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Community movement to fight against COVID-19

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Community movement is nothing but the accumulated response to any social issues through the community people. It is divided into four segments like individual, family, kinship and community. Each and every segment have distinct role towards alarming epidemiological issues COVID-19. The article’s tries to sketch the role and responsibilities of each and every segment of community movement to prevent COVID-19.   

Introduction

COVID-19 is nothing but the name of dangerous threat of death in the world. 207 973 people have already been died in 213 countries[1].  Bangladesh has been facing a devastating situation for COVID-19 from the last 08 March, 2020 to till date. Total 168 people have died for the virus among the 7667 identified cases within the last 8 weeks (8th week is not completed yet). The infection rate is increasing in every moment.

Figure 1 : Week wise confirmed cases

Government has warned that the virus will be spread in the whole country and community infection has been started[2]. The world famous scientists are constantly working to fight with the virus but they have been failing to stop the caravan of death in the world. Social scientists are also producing scientific write-ups to make policy in which respective country can take proper initiatives to tackle the harsh social breakdown. But no initiatives are working properly to fight against COVID-19. As a student of Anthropology, the researcher has been thinking to come up with a pragmatic measure to cope up with the natural pandemic of COVID-19. The researcher found that, Jayaprakash Muliyil is one of India’s foremost epidemiologists, said about the most acceptable way to fight against COVID-19. He talked that Community participation—not lockdowns—is key to fighting coronavirus in India[3].The researcher agrees with the epidemiologist. The researcher think that only behavior change can make difference to fight against COVID-19.  Now, it is a big question’s how can we change behavior of people? The answer is only community movement can help to change the behavior of mass people. The researcher think that community movement should ensure through the changing behavior of the following levels of any community of the world. 

Sensitization of Individual and Family

This is the most important and first step in changing behavior. The will of the individual is sufficient to change the behavior of the person. Yet it is important to follow the overall norms of society and the state. In all religions, we are told to abide by religious discipline to prevent the Corona virus. That is, “cleanliness is part of the faith.”Cleanliness is the main tool for the prevention of corona virus. Corona virus is infectious. The person spreads the virus through sneezing, cough, colds and breathing. When a healthy person comes in contact with an injured person within 3-5 feet, the risk of panic is overwhelming. If the victim is holding something like door handle or new, locks, water bottle / glass, lift button, stair handle, ATM booth button, water faucet, commodity flask / sitter, paper, pen, pencil, bag, bag, money, money, etc. And then after touching a healthy person, the person can be infected. If a healthy person uses all the substances used by the infected person, that person can be infected. This is why changing the behavior of the affected person is very important. The victim must be kept separate from other family members. The affected person must be prepared to change all his / her previous habits / behaviors and follow the advice of a specialist physician. This condition is called isolation / dissociation in medical science. Those who were or remain in contact with the affected person should be kept for 7 days. The distance from one person to another will always be 3 feet. No one will be able to touch anyone or use any of the materials used, and must follow the advice of a specialist physician. This condition is called quarantine in the language of medical science. It is important to assure some rights of the individual while in the quarantine. Quarantine’s obligations are as per the Siracusa policy-1984 of the United Nation are as follows:

  • All those who have the basic needs of the disease will have to make all the prevention.
  • There should be ample opportunity for communication with loved ones and caregivers.
  • Workplace, job, as well as financial loss should be taken into account, there should be compensation system.
  • Everyone should have equal opportunity in all aspects of social status.
  • Quarantine must be seen as necessary for society and the people.
  • It should be done to prevent the transmission of disease.

The elderly of the family have to take responsibility for changing individual and family behavior. They will monitor the daily behavior of all members of their family. It is important to remember that if an attack occurs, everyone in the family will be in danger. It is important to follow the World Health Organization’s specific policies in this regard.

