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FEB Editorials

Jul 06, 2018



  • 8/18/2019 FEB Editorials


    CM YK


    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2015

    8   T H E H I N D U M O N D AY , F E BR UAR Y 2, 20 1 5 NOIDA/DELHI


    U nion Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party 

    leader Ravi Shankar Prasad calling for a na-

    tional debate on whether the words “socialist”

    and “secular” should continue to be part of the

    Preamble to the Constitution in the wake of the contro-

     versy over the Central government using a “watermark of 

    the original Preamble” in advertisements released in the

    print media on the occasion of Republic Day — which did

    not have those words — has set off a debate on a constitu-

    tional amendment made during the period of the Emer-

    gency. It followed the Shiv Sena’s demand that the two

    key words be dropped altogether from the amended Pre-

    amble. In conceptually adding the words to the Preamble

    by means of the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act,

    1976, wherein the words “Sovereign Democratic Repub-

    lic” were substituted with “Sovereign Socialist Secular

    Democratic Republic”, the Statement of Objects and Rea-

    sons appended to that Bill said it was to “spell out ex-

    pressly the high ideals of socialism, secularism and the

    integrity of the nation, to make the directive principles

    more comprehensive and give them precedence over

    those fundamental rights which have been allowed to be relied upon to frustrate socio-economic reforms for im-

    plementing the directive principles.” That the working of 

    the Constitution shows shortcomings, that the insertion

    of these two words was done during the period of the

    Emergency under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and that

    the Indian ethos is ‘inherently secular’, making the in-

    clusion redundant, are the main arguments put forward

    by the ruling dispensation now.

     As many legal pundits have convincingly shown, the

    Preamble embodies the “basic philosophy and funda-

    mental values on which the Constitution is based”. The

    inclusion of the words “socialist” and “secular” is best

    seen as an explication of the ideals modern India has

    drawn directly from the freedom struggle. Upendra Baxi,

    citing the great constitutional historian Granville Austin

    — despite his differences with him — recalls how the

    “roots of the directive principles” could be traced to the

    1931 Karachi Congress resolution, and to the “two

    streams of socialist and nationalist sentiments in India

    that had been flowing ever faster since the late 1920s.”

    Even the Morarji Desai-led Janata Party government, in

    which the Jan Sangh was a constituent, did not think it necessary to delist these two words when they enacted

    the 44th Amendment to nullify the objectionable features

    introduced in the 42nd Amendment Act. Political scien-

    tists also emphasise that in the S.R. Bommai case, the

    Supreme Court held that “secularism is an integral part”

    of the Constitution’s basic structure. With or without the

    amended Preamble, the Indian Constitution will remain

    secular, but the signal the dropping of the words would

    send will be disconcerting to the minorities.

     A needless controversy

    P resident Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi carefully  omitted mentioning Pakistan dur- ing the U.S. President’s recent visit

    to India. But that did not stop Pakistani politicians and media from “warning” Amer- ica against trying to “establish India’s dom- inance” in South Asia. Amid talk of Pakistan expanding security ties with China and Rus- sia, its Foreign Office issued an official state- ment complaining that an India-U.S.

    partnership would alter South Asia’s “bal- ance of power” and create a “regional imbalance.”

    In reality, the Pakistani reaction reflects the Pakistani security establishment cling- ing to the notion of parity with India. For years, Pakistan has ignored changes in the global environment and accepted the heavy  price of internal weakness to project itself as India’s equal. Islamabad also insists on reso- lution of the Kashmir dispute as the essen- tial prerequisite for normal ties with its much larger neighbour.

    Equality and parity 

    The parity doctrine as well as the empha- sis on Kashmir are rooted in ideology and the two-nation theory that was the basis of Mu- hammad Ali Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan. For a country to base its foreign policy for over 60 years on the same assumptions is unusual. As the world around us changes, so must a nation’s foreign policy. But Pakistan has yet to embrace pragmatism as the basis of its foreign and national security policies.

