[Yameen in Beijing with Xi]
Has the Prime Minister lost it? Lost all sense about what works to keep the neighbourhood out of China’s grasp? Lost his marbles over the need to administer Abdulla Yameen, the calculating autocrat in Male, a dose of Indian hard power? Isn’t it time, Narendra Modiji, for you to wake up and appreciate that while your forbearance goes unappreciated by the Maldivan President, a brace of Indian warships dropping anchor off his residence promising a little roustabout, may clear his head, define his limited options, faster than the Indian PM can say “vishwa guru” (which is what he wants India to be recognized as!)
Despite every provocation, including the latest of asking Delhi to remove forthwith its helicopters loaned to the Maldives govt, the Indian ambassador being called in and given a talking to about Subramanyam Swamy’s colourful advice to “invade” Maldives should Yameen attempt to fool around with the voting process in the soon-to-be-held presidential elections and, simultaneously, keeping China among other countries informed of these developments, the BJP regime led by Modi seems unconcerned. The MEA has dismissed Swamy’s public counsel as so much hot air of a kind frequently emitted by that source and, at the same time, wondered what the world will think of India, which has clamoured for a rules-based order, if it did anything so rash because, after all, India is a “responsible” state.
This stance of being responsible, acting responsibly, in all situations and circumstances even as the ship of India’s national interest, carefully riddled with holes by a Maldivan upstart, is sinking right before our eyes is ridiculous to say the least. Who the heck is Modi and the traditionally spineless MEA seeking to impress with India’s catholicity? Trump and the US, rinky-dink European powers? Who, and for what purpose? Does the PM think it will burnish India’s image and improve its chances of becoming a great power the easy way — by acclamation? WHAT?
The principle of “responsible behaviour” has never been observed by any major country since the founding of sovereign states under the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. So Modi seems intent on setting a new standard for India to hew to, alas, to its own grievous detriment. China is in the process of taking charge of an entire atoll under the figleaf of building tourism infrastructure as part of BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) while constructing electronic intelligence gathering stations for monitoring Indian naval communications traffic. This is a start. And by way of diversion squawking incessantly about Indian military buildup of the Indonesian port of Sabang. Soon we may see a version of what the Chinese accomplished mid-channel in the South China Sea — artificially extended small islands bristling with surveillance, tracking and targeting radar slaved to long range artillery and missile systems, thereby severely undermining the extant Indian radar grid in the southern Indian Ocean and putative Indian Naval control of the strategic Eight and Nine degree channels.
What will it take for Modi to act, to send in two teams of the navy’s MARCOS (marine commandos) — more than enough, to take care of Yameen and his team of weasels and pack them off to exile to whichever country wants them. Perhaps China.
Unfortunately, enough is never enough for Messrs Modi, Doval. Modi’s overarching desire to keep the West happy by seeking Washington’s prior approval for any forceful action against Yameen reminds me of the hopeful arriviste waiting to be invited to join a club and doing anything and every thing to ingratiate himself with its powerful members, and even following the rules that they talk of but never ever follow.
There is no remedy for such lack of self-respect and, even more, for Modi’s rank unwillingness to further the country’s interests at any cost. There’s however an explanation. His own subaltern background and entrenched subaltern values and thinking drive him to do this — to seek America’s praise, part and very much parcel of his aspirational foreign policy of overtilting to the US on the one hand and, would you believe it, of placating China on the other hand.
After all the PLA can act up on Xi’s say-so at anytime on the LAC, give the Indian army a drubbing, and sink Modi’s chances of retaining power in the 2019 general elections. So Beijing has to be pacified. In this context, rubbing China the wrong way on Maldives or any other issue becomes imprudent. Whence, Yameen is allowed to do as he wishes at India’s expense.