  • Stay separate from other family members.
  • Stay in a separate room with light and air. If possible, stay at least 5 feet away from others. Use separate beds at night.
  • Use a separate bathroom, toilet. If it is not possible to reduce the number of places you have to use with others and arrange for adequate lighting in those places.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can breastfeed their baby. But before approaching the baby, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and use a mask.
  • Use a mask when staying in the same room with other members of the house, especially if you need to get within 5 meters / 5 feet or when you need to get out of the house when needed.
  • When exposed to colds, coughs, vomiting, etc., immediately remove the mask and use a new mask. After using the mask, cover the lid with dirt and rinse with soapy water.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer if necessary.
  • After soap-water use, dry your hands with tissue. If there is no tissue, just use a towel / towel to wipe the hands and replace them when wet.
  • Do not touch eyes, nose, face with unforgiving hands.
  • Adhere to cough etiquette. Wrap tissue paper / medical mask / cloth mask / arm during coughing
  • Cover your face and nose and clean your hands according to the above rules.
  • Do not share personal items with anyone else.

In both isolation and quarantine, it is best to remain engrossed in the prayer of the Great God and Creator. For this reason, government-declared holidays should force all the family members to maintain social distance. Social distance is the home away from all kinds of public meetings[4].

Kinship[5]sensitization: It is the culturally defined relationships between individuals who are commonly thought of as having family ties. All societies use kinship as a basis for forming social groups and for classifying people. All the kin groups’ leaders should take responsibility to aware their ken members about COVID-19 as early as possible. They should implement the all government’s rules, regulations, prescriptions immediately, in which all kin members are ready to obey the health instructions regarding COVID-19. 

Community Sensitization

It is the most important part to fight against COVID -19. The change in group behavior refers to the behavior of the victim and his / her family to other people in different neighborhoods. In this case, the head of each locality/ counselor of the local governments have to take responsibility for changing the behavior of all the people of his/her locality. People of all sectors of the community should come forward to extend their hands in this regard in which they can fulfil the minimum basic needs of community people. We can do it through the following comprehensive efforts.

Community Support Group (CSG) will be a key tool to fight against COVID-19 in the community. This group will be formed through one Diploma Doctor, two Nurses (one male and one female), one Counselor, and three aid workers (two males and one females). All staffs of community clinic and Community Family Care Center will be deployed to form this CSG. This CSG will be responsible for the following duties and responsibilities but not limited

  • To search the suspected persons who are suffering for COVID-19 symptoms
  • To refer the general patients to general health care center
  • To refer the suspected COVID -19 people for quarantine and isolation
  • To identify the COVID-19 patients
  • To refer the COVID-19 patients immediately
  • To follow-up the cure, quarantine and isolation completed people
  • To counsel the family members of suspected COVID-19 patients
  • To assist to get minimum all basic needs of the family from local government representatives
  • To identify the disadvantage people of the community
  • To assist to get minimum all basic needs of the disadvantage family from local government representatives
  • To distribute the Behavior Change Communication (BCC) materials among the community 

Community Volunteer Group (CVG): We need to form a Community Volunteer Group. It is essential to make the community people aware against COVID-19. This group will solely responsible to sensitize community people through Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials. From the above data it is indicating that males are most affected group. To control movement of males’ member of the community, this CVG will play a key role in the community gate. A representative of each and every family will allow to go out of the community in response to the basic needs of the family. Community leaders of each and every community both in the town and village should extends their hands to form the CSG and CVG as early as possible with the help of local government’s representatives. The local government’s representatives will need to take the responsibility to provide IEC materials as well as all kinds of logistic support to the members of CVG. The chief of local government representatives will act as a facilitator, monitor and supportive supervisor to accomplish the duties and responsibility of CVG and CSG.  Experiences of the cured patients will need to document as early as possible. The respective local government should take initiatives to explore the illness episode of these patients among the community people in which they can boost up themselves to fight against COVID-19[6].

