Beyond Colonialism: India’s Tryst with the Future of the Anglo-Saxon
This article is a counter take to my previous article written months ago about the Anglo-Saxon and its relationship with India.
Why have I written this counter? My intent is to decipher the flaws in the arguments provided by the anti-neocolonialists of the Indian diaspora, to revisit the question of the Indo-Western relationship. It has now become fundamentally important to counter this point because I am not able to see much informed responses and takes yet from the side of a bunch of people, who think they wish to care about the “Indian interest” in many ways. I appreciate their concerns, and their scepticism towards the shackles of sophistry that the realpolitik, and the overkill of value-based global governance, led by the countries in the North Atlantic. In fact, I would like to affirm that the rules-based international order, certainly is value-based, without an ounce of doubt.
This international order, despite coloniality or not, is a value-based order, which surely manifested its own evolved ideas of rules, regulatory theory and governance. Of course, every rule and regulation is not derived without the sour and tangy flavours of liberalism, constructivism and realism. However, my view is that international affairs as a field, since, due to the efforts of the realists, has evolved — it is becoming apparent that the world order needs change in its own way.
I cover my proposition by addressing a few basic questions:
- Do we Require a Great Reset (the Liberal Approach), New Prosperity (the Chinese Approach), Reformed Multilateralism (the Indo-Pacific Approach, led by India) or nothing at all?
- Is India going to become a bastion of the Anglosphere, if we even wonder a post-Pax Americana and/or a post-China future, obviously pivoting at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region, since it is the new normal in some time?
- Is India’s story as a civilisation, as a polity, beyond post-colonial floating mediocrity and the decolonial validation it needs to “detoxify” itself always?
Let us take up each of the questions.
The Great Reset v. New Prosperity v. Reformed Multilateralism v. NOTHING
Scholars of international law and relations must be acquainted of all of these concepts am I referring to, and so I would not describe these concepts to save some time. Cutting down the Machiavellian angle to realism and policy that penetrative involvement is a necessity and protectionism does not work many times, we understand India’s positions on the world and its real issues. It is not that politics is not about participation. The problem is beyond political marketing actually. As we ponder upon the constructive ambitions of REFORMED MULTILATERALISM, my concern comes in as to how will India achieve anything? The Prime Minister for sure has driven some persistence and change to the language and trajectory of India’s foreign policy moat. The subtleties, from the emergence of the Quad to India’s role in BRICS at least shows that it has mastered the art of “not yet figured out, despite aiming at preponderance”. The Goldilocks question sometimes makes me think that India has clearly started to venture something quite interesting.
We might seek Bharat deconflicting the West’s trajectories of sophisticated, well-thought or poorly thought global governance and values-based approach to the realpolitik (Manifest Destiny post-Russia). To be honest, that is going to be hard, and we might not realise how deeply entrenched that seems to be.
And I am not interested in then saying that India is even considering to be revolutionary or accelerationist or as what people say — perpetually adopting the “mad dog” approach to global governance. I am sure just because we have a movie called American Psycho, does not mean others need to learn anything out of it. That being stated, I understand the true rationale behind the mad dog theory, and do not discount it since it is an international relations theory, and deserves criticism and analysis in its own way.
I however surely can state that India, to survive, will always to persist and check what austerity, revival, dilemma, reset, “prosperity”, reform and revolution would shape its interests. I wish that in this lifetime of the Quad, India goes further beyond Chanakya, Vivekananda and Shivaji Maharaj. Why? Bharat in my view is a country which demands long-run and regularly oscillating transformation. Yes, problems exist as we see the Brazilianization itself shaking up things. Imagine us being a part of this world, failing to recognise how modernity becomes questionable.
Due to the postmodern/decolonial literature however, it is unfortunate to state that the criticism of the modern realm of things, has not become quite clear, sustainable and precise. Just because societies have concern and claim does not mean societies are on point. Still, voicing out, and shaping concerns, looping the worst out of the concerns and claims could largely help us fix the problems in the modern world. Apparently, we have to attribute the Great Reset for example, to postmodernism and decoloniality since they are funnily related. We cannot deny that even liberalism due to its imperial past, cannot be detached from the criticism that modernity receives today.
Now, the realpolitik is self-amorphous in its own algorithms of whim and action. It engulfs the estoppel (not policy, maybe/maybe not a strategy) of postmodernism and decoloniality, and quite instantly, we see this tendency that the whirlwind remains confused. And this is not limited to India. This dilemma is being faced by the Russians, by the Americans, by the Chinese, by the Europeans, and the Latin Americans. So, taking Francis Fukuyama and former Indian NSA Shivshankar Menon’s takes on the multi-polar world order, even if one disagrees with them — it is apparent that the conductor and the audience, has changed. The orchestra is not evolving, which is why we all seek these questions as to what are we evolving for, and whether our culture, systems, values, people — group & individual, liberty and others are going to pursue something different.
India, therefore, will have to focus on a set of stages to mobilise its role as an international personality, as a full-fledged democracy, which I propose hereby (still learning and working, yet I propose):
- Anticipate and Own Better: Act, omit and yet ponder upon your decisions beyond the status quo carefully
- Calibrate and Embrace your Decentralised and Centralised Efforts of Change: Do not just abandon those who pave good intent
- Continuous and Serene Deconfliction, not Hostile Self-Infliction: Focus on deconfliction of the stakeholders at every level, in every dimension of cause-effect, no matter what, apart from discrete needs to resist and structural aims to persist and persevere
- Evolve the Indian Heritage: Cultural innovation with its own embrace of tradition and modernity, will boost India. It is reflective and obvious.
