I am happy with the 123 Agreement. The Left has rejected it, of course, and given the PM an opportunity for uncharacteristic firmness. American business will ensure that the US Congress falls in line. For what is Parliament if not an extended arm of big business? In that sense, it was a done deal right from the start. In any case, our power woes would be reduced and we will have cleaner air to breathe. Also, I am exuberant if what Bharat Karnad says is true—that the deal will be off if we test burst a bomb under circumstances Americans don’t approve of. This will stop us from any further testing. Of course, with the IAEA around, it would not remain a secret to the US. This clause will further stymie such efforts. Good for the country. We don’t need tests, we don’t need bombs.
Nitin Pai’s “Why we must export our Islam”, Mint, 10 August, is certainly “out of the box”. I would like to carry the thinking forward.
Morgenthau and Pai’s related thesis seems inappropriate to the exploration of Indian Islam, a valuable cultural asset. Its essence goes back to Akbar, who proactively brought in syncretism and adopted the “many paths” approach of the Indian tradition. This formulation is not about projection of power, but about accommodation.
Nehru’s “Panchasheela” and “non-alignment” has at its root this tradition of accommodation of diversity, through “peaceful coexistence”. Some of its formulations may have lacked rigour. Its deployment was flawed in many ways. The pull of that core idea in non-western cultures cannot be denied. Was that a valid basis for Politics Among Nations? In Morgenthau’s sense, it was not; neither was it for (former US secretary of state) Dulles, and for 20th century western power. Theirs is a “hunter-gatherer” tradition of mono-cultural “winning” and dominance. In thatformulation, politics is about state (or mercenary) power. It discounts diverse peoples’ exploratory and gregarious instincts and their real-life modes ofinteraction.
In this sense, the ability of “great powers to solve giant problems” is deeply flawed. Just look at Iraq. Other “powers” can’t “solve” problems such as militant Islam. Change has to come from within. It may take generations. Meanwhile, cultures such as ours should build on what we inherit. As Gandhi said with such honesty, “be the change you want to see in others”. The crucible is our own part of the world. We share with Pakistan and Bangladesh the sulh-I kul (universal tolerance) inheritance of Akbar. The British put wrong exclusivist ideas in the heads of our people to suit their power game. Let us bring them around to the idea of India. Then, tomorrow, the world.
Re “Markets move from denial to hope”, by Manas Chakravarty, Mint, 11 August, the present crisis in the US, the UK, France, Australia, etc., which is affecting world markets, is not just about liquidity, but insolvency/debt, too. It is a story of a variety of borrowers who borrowed excessively during the boom phase of these countries. Reckless lending practices were used in the subprime class; no down-payment, no verification of income and assets, negative amortization, etc. What can derivatives do when the mortgage property on which they have been derived itself is murky? A liquidity crisis can be quelled by central banks by infusing liquidity (with whatever after-effect in the form of inflation). But an insolvency or debt crisis will have a long-term impact and it will have worldwide implications, too. Yet, we have to wait and watch with fingers crossed. Meanwhile, the US data is showing orders for homebuilders as falling by 30-40% and cancellation rates of booked houses at more than 30%. Some more bloodbath is pending.