Ensuring food-goods and medicine of community people: It is important to count total family as well as family members of each and every community. After counting all family in the community we need to identify the types of household of the community such as

  • Hand-to-mouth households: The household which runs through hand-to -mouth.
  • Needy households: The household which is needy but ability to run independently with some savings more than one months. The income source is totally stopped due to COVID-19.
  • Well off households: The household which is well of and ability to run independently with savings more than three months. The income source is totally stopped due to COVID-19.
  • Rich Households: The household which is rich and the house owner is the employee of Government or non-government organization.
  • Wealthy households: The household which is wealthy and ability to donation for the wellbeing of the community.

Now, we need to form a Community Aid Bank. The bank will be governed by the community people with the direct facilitation of local government representatives. The duties and responsibilities of the bank will

  • To make a data base of the community households based on voter lists.
  • To prepare a need assessment of the community
  • To introduce barter economic system (An example of a barter exchange may involve swapping a bag of nuts for some fruit or meat) among the community
  • To collect fund/aid/relief from the local government
  • To collect fund/aid/relief from the wealthy households of the community
  • To distribute the fund/aid/relief equally among the households based on needs
  • To supply essentials medicine based on needs through exchange of money

[1]WHO, “Coronavirus,” Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic, April 30, 2020, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

[2]Institute of Epidemiology Research (IEDCR) Disease Control and, “করোনা ইনফো,” accessed April 17, 2020, http://www.corona.gov.bd/.

[3]Arunabh Saikia, “Community Participation—Not Lockdowns—Is Key to Fighting Coronavirus in India,” Quartz India, March 24, 2020, https://qz.com/india/1824059/india-shouldnt-respond-to-coronavirus-with-only-lockdowns/.

[4]Md Nasir Uddin, “আচরণ পরিবর্তন: করোনা প্রতিরোধের একমাত্র উপায়,” March 28, 2020, https://www.deshsangbad.com/details.php?id=99624.

[5]“The Nature of Kinship: Overview,” accessed April 17, 2020, https://www2.palomar.edu/anthro/kinship/kinship_1.htm.

[6]Maksuda Khatun, “A Tool to Fight against COVID-19,” accessed April 17, 2020, https://en.deshsangbad.com/details.php?id=573.

Md. Nasir Uddin, Ph.D., is a professional who has been working in the field of research and analysis. Bangladesh. He has obtained his Ph.D., MSS and BSS degree in Anthropology from the University of Rajshahi respectively in 2015, 2005 and 2004. He has several journal publications in the field of qualitative social research. He can be reached at nasiranthru[at]gmail.com, https://rubd.academia.edu/MdNasirUddin and https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Md_Uddin_Phd.

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India is finally engaging with the Taliban

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Indian news outlets broke a story about an Indian delegation meeting up with the Taliban in Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office. Indian officials made a ‘quiet visit’ to Doha to speak to the Taliban delegation there, said a Qatari official. This development marks a decisive shift in Indian policy towards the Taliban.

The Taliban is a hardline Islamic movement in Afghanistan that is a formidable military force. According to the Long war journal, the Taliban controls more districts than the government in Kabul. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 until the US declared war on Afghanistan for harbouring Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda militants. Despite decades of effort at defeating the Taliban and rebuilding Afghanistan, the US has failed. After 2006 the Taliban started making a comeback, and now they are more potent than ever.

India is known for putting all its eggs in one basket. When Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, he is said to have a deep personal relationship with Najibullah, the last communist president of Afghanistan who was forced to resign and subsequently assassinated by the rebel groups in a UN compound where he took shelter after the Mujahideen occupied Kabul. Despite signs that Najibullah’s power was waning and was increasingly becoming a liability, there was no concentrated effort from India to engage other groups. Furthermore, failing to evacuate its long-time ally, India got a reputation of being an unreliable partner. 

