Doesn’t ManMohan Singh Understand what America, China, Ashok, Dileep-Kalidas & Even Tom Friedman Understood?

Prime Minister ManMohan Singh is reputed to be a good economist. His only claim to real accomplishment depends on the economic reforms he led in 1990s under the directive of then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Today he is trying to improve India’s economy by developing trade with NonPakistan & by deepening trade with China.

His vision is simple. He believes that if NonPakistan has deep trade relations with India, if NonPakistani economy benefits by trading with Indian economy, then the leaders & people of that unfortunate regime will drop their animosity and peace will follow. His thoughts with China are similar. That is why he was so willing to overlook the recent Chinese intrusion into Ladakh and focus on the larger trade & investment relationship with China.

ManMohan Singh is not necessarily wrong. He is trying to follow the American model. Germany and Japan used to be martial societies that went to war for conquests. America redirected their aggression towards the financial and economic sphere. America achieved this by offering its large economy, the large American market to Germany and Japan. So Germans & Japanese devoted their energies to building products for export to the vast American market. Their economies recovered from the destruction of WWII and flourished. America also won and became the most prosperous society on earth with the highest standard of living.

This is the economic model Prime Minister Singh dreams about for NonPakistan & India. He is not wrong. Unfortunately, his understanding is incomplete and partial. He misses the central foundation of the American model, the absolutely critical factor that leads to the success of the American model.

Today the world’s
financial system is based on the U.S. Dollar and American innovation is
the envy of the world. But even the most liberal pacifist American
voices understand, really understand that all this depends on American
military might. Read what Tom Friedman, their doyen, wrote in the New York Times 14 years ago:

  • “McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of
    the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon
    Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy
    and Marine Corps.”

But ManMohan Singh doesn’t understand this. The real tragedy is that he does not even understand Indian history.  He does not have to look far. Why doesn’t he simply look at the Indian flag in his office?


At the center of the Indian flag is the Ashok Chakra, the symbol of Ashok, one of the greatest emperors in world history. Ashok converted to nonviolence and became the greatest advancer of Buddhism in the known world. Ashok is also famous for his establishment of universities, for building roads and for economic development of his vast empire. ManMohan Singh probably understands this and approves of it.

But ManMohan Singh doesn’t understand the real foundation of Ashok’s success. Ashok began doing his economic work AFTER he conquered his empire with military might. Ashok won every war he fought and some with brutal use of military power. That gave him unquestioned respect and authority which he put to use for peace and economic & civil development.

America did exactly what Ashok did. America won WWII with its military might. And America used this might in a brutal manner when needed. Look at the pictures of Dresden in Germany after carpet bombing by the American air force. America dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan to force their surrender. America’s military victory was the singular factor in establishing Pax Americana. Then, like Ashok, America used this power wisely for the economic development of Europe and Asia.

ManMohan Singh is a quiet, peaceful man who likes to quote Urdu poetry, poetry that derives its culture from Persia. It is possible that ManMohan Singh has never bothered to study real or pre-colonial Indian culture. We say this because we have never heard ManMohan Singh ever quote a Sanskrut verse.

Ever man, woman, child in India knows Ramayan, the great epic that lives in their hearts and minds.  ManMohan Singh certainly knows about Ramayan and the story of Bhagvan Shree Ram. He also knows about Kalidas, reputed to be the greatest poet in the history of the world. But we are certain that he doesn’t know the following verse by Kalidas about the great Emperor Dileep, the great-great grandfather of Bhagvan Shree Ram:

His military was integral to him; He had two means of achieving his goals,
intelligent discourse based on logic-science or with the string of the Bow
[meaning his military]Raghu-Vamsha I.19

This is exactly how great societies operate. This is also how societies that aspire to greatness operate. This is what China did last month in Ladakh. China wanted India to stop building up its defenses in the strategic sector of Depsang in Ladakh. When India didn’t listen to their arguments, China sent a military incursion and provoked a military confrontation. Prime Minister Singh’s government went into a panic and agreed to withdraw Indian army from India’s own territory to appease China.

ManMohan Singh is now desperate to build deep economic ties with China, draw in Chinese capital into India and help Indian economy grow. This is consistent with his conviction that deep economic ties deliver peace and reduce military competition. Unfortunately, like all dreamy wistful Indian leaders of the past 1,000 years, Prime Minister Singh is utterly blind to reality, even reality that stares him in his face.

The ties between China & Japan are vast and deep. Japanese investment in China far exceeds the fondest of hopes he has for Japanese investment in India. But China has proved willing to destroy its huge economic relationship with Japan and even threaten war with Japan for the sake of a few desolate islands in the sea between China & Japan. The Chinese leaders whipped up nationalist passions against Japanese companies like Toyota & Honda in their confrontation with Japan. This happened last year, not in the last century or in previous millennia.

Yet, ManMohan Singh remains utterly blind to this Chinese reality. And he remains blind and deaf to what is likely to happen with NonPakistan. That regime continues to be dominated by the NonPakistani military for its own benefit. No trade, no economic benefit will change the behavior of the NonPakistani military class. In fact, any improvement in finances will first be used to acquire weapons to kill Indians.

Look what China did. The past 10 years saw enormous flow of funds into emerging markets. Both China & India received foreign capital in numbers they had never seen before. How did these two countries use these funds? Today, Chinese military is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was in 2003. China is using its prosperity to build a massive military machine, one that can dominate all of Asia and the Indian ocean.

In contrast, Indian airforce has fewer squadrons today that it did in 2001. The gap between the power and reach of Chinese military and Indian military is far wider today than it was in 2003. In fact, it is becoming so wide that Indian military leaders are deeply worried. But Prime Minister ManMohan Singh remains blind and complacent. Listen how he proudly described his vision in his party report last week:

  • “UPA is working to realize your dream of an economically resurgent, socially just India.”

There is no mention of military strength or power in his report or speech. That is because ManMohan Singh still does not know what America knows, what China now knows, what Britain knew 250 years ago, what Emperor Ashok knew 2,200 years ago and what Emperor Dileep knew 4,000 years ago – that economic strength is built on the foundation of military power and the will to use it.

So Prime Minister Singh, just look at a picture of the original ManMohan, will you? He mesmerized the world with His flute but also carried the Sudarshan Chakra in His hand. That is why India was great in His era.

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