Date: 06 May 2008


Date: Tuesday, May 6, 2008, 12:51 PM


South Asian Analysis Group

- Dr. Subhash Kapila 
South Asian Analysis
The following SAAG Papers of the Author provide the contextual background for this Paper: 
“India’s Foreign Policy Under Leftists Siege” Paper No. 1603 dated 8/11/2005 
 “India’s Foreign Policy (2006) Stands Communized and Communalized” Paper No. 1892 dated 26/07/2006 
Introductory Observations 
Future Indian historians when reviewing India’s foreign policy would not be inaccurate if they term the period under the present Congress Party led UPA Government (2004-2009) as one of the shoddiest episodes in India’s diplomatic history. 
Never has India’s foreign policy been held so hostage and dictated in imperious terms by a coalition member of India’s ruling political combine as the Leftist parties have done during the present Congress Party-led Government.  Furthermore, the Leftist parties are not even part of the Government and only provide political support to the Government from outside.  The pro-China Communist Party (Marxist) in short the CPI (M) as leader of the Leftists group have severely mauled India’s foreign policy in these last four years. 
Never before a political party leading a coalition government has caved-in so abjectly on India’s foreign policy to a small political group as the Congress Party has done.  The main reason for doing so was the sheer mathematics of the political survival of the Congress Party in power in New Delhi.
In this process India’s national security interests stand overlooked and sidelined as India’s foreign policy formulations, attitudinal preferences and projections were compromised at CPI (M)’s behest so as not to ruffle their political sensitivities and preferences.
It is a poor reflection on India’s global image when major powers of the world analyze and size-up India’s potential to emerge as a global power and conclude that India’s foreign policy is not being determined by its national security interests but by the pseudo-ideological agenda of the Leftists.
The CPI (M) to camouflage its vicious hold on India’s foreign policy tried to justify it that it is being prompted to adopt this line purely to protect India’s traditional non-alignment postures. 
There is nothing of “non-alignment” in their foreign policy postures and keeping the Congress Government under siege on foreign policy issues.  It is only a fig leaf.
The stark reality is that the CPI (M) is a pro-China political party and has proximate inter-action with the Chinese Communists.  Analytically, as reflected in the Papers quoted above, there seems to run a streak which seems to suggest that the CPI (M) is furthering China’s strategic interests rather than being influenced by India’s national security interests.
Before examining how badly has India’s foreign policy been mauled by India’s Leftists, it would be pertinent to reproduce two observations this Author had made in 2004 when the Congress Party-led coalition government took over.  These observations were made in a Paper entitled “India’s New Government and its Foreign Policy Options (SAAG Paper 1049 dated 07.06.2004) and read:
“India’s foreign policies cannot be made captive to the delusional non-alignment gladiators or India’s Communist Parties who have never been known for their objectivity or to India’s minority Indian Muslim vote banks where every issue is viewed in a Pan Islamic context”. 
“Regrettably, the new Indian Government led by the Congress Party and through its flip flop and ill considered statements has given indications that it is all set to undo the foreign policy gains of India in the last eight years.” 
Four years down the line the observations still stand pertinent. 
India’s foreign policy today stands severely mauled by India’s Leftists and primarily by the CPI (M) especially when it comes to the United States, Nepal, West Asia and Pakistan.  This Paper attempts to examine the following aspects: 
United States – India Strategic Partnership: The Vehement Indian Communists Opposition 
Nepal as “India’s Buffer State” Gifted to China’s Orbit Under CPI (M) Influence 
India’s West Asia Policies: The Communists Pressures 
Pakistan: The Indian Communists Hypocritical Silence on Indian Government’s Toeing the United States Line 
The “China Prism” in CPI (M) Dictates on Indian Foreign Policy Formulations 
United States – India Strategic Partnership: The Vehement Indian Communists Opposition 
The United States-India Strategic Partnership initiated by the BJP Government at the turn of the millennium in 2000 was the advent of the inevitable.  That its momentum was carried forward by the present Congress Government indicated that this strategic partnership enjoyed bi-partisan support and was popular with India at large. 
From 2000 to 2004 the CPI (M) and its Leftists allies could not stop the BJP Government from moving ahead with the strategic intensification of the US-India partnership. 
