Going down to the wire

Written by Malvika Singh | Updated: Dec 29 2007, 03:52am hrs
Happy new year to you all, laced with the wish and hope that 2008 will bring in its wake cheer, goodwill, good deeds, reconciliations, victories of right over wrong, dialogue, debate and discussion on issues that concern the many as opposed to the few, actions oriented to be inclusive and embracing, a respect for differences and diversity, appropriate priorities and a pledge to refrain from destructive acts, be they in the political sphere, the socio-economic space or in crossborder and cross-cultural exchanges.

The killing of Benazir Bhutto, at her prime, fighting for human freedoms, has made a mockery of the so-called positive political and other interventions the United States of America professes to make in our region, a global area that stretches from West Asia, through South Asia and onto South-east Asia. The turmoil and confusion that stalks this vast expanse stems from the very superficial cultural comprehension that the US has of the regions countries and their priorities, philosophies and needs, all of which are not quite in tandem with the western view of the planet. To be judgmental about ancient, tried and tested cultures and their way of life without adequate if not profound study and therefore understanding, is unacceptable to people. The inability of America to step back to hear and listen, to look and see, to debate and comprehend, has led the larger mass of people on this earth to despise that countrys arrogant political stances.

Will the worlds richest and most privileged democracy care to practise what democracy preaches Will it be inclusive and respectful of what it does not know, if only because an inherent lack of knowledge about others has dumbed down and reduced its approaches and interventions to mere military prowess and futile assaults that have taken countless innocent lives across the economically poorer but intellectually and philosophically richer parts of the globe Will this hitherto arrogant superpower change course at the start of another year and become a catalyst for non-military, peaceful reconciliations Till now, US foreign policy towards nations that consciously choose not to be its subservient partners has been wholly unacceptable, inhuman and brutal. It has given birth to, and nurtured, fundamentalism that has resulted in mindless militancy. It has made the world an unsafe place. It has divided people and countries. It has much to answer for.

The British divided this subcontinent and damaged the fabric of this vibrant civilisation that had lived with diversity and survived many upheavals, and thus weakened a potential regional power that was culturally alien to the western type. Through brute physical force and divisive tools of thought control, British rule wrecked the ethos of the subcontinent so thoroughly that the then local leadership was in such a hurry to break free of colonial bondage that it succumbed to the blackmail to which the engineered conditions of strife lent themselves, and we are still paying the price for it.

Maybe it is time to take another risk. Since militancy and illegality knows no borders, no visas, no permissions and no civilised norms, India should take unilateral action of its own. It should withdraw the need for a visa to come across the border at Wagah. Take the barbed wire apart, allow the movement of ordinary people, make amends by being gracious to families that were split wide open because of the depradations of a retreating colonial regime and the unthinking impatience of incoming inheritors of power, and reverse that tragic mistake. Unite a single, diverse, plural people. That should be the one point agenda that will give the State Department in Washington severe jitters. It is time for us to take on a culturally poorer superpower!

Since the UPA is on shaky ground after the Congresss two poll debacles, maybe it should take some strong and worthwhile decisions during this last lap of its tenure in power at the Centre.

It has nothing to lose other than what it is losing anyway!