The United States of America has been debilitated by a self-admitted disrupter president. Bolstered by his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, he rode the isolationist sentiments of right wing Christian Tea Party into the Whitehouse. The Middle East has become even more of a powder keg since Trump’s ascension to the Presidency. Qatar is being isolated by the other Arab states led by the Saudis. Ironically the well-known funders of the world wide spread of the dangerous Wahabi doctrine responsible for much terrorism in the world, the Saudis are accusing Qatar of funding terror. In Yemen, a brutal civil war rages, funded and exacerbated by the Saudis.
The South China Sea is a dangerous hot spot ensuring China and the US will remain at odds over it for some time. North Korea continues to be flash point as a result of its nuclear ambitions. A previously secular Turkey is increasingly under the grip of the strong man Erdogan who continues to Islamise it. Ever more of Erdogan’s civil society critics and journalists are being sent to prison every day. The process of desecularising of Turkish institutions moves a pace without a word of criticism or concern from Western Europe and the USA since the latter are busy dealing with the destabilising process of Brexit, made lot more complex by Theresa May’s debacle of an election that saw the Tory majority reduced to an enfeebled minority.
The disruption and uncertainty caused by Donald Trump’s on again and off again position on NATO as well as his express support of the forces of Brexit, has undermined whatever stabilising influence the European Union and NATO could have had in the world. Upheaval and instability grips many parts of Latin America and Africa; political conditions continue to deteriorate in countries such as Venezuela, Sudan and Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the UN is rarely if ever more than the sum of its parts, meaning if the Big Five collectively will it, it can be helpful in easing tensions in many of the world’s hot spots. With the US distracted and the Trump administration preoccupied with the various probes into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections and the alleged obstruction of justice by the bumbling Donald Trump, one can no longer look to the US at all. Furthermore, with the recent downing of a Syrian plane by the US over Syria, the already dim prospects of Russia and the US working in concert to bring about stability in the world have become even dimmer.
If history is any guide, there was never much hope of China helping calm tensions in the different parts of the world. It can barely control its dictatorship in North Korea that in continues to starve its population to amass nuclear weapons. In the past when difficult situations required international leadership and the Big Five or others in the world proved wanting, oftentimes India offered leadership and hope to the despairing world. Despite its relative poverty and challenges of its young democracy, India’s voice always mattered. Now even with the fastest or one of the fastest growing economies in the world, in matters of war and peace, its voice matters less than ever before.
Part of the reason for India’s diminished international voice is the increasing theisation of its politics. Once on the fringes, the RSS is now at the center of power and politics in India. Cow vigilantism, love jihad and other theistic crusades are crowding out saner influences and voices. Unless a major course correction is made, I am afraid Indian polity may go on hurtling towards becoming a theocracy in all but name. The latest example of this dangerous phenomenon is the BJP’s nomination for the presidency of India of an otherwise capable Ram Nath Kovind being presented as one of a “sanatan dalit”– soon to be the “first real Hindu Dalit president of India”, since it is argued that the former president KR Narayanan, was not a real Dalit because he happened to be Christian.
In a majority Hindu country that India is, the RSS has succeeded in sowing the seeds of an unwarranted but nonetheless deep sense of insecurity and persecution amongst many followers of the Hindu faith. This will have dangerous consequences for India’s international standing and national integration; it will engender insecurity and me-too- ism among the followers of other faiths; and if the theisation of its politics continues, the world will pay less heed to India’s important voice.
A world in turmoil, looking for moral leadership a great nation like India can provide, will be the poorer for it if like Turkey and Pakistan, India too religionises its politics, thus taking itself out of the running for the world leadership role it so richly deserves.