The CPI (M) led Leftists combine came into their element in opposing the US-India Strategic Partnership only after the Congress Government came into power in mid 2004.  Convenient handles to project their vehement opposition to this strategic partnership emerged in 2005 with the Congress Prime Minister signing the Indo-US Nuclear Deal at the historic July 18, 2005 US-India Summit in Washington.  This was in addition to signing other economic and defense agreements. 
The picture today is that the Indo-US Nuclear Deal stands stalled and paralyzed for the last one year even after the text had been finalized.  The Leftists have threatened that they will bring about the downfall of the Congress Government, should it sign the finalized deal.  The opposition and the blackmail of the CPI (M) stands amply covered in the media and so also the succumbing of the Congress Party. 
The CPI (M)’s hatred of the United States is virtually pathological and akin to the attitudes of China towards the United States. 
Somehow, it seems coincidental that the CPI (M)’s holding the Congress Government hostage on the strengthening of the US India Strategic Partnership coincides with the emergence of open Chinese criticism of the growing strategic content in the US-India Strategic Partnership.  Why were the CPI (M) and its allies not that vocal and prominent in their opposition during the period 2000-2004? 
It has been repeated in my Papers ever since 2000 that India’s rise to a major power status can be facilitated by the United States only and not despite or in opposition to the United States.  The US-India Strategic Partnership was and is the main vehicle to attain India’s aspirations. 
A vibrant US-India Strategic Partnership is not a threat to anyone.  It makes India strong strategically and has not evoked any criticism from other global powers, except China. 
China’s national security interests dictate that the emergence of a strong and powerful India is not in China’s interests as it could challenge China’s primacy in Asia, particularly. 
If that be so, should the CPI (M) and its allies second China’s national security interests of keeping India strategically weak or otherwise? 
The CPI (M) as on date seems successful in keeping the US-India Strategic Partnership as a captive to their pro-China agenda to the strategic detriment of India. 
Nepal as “India’s Buffer State” Gifted to China’s Orbit Under CPI (M) Influence 
The forthcoming emergence of a Nepalese Maoist Government in Kathmandu can be viewed as India’s biggest foreign policy failure after Nehru’s gifting of Tibet, yet another buffer-state to China in 1950.
Nepal as India’s buffer state gifted to the Chinese orbit resulted from the Congress Government allowing its Nepal policy to be determined by the CPI (M) leaders Prakash Karat and Sita Ram Yechury.  India’s foreign policy on Nepal was virtually out-sourced to the CPI (M) by the Congress political leadership. 
It was under CPI (M) political pressure that Nepalese Maoists were facilitated and accorded a participatory role in Nepal’s political space.  What the Maoists leader Prachanda could not achieve (political power) in a decade of violent insurgency was handed over on a plate to him by India courtesy the CPI (M). 
A host of other subjective factors came into play in India’s handling of the Nepal crisis at a crucial juncture.  India’s ruling establishment was not too fond of the Nepalese Monarch, especially India’s first External Affairs Minister in the present Congress Government.  The present External Affairs Minister owes his first elected seat in Parliament to the CPI (M) political support to a large extent and cannot but be beholden to them. 
Neither the present Government nor the CPI (M) have ever elucidated how the emergence of Nepalese Maoists in power in Kathmandu serve India’s national security interests?  If India’s national security interests are not served why did the Indian Government not check-mate the coming into political power of the Nepalese Maoists? 
Yet another state on India’s periphery strategically sensitive for India’s national security interests, has been allowed by faulty policies to fall into the Chinese orbit. 
India’s West Asia Policies: The Communists Pressures 
On emerging as the main coalition partner of the Congress Government in 2004, the Indian Communists started exerting significant political pressure on India’s foreign policy establishment to revert foreign policy to the old mould of markedly pro-Arab and anti-Israel line. 
The Indian Leftists once again donned the garb of India’s “traditional non-alignment” line which in any case earlier was heavily titled towards the Arabs and was not non-aligned.
The Leftist parties stance was again hypocritical.  It had nothing to do with non-alignment.  The prompting impulses were to satisfy the overwhelmingly large Indian Muslim vote banks in West Bengal which time and again have brought the Leftists into political power.  It was also intended to please Indian Muslims in the rest of India who provided thousands of demonstrators for the Leftists anti-US agitations as was noticeable during President Bush’s visit to India.