India witnessed first hand the folly in not having any lines of communication with the Taliban when an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked and forced to land in Kandahar airport. India was forced to release three terrorists in exchange for the passengers. The Minister of state for external affairs, Ajit Panja, later said in the Indian parliament that it was the “best possible solution in a basket of worse alternatives.” India’s hands were tied because they had no relations with the Taliban. The incident also convinced India of the Taliban-ISI collusion, forcing it to embrace the anti-Taliban groups in Afghanistan further.

The hijacking was nothing short of a complete strategic failure. It was also a flawed reading of the Taliban. The reality was that Pakistan’s undue influence over the Taliban was resented by their leaders, who were looking for ways to diversify away from Pakistan. The Taliban thought of the incident as an opportunity to establish diplomatic contact with India. The Indian leadership, unfortunately, was unwilling to take the risk. Instead, the minister of external affairs, Jaswant Singh, had to fly out to Kandahar to hand over the prisoners embarrassingly.  This Indian approach is in sharp contrast to China, which was willing to work with the Taliban to protect its interests.

India’s chief concern about the Taliban was the various militant training camps operating in Afghanistan, which produced militants fighting in Kashmir. This was again a lack of good judgement. The Taliban was extensively infiltrated by the ISI and hence had little influence to say no to such training camps. The decision to allow such camps were likely to be pragmatic to ensure resources keep flowing from Islamabad. At the same time, they resented the undue Pakistani influence. India did not make the situation any better by not engaging with the Taliban. On the contrary, it played into the Pakistani hands because the Taliban now had one country less to rely on, forcing them to keep coming back to Pakistan for material and diplomatic help.

India failed to realize that there can be different types of Taliban. While some groups like the Haqqani network were firmly in Pakistani hands, other groups would have been willing to engage with New Delhi.

However, India continued putting all its eggs in one basket by ultimately supporting the Karzai regime. The looming threats of a Taliban revival were ignored. This was despite even the US engaging in backroom talks with the Taliban from 2010 onwards. The conflict was lagging on, and the US realized eliminating the Taliban was not a reality. However, again, such pragmatism was absent in the Indian foreign policy as it continued with non-engagement with the Taliban.

With the US troop withdrawal, engaging the Taliban has now become unavoidable.  India has good relations with all immediate neighbours of Afghanistan except Pakistan and can play an important role in the Afghan peace process. Pakistan has tried to block India out of the peace process repeatedly. However, all parties seem to be coming to the conclusion that India is a crucial ally in bringing stability to Afghanistan and can help limit Pakistani influence.

In a letter to the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed a United Nations-level meeting with the foreign ministers of India, Iran, China, Russia, Pakistan, and the United States to develop a “unified approach” to peace. Indian external affairs minister S Jaisankar addressed, via video, the inaugural session of the Doha peace process, signalling a newfound urge to get involved in Afghanistan.

The recent meeting between Indian and Taliban, held in Doha, is a step in the right direction. However, India needs to come out of its shell and engage the Taliban more. They are a reality that needs to be dealt with. Being a mute spectator will only aid Islamabad and harm Indian interests.

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What forced India to abandon its world-power ambition?

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The writer is of the view that India regarded itself as a rightful successor to Imperial India. It viewed Pakistan as an unviable entity who seceded from “great” India.  A series of cataclysmic events scuttled India’s ambition. India uncannily annoyed China, then Soviet Union and even the USA. India’s disastrous defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War made India realise that it has to concentrate on its immediate surroundings. But, India is still to realise that without burying the hatchet with Pakistan, India can’t realise its dream of even regional hegemony.

India is a multi-racial, multi-religious and a multi-linguistic “union”. The Englishman was able to hold this “loose sally” together by use of force. There were ebbs and flows of centrifugal movements in some states. But, the Englishman was able to quell them in nascent stage.

The desire for self determination or independence from English yoke arose very late in India. In fact, it was the Englishman himself who paved way for arousal of political consciousness in at least the elitist Indian leaders. David Hume, followed by a few other Britons, headed the Indian National Congress, until toddler indigenous leaders grew strong enough to lead it.

