21st Century Equivalent of 19th Century British…

In our article Why Does India Tend to Collapse So Often, we alluded to the Indian tendency (over the last 1,000 years) to remain completely oblivious to events that are happening in their neighborhood, even events that, within a relatively short period of time, would end up being disasters for India. Over the past 1,000 years, Indian leaders remained complacent, clueless and utterly ignorant of dangers that were rising for India . When the danger became obvious and India faced an invasion, the Indian leaders were caught unprepared. Then they gave up and surrendered.

This pattern has not only continued after India’s Independence in 1947, it seems to have grown stronger. The British looted India of all its wealth. A country that accounted for 24.44% of Global GDP in 1700 was systematically looted and left as a pathetically impoverished country by 1947. But in 1946, British India was in an unparalleled geo-strategic position. It’s reach and supremacy extended from the Persian Gulf, across all the Himalayan range to Myanmar and to the Malacca Straits.

Unfortunately, the leadership of Independent India turned out to be worse than the Indian Kings of the last millennium. First, the Indian leaders surrendered to idea of western and eastern regions breaking away to form Pakistan and now Bangladesh. You could forgive this under the assumption that it was the price they had to pay for freedom.

But in those negotiations Nehru unilaterally gave away Pashtunistan or the North-West Frontier Province despite the requests from the Pashtun leader Abdul Gaffar Khan to be a part of the new India. After Independence, Nehru did not even contemplate taking back important territories that had been given away to Pakistan and Bangladesh. On the contrary, in act of unparalleled stupidity, Nehru refused to allow the Indian Army to take back the half of Kashmir that Pakistan had occupied. Then Nehru gave away Tibet to China without any protest and then watched impotently while the Chinese Army annexed Aksai Chin, the part of Ladakh that allows land access to Pakistan through Pakistani-occupied Kashmir.

If Nehru was the weakest Indian Prime Minister, his daughter Indira Gandhi was the toughest and strongest. But like almost all Indian leaders of the past millennium, Mrs. Gandhi displayed a complete lack of understanding of the near future. The nation of Bangladesh was born entirely because of her determination and the power of the Indian Army. Any leader with foresight, for example any Chinese leader, would have negotiated a long term lease for Bangladesh ports in the Bay of Bengal. Such a foresighted leader would have negotiated a land swap near the Tibetan border to broaden the Indian connection to Assam and the Indian Northeastern states. Indira Gandhi did not because like the old Indian Kings, she had no clue how smart and focused leaders think ahead.

Smart and focused leaders like China’s. Why do we say so? Watch the seven minute video below from Robert Kaplan of Stratfor, the author of “Monsoon”, the now definitive book about the future of the Indian Ocean.

Titled China’s Port Expansion in the Indian Ocean, this video describes the far sighted moves China’s leadership is making to establish ports that will be instrumental for China’s maritime, commercial and naval goals. Mr. Kaplan says:

  • “We are seeing the very early stages of sort of the 21st century equivalent of the 19th century British coaling stations that will give China a two-ocean presence, the Western Pacific plus the Indian Ocean and part of the eastern Mediterranean. This is how empires have always begun in history.”
  • “To sum up. I would say that Sri Lanka and Myanmar are now, Gwador (in Pakistani-occupied Balochistan) is for the middle and distant future and Bangladesh & Kenya are for sort of the near middle future…”

So the port of Chittagong, the port that commands the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal and overlooks the access to the Malacca Straits, the port that Indira Gandhi could have leased for the Indian Navy in 1971, could be leased to China in the “near middle future”.

(location of Chittagong – src wikipedia – annotation ours)

The Indian Intelligentsia, a misnomer if there ever was one, is blissfully unaware of this long term danger.

We hear from informed and sensible people that the newer Indian leaders, chief ministers of northern Indian states, are leery of foreign capital because they remember the history of the East India Company. The Indian media is also hung up on the “imperialism” fight.

These so-called ‘educated’ Indians seem unable to understand or remember that history does not repeat itself. Instead it rhymes. Today’s East Indian company is not Britain or America. It is the Chinese Capitalist State. And today it is surrounding India from the sea just as Britain surrounded India in the 18th century.

An adjacent article on this Blog describes how ‘educated’ Indians have surrendered the name “Indian Subcontinent” in favor of the neutral “South Asia”. They congratulate themselves for respecting the feelings of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The above video by Robert Kaplan shows how this Indian ‘gesture’ is being reciprocated.

The above video also introduces the term “Afro-Asian” to describe the sea routes that connect African states on the Indian Ocean to South Eastern Asia and China. So we ask, how long will it be before India’s leaders, India’s intelligentsia give up the name Indian Ocean for the neutral Afro-Asian Ocean.

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