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Dr. Chris Ogden is biased, let’s expose him

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Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Bimal Prasad Mohapatrahttp://www.trident.ac.in
Columnist is a Senior Research Fellow in Defense Research and Studies (DRaS), Faculty of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institutions, Bhubaneswar, and author of novel "Travails of LOVE" and "Bimal's ANAND MATH". He writes column on Geopolitics, Indian Politics and Media for MyVoice.OpIndia, DRaS, The Kootneeti, The Diplomatists, The Avenue Mail, Delhi Post, Orissa Post, Outlook Afghanista, The Manila Times, etc. And also Moderated Panel Discussion on Geopolitics, Politics and Media

(This is a rejoinder to the conversation held between John Pollock, Editor-9DASHLINE and author Dr. Chris Ogden, University of St. Andrews, Scotland-UK and published under the title “In Conversation: Chris Ogden on China and India” in the Europe based online magazine 9DASHLINE on 23 March 2021)

Editor John Pollock: Your 2017 book China and India: Asia’s Emergent Great Powers explored the history of both India and China with a focus on the values and identities of these two emerging powers. What drew you to write the book and was there anything surprising for you about the norms that drive their foreign interactions? 

Dr. Ogden’s reply: (He told among other facts) Both Beijing and New Delhi want a multipolar world order and importantly, both are suspicious of the international system and its gatekeepers.

My rejoinder: Yes that both are suspicious of the international system and its gatekeepers. But since the advent of socialist politics in the world under the leadership of Moscow in early 20th Century, it was never felt that socialists believe in multipolar world order. Under the Warsaw Pact, the member states were never multipolar like seen under NATO Pact. They were never allowed to have different opinion on any international issue. As per Brezhnev doctrine 1968, Soviet foreign policy proclaimed that any threat to socialist rule in any state of the Soviet bloc in Central and Eastern Europe was a threat to them all, and therefore justified the intervention of fellow socialist states. And the other major socialist state of the time then that was China was not part of Warsaw Pact because of differing perception on multipolar world order, and they were neither together as per established multipolar world order.

But, New Delhi believes in multipolar world order which has been demonstrated when its leadership went on leading Non-aligned Movement, SAARC, etc. in which member states are free to have independent opinion on international issues and allowed member states’ memberships in other multilateral world organizations.

Editor John Pollock: How do India and China’s respective political systems inform the conduct of their foreign policies? Are there similarities in the conduct of both states at the international level despite their differences?

Dr. Ogden’s reply: While China is authoritarian and India is largely democratic, there are autocratic tendencies within both systems and a very small group of people dictate foreign policy in each state. He gave the example of Atal Bihar Vajpayee who while going ahead for Nuclear Test in 1998 had not included his own Defence Minister in the close loop, which is as per Dr. Ogden ‘power is therefore highly concentrated’in India.

My rejoinder: Over this issue, I think Dr. Ogden has no idea of the problem. In mid-1990s, the then PM P.V.Narasinha Rao had made an attempt to conduct N-Test, which was very imperative for India’s self-defence when nuclear power China was clandestinely helping Pakistan building her weapon of mass destruction -and both China and Pakistan had fought wars with India- was leaked to West by his own cabinet minister, and plan was dropped under pressure from Clinton Administration. It does not mean Vajpayee had no trust on his own defence minister who was of course not from his party BJP in the coalition government. Vajpayee had informed about the program to DM George Fernadez on May 9, two days before the test.

Going further on foreign policy, Ogden said, “….they (China and India) are not interested in exporting their political systems to other countries. Both believe in the principle of non-intervention in international affairs.”

My rejoinder: Completely fallacious observation! Has China not exported her version of socialism to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and South Korea? This observation deserves to be relooked by Dr. Ogden for his better understanding of South East Asia socialist politics. Latter both China and Vietnam fought 1979 war. Despite that, there is strong political tie up between two socialist countries’ ruling parties.

Yes, in case of India, she is reluctant for intervention in other countries unless asked. Here, the author gave example of India’s non-intervention in Afghanistan and Myanmar. But, I think the author has no idea about India’s intervention in Pakistan affairs in 1971 that liberated Bangladesh from brutal boots of Pakistan’s Army General. In regard to Afghanistan, India has intervened for economic and political development of the civil war ravaged state by funding and building economic and democratic infrastructure such as road, dam, academic institutions, health centres and parliament buildings. Yes, India has not militarily intervened in landlocked nation in view of strong presence of her arch-rival Pakistan’s trained Islamic terrorist infrastructure and organisations which are also used for terror activities in India by Pakistan with her invented new nomenclature such as ‘non-state players’.

When discuss about India’s non-intervention in Myanmar’s recent development, I have a simple question and that is has ever other nations’ interventions in everlasting military junta ruled Myanmar helped the problem solved? Answer is: Big no. Simple because whenever there is intervention, the junta had turned to China or Russia. Recently, when the present military junta head asked about sanctions, he replied, “We are used to this.” And here one should not forget that after February 01 take over Chinese Foreign Affairs minister stated, “Army takeover of Myanmar governance is just cabinet reshuffle.” The allegation of India that she does not intervene in Myanmar to get access for its market is baseless as trade in dollar term between two nations is insignificant $1.5 billion in 2019-20.

