Modi, the eloquent speaker, understandably dwelt on domestic affairs during his address to the nation on 15 August 2017 and brushed briefly on India’s relations with her neighbours. The subcontinent is plagued by separatist movements, farmers’ dissatisfaction, minorities’ protests, clamour of the displaced for compensation and horse trading among antagonistic political parties for control over states. The Indian Prime Minister is confronted with challenges that have been threatening the world after the breakup of the Soviet Union with the rise of fascism, nationalism and ethnic supremacy such as those that have visited Charlottesville in the USA.
India’s relationship with its neighbours are at its lowest ebb. There is sabre-rattling with China in Doklam but Bhutan which should be more concerned has kept silent. So are Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, two countries thought to be all-weather friends. In a war game scenario, a respected commander of the Indian Army believed that in case of a war with China, both Pakistan and Bangladesh would open two different fronts against India for the simple reason that the check-book diplomacy of China is paying and India is no match of China in this policy.
It is in the interest of Mauritius that there is peace in South East Asia. 70% of Mauritians are of Indian origin and an important number of economic players originate from China and both these Asian giants are our cash machines.
Sober voices are rising both in India and Pakistan for a peaceful neighbourhood. Indian and Pakistani artists have joined voices to sing in duo their countries’ national anthems and messages of congratulations have been exchanged by VVIPs on both sides of the divide. And within India, retired army chiefs, artists, writers and politicians are crying in unison “India is united by blood. Share it. Don’t spill it”.
Our ardent wish should be that the belligerents don’t succumb to madness and lose their senses.