South Asia politics and hegemonic Indian designs | By Dr Muhammad Khan


South Asia politics and hegemonic Indian designs

THE decolonisation of Subcontinent has been widely covered by the writers of international relations. However, only a few writers unveiled the re-colonization of South Asia by India.

Indeed, under the leadership of first Indian Prime Minister, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, India conceived a long-term strategy of re-colonizing the regional states of South Asia through a gradual process.

This Indian strategy has three broad features; a) creating political instability in the targeted state, b) creating economic crisis in that state and c) creating conflicts, based on ethnicity, sub-nationalism or religion based clashes.

Indeed, as a successor state of British India, the Indian leadership assumed all the roles of its colonial masters.

A famous Indian writer, Bhabani Sen Gupta in his writing clearly outlined Indian goals as a regional hegemon.

He said, “The Indian elephant cannot transform itself into a mouse. If South Asia is to get itself out of the crippling binds of conflicts and cleavages, the six will have to accept the bigness of the seventh.

And the seventh, that is India, will have to prove to the six that big can indeed be beautiful.

” Whereas, the bygone has never proved to be beautiful and agreeable neighbour, rest six have suffered desperately in last seven decades.

There cannot be any better description of Indian hegemonic designs against its neighbours than what Mr Gupta described.

Indeed, it is a soft elaboration of hegemonic based regional Indian order in South Asian region which had seven states until, 2004.

In 2005, Afghanistan was included as a member state of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), thus considered a South Asian state thereafter.

Unlike the perception of Mr Gupta, in its entire post-colonial history, India never proved itself to be accommodative and responsible neighbour for South Asian states.

Rather, it proved itself as wild-elephant for all of its neighbours; the regional states of South Asiaand even some of ASEAN states, attempting to overpowerall one by one.

In this game of over-powering the neighbours, Pakistan proved as a reluctant state to accept the Indian hegemony.

Since India found Pakistan strong enough to be overpoweredtherefore managed to disintegrate it in 1971 for establishing its hegemony regional order smaller states of South Asia.

As outlined by writer, Kathryn Jacques, India totally dominates over the domestic and foreign policies of Bangladesh right from 1975.

Indeed, the ‘turbulent political life and economic woes of the Bangladesh’ are part of Indian regional dominance.

A coercing Indian policy; where its neighbouring states would be bound to look towards India for the solution of their domestic issues and foreign relationship.

Indeed, these issues are created by India, thus key to their solutions lies with New Delhi.

The sovereignty and territorial integrity of two sovereign Himalayan states; Bhutan and Nepal have been constantly undermined by India ever since 1950s.

Indeed, India wanted the Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim as its parts. However, it could only force Sikkim as its part in 1975 despite Chinese resistance. India however, faced stiff resistance from sovereign states of Bhutan and Nepal.

India forced Bhutan to sign an agreement in 1949 for an indirect control over its foreign policy and domestic affairs.

Since then, “Bhutan has found it hard to gain diplomatic independence” despite a new agreement in 2007.

As per Global Times, “Bhutan’s subordination to India is a remnant of the British Empire. ”Nepal remained under Indian influence for over seven decades.

Its struggle to come out of the Indian hegemony was countered through Indian sponsored Moist insurgency which lasted until 2006.

In 2020, Nepal unveiled a new map, claiming its sovereignty over its own integral parts under Indian influence which peeved New Delhi.

Nepal seriously protested with India over the construction of a road, inaugurated by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The road connects Dharchula in the Indian state of Uttarakhand to the LipuLekh called the Kalapani territory, which is a Nepali territory since centuries.

Maldives, a tiny island state is facing Indian hegemony since 1980s. India stage-managed a drama of attacking and rescuing this state in 1988 and thereafter New Delhi is constantly dominating over its policies, ruling elites and the domestic hierarchical system.

The current ruling class of Maldives is trying to spearhead India; “India Out” campaign in the Indian Ocean archipelago. India has been supporting the three-decade long insurgency of LTTE against Sri Lanka.

Indeed, Indian bid to become a real regional hegemon was countered by Sri Lankan military once India sent its heavy military forces for the peace keeping mission in that country in 1987.

Indian military was beaten back and thereafter, India fully supported the rebels (LTTE) by all means to punish that state.

India is against Sri Lankan Government getting closer to China and Pakistan and it was indirect Indian strategy which caused Sri Lanka’s economic collapse in 2021/22.

As an island country Sri Lanka has a very unique and strategic location in the Indian Ocean, therefore, India is fearful of its international relationship with other states of Asia especially China and Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, the entire Indian involvement is aimed destabilizing Pakistan through promotion of terrorism while making use of Afghan soil.

Despite Taliban rule in Afghanistan since August 2021, Indian RAW is colluding with TTP and Daesh for militancy and terrorism in various bordering areas of Pakistan.

The South Asian region is seriously threatened by rising Indian imperialism.

Indian strategy against its South Asian neighbours is based on; imposition of Indian hegemony and an Indian Order in South Asia.

Through this order, New Delhi would achieve two objectives; long-term Indian imperialism and hegemony over the regional states and to keep China away from the region.

This strategy is all about for the subjugation of South Asian states which runs counter to the essence of modern state system. Until now Pakistan has obstructed this Indian regional hegemonic design.

The other South Asian states must evaluate the threats and consequences of such an Indian hegemonic order before it is too late.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.