A Grand Gathering

The world is no longer the same. So is politics. The ideas and institutions that dominated the fifties and sixties are in a flux. There is a generational shift happening in private and public spheres. There is no longer any consensus in Washington. This is not merely because of the fractured power structure wherein the Republicans captured the Senate and the Congress and the Democrats looked helpless in transforming the American dream into reality. This is because the much publicised American ‘unipolar’ world order is crumbling. And the American hegemony is at risk in more than one conflict zone around the world. But India is a wonderland where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being an ardent apologist of ‘Washington Consensus’, looks determined to keep the ‘American Dream’ burning. American President Barack Obama’s presence as the special guest on the Republic Day in New Delhi, may create some unpleasant ripples in traditional political culture but the emerging political matrix organised around the saffron vision of the world is unlikely to face any flak from the opponents of the Modi government. No doubt Modi and Obama are going to band together for a ‘common goal’ in a very uncommon political environment.

Politicial parties, barring those on the left, are not opposed to Modi’s grandiose scheme of departing from the age-old practice, by inviting an American President for the first time to grace the Republic Day occasion, and address the Indian public, hopefully to give sermon on democracy. But Obama cannot stop Pak shelling across the Line of Control. Nor is he in a position to broker a deal between New Delhi and Islamabad for lasting peace in the subcontinent.

The way the left is reacting to Obama’s mission to Indian Republic, seems ludicrous, if not hypocritical. Their specious argument to oppose Obama’s presence on January 26 in New Delhi is that US has no moral right to talk about democracy because they have done the most to destroy democracy in different nations. It is unethical to extract applause about the biggest showpiece of democracy from an American President who is currently teaching democracy to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. There is nothing new in American policy of sabotaging progressive values that threaten their hegemonic interests throughout the world. Before bombing Iraq to the stone age and pulverising Afghanistan to dust they crippled Vietnam beyond recognition to ‘save democracy’ and liberate that hapless country from the communist tyranny. The communist left in India made loud protests against America’s Vietnam war but their anti-war postures were too shallow to develop a sustained movement against American hegemony and politicise the generation of Vietnam era to rise to the occasion. Even in those days India’s role in the International Control Commission was questionable. The persons in power never really opposed America’s unjust war in Vietnam, notwithstanding New Delhi’s overt inclination towards Moscow.

If anything the left didn’t sincerely fight India’s position on Vietnam in those days. Nor are they serious enough these days to oppose Obama’s brand of democracy. After all Obama is not only the face of American way of interpreting democracy. He is the face of corporate America which matters in Modi’s India. And the left’s anti-American stance is too superficial to motivate the oppressed—the victims of corporate America. In today’s India a human chain to register protest against Obama’s presence on January 26, will have little impact on the prevailing reality that deserves relentless campaign against unlimited loot by American and Western transnationals. The hard fact is that as rulers in two states for a fairly long period official communists were not averse to unhindered and uncontrolled American investments even in core sectors. Their opposition to Obama’s presence on January 26 is anything but token. And this tokenism is basically aimed at playing with the gallery to keep the rank and file in good humour. Obama’s strategists are hell bent on globalising everything on Indian soil. In other words the message of January 26 is that ‘Amway’—the American Way of Life—is likely to spread like wild fire in Modi’s India.

Modi, being a willing promoter of American interests in Indian market is lucky in the sense that he finds his fellow travellers in China, to blunt Indian communists’ anti-American edge. While delivering the keynote address on the occasion of Conference ‘‘India, the US and China in the 21st Century’ on December 13, 2014, organised by the Deccan Herald, the Chinese ambassador to India Mr Le Yucheng explored the huge possibilities of trilateral relations between India, China and the US as the ‘ballast stone’ to ensure the peace and stability of the world, and boost the global economic growth.

Whether it is American President Obama or Russian President Putin, the Chinese position conforms to the spirit of ‘no conflict or confrontation’. To protest against the symbols of American hegemonism without confronting American corporations is sham. Not that India under Modi is too eager to build strategic partnership with America only. It is now conducting strategic business with China as well, much to the surprise of the Indian left. The Hand-in-Hand India-China Anti-Terrorism Joint Training Exercise of India’s paramilitary forces and their Chinese counterparts was held in Pune in November 2014 and the exercise lasted for ten days.

So options before India’s official communists who are overtly or covertly still pro-Chinese as they see in China’s market miracle an aggressive alternative model to follow, are very limited. The presence of Obama means Modi and his men are all set to execute the unbridled free-market ideology of neo-liberalism and the left’s response is so half-hearted that it cannot cross the level of academic discourses.

Vol. 47, No. 28, Jan 18 - 24, 2015