History, geopolitics and the Indian predicament

History, geopolitics and the Indian predicament

India may survive the recent events in its capital city and violent turmoil elsewhere in the country as well. Whether Yogi Adityanath’s BJP will survive UP in 2022, and the national party itself, which is really Modi in essence, in 2024, is a moot question. The elimination of their governments will not bring an immediate catastrophe but it will signal the onset of the endgame for India as it has been known for millennia. A treacherous admixture of chaotic government at the Centre, prompting looting that will make the earlier UPA era seem relatively decorous, accompanied by unabashed international intervention, will create havoc in India. There is a strong likelihood of an accelerated transformation of Indian civilization that survived the Ghaznavids, Timur, Aurangzeb, Nadir Shah and the profoundly injurious consequences of British rule for two centuries. Indians immured in parochial self-satisfaction should look around today’s world if they still want to continue to labor under the illusion that such cataclysms are unprecedented.

The sheer mendacious illogic of the protests against the CAA and the proposed NRC and the global reaction to India’s domestic turmoil need laser focus. It is also pertinent to take note of the nature of the protests in Delhi and elsewhere and the possibility of their uncontrollable spread. It suggests that the authorities would have found it challenging to curb them had they actually occurred across the country on a larger scale, especially with some state governments supporting the civil disorder. The use of women and children, the mobilization of important segments of Indian civil society against the elected government, the timidity of its courts and disinformation operations of much of Indian media, combined with the poignant inability of the authorities to cope with the violent truculence, need intense reflection. The upheaval on this occasion was largely limited to one part of Delhi and the government struggled to bring it back under control. The adversaries of a rising India will know what to do next time and surely preparations are already in motion.

The idea that the protests were spontaneous is absurd and all the evidence emerging confirms orchestration by determined adversaries of the Indian Union and the complicity of segments of its civil society and political parties. The two major political parties directly involved are almost certainly in touch with national agencies across India’s international border and one of them is merely a creature of the other, larger party. For the Congress Party, all bets are off because its very survival is at stake and no grave misdeed to reverse its desperate fortunes is ruled out, including the mobilization of Pakistani assets in India that it does not directly control. That such assets exist has now been unambiguously demonstrated and their capacity for action on a large scale and at short notice amply established. Important sections of the media are also unmindful of the implications of their egregious misconduct on the very security of the country. Their motivation may be commercial calculation, direct subversion through bribery of employees by local and foreign agencies and, of course, their very foreign ownership. Another group of the highly suspect are the bureaucrats compromised during the UPA’s plunder, who have now risen to more senior positions, obliged to protect their erstwhile political masters and attempting to undermine the incumbent government in order to do so. The Pakistani interference has been all about the amendment to Article 370, but it is also a trial run for a much bigger future onslaught.

The above is an outline of bare facts but does not explain their relationship to the deep historical forces at play, which will determine the fate of contemporary India and its ancient civilization. I reiterate a point I have made frequently in the past that no political entity and country has ever been territorially secure indefinitely. Those which demonstrate fragility through poor internal cohesion are especially vulnerable to socio-political implosion, impelled by domestic contradictions and foreign intervention. There is hardly any need to point to recent examples like the USSR and the Middle East, and India itself broke up at independence and has never enjoyed unfettered sovereignty over the truncated territory bequeathed to it. Important parts of India only accept nominal membership of the Indian Union to this day, and some of its most prominent parts have taken to periodically threatening secession. Indeed, much of the South is a prime candidate for espousing political sovereignty if the Centre weakens grievously and the benefits of remaining within the Indian Union begin to fade.