For a time Israel too was disconcerted and as a riposte to any change in Indian policy for the first time ever provided an opportunity to General Musharraf for Pak-Israel dialogues. 
Fortunately, this brought sense to the Indian foreign policy establishment and Israel-India strategic relationship was not allowed to deteriorate. 
The Leftists while espousing a re-cast of Indian foreign policy from its Israel tilt conveniently forget that during the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan it was Israel which flew in dozens of sorties to quickly make up India’s depleted military inventories. 
But then once again the Leftists foreign policy pressures were not being determined by India’s national security interests but by the Leftists political vote banks. 
Pakistan: The Indian Communists Hypocritical Silence on Indian Governments Toeing the United States Line 
Indian foreign policy in Pakistan under the present Congress Government has had the significant distinguishing feature of a one point agenda.  This one-point agenda was to faithfully toe the Washington line on Pakistan, namely that the perpetuation in power of General Musharraf had to be ensured at all costs.  It was a strategic imperative for USA and India even ignored the democracy movement in Pakistan to follow the US line. 
Strangely, the Indian Communists seem to have maintained a hypocritical silence on India’s patently pro-US foreign policy stance on Pakistan.  The CPI (M) has publicly avowed that it is against any pro-USA Indian foreign policy.  Then why the CPI (M)’s  tacit acceptance of India’s pro-USA  foreign policy on Pakistan? 
The answer lies in the fact that in terms of Pakistan there was a coincidental convergence between USA and China that General Musharraf as the military dictator should reign at the helm of affairs in Pakistan.  By extension therefore, since it served China’s strategic interests then an Indian pro-US line on Pakistan which also served the Chinese line had to be accepted. 
Hence the lack of any CPI (M) criticism of India’s Pakistan foreign policy and the hypocritical silence on the same. 
The “China Prism” in CPI (M) Dictates on Indian Foreign Policy Formulations
The CPI (M) and its Leftists allies never had a say in India’s foreign policy formulations so far.  They did make protests and organized agitations more specifically under the usual Communist labels of “anti-imperialism” against the United States.
For the first time in Indian diplomatic history the CPI (M) and its Leftist allies occupied the commanding heights by virtue of being the main coalition partner to dictate foreign policy formulations in the Congress Party-led UPA Government.  They were given a disproportionate prominence in foreign policy formulations with only 60 seats in an over 500 member Lok Sabha.
The Leftists foreign policy domination would have been a good thing for India provided it was solely determined by India’s national security interests and India’s national good.
Regrettably, as the above review indicates that the Indian Leftists stances on foreign policy and specifically those of the CPI (M) were being determined by their viewing every issue through the “China Prism”.
The marked feature of their foreign policy thinking like China, has been a strident line against the United States and pathological dislike of the United States.  By extension countries close to USA like Israel, Japan etc are criticized and countries having anti-US stances like Iran etc are favoured.
The Leftists seem to ignore that within India there is a strong anti-China sentiment and India-at-large views China as India’s “Threat Number One”.  Have the Leftists ever wondered about the piquant situation that they are in particularly in relation to Indian public opinion?
Well it seems that they don’t seem to be bothered as long as there is a pliant Congress Government to give them a dominance to hold India’s foreign policy captive.
Concluding Observations 
Fortunately for India, the Indian public will never give the Indian Communists a mandate to govern India.  Their moment of glory to dominate India’s foreign policy formulation appears to be limited to the tenure of the present Congress Government. 
However, damage has been done to India strategically by the permissiveness that was given to them by the Congress Government to hold captive India’s foreign policy processes divorced from India’s national security considerations. 
Concluding, a few lessons which the Indian polity must learn.  Firstly, any coalition Government to pre-empt the type of Communist take-over of Indian foreign policy should ensure bi-partisan support for foreign policy initiatives.  Secondly, the main political Opposition Party (presently the BJP) should have more than vocal and highlighted at every conceivable forum the damage that was being done by a foreign policy captive to external interests to India’s own national security interests. 
Both the ruling Congress Party and the Opposition BJP failed on this count.