Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bangladesh vs. Tamil Nadu

There are many reports that are floating around these days (SAAG, IE, etc.) on how GoI should go the extra mile to be nice to the dispensation in Bangladesh and to make this case, many comparisons are made on how the Govt of Tamil Nadu unduly "interferes" with the Govt of India and directs its foreign policy relating to the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka. I think I should openly label this as an apples vs. oranges comparison.

For one, the Govt of Tamil Nadu (independent of which grouping has been and is in power) intercedes with the Govt of India on behalf of Tamils, a numerically minority group. This numerical minority is not a uni-dimensional religious grouping, it includes Hindus, Christians and Muslims, all who speak the same language and get discriminated by the official polity in Sri Lanka with Buddhism as the state religion, Sinhalese as the de jure language of preference in official transactions, primary preference to the Buddha Sasanas over secular work in terms of Constitutional jurisprudence, etc. This also fits within the secular body politic of the Indian Constitution with no preference for any religion either in terms of internal ruminations or external consultations. In contrast, the minority group that gets discriminated in Bangladesh are the Hindu and Buddhist lot. It is a case where the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution prevents a direct questioning of the credentials of the Govt of Bangladesh (independent of the party in power) and the unfairness meted out to these groups by the official polity in its day-to-day transactions.

Two, every state has the need, capability and intention to lobby the Govt of India on economic matters that could mean a major hit on the revenue collection as well as state-funded projects on the well-being of its subjects. This observation should be obvious if anyone looks at how different states intercede with the Govt of India on price increases for petroleum-based products. With this out of the way, with around 75% of the Tiruppur region economically dependent on the textile/readymade garments sector and with Tamil Nadu contributing approximately one-third of India's readymade garment exports, it is only natural that a distinct Tamil Nadu lobby intercedes with the Govt of India on behalf of the dumping duties and structural (para-tariff) barriers imposed on cheap imports from Bangladesh in conformance with the WTO stipulations. To expect either the Govt of Tamil Nadu or the industrial lobby from Tamil Nadu to not work on behalf of their own self-existence and to bend over backwards to ensure the prosperity of the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh is to expect the moon to come down to earth. Similar trends can be seen in terms of a tea lobby from Assam, a cotton manufacturers lobby from Gujarat and Maharashtra, a mining lobby from Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Karnataka in their respective dealings with the Govt of India. If the Tamil Nadu lobby is expected to put India's foreign policy ahead of its economic sustenance, then the same fairness should be expected of every other lobby in the country irrespective of their regional prosperity (or lack thereof).

Another reason cited for why India should go the extra mile in its relations with Bangladesh is the bonhomie enjoyed by the ruling party in India and the Awami League. Similar bonhomie has been seen in the past when the United National Party combine ruled in Sri Lanka or when the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party ruled in Maldives or when the Nepali Congress ruled in Nepal. Nevertheless, this has not prevented the Indian polity in establishing points of contact and mutual briefing and debating with other parties in these countries, most notably with the Bangladeshi National Party and the Jatiya Party. Nor has it ensured that whenever such ruling combines ruled in these respective countries has India gone the extra mile especially in the recent past (with ground realities and not talking points being the criteria).

When one also cites the fact that Bangladesh handed over wanted terrorists in India as a reason for the extra miling, it goes against the grain of logic that Bangladesh in fact harbored them in the first place. The very fact that these terrorists had found sustenance in Bangladesh for so long, and the dispensations in Bangladesh had all along denied the presence of these very same individuals in their country, and subsequently handed over them to India officially or unofficially should ensure that the logic on going the extra mile because of this very reason a tenuous one.

In short, there are very many reasons to establish cordial relations with Bangladesh and the Govt of Bangladesh. If religious discrimination becomes the talking point, it goes against the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution. If economic interests become the talking point, one has to include the fact that Indian economic policy is not a monolith just as India is not and it is the sum-total of its various parts and any policy initiative should be of mutual benefit to the various parts that make India as well as simultaneously benefit India-Bangladesh relations, if possible. Short of achieving that objective, the priority should lie in keeping the various parts in India happy rather than accord extra mile benefits to the dispensation in Bangladesh. That is just arrant common sense. Personally, a zero-sum game amongst the various parts of India is a possibility with which Indians should have less pain over. But a zero-sum game involving Bangladesh and a state in the Indian Union which is sold as a win for one, a loss for the other and hence, a succor for our strategic interests is the lemon I am unwilling to buy.

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2 Comments:

At July 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

India today has ALL the ingredients for another partition.
Judging by history & the present condition of India....it is not a question of "if" but "when" history will repeat itself.

Good Luck India, with mass religious conversions to Islam & Xtianity. Extreme poverty. Extreme internal & external security challenges. Being ruled by a anti-India Italian waitress & her retard son Raul Vinci, man alive, the list is endless!!!

 
At July 7, 2011 at 12:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

India is a lost cause man....too many problems & very few care. You may as well rename India/Hindustan to LOOTISTAN, until history repeats itself!

 

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