India’s perception as an imperial successor

India dreamt ofbeing an undisputed successor to the pre-partition Imperial India. It harboured ambition to emerge not only a South Asian hegemon but also a world power. However, its ambition suffered many setbacks.  Let us review vicissitudes of India’s “greatness” ambition in historic context.

1947- 1962 period

To get recognised as a major world power it was necessary for India to establish its primacy first as a major power in its neighbourhood. The Quaid-e-Azam wished that India and Pakistan to forget acrimony of the partition. He keenly desired that the subcontinent and all of South Asia should remain aloof from rivalry. He proposed a joint defence pact with India.

Had India accepted his idea, the two countries would not have been at daggers drawn after independence. Before his final flight (Aug 7, 1947) from Delhi to Pakistan, he sent a message to the Indian government, “the past must be buried and let us start as two independent sovereign states of Hindustan and Pakistan, I wish Hindustan prosperity and peace.” Vallabhbhai Patel replied from Delhi “the poison [the Quaid] has been removed from the body of India. As for the Muslims, they have their roots, their sacred places and their centres here. I do not know what they can possibly do in Pakistan. It will not be long before they return to us.”

Even Nehru, an ostensibly liberal leader, regarded the creation of Pakistan as a blunder. His rancour against Pakistan reached a crescendo in his remarks: “I shall not have that carbuncle on my back.” (D. H. Bhutani, The Future of Pakistan, page 14).

Ayesha Jalal in a paper Why Jinnah Matters (Maleeha Lodhi (ed.), Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State) recalls: “Just before his own death, Jinnah proposed a joint defence with India as the Cold War started to shape the world and the two power blocs began to form. Jinnah was still thinking as a South Asian nationalist…had Jinnah’s vision prevailed and found an echo in India, we would have seen a very different South Asia…there would have been no crippling defence expenditures.”

“There would have been no reason to join one or other camp of the Cold War. There would have been open borders, free trade and regular visiting between the two countries…a more humane sub-continent might have emerged.

India’s cold shoulder compelled Pakistan to challenger her self-conceited “primacy” at every footstep. Accession of some princely states either to India or to Pakistan became a bone of contention between the two next-door neighbours, toujours at daggers drawn.  The Jammu and Kashmir was, particularly, a hard nut to crack.

Pakistan posed a formidable adversary to India’s hegemony at every international forum. To pacify Pakistan, India’s then home minister, Vallabhai Patel offered Kashmir literally on a platter to Pakistan in exchange for Junagadh. But, Liaquat Khan, then Pakistan’s prime minister spurned the offer. He mused `what shall I make of the Kashmir mountains’.

Faced with the raiders in Kashmir, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru approached the United Nations for “mediating”, not for “declaring Pakistan an aggressor”. The stark, nay brutal reality then was that India realised that at the United nations not only the permanent but also the temporary members supported Pakistan’s position. India did not approach even the International Court of Justice as it perceived that it had a weak case.

India remained nominally non-aligned while Pakistan joined security alliances with the USA. Military and quasi-military confrontations took place between the two neighbours. But the Kashmir dispute remained unresolved despite the fisticuffs. Even today, Kashmir is a nuclear tinderbox.

Setback to India’s world-power ambition (1962 to 1991)

India’s disastrous defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War buried India’s dream of world leadership. India was able to dismember Pakistan’s eastern wing in 1971. Yet, her dream of becoming a world power or a South Asian hegemon remained unfulfilled.  Political instability coupled with erratic economic policies whittled down Pakistan’s clout in comity of nations. In contrast, India, post-1991, adopted such economic policies that rejuvenated its tottering economy. Still, India could not get recognised as a paramount power in the South Asia as the Imperial successor to the British raj.

