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Posted at: Mar 11, 2018, 1:18 AM; last updated: Mar 11, 2018, 1:18 AM (IST)AS I PLEASE

Shame, as statues are defaced, pulled down

K. Natwar Singh
These acts harm domestic cohesion, which is vital for strong foreign policy

By K. Natwar Singh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi did well to condemn the pulling down of Vladimir Lenin’s statues and vandalising of statues of BR Ambedkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, EV Ramasamy aka Periyar, Mahatma Gandhi and PM Modi. 

Those who committed these outrageous acts brought no credit to their parties. They are vicious lumpens, who wounded our civilisation, culture, commitment to tolerance and rational behaviour. As far as I can remember, such barbarism has seldom been witnessed before.

Statues have been pulled down and trampled upon in the erstwhile Soviet Union. Saddam Hussain’s statue was brought down in Baghdad in the presence of TV crews. 

The news of the desecration of statues in various parts of our country has been telecast worldwide. These acts do great harm to our democracy. Why? Because the strength and success of foreign policy depends on domestic cohesion. Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India, wrote, “Foreign policies depend ultimately on internal conditions and developments. Internal progress for us, therefore, becomes essential, if we are to play an effective part in world affairs.”

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During the past four years, scores of heads of states, vice-presidents, kings, princes and foreign ministers have visited India. These visits have resulted in enhancing mutual goodwill and respect. Dozens of agreements have been signed. This is fine as far as it goes. But how far does it go? How many of these agreements have produced concrete results or benefits? These are valid questions which need answers.

For some time, diplomacy and foreign policy of the Modi government have appeared wobbly. I will start with Nepal. The Pakistan PM was in Kathmandu last week. One of the subjects he discussed with PM Oli was Kashmir. China is spreading its wings in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Myanmar at our cost. Our decision to set up a defence outfit in the Seychelles has run into trouble. Pakistan is in a different category. It has a chronic antipathy towards India.

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Our economy is apparently doing well. Does GDP alone ensure salvation? How about employment? What about equality? Do we have a well thought through educational policy? Is justice denied to millions or is it not? Are all economic explanations of development faultless? I am not an economist. But I do earnestly hold that economics is only a small part of human life and human activity.

PN Haksar, the most cerebral and foresighted civil servant India has produced, concluded his convocation address delivered on October 29, 1979, at the University of Bombay, saying “If we wish to understand development, and not merely understand but do something meaningful about it, economics is not enough.”

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The 35th anniversary of the seventh NAM Summit held in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Indira Gandhi fell on March 7, 2018. Non-alignment is today considered out of date. You can discard the name, not its contents, which emphasised that nations practise independent foreign policies. NAM needs to be reinvented for dealing with international problems.

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For the last eight weeks, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un were abusing each other in unbridled language. The world on Friday was startled when US President accepted Kim’s invitation to meet. Apparently, even the White House staff was unaware of Trump’s change of mind. If he succeeds in finding a way to lower the peninsular heat, he would be a strong candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

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Recently, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said China and India should shed “mental inhibitions” for resolving differences. He emphasised the necessity of mutual trust. He added the Chinese dragon and Indian elephant must not fight each other, but dance with each other. Let me, in my rusted Chinese, say Shea Shea Ni — thank you.


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