Vision for India



o sane Indian can deny the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh his vision of India emerging as a great power within the next five to ten years. But all great visions need solid political support to be realized. The vision of a great America was created and delivered by the political sturdiness of President Roosevelt. Winston Churchill had his vision for Great Britain which he architected by his deep political insight. Pandit Nehru shaped his vision of India with his unchallenged political might, putting to work a mix of both capitalist and controlled economy, which worked as a panacea for India at that stage. Sardar Patel created and managed a vision of a single Indian State through tactful persuasion couched in determined coercion; a miracle of twentieth century statecraft and diplomacy. He consolidated power from more than 500 bickering princely states of India through persistent persuasion girded by sufficient political coercion. Equally, it was the vision of an agile Indira Gandhi that helped Mukhti Bahini to liberate East Pakistan from the Western Wing and create a new state of Bangladesh. She achieved this diplomatic miracle in the face of tough international opposition and even blackmail by America and China. Equally, her bank nationalization in the face of sharp corporate opposition was an act of stout political will to liberalize flow of funds to the needy, weaker sections of the Indian society in order to establish a firm financial foundation for the country. It is even believed that the Indian economy was insolated and unaffected from the recent World depression of 2008-09 due to the radical measure taken by Indra Gandhi in seventies.

A vision cannot be only an ideal dream. One has to strive hard and take risks to realize it, as all great men of the world, among them the quoted examples, have done. The present Prime Minister of India has every right to nourish his vision of India becoming a great powerhouse within the next five to ten years, given its inherent potential for growth. Like all other patriots he too burns with the desire of seeing India as a resilient power of the World. However, one can not wish away the pain areas which come in the way of achievement of his vision. The Prime Minister’s anxiety to address the current pain areas which beset India is natural and understandable. The problem areas which he has identified are indeed vital and need addressing on priority. The three pain areas which he has identified for immediate thrust are;-

1. Energy shortage
2. Unavailability of modern education facilities to the masses
3. Problematic relations with Pakistan

Energy shortage is indeed the core concern in the development of India. We need to have an energy basket solution which doubles our power generation capacity from the current levels of 130000 Mwts. In order to achieve this our approach has to target a mix of all energy sources that are available in the country. It has to include augmentation methods in both hydro and thermal generation. We shall have to harness solar as well as tidal energy, the potential of which is enormous in the country .We shall also have to harness wind and bio-gas energy from our existing sources. With the Civil Nuclear Deal in our pocket, we shall have to harness sufficient nuclear energy in our power mix. The sources of energy are multiple and opportunities are many. The technology and infrastructure for power generation is already in place in the country. It only needs a determined political will to harness the different sources in a focused manner. But before going forward, sufficient public and private resources are to be earmarked for the purpose. At this stage India has sufficient financial and technological resources to allocate for this pain area provided we are able to muster political will and prioritize properly. Prime Minister has to show his political mettle in this respect and ensure that we are able to double our power generation from our present level by fixing workable targets and rigorously following up to achieve. Would he be able to do so?

The need for empowerment of people through modern education is indeed the next area of our pain. India has a huge population of young manpower which is highly mobile and ready to participate in economic development of this country and other countries of the world. This resource needs to be harnessed and empowered with modern education and technical skills to increase its efficiency and productivity. Though radical reforms in our schooling system have been introduced, these need rigorous and regular oversight and updates based on the experience gained from implementation. The recent goal of Right to Education every child is also a radical step which will open the portals of education to all and thus further broad-base our educational system, one of the largest in the world already. The intent of Right to Education cannot be only restricted to enrolling all eligible children in schools. It also needs to be ensured that drop out and relapse rate is mitigated and school children are empowered with sufficient skills to contribute to their personal productivity and the economic welfare of the country. Huge investments in terms of money, manpower and infrastructure are required. Can our Prime minister muster the political courage to earmark major resources for this core sector so that we are able to come out of our vicious cycle of illiteracy, squalor and poverty? In that case he shall have to deny funds to many vote banks which fritter them for unproductive purposes. Can the Prime Minister afford such political luxury?

