India Should Have Balanced Relations With America, Russia, and China Or It Will Cost Them Heavily

By Sawraj Singh

I was asked to be a part of a panel on a Television news channel to discuss Obama’s visit to India. I said that while it is important that India should have good relations with America, yet India should keep in mind that its policies of non-alignment, friendship with Russia, and opening up to China have evolved from its long historical experience and are still relevant. I was surprised to see that some members on the panel felt that the only thing which matters now is to have a strong relation with America, and that the policy of non-alignment and friendship with Russia have become irrelevant.

However, as soon as Obama left, India has realized that those elements of its policy are very relevant. The Chinese media has cautioned India not to fall into the American trap, which is trying to drive a wedge between India and Russia, and India and China. Pakistan is concerned about India’s nuclear treaty with America. It is obvious that Indo-American relations do not exist in a vacuum. The world is interrelated and interdependent. It is true that there is no non-alignment movement today. However, the principle of a balanced relation is still very relevant and important. Indo-American relations have to be based upon the principle of maintaining a balance in the region as well as in the world.

The other countries in the region are feeling that India is tilting toward America and has given up its traditional policy of non-alignment. Therefore, they are taking some countermeasures. India invited Obama to be the Chief Guest at the 66th Republic Day Parade. This was the first time that this happened. China has invited Putin to attend the military parade for the 70th anniversary of victory over fascism. This is also the first time that any foreign leader has been invited to attend this parade. Pakistan sent a high level military delegation to China, where China reassured them of a very close relation between the two countries. Russia is trying to improve its relations with Pakistan. As India is moving away from almost complete dependence upon Russian heavy artillery weapons (during the parade, Obama saw that almost all heavy weapons were of Russian origin), Russia is trying to sell its weapons to Pakistan.

I see two wrong tendencies among many Indians. First, they over-estimate America’s strength. Second, they write off Russia and consider China as India’s enemy. It is true that America is still the most powerful country in the world. However, America is a declining power; its influence is decreasing. This becomes obvious by looking at some recent happenings. Militarily, America is taking a beating in Ukraine. Russia has already taken Crimea. The Russian-backed rebels are on the offensive in Eastern Ukraine and the American-backed Ukrainian government’s forces are on the retreat. The rebels have taken over an area more than 600 square kilometers in the recent offensive. Even the American and western media have declared Russia as the winner in Syria. The American magazine Forbes has declared Putin as the most powerful leader in the world for the second consecutive year. Obama or any other American leader failed to attend the solidarity march in Paris which had 3.5 million participants and was led by 44 world leaders. All of these facts show that these Indians are wrong on both counts. They do not think that America’s influence is on the decline, and they feel that Russia is history and that history has no relevance now.

Similarly, the impression that China is our enemy is not completely true. We have some differences. However, there are many areas where we have identical interests. The biggest of these is the fact that both countries want the present unipolar world order changed to a multipolar world. Both countries feel that the current global institutions represent western domination and American hegemony. These institutions should be changed to reflect the new ground realities. In our relations with China, we should emphasize more our shared interests rather than the differences.

Some Indians are still suffering from a slavish mentality and take opportunist stands toward the West. Bobby Jindal seems to be trying to revive the defunct Melting pot concept. He recently advised Indians to be only Americans rather than Indian-Americans. Obviously Jindal seems to feel that our Indian heritage is more of a liability rather than an asset. It is a good thing that many Indians in America have strongly disagreed with him. India gave the principle of “unity in diversity” to the world. The Melting pot theory rejects this. This theory is now defunct and has been replaced by a salad bowl or a quilt concept in which you do not have to lose your identity to unite, rather the best unity is achieved by retaining and maintaining your identity. To my knowledge, Jindal has never shown any pride in his Hindu or Punjabi origin. I agree that he has every right to choose whatever religion he wants to practice. However, sometimes I get the impression that he is using his conversion to Christianity for political benefit. The time has come that Indians should get rid of their slavish mentality towards America and the western countries.

I feel that America and the other western countries will benefit greatly if people from different cultures enrich them with the best elements of their cultures. Our problem has been that we have been focused too much on economic gains and have ignored our culture and philosophy. There are more than half a million Sikhs in America yet a recent survey has shown that 60% of Americans do not know anything about Sikhs. Some elements of Sikh philosophy are extremely relevant for America today. The concept of unity in diversity and the message of tolerance, love, peaceful coexistence, universal concern, and universal welfare of Sri Guru Granth Sahib can prove to be very useful for America and the whole world. If Indian people will learn from their own history and philosophy, then they will understand the importance of keeping a balance in the relations with other countries, particularly America, Russia, and China. Instead of becoming a party to conflicts, we should help to resolve them.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

Comments are closed