Now, people might feel that I might be seeming a bit utopian. I would like to assess my propositions on the basis of the next question addressed.
India: Within or Through the Indo-European and the Indo-Atlantic
There is a genuine concern whether India is attempting to percolate down space within the Pax Europa/Americana construct in reality. The Indo-Pacific Quad and the I2Q2 Quad reflect those tendencies, quite sustainably. Now, to refer to this, I would like to analyse the way Dr S Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister has elaborated upon India’s story.
- Dr Jaishankar’s analyses on the Quad, Indian diplomacy, Europe and the Indo-Pacific, are beyond the wisdom of his own book. No doubt. Of course, leaders like him when make interesting points (previously the KK Nayyar lecture was quite significant) — translating that into reality is a puzzle.
- If we analyse his takes, I sometimes wonder that a diplomat who has been quite a lot experienced in handling Washington DC, and the memeplex of Pax Americana, it would be a tough choice (or not) for him to see how will India shape itself.
- Will India become a bastion of the Anglosphere? Why am I asking this question after all? I guess it becomes necessary to see how will the wisdom and capillaries of INTER-dependencies, COUNTER-dependencies, TRANS-dependencies and CROSS-dependencies will develop for Bharat.
- Overall, India knows that within its own polity, there will be centralised, federal and even decentralised efforts, to shape India’s constraints and persistence tilting towards the particular actor(s) of the realpolitik, wherever those special interest groups and players desire.
- Our problem is not recognising the dilemmas. Our problem is just obsessing or larking to answer the same questions, which is fundamental, sometimes. Confidence is futile if it is reactionary, and it will always reflect upon even the good moral motivation of knowledge, approach and action.
- The future of the West, will always be as buoyant and uncertain, as their sophistication and excavation of their policy nuances, remain. The less nuanced they are, yet being more sophisticated, the more uncertain and anticipatory they will be. The less they are like that, they’d wait. History rhymes as always, and as Dr Jaishankar states about the Goldilocks Principle, his stating of why the Indo-Western cooperation is necessary, makes more sense as of now.
- Maybe the West would always have to answer the question as to whether they have converted the idea of Manifest Destiny as a default formula of policy continuity and evolution, because in nearly all spheres, the formula despite being revised leaves a lot of scars, which cannot be washed away or removed. It is just impossible to do that. Dr Jaishankar’s book, The India Way, taking examples of Mahabharata as well, explains this reality we live in.
Let me thus, revisit those propositions:
Anticipate and Own Better: Act, omit and yet ponder upon your decisions beyond the status quo carefully
India should embrace the Anglo-Saxon, in its own forms and approaches. Shaping dependencies will largely make India more anticipatory and confident.
Calibrate and Embrace your Decentralised and Centralised Efforts of Change: Do not just abandon those who pave good intent
In this case too, India should not just learn the realms of cross-sector dissimulation of interests-based actions and decisions from the West and the Chinese, but also rewire the matrices of mobility and reformism. That will help a lot.
Continuous and Serene Deconfliction, not Hostile Self-Infliction: Focus on deconfliction of the stakeholders at every level, in every dimension of cause-effect, no matter what, apart from discrete needs to resist and structural aims to persist and persevere
Deconfliction might be indifferent for populations to come, since it is regular, it still becomes important for India to see how it reshapes its own goals of persistence and perseverance. Learning sophistication is not everything of course.
Evolve the Indian Heritage: Cultural innovation with its own embrace of tradition and modernity, will boost India. It is reflective and obvious.
The Anglo-Saxon might or might not be able to revive its cultural core. We do not know, honestly. Their obsession with Manifest Destiny has truly kept them stuck in a loop. There, India’s heritage could act from the position of strength and not weakness. Cultural innovation is not about reconciling everything. It has to do with strengthening mobility. We are not going to seek a postmodern/decolonial/postcolonial world. Modernity is just a strategic moat, and India as embraced it, can own evolutionary considerations. It cannot automate generation nor pre-decide much. Still, India as a polity has the perpetual opportunity to shape its first principles and their symbiotic relationship with the sphere of growth and development. That will surely work.
In this way, I have tried to integrate the propositions in a harmonious and real fashion.
But What About the Indian Story? Persistence or Reaction?
The Indian Story, in my view is in a much different stage. My view is that while our ancient past has a lot of value as far as learning is concerned, charting our future, would have to be quite different from what has already been in existence. India’s past sadly does not have anything new to offer — which has nothing to do with the precious wisdom and knowledge, it offers. Why? The blame is on those who waste the knowledge and wisdom, and forget to unpack it. Maybe they think the first principles themselves are a “western construct” and so they will create the situation of what I call a “culture burnout”.
I do not think it is going to happen — precisely because India clearly originates through and beyond cum resembles the Eastern cultural bounds and the Greco-Roman culture, thereby, despite being put down, and even put in dilapidation, a magnum opus beyond survival and existentiality. We have also not exhausted our ideas yet, and a civilisation like us (unlike China, here for reasons), will never exhaust ideas. That is the Indian way in cultural innovation as well, which is UNDENIABLE.
Thus, unpacking, unfolding, sometimes unlearning-relearning and unshackling the first principles, will help India, and chart its own canvasses and mosaics of confidence and serenity. It can be for the global good, ideally, but I am not going to wish that much, since I am a realist and bit conservative on this one.