One unsurprising but still somewhat dismaying issue during the recent violence in Delhi has been the near-total unanimity in condemnation of India, its political culture and government by academics and the media abroad. What has been significant in their behaviour is the steadfast refusal to take on board facts, arguments and any alternative narrative. Senior members of the professoriate across the Anglo-Saxon world have basically bayed for blood and dramatically incited mobs in India to do their worst, echoing blatant untruths and using their prestige to give them credibility. In private conversation, some pronounced the need to remove Prime Minister Modi by any means. It is true that certain ideological obsessions have become commonplace in the Social Sciences and the Humanities that is not really Marxist in any meaningful sense because the essentials of a Marxist historical purview and unsparing economic evaluation are totally absent. The preoccupation is narrowly and reflexively ‘adversarial’, so to speak. It dislikes authority, economic success, and keenly searches for the disadvantaged on whose behalf cudgels can be taken up although without jeopardising secure lifetime employment and good incomes, very handsome ones in many cases, e.g. elite US universities. In their perception, Jihad with all its gruesome violence appears like some sort of welcome proletarian upsurge that, at the very least has the capacity to shake the status quo, if not replace it with something better.

It is difficult for academic newcomers to diverge from the established ideological consensus of their cohort if they want to remain colleagues with equanimity. Those who seek to adopt a different narrative encounter social boycotts and hindrances to presenting their ideas in seminars because they find it problematic to identify discussants and panelists. Most significantly, publishing in established academic journals which is vital for one’s career proves to be difficult if not impossible. Even superior work can and is turned down, and major publishing houses may refuse to publish. Those assigned to review a submitted book-draft almost invariably subscribe to the prevailing ideological consensus that will deem some discussions beyond the pale. Yet, Left-wing academic prejudices alone do not account for the behaviour of university departments. Their autonomy is unambiguously conditioned and circumscribed by the state in Western countries and ensures conformity with defined national interests. The political loyalties of university academics in the West broadly reflect the imperatives of state policy. Academics engaged in pro forma hand-wringing over Jihad are quiescent over its violent impact when the target is a country against which their state approves it, as in the case of Delhi at present. Yet, tragically, some of the professoriate abroad occupy chairs funded by Indian philanthropists and, in some instances, by the Government of India itself.

The Western media is also intimately intertwined with the political establishment of their states and an overarching consensus exists between them. It is much like the relationship between the state and academia, and indeed between the latter and the Western media as well that allows their activities to be coordinated. This is a characteristic of stable political systems that have created a cohesive social elite over time that occupy the upper reaches of the international political hierarchy. These societies are apt to have clearly defined and articulated national interests, despite any dispute over an incumbent government’s policy choices or a particular politician. Such an underlying consensus may occasionally falter and disagreements might arise over policy, but the core interests of the state will usually ensure cooperation in ultimate behavioural patterns. All these sectors of society unite especially on key policy decisions, or if the integrity and survival of the state are in the least challenged.

Indeed, the Anglo-American national media and academics even colluded with their national governments in their recent sponsorship of ISIS to attempt a change of regime in Syria and turned a blind eye to the horrors of the Yezidi genocide. It illustrates total cynicism and duplicity, with Western academics and the media expressing horror at the unambiguously humanitarian CAA while effectively providing cover for the killings of an entire people and the enslavement of their women by Islamic Jihadis. The British government, for one, subsequently only accepted one solitary Yezidi refugee despite their fate as a people, but has now taken an inflammatorily hostile stance on India’s CAA. British politicians are now demanding India open its doors to tens of millions of Muslims from any country in the world. The appalling contrast of national disunity is of an India where prominent politicians and their parties are not averse to the dismantling of the state if it suits their immediate political interests.

Regime change and bending governments to their will is a routine occurrence in international relations, and Anglo-American governments aspire to subdue India. The dominant motif of interference in India is to gather intelligence to undermine the policies of elected governments, and a constant striving to ensure weak government at the Centre, to better engage in subversion. In this project, Western agencies and their myriad NGOs, operating in India, support dissidents waging war against the Indian state, whether they are Maoist insurgents (US-supported Naxalites in the late 1960s and 1970s) or contemporary Jihadis. As it happens, India’s dire geopolitical challenges have allowed Washington to engage in diplomatic and military cooperation with it, since its own Asian policies depend on access to Indian bases, territory and, potentially, manpower in a situation of actual conflict with China. But that does not mean that India has ceased to become an object of destabilization. Washington knows that the burgeoning relationship with India will remain intact regardless of which political party is in power in Delhi, but it still prefers a weak government at the Centre to wield greater influence over it. The real long-term purpose of the US is to create a constituency within India that will remain reflexively loyal to it, which also provides the rationale for the determined patronage of religious conversion of India’s Hindus to Christianity.

