Kremlin rolled a red carpet and India’s “pampered Prince” caroled superlatives for the communist giant. Soviets cleverly capped it with two trade agreements, enveloping Rajiv in such a world of euphuistic superciliousness as to make him brazenly castigate United States for its role in developing Pakistan’s nuclear competence. The bosses in Moscow, through a long and probing association, know the art of exploiting Nehru dynasty’s essentially egotistical nature better than the leaders in Washington, who are seriously handicapped in this game by their ingrained democratic straightforwardness.

By criticizing America’s role in Pakistan’s nuclear program Rajiv, in a typically Brahmin style, is trying to preempt the possibility of Washington raising issues like India’s open support to terrorists in Sri Lanka, its flagrant violation of human rights and ruthless massacre of minorities, particularly that of Punjab. His aim is to put Washington on the defensive rather than explain his indefensible policies. While charging that Pakistan’s nuclear capacity will upset the power balance in South East Asia, he clean forgets about Pakistan’s vulnerability in the ominous context of Russian occupation of Afghanistan and Delhi’s expansionist designs. The way India engineered Pakistan’s dismemberment and helped create Bangladesh is something which Rawalpindi cannot forget in a hurry. Washington must appreciate Pakistan’s legitimate anxiety for survival exposed as it is to two mighty and hostile powers. Instead Washington must express its concern at the violation of human rights, suppression of Sikhs and Indian support to Tamil terrorists.

Ever since India gained independence, Washington has been genuinely interested in its welfare and has consistently been extending massive economic aid to accelerate its development. India has benefitted more from America than from any other country, yet politically it has always aligned itself with the Soviet block.

Reagan administration’s attempt to woo Rajiv is also destined to prove an exercise in futility in the same way as Harry Truman’s extravagantly royal welcome to Jawahar Lal Nehru proved in 1948. Even when Nehru was feeding India with American wheat, he was towing the Soviet line. His daughter, Indira Gandhi also faithfully continued following in his footsteps. When Rajiv first announced the schedule of his foreign tour, there was no mention of a visit to the Soviet Union. His itinerary primarily included France and America. Subsequently it was announced that he would first go to the Soviet Union. Evidently the Big Brother had not relished the first announcement; consequently it had to be revised. Washington must realize that Rajiv is a prisoner both of his legacy as well as of the military and economic compulsions of his country. It is beyond him to extricate himself from the Soviet strangle hold despite the motivated talk of his western education and Italian wife.

Rajiv is conscious of Washington’s anxiety to woo him and he would like to profit by this anxiety. Perhaps he can succeed if he shows the artfulness of Elizabeth I of England who, through a policy of premeditated prevarication, successfully used both Spanish and French suitors for the advantage of her country. It is essentially a feminine art. How well he masters it, only time will tell.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 31, 1985