Vanaik does not offer any explanation as to why India should be concerned with “securing justice” for Iraqis, Palestinians and others in west Asia. Why should India not, for example, fight to secure justice for Tibetans, Taiwanese, Myanmarese, Darfuris, White Zimbabweans, Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority or Europe’s Muslims? It turns out that India’s reluctance to fight for the rights of the world’s oppressed people is not limited to conflicts that involve America for its allies. Indeed, it is clear that India’s policy towards these conflicts is driven not by moral principles but by an astute determination of, well, its own national interest.
The contention that any nation should act in its national interest might seem to be a no-brainer but at times we are faced with exhortations by moralistic idealists oblivious to ground realities and real national interest. Nitin Pai, one (rather THE) of Indian blogosphere’s astute politico-bloggers has a classic rebuttal [PDF link] (also in EPW Mag) to Achin Vanaik’s article in Economic and Political Weekly titled, National Interest: A Flawed Nation, Indian Foreign Policy since 1991.
The opposition to Nitin’s stance is not because of unrecognized so-called moralistic priorities but mostly from people uncomfortable with India cozying up with the United States who wouldn’t have uttered a peep if it was China or Russia instead. The year 1991 is important because it was the juncture at which India faced economic disaster and was rescued only after opening up its economy. So if we had stuck to our ‘moral ground’ and not ‘succumbed to the capitalistic devils’, we would still be waiting for that elusive phone line [via] let alone an Internet connection. The shift to a more capitalistic-friendly political climate wasn’t due to any shift in ideology, it was simply rooted in economic reality. Change or perish. Thankfully, we opted to change.