    Pakistanis such as me realise that seeking

    security in relation to a much larger neigh-bour is not the same thing as insisting on parity with it. All nations are equal in in- ternational law but sovereign equality is not synonymous with parity.

    In any case, Pakistan is India’s rival in real terms only as much as Belgium could rival

    France or Germany and Vietnam could hope

    to be on a par with China. India’s population is six times larger than Pakistan’s while its economy is 10 times the size of the Pakistani economy. Notwithstanding internal prob- lems, India’s $2 trillion economy has man- aged consistent growth whereas Pakistan’s $245 billion economy has grown sporadical- ly and is undermined by jihadi terrorism and domestic political chaos.

    Country comparisons

    India is expanding by most measures of  national power while Pakistan has been able to keep pace with it only in manufacturing

    nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Pakistanis are often not told of the widening gap between the two countries in most fields.

    For example, 94 per cent of India’s chil-dren between five and 15 complete primary  school compared with 54 per cent in Pakis- tan. Every year, 8,900 Indians get a PhD in the sciences compared with the 8,142 docto- rates awarded by Pakistan’s universities since Independence. The total number of 

    books published in any language on any sub-

     ject in Pakistan in 2013, includi ng religious titles and children’s books, stood at 2,581, against 90,000 in India.

    The parity doctrine also requires Pakista- nis to see India as an existential enemy. Textbooks still tell Pakistani children that Hindu India threatens Islamic Pakistan and seeks to terminate its existence. Hardly any- one outside of Pakistan believes that to be true.

    Nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction usually freeze conflicts and pave the way for détente as they did between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. But little has changed in

    the Pakistani ideology after the induction of  nuclear weapons on the subcontinent. There is little recognition that with nuclear weap-

    ons, Pakistan no longer has any reason tofeel insecure about being overrun by a larger Indian conventional force.

    Kashmir issue

    The notion of an existential threat to Pa- kistan is now only psycho-political and ide-

    ological. Pakistan has already fought four wars with India and lost half its territory in the process — the erstwhile East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1971.

     As for Jammu and Kashmir, one need not deny Pakistan’s initial claims to recognise that it might not be an issue that can be resolved in the foreseeable future. Jihadi  militancy, since 1989, has failed to wrest Kashmir for Pakistan from India as has war and military confrontation.

    Islamabad should also evaluate realistical- ly its hope of internationalising the Kashmir

    issue. The last effective UN resolution on Kashmir was passed by the Security Council in 1957, when the United Nations had 82 members. Last year, with 193 members, Pa- kistan’s Prime Minister was the only world leader who mentioned Jammu and Kashmir at the UN General Assembly.

    In the U.S.’s calculations

    U.S. economic and military aid ($40 bil- lion to date since 1950) encouraged the per- petuation of Pakistan’s doctrine of parity  with India. Pakistanis thought that with the support of external allies, Pakistan could compensate for its inherent disadvantage in size against India. But now Washington sees India as America’s longer-term ally and partner.

    The size of India’s market and potential for greater trade, investment and defence sales are important elements in recent U.S. calculations. But even immediately after In- dependence, India and not Pakistan was deemed to be America’s natural ally. A 1949 Pentagon report described India as “the nat- ural political and economic center of South

     Asia” and the country with which the U.S.had greater congruence of interests. India’s decision to stay non-aligned in the

    stand-off between the West and the Soviet bloc, benefited Pakistan in its formative years. India argued that it needed to benefit from both sides in the Cold War. Pakistan, a new state unsure of its future and searching for aid to bolster its economy and security, stepped in to become a part of U.S.-led mil- itary alliances.

    Pakistan’s old school diplomats, politic- ians and military thinkers are now upset that they cannot count on the U.S. as the equalis- er in their quest for equivalence with India. China is already a close ally of Pakistan and cannot tip the balance in Pakistan’s favour on its own. In any case, it is unlikely that China, with its growing Uyghur problem, wi