Life is so unpredictable that it is very rare, if at all, that within the week the Indian establishment hits the bull’s eye not once, not twice, but thrice. It actually happened. The resolution of the deadlock in Kathmandu (after months of shadow boxing), the crafting of a new payment mechanism for oil imports from Iran [12% of our total crude imports] and some badly-needed plain-speaking with Colombo together constitute an appreciable display of ’smart power’. It is tempting to conclude that Foreign Secretary’s visit to Kathmandu last month has paid dividends. It is equally tempting to conclude that the stern advice to Colombo to make up its mind what sort of relationship it desires to have with Delhi was rendered not by way of grandstanding in front of M Karunanidhi.
India needs to have a progressive outlook toward Nepal’s transformation and there can be no two opinions that Jhalanath Khanal
is a great choice as prime minister - a rare politician of great experience with a ‘clean’ record in public life, a genuine mass leader and most important, someone with an ‘inclusive’ mind. If anyone can bridge the deep canyons and gorges in Nepali politics today, Khanal can. Kudos also to ‘Maoist’ leader Prachanda for his pragmatism. If US can have a rethink about Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, why can’t we have about the Maoists in Nepal?
The behaviour of Sri Lankan armed forces has always been bestial but against the backdrop of the brutal civil war much was overlooked. India, in fact, has gone out of the way to turn a new leaf with Colombo. That is why, the horrendous killing of the fishermen
is simply not acceptable. True, even in the lowest troughs of India-Pakistan relations, we never came across this sort of bestiality.
What thrilled me, however, is the news that the deadlock over oil trade with Iran has been resolved. The manner in which it has been resolved is extremely significant. Media reports
mentioned that National Security Advisor called a meeting and worked out the parameters of settlement. This is very revealing. The incontrovertible truth is that oil trade with Iran is much, more than a matter of crude imports. It is a strategic template of India’s foreign policy, viewed from many directions. Coming on the heels of the turmoil in the Middle East, hopefully, there is a heightened awareness at the policy making level regarding the crucial importance of India’s relations with Iran. One sure outcome of the MIddle Eastern developments is going to be that Iran’s rise has become virtually unstoppable. Certain countries are pivotal for our foreign policy calculus. Iran is one such country and without a strong understanding with Iran, we cannot really have an effective regional policy - on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, in particular.
Posted in Politics.
– February 4, 2011