The simultaneity of Donald Trump’s visit to India and the apparent warm embrace of the Modi government with the State Department’s USCIRF, denouncing it for alleged religious intolerance, and the motivated criticism of the CAA illustrate the dual US strategy in relation to India. On the one hand, there is cooperation with the incumbent Indian government to combat the rise of China, and on the other, the goal of advancing Christianity, by cleaving Indian society, remains an intact aim in order to create a permanent Christian constituency loyal to the US and the West. The success of this policy has long been visible in India’s northeast, and it is now advancing at an alarming pace in the south as well, with up to a third of Andhra Pradesh converted to Christianity through the blatant machinations of their protege, the unparalleled evangelist, Jagan Reddy. Anglo-American governments and associated evangelist movements have long understood that an alliance with Islam is the only effective vehicle to keep Indian governments off balance in order to ensure their nefarious political aim of creating a potent Christian constituency in India. Such is the cynical collusion that Indian churches are repudiating the established fact that Christians are persecuted and brutalized in Pakistan in order to join with the anti-Indian Jihad over the CAA.

The global media campaign, in the guise advocating religious freedom and tolerance, is designed to unsettle the Indian government and prevent it from seeking to curb foreign subversion. All of those in India echoing this utterly fraudulent concern, from its purchased media to retired foreign secretaries, are complicit in this war being waged against the integrity of the Indian Union. The Modi government is emphatically not the preferred partner of the US in India, since it is perceived as nationalist and concerned to protect the nation’s sovereignty and minded to curb evangelical subversion; the animus towards Modi dates back to his demonization for opposing religious conversion in the Dang almost twenty years ago, for which Godhra was only a subterfuge. The issue of petrodollars influencing the outrageously partisan print and social media abroad is of minor significance and, in any case, the aspirations of the Saudis and the Gulf states to promote the goal of Ghazwa e Hind converge with that of Anglo-American subversion. The alliance of convenience between Indian Islam and Western evangelism is the key to understanding the support for Jihadi activity against India and its people by the Anglo-Americans.

Four broad areas of policy are suggested by the geopolitical predicament in which India finds itself. The first is effective policies to ensure the re-election of the Adityanath and Modi governments, for which good governance remains the key to mobilise inborn Indian nationalist sentiment to better combat the multifarious conspiracies afoot. A second measure is significant efforts to bolster domestic intelligence and surveillance, and a hard strategy to isolate areas of cities where populations can facilitate what amounts to Jihadi terror, as recent evidence is showing. Everything from physical interdiction of mass population movements, the listing of individual sponsors of terror for instantaneous arrest and total communications closure must be contemplated. Thirdly, although India cannot impact the global narrative against it, though it might espouse the dignity of not funding it, an initiative must be taken to curb the anti-national narrative in its own universities and the media. The least contentious path would be to sponsor selected universities as new centres of the Social Sciences and Humanities, bypassing and eventually downgrading those captured by international and domestic subversives. The JNU model of its hard-left academics creating, through doctoral programmes, the new generation of teachers elsewhere, should be replicated. It will take time to change the narrative, given the paucity of alternative intellectual resources, but a start must surely now be made so that future generations of students do not become victims of crass ideological brainwashing and end up hurling brickbats and demanding the dissolution of the Indian state. Finally, discreet attempts must be made to reach an understanding with China to loosen the Western stranglehold over India’s policy options. But it will endanger the survival of any government of India attempting to do so and great care must be exercised.

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Gautam Sen

Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades.