Recent travails of Indian foreign policy
By Amir Ali
Indian foreign policy was never a success story at best of the times. What made it bearable was the Nehruvian practice of non-alignment which kept it from slipping into a debacle. Since mid-80’s, a systematic ‘deconstruction’ of that policy has started. It gained momentum during the regime of Narasimha Rao, who did all the spadework for the rise and triumph of the Sangh Parivar in the sociopolitical arena.
The present Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose diplomatic and foreign policy skills were praised sky-high by the adoring media and junket-loving editors, and his able deputy Jaswant Singh, the Minister for External Affairs, have finally brought it to a level of comical servility to the US such as has not been seen before, at least since India became independent in 1947. India and Pakistan competing desperately to get US favours is one of the most tragicomic sights in the international arena. Not many countries around the world are amused by it.
Not very far from South Block, where the Indian foreign policy mandarins sit, in Basti Nizamuddin lies Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869), Urdu poet, whose wise counsel seems to have fallen on deaf ears:
Chaak mat kar jaib be-ayyaam-i gul
Kuchh udhar ka bhi ishaara chahiye
(Do not start tearing your shirt into rags, o lover! Spring season is nowhere near!
Do not tear your shirt, it is not spring yet.
A true lover must wait for the appropriate signal.)
Note: In the traditional thematic patterns of Urdu and Persian love poetry in general and ghazal in particular, spring (bahar or mausam-i gul) is the season of madness for the desperate lover. Come spring, and the archetypal lover would routinely be seen tearing his (her) jaib or gareban (collar, shirt, top, etc.)
The clever courtier (Jaswant Singh of royal ancestry) and ‘imprisoned poet laureate’ (i.e., Kaidi Kaviray, nom de plume of Shri Vajpayee who claims that poetry is his first love) would do well to look into the pages of Divan-i Ghalib for some solace, if not for any clues. The way they have conducted Indian foreign policy in recent times is best described here:
Ham hain mushtaq, aur voh bezar
Ya ilahi, ye majra kya hai!