India imposes hegemony on some Himalayan states

While Pakistan remained defiant, India managed to coerce Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim to sign such treaties in 1949 and 1950 that made “New Delhi in charge of their foreign policy” (Manjeet S. Pardesi, Is india a South Asian or Asian Power; Knut A. Jacobsen, Routledge Handbook of India, page 136). Sikkim was absorbed into the Indian Union in 1975. About Bhutan, there are strong voices in India demanding India should annex it before China does so. To tame Nepal, a landlocked country, India blockaded it and annexed its Kalapani territory. But, Nepal is steadfastly resisting India’s pressure.

India’s significant post-partition “Asian Great Power” initiatives

Convinced of being heir-apparent to Imperial India, Nehru organised Asian Relations Conference a few months before the country’s independence in March-April 1947 (India became independent on August 15, 1947). In January 1949, India organised a conference on Indonesia to deal specifically with Asian issues, particularly Indonesian independence from the Dutch. At the same time, India forgave debts owed by Burma (Myanmar) to India during its separation from India in 1937.

In 1951, India signed a security treaty with Indonesia. A few months later, it signed a similar treaty with Burma. During the early post-colonial year, Burma behaved as if it was India’s vassal. India dictated Burma even on the latter’s internal security issues. In 1952, India signed a treaty with Philippines that amounted to a non-aggression pact. This “pact” was signed amid an environment in which China in post-War (post-Colonial) context appeared to assume a threatening posture in view of situation emerging in Korea and Indo-China. An Indian chairman happened to head each of the three International Commissions of Supervision and C control for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, created at Geneva in 1951.

Ascending on great-Asian power trajectory, India signed security arrangements with Indonesian Air Force n 1956, with navy in 1958, and army in 1960.

Forays into North East Asia

Engrossed with great-power ambition, India did not confine its foreign-policy endeavours to the Southeast Asia. It dabbled into Northeast Asian affairs also. Even without any direct diplomatic ties, Korean peninsula was de facto divided during 1950-53 (in the wake of the Second World War).  India continued to maintain a facade of non-alignment despite desire and initiatives to forge security alliances with several countries.

India irks China and the then Soviet Union

Diplomacy is like the acrobatics of balancing on a tight rope. Though the USA opposed, India recognised de jure the People’s Republic of China. The USA, under Harry S. Truman (1956) began to suspect India as a Communist-China sympathiser.

Throughout the 1950s, India supported China’s inclusion in the United Nations’ Security Council. Besides, it introduced the Communist China to the Afro-Asian countries at Bandung in 1955.

 India even legitimized China’s invasion and annexation of Tibet by signing the 1954 panchsheel agreement. India under Nehru also acted as a diplomatic interlocutor between China and Tibet after India had granted refuge to Delai Lama in the wake of Lhasa Uprising.

China and the Soviet Union become suspicious of India’s equivocal foreign policy

India continued making goodwill gestures to both China and the Soviet Union.  But, the both countries construed Indian policies as a conundrum.  To their chagrin, India supported the US-sponsored resolution on Korea. This gesture annoyed both the Soviet Union and China. They became skeptical of India’s nonalignment credentials.

India’s role in repatriation of Korean prisoners of war (POW)

India shrugged off China’s and Soviet Union’s annoyance and lobbied hard for repatriation of the Korean POW. Through India’s effort, some 23000 POW happened to be repatriated though it then appeared to be a Herculean job. Under India’s Lieutenant General KS Thimayya, Major General SPP Thorat leading some 6000 Indian troops and administrative personnel in the Custodian force (that landed in Korea) accomplished the POW’s exchange.

India woos Japan (Far East)

At the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo, all the 25 top Japanese leaders were charged with Class A war-crimes. Indian judge Radhabinod Paul declared all of them “not guilty”.

India regarded USA’s San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan as “unfair”. This treaty bound Japan to pay war-time reparations. India signed a separate treaty, the first ever with Japan, waiving all war-time reparations.

Under Nehru, India invited Japan to the 1955 Bandung Conference even though Japan was not then a member of the United Nations. Japan became a member of the UN later in 1956.  

How Sino Indian bonhomie ended?

