India or Pakistan?

It is probably fair to say that India is now all but in name a Hindu democracy ruled by the Hindu Brother-hood which permits non-Hindus to reside with some constitutional protections related to a) specific listing as minorities -muslims, christians, buddhists, sikhs, parsis and jains, b) minority specific civil laws, and c) minority specific institutions with special privileges (for example reservations for minorities but none for OBC/Dalits).

Policy-wise the present govt (unlike a hypothetical UPA-III regime) is likely to put a stop to any affirmative action program targeting minorities (specifically muslims). There will be also stiff barriers put in place to restrict (or even re-capture) conversion from Hinduism (specifically evangelicals). In some way this path is indicated by the recent Intelligence Bureau (IB) advisory against foreign-funded NGOs such as Greenpeace.

While there are vast differences in societies and societal attitudes, all of the above is in line with ethnic-pure enclaves (and initiatives) that are popping up everywhere in the non-Western world. Han-first China, Rohingya-free Burma, Egypt without Copts,…etc. etc. Pakistan is a long declared Islamic Republic (and now a de-facto nation for Hanafi-Sunnis) and Israel calls itself as (and would like to be recognized as) a Jewish democracy.

Given the way the future is shaping up, it will be interesting to speculate on the nature of relationships that will materialize in the long-term between the West led by the USA and Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan (and also Jewish Israel).

Here it may be relevant to mention that Christian influence is rising in the once considered secular West. Prime Minister David Cameron has been crystal clear in his thinking: “UK is a Christian country” and even more significantly “we should not be afraid of saying so. While it may not be remarkable that a Tory public-school educated man is mouthing such a statement, it is astonishing to know that a militant atheist like Richard Dawkins, has described himself as a “cultural Christian” who liked “singing carols along with everybody else”.

While opinions will naturally differ on this we feel that America will be having the most intense interaction with Pakistan and the generous aid regime will continue even past 2014 (Pakistan is already the largest beneficiary of UK aid, all aid to India will stop by 2015). There are two primary reasons: USA wishes to have an influence on the Muslim world (geo-strategic importance, oil etc) and USA is worried about Pak nukes falling into terrorist hands.

With respect to Israel the facts on the ground are that American Jews vote are increasingly put-off by Israel’s apartheid like policies in the West Bank. While America will continue to protect Israel with vetoes, it may be the case that Washington will become detached from Tel Aviv (John Kerry actually used the apartheid word recently) and there will be growing pressure to reduce aid to Israel, even as the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement gathers steam (primarily propelled by as Islam-Left alliance).

With respect to India it is likely that both nations will place the relationship on the back burner. Americans (and non-Hindu expats) will be displeased by evidence of explicit Hindutva policies going forward, in the long run there may even be a BDS movement specific to India (related to Kashmir). The 50% (non-Gujarati) Hindu population in the US is growing but the next generations will grow up increasingly secular and sensitive to charges of persecution against muslims and christians (just as in the case of Israel). There will be most likely a strong evangelical voice (allied with Republicans) also as part of the anti-India lobby. Only  the Gujarati lobby will be standing against this formidable alliance and they will have not much to offer to America politically and precious little more economically.

In contrast, India under Modi will find it much easier to interact with China and Japan (who are not so attentive to human rights issues and who do not have muslim/christian pressure groups asking inconvenient questions). This is in line with the look-East policy declared by the UPA regime. In Afghanistan India may actually ally with a group comprising of northern (Uzbek) establishments and Iran against the wishes of USA. Thus at the establishment level between India and US, it will be a case of “Micro Expectations.”

In summary, as far as Washington and the West is concerned, the following prioritization is probable: Israel > Pakistan >> India (past, now, near-future), and Pakistan > Israel >> India (distant future). Never forget, Nixon all but declared war on India (in support of Pakistan) when he ordered the seventh fleet to move into Bay of Bengal. Declarations of friendship are not worth the (toilet) paper they are written on, it is the permanent interests that matter. India must know this fact and act accordingly.

Brown Pundits