Later in 1987, India has intervened both diplomatically and militarily in Sri Lanka civil war though unsuccessfully. In 1988, India responding to Maldives president SOS intervened and rescued his government from foreign mercenaries’ invasion. In 2018, India intervened diplomatically in Maldives and helped got a democratic government installed there successfully without Indian Army boot in the island nation. It surprises me how Dr. Ogden forgets India’s peacekeeping missions worldwide under the aegis of UN Security Council?

Editor John Pollock: India and China are both vast countries with enormous populations, but is this reflected in the power of their diplomacy? Do Beijing and New Delhi carry the same level of diplomatic influence?

Dr. Ogden’s reply: As a broad generalisation, however, India has a better image even as a flawed democracy versus Beijing, which is more authoritarian in how it conducts diplomacy. 

My rejoinder: Does Dr. Ogden have an example of non-flawed democracy in the world? Have world two oldest democracies the US and the UK set right their democracies? Over more than two centuries of its existence, the US democracy could set right its election process to The White House which is squarely responsible for January 06, 2021 violent raid on Capitol Building mockingly quoted by Communist China’s foreign office mandarins in their interaction with US Secretary of State in Alaska. And the UK Parliament’s upper house is most undemocratic institution world has ever had and its head of state is still an unelected person.

Dr. Ogden’s reply: India has a major diplomatic presence in South Asia, but some countries see New Delhi as a threat because India has intervened far more in its periphery than China. Indian troops have been deployed to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bangladesh, and this has a historical legacy. China, in contrast, is viewed more positively, since it acts as a counterbalance to India’s relative strength. Nepal is a useful example of how a smaller state has managed relations with New Delhi by balancing its trading relationship with China. The Sino-Pakistani relationship is incredibly interesting as it anchors Beijing’s influence in South Asia. 

My rejoinder: Answering earlier question, Dr. Organ lamented India did not intervene in Afghanistan civil war and recent military coup in Myanmar. And also said India believes in non-intervention in international affairs while saying here that “Indian troops have been deployed to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bangladesh, and this has a historical legacy.” Except in Sri Lanka (1987-90), Indian troops were never deployed in Maldives and Bangladesh a la US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan which are often branded as “Occupying Force”. Sri Lanka deployment was as per 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. In Maldives, Indian forces were there to rescue the government mercenaries attack, and in Bangladesh, India forces were there to save Bangladeshis from Pakistan Army genocide. And in all these states Indian troops were never stayed for more than a day theirs service not required. What kind of historical legacy that Dr. Ogden saw is difficult to find out?

It is surprising to note that Dr. Ogden could not note China occupation of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and South China Sea and maiming of democracy in Hong Kong. The Great Wall of China was built on the border of China and Mongolia to protect China from Mongolian invasions. Now, the same wall is in the heartland of China.

A deeper study of Nepal diplomacies with India and China tells her successive governments -since the days of China occupied Tibet in 1950s- have been blackmailing India to extract maximum trade benefits. And in regards to quoted Sino-Pakistan relationship, I would rather say how a political thinker cannot see the difficulties of democratic India co-existing side by side with doctorial regimes in military giant China and the world’s terror manufacturer Pakistan.

Dr. Ogden says, “If the BJP stays in power for another decade, I think India will become an increasingly Hindu country, and the role of the RSS then becomes more interesting because rather than swearing allegiance to the Indian flag, its members swear it to an imagined ‘Bharat’, which is a fully Hindu state. When Modi eventually leaves power, I think it will be very hard for India to return to a fully secular, tolerant, and unified society.”

My rejoinder: Continued governance of BJP, which looks very certain now, will certainly evict westernized privileged class, who are ready to be sold and thus deserve branding of ‘intellectual coolies’, and their imported Abrahamic secularism and liberalism which brand every indigenous thought is communal and aborigine, in order to retain Indian ethos that teach to distribute COVID19 vaccines to poor and rich nations without discrimination despite not fully vaccinated back in India when Western developed nations fond of teaching secularism, liberalism and democratic value to world reserves the same nine/seven (Canada/EU) times their requirements.    

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Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Bimal Prasad Mohapatrahttp://www.trident.ac.in
Columnist is a Senior Research Fellow in Defense Research and Studies (DRaS), Faculty of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institutions, Bhubaneswar, and author of novel "Travails of LOVE" and "Bimal's ANAND MATH". He writes column on Geopolitics, Indian Politics and Media for MyVoice.OpIndia, DRaS, The Kootneeti, The Diplomatists, The Avenue Mail, Delhi Post, Orissa Post, Outlook Afghanista, The Manila Times, etc. And also Moderated Panel Discussion on Geopolitics, Politics and Media
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