The Prime Minister’s irritation regarding matters with Pakistan is understandable. He feels that India has a territorial dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir and India needs peace with Pakistan to be able to attend to its economic needs. We need not make ourselves hostile to a tiny Pakistan which is far smaller in size and significance to us, he believes. So our Prime Minister has adopted a policy of pause, play and pause with Pakistan in evolving our relations.  He feels that the world community does not believe in India when it claims that Pakistan has not done enough to bring the perpetrators of November 2008 Bombay bomb blasts to the book. He also believes that our stance on terrorist perfidy performed by Pakistani actors is not cutting ice with the West and especially with the Americans. So he thinks that there is a need for talks. Dialogue is just a step and not an end in itself; the end being the normalization of relations with Pakistan, He feels that we must engage with Pakistan though it could cost his party dearly in the next elections. He wants to gamble a deal with Pakistan on Kashmir. He estimates that the gains of stabilizing relations with Pakistan can be more while electoral slide can be less. That is why he wants peace with Pakistan to be given a chance in our national interest. In his understanding, Kashmir is a legacy of the 20th century which is irrelevant in the present times when borders have become less important and cross-border cooperation the norm for regional development and prosperity. He wants to engage Pakistan in a meaningful, composite dialogue in order to resolve all issues including Kashmir. In this he hopes that Pakistan will realize that a solution to Kashmir Problem can not compromise Indian sovereignty on it and that there can be no major change in the status quo.

There can be no disagreement with the Prime Minister that we need to normalize our relations with Pakistan but this has to be done with proper military diplomatic calibrations and  after considering ground realities. That is where the Prime Minister’s assumptions seem to be naive because Pakistan’s responses to our suggestions have to come from different power centers in Pakistan that are working at cross roads and cross purposes.

First of all a response has to come from the Jihadi Movement which has dominated Pakistani polity and has a dream design to convert the Valley of Kashmir into Nizam-i-Mustaffa (an Islamic theocratic state). The second response has to come from the Pakistani Establishment which has to retain the trust of the people of Pakistan who unfortunately continue to think that Islamic radical Jihadis of Pakistan morph as freedom fighters once they cross in to the Valley. Despite the tall claims of track two interlocutors that public opinion in Pakistan has veered towards normalization of relations with India after cultural, social and trade exchanges between the two countries, Pakistani people treat all terrorists as liberators for Kashmir though a menace for Pakistan itself. This, even when a stage has come that the monster is eating its own master. It is assumed by Pakistani establishment that tracking down the terrorists will be seen as a betrayal by the Kashmiris and the fanatics among Indian Muslims. There is also the American angle that no withdrawal is possible for America from Afghanistan without the active engagement and even appeasement of Pakistan.  Pakistani response to our dialogue gestures is  trying to leverage its relations with America on account of Afghanistan. Our sincere efforts to seek peace with Pakistan by restoring the stalled , composite dialogue process are being exploited both by Pakistan and America.

The composite dialogue process with Pakistan, which was initiated by India during the rule of General Musharaf at the Agra Summit got stalled after he was eased out of power in 2007. The new regime installed in Pakistan has different power centers and could not cope up with the commitments made by its processor regime. The breakthrough achieved on Sir Creeks Island and the Blue Print on Saichen glacier along with the understanding reached with Pakistan for the resolution of Kashmir dispute fell into cold storage. India too adopted a no dialogue stance post November 2008 Bombay blasts because Pakistan initially denied any involvement of Pakistani actors in the ghastly tragedy. Besides India was unable to locate the powers with whom it could deal as the polity of Pakistan was divided between Khaki, Mufti and an imbecile political structure shared by the flamboyant Yousuf Raza Gilani, mediocre Asif Zardari and shrewd Ashraf Parvez Kayani. Further a million dollar question remains still to be addressed to. Who will and can bind Pakistan to honor and implement the commitments it makes with India? In the past, whether it was the UN Resolution on Kashmir or the Tashkent Agreement on Kashmir, Pakistan has not honored its commitments. Similarly, on the Shimla Agreement and the Agreement for the return of prisoners of the Bangladesh War, Pakistan reneged from its commitments. It is therefore cogent to ask as to who can ensure that Pakistan implements its new commitments if it strikes deals with India.

The Prime Minister’s vision for a new India as a great power though suave and statesman like is not supported by a firm diplomatic and political clout, a pre-requisite to handle issues of such magnitude. Will he be able to achieve backing for the hard decisions required to fulfill his vision  using a team-work and consensus approach even if he is lacking in the department of grass-roots political appeal and personal charisma? That is the question.

*P.N. Ganjoo was born in a modest Kashmiri family about 7 decades ago, lost his father early and was raised by his honest, hardworking mother. With her efforts he received his education in Srinagar and went on to serve in various Government Departments before retiring as a senior grade KAS officer.

Presently he is working on his varied interests besides being a consulting Director of a software services company.

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Comments
Keep on considering ground realities Mr. prime minister.
Added By Sunil Chrungoo
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