China suspected India was bent upon reverting Tibet into its pre-1950-51 status as a buffer state between India and China. India’s disastrous defeat in 1962 Sino-Indian War buried India’s ambition to emerge as a major Asian power for the remainder of the Cold-War period.

India hails Galwan (Ladakh) unarmed clashes as a “victory”. But, in actual fact, the clashes were a storm in a teacup. India’s stand in media contradicted its official stand. India admits China “did not annex an inch of Indian territory” (so said Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the all-party political moot).

End of World-power ambition

The 1962 Sino-Indian War ad Galwan clashes portrayed India as a power that could not stand China without external military support. India was forced to revert conceptually to the subcontinent as her primary area of concern. Despite Pakistan’s vivisection in 1971, India remained a regional power.

Pakistan’s moves to cut India to size

Pakistan facilitated the USA’s tacit alliance with China. It achieved nuclear parity with India. It prevented India from emerging even as an undisputed regional bully.

In 1972, the then Shah of Iran declared “any attack on Pakistan would be tantamount to an attack on Iran and that Teheran was committed to the territorial integrity of Pakistan”.

India’s Indira Doctrine

In the aftermath of India’s “victory over Pakistan”, India embarked upon Indira Doctrine (ID).  This doctrine is akin to Monroe Doctrine. The ID postulated “South Asia was India’s sphere of influence and India would not tolerate the intervention of any extra-regional power here unless it was on India’s terms. At the same time, India would not intervene in the domestic affairs of the regional states unless requested to do so”.

Application

Within framework of this doctrine, India intervened in the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-1990), forestalled a coup in Maldives (1988) and blockaded Nepal during 1989-90 to force it to toe India’s diktat in economic and diplomatic relations.

India’s post-1991 (Cold War) major Asian-power policy (Look East Policy)

Subdued by several events, India appears to have now abandoned world-power ambition. It is concentrating on consolidating it position as a major Asian power. .Under Manmohan Singh, India undertook structural economic reforms that banked on Japan, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank.

India strengthened its naval command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and began conducting joint naval exercises with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (Lion King annual bilateral submarine warfare exercise). India trained Malaysian pilots to fly MiG-29 aircraft and upgraded defence cooperation with Vietnam.

Concluding remarks

India sees itself as “indispensable to the strategic balance of power in Asia”. It abhors China dominance in the region.

A series of jolts reduced India’s world-power inspiration to major Asian-power ambition. Nehru declared, ` India was bound to play the role of “leading and interpreting Asia and specifically South East Asia to the wider world’ Manmohan Singh, the architect of India’s Look East policy, stressed, ‘India’s Look East Policy was not merely an external economic policy, it was also a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world and India’s place in evolving global economy’.

India’s great-power dream will remain unrealized unless it mends its fence with Pakistan. Sandwiched between China and Pakistan, India is unlikely to win a two front war.

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Pakistan, Quo Vadis?

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Pakistan’s place in a new world order is anybody’s guess. Recent policy moves suggest options that run the gamut from a state that emphasizes religion above all else to a country that forges a more balanced relationship with China and the United States.

The options need not be mutually exclusive but a populous, nuclear-armed country whose education system is partially anchored in rote learning and memorization of the Qur’an rather than science is likely to raise eyebrows in Washington and Beijing.

Pakistan has long viewed its ties to China as an unassailable friendship and strategic partnership China but has recently been exploring ways of charting a more independent course.

Relations between Islamabad and Beijing were bolstered by an up to US$60 billion Chinese investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a cornerstone of the People’s Republic’s infrastructure, transportation, and energy-driven Belt and Road Initiative.

Deeply indebted to China as a result of the Belt and Road that has significantly contributed to electricity supply and transportation infrastructure, Pakistan will have to tread cautiously as it explores the margins of its manoeuvrability.

