policies designed by the Harvard and Princeton economists are one of the tools used by the empire to exploit resources by co-opting indigenous elites. Or did they know what they were doing?

The recent foreign policy decisions taken by the Indian government also signifies the unrepresentative nature of the ruling party. It is clear that India and Japan are on the wrong side of history because of the major shifts taking place in their neighborhood. It is interesting to note that for the first time in the modern history of the subcontinent, India and Pakistan have decided to be on opposite sides of the power struggle between two powerful countries. Pakistan has clearly opted for the rising China and India has finalized its decision after signing the recent defense and logistics agreement with the United States. It seems clear by now that Pakistan is co-operating with China in its ascent towards regional and global hegemony while India is still trying to play its role in countering Chinese maritime assertiveness.

What’s in it for India? Why has the Indian government agreed to provide its air, naval and land bases to the United States to carry out their operations freely? Why has India decided to be a convenient tool for American Imperial interests in the region? This agreement is a milestone in the history of the India-US defense relationship. This agreement will enable both countries, actually the US more than India, to carry out joint operations and exercises in the region. And guess what? As they say, the United States will be able to provide humanitarian assistance more efficiently. Isn’t that the sole reason behind this agreement? No. Definitely not.

An alternative explanation i.e. the fact the Indian political elite deliberately decided to go down the neo-liberal path because their interests were secured. The vote bank of the ruling party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is based in only two major provinces. This clearly demonstrates that the interests of the party and those aligned with the party are being well served while most India is suffering from the neo liberal exploitative economic policies which were put into place after 1991.

This agreement is in complete synchronization with the “shining India” narrative. After such agreements, India will shine brighter in the global media. Why? Guess who controls the media. India will continue to demonstrate that it is possible for a developing nation to be secular, democratic and a guarantor of human rights while Pakistan will continue to be portrayed as the rogue state, Taliban supporter and persecutor of minorities. The carefully crafted portrait goes something like this: The nature of the Pakistani state is authoritarian, while India is a democracy. Fundamentalist groups continue to dominate Pakistan’s social and political discourse while Indian parties are secular and progressive. Pakistan continues to oppress and persecute minorities while Indian Muslims enjoy numerous privileges. BJP’s fascism and the brutal caste system is not taken into account. The miserable conditions of one of the world’s largest minorities i.e. the Muslims are ignored. Kashmir continues to be neglected in the international court of justice and the United Nations. Pakistan continues to be seen as the terrorist financier despite losing hundreds of thousands of civilians as a result of the war on terror (the war “of” terror, to be precise).

India continues to dream that it can still stabilize the region and be the hegemon but things are changing with each passing day. Realism assumes nation states to be rational actors but the Indian government, although using the realist lens, is deliberately refusing to understand the changing geo-politics of the region. For the first time in the history of the subcontinent, Pakistan and India have the chance to sit down and normalize relations. Mutual co-operation is the only way that will ease the path towards real economic and political freedom from the World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organization i.e. tools of American imperialism and white supremacy.