Selling India Inc. at Davos

The recent surge of patriotic movies and national fervour aside, whenever I go out today, I’m met more by a sense of optimism and hard-work-being-done than the traditional Indian way of treating work as a holiday. My view is of course, extremely myopic, but there is indeed something happening in this country that will make it soon explode into the world scene. Selling India Inc. at Davos is an interesting article on how the attitudes towards India have changed.

War Critique

British MP Delivers Blistering War Critique:

“Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

“You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph’s documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph’s documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 – never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

“And yet you’ve allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.”

I saw this on TV live, and it’s the most amazing defense testimony that I’ve seen to date. John Galloway is a vociferous speaker, and he put the senate commitee in a good damn fix.

Iraq Abuses

The abuses of Iraqi POWs by American troops is a fact. All that remains to be seen is whether the incident was isolated or a systemic (off-topic: I love that word) malaise. While many people will conclude that it’s something best forgotten by a New Iraq, it illustrates what will happen when a country has stressed-out, overworked troops on foreign soil. Even if the people in the country support such a foreign “invasion,” such as the case of the WW-II deployment of American troops to Newzealand to set up a base to attack Japan, tensions will arise, although in that case, it was more the perception of the Marines as randy wife-stealers than anything that harmed American interests.

And for people who think that it’s something happening half-way around the globe that we needn’t be concerned about, think again. [2]

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This one now to top it all. Indo-china competition is nothing new. From a full blown war to differences that span from border issues to space technology, tension certainly isn’t new between the two countries. But unlike the constant tension that underlies every venture with Pakistan, (cricket or hockey or resumption of bus-travel ties) Indians are as a rule, more cautious in their dealings with China with neither side openly hostile. Indeed, in recent times, economic reasons have brought the two countries closer, and a day may yet come when the subcontinent is not a three-way tug-of-war.

But that day is not today. China’s strengths lie in its massive industrial growth in recent years and its huge but cautiously open market that Western investors have started banking on. India has however concenterated its efforts into improving its “information technology” initiatives, and with an advantage in having a massively English-literate population, it is far ahead of China in second tier backends often so much so that some American states had to have new legislation prohibiting outsourcing of jobs. Information technology, however, cannot feed everybody’s mouths and India’s industrial initiatives are far from even being labeled “satisfactory.”

As an Indian, I do have something to add. We have our strengths, but there are always stronger people around. Trying to boss around others (as somebody is doing right now) may not always work. There are a lot of Indians I know who think that we should be the undisputed power in this region of the world. I, for one, do not mind playing second fiddle. To China, to Pakistan, or to any other country which happens to come by. As long as our interests are preserved, false pride should be thrown out the window.

There’s idealism and then there is politics. While I admire many of our foreign policies right now, I do not know how long India will have so an open, considerate government. India does have the power to bully a lot of countries, I just hope it doesn’t do so.