Nevertheless, suggesting that CPEC may not live up to its promise to significantly boost the country’s position as a key Belt and Road maritime and land transportation hub, Pakistan recently agreed with Saudi Arabia to shy away from building a US$10 billion refinery and petrochemical complex in the port of Gwadar, long viewed as a Belt and Road crown jewel. The two countries are looking at the port city of Karachi as an alternative.

Gwadar port has been troubled for years. Completion of the port has been repeatedly delayed amid mounting resentment among the ethnic Baloch population of the Pakistan province of Balochistan, one of the country’s least developed regions. Work on a fence around the port halted late last year when local residents protested.

Building the refinery in Karachi would dent Chinese hopes of Gwadar emerging as a competitive hub at the top of the Arabian Sea. Doubts about Gwadar’s future are one reason why landlocked Tajikistan, as well as Afghanistan, are looking at Iranian ports as alternatives.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan initially agreed on building the refinery in Gwadar in 2019 during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A Saudi-funded feasibility study has since suggested that Gwadar lacks the pipeline and transportation infrastructure to justify a refinery. The refinery would be cut off from Karachi, Pakistan’s oil supply hub.

In a similar vein, Pakistan has been discussing a possible military base in the country from which US forces could support the government in Kabul once the Americans leave Afghanistan in September under an agreement with the Taliban.

Washington and Islamabad appear to be nowhere close to an agreement on the terms that would govern a US military presence in Pakistan but the fact that Pakistan is willing to entertain the notion will not have gone unnoticed in Beijing.

Pakistan borders on China’s troubled province of Xinjiang, home to Turkic Muslims who face a brutal Chinese attempt to squash their religious and ethnic identity.

China fears that Pakistan, one of the few countries to have witnessed protests against the crackdown in the early days of the repression, could be used by Turkic Muslim militants, including fighters that escaped Syria, as a launching pad for attacks on Chinese targets in the South Asian country or in Xinjiang itself.

The notion of Pakistan re-emerging as a breeding ground for militants is likely to gain traction in Beijing as well as Washington as Pakistan implements educational reform that would Islamicize syllabi across the board from primary schools to universities. Critics charge that religion would account for up to 30 per cent of the syllabus.

Islamization of Pakistani education rooted in conservative religious concepts contrasts starkly with moves by countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to de-emphasize religious education and ensure that it is more pluralistic. The two Gulf states have positioned themselves as proponents of moderate forms of Islam that highlight religious tolerance while supporting autocratic rule.

“Pakistan is an ideological Islamic state and we need religious education. I feel that even now our syllabus is not completely Islamized, and we need to do more Islamization of the syllabus, teaching more religious content for the moral and ideological training of our citizens,” asserted Muhammad Bashir Khan, a member of parliament for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling party.

By implication, Mr. Khan, the parliamentarian, was suggesting that Pakistan was angling for a conservative leadership role in the Muslim world as various forces, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, Iran and Indonesia compete for religious soft power in what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam.

The educational reform boosts Prime Minister Khan’s effort to be the spokesman for Muslim causes. The prime minister has accused French President Emmanuel Macron of peddling Islamophobia and demanded that Facebook ban expressions of anti-Muslim sentiment.

Critics warn that the curriculum will produce anything but a society that is tolerant and pluralistic.

Said education expert Rubina Saigol: “When the state aligns itself with one sect or a singular interpretation of religion, it opens the doors to sectarian conflict, which can turn violent… There is lip service to the ideas of diversity, inclusion and mutuality but, in reality, an SNC that is gender-biased, sectarian and class-based, will sharpen social differences, undermine minority religions and sects, and violate the principles of federalism.” Ms. Saigol was referring to Prime Minister Khan’s Single National Curriculum project by its initials.

Former Senator Farhatullah Babar warned that “The SNC…opens the door for… (religious) seminary teachers to enter mainstream educational institutions… It is well known that a majority of the education of seminary students is grounded in sectarianism. Imagine the consequences of…seminary teachers trained and educated in sectarian education entering the present educational institutions.”

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