Friday, April 1, 2011

STRING PULLING : Whither Bangladesh?

The Wikileaks have brought to fore the international forces that influence the governance of this country. Most political observers here had for a long time suspected that India was the puppeteer who pulled the strings of one section of the politicians. Now, through the Wikileaks, if their publications are to be believed, the actual mechanics have been explained. It seems that the US has accepted that the Indian sphere of influence covers the South Asian Sub- continent sans Pakistan. This puts Bangladesh squarely in the Indian domain. Unfortunately for India gone are the George bush days of " either you are with us or against us" and the US is now no more the super power that it used to be.    The events in Libya are an example of how the world has changed. The intervention in Libya was a far cry from the US cowboy who rode into Iraq with all guns blazing. So much was the belief in their own cowpat that the then President flew down to Iraq claiming a very premature, if not totally ridiculous, victory. In Libya the US waited and went in only after the full weight of the United Nations was behind the intervention, and not, as in the case of Iraq, "on advise of a friendly nation". Even after that the US was reluctant to lead the posse into the desert and forced the command on NATO.    It therefore appears that in the new scheme of things, the US is reluctant to take lead in foreign campaigns. In Afghanistan and in Iraq also the bull now wants of sneak out of the china shops that it had once raged into. The sun of the Western Empire now seems to be finally setting. The question is how is it going to affect us? Will India be able to hold its own against China, the new global super power in waiting? Will there be a confrontation between China and India over Arunachal, the Northeast Indian state claimed by China as Zangnan or South Tibet. What will Bangladesh's stand be should there be such a confrontation?    These are the realities that Bangladesh will have to face in the not too distant a future. The new China is the rebirth of an old imperial force, with more wealth and more power that at any point of its four thousand year old history. It is very unlikely that China will let go of the territory that Henry McMahon slashed away from it in 1913. Should that happen, will India be able to hold on the other six rebellious far eastern states? Yes, it will be able to but only if Bangladesh cooperates and allows that to happen. Strange as it may sound, Bangladesh is the only piece of stable real estate in the eastern part of South Asia which unfortunately does not know its own worth.    The Prof. Yunus saga has shown that the present US administration does not share the faith of the previous US administration regarding the ability of India to supervise the other South Asian countries. The visit of the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, chose to deliver the message himself instead of routing it through New Delhi. The withholding the disbursement of $500 million loan to help the balance of payment may not be an isolated incident either but definitely indicative of the erosion of the Indian influence in Washington.    The new realities of the world is that of the new world powers, China, Russia and Brazil are forging ahead leaving the fourth placed India far behind. However, thanks to western media, the last placed country is getting far greater publicity than the first three. Western capital also, the latest being Warren buffet, is heaping their money on India in the hope of propping it up against the dread of the West, China. This is unlikely to succeed because the Indian economy is not based on domestic consumption and is too dependent on the western economies which themselves are sinking. In fact, the economic disparity between western and eastern India is not unlike if not more than the disparity between the two former wings of Pakistan, a fact being exploited by the Maoists in the east.    Bangladesh must take a serious note of the present and impending changes both globally and regionally. The US is an aging super power limping towards the sunset to join the ranks of Britain and France. The sheer greed of the West to consume more at the cost of the rest of the world has rendered it a net importer, manipulating the global financial system to pay its bills. That line of credit is finally running out and the world is foreclosing on it and when it sinks, it is best to swim away from its vortex, the farther the better.    This country is no longer an economically weak country, but is one with huge potentials that can offer the world the next cheap production platform after China. For this the country needs massive investments in infrastructure and industry, something that is way beyond the ability of India, something which only China can provide. Indeed as wages and costs keep rising in China, industry there is looking for a new home for relocation. This country fortunately can offer to host those industries if it has the political will. That political will is dependent on the ability of Bangladesh to distance itself from the West and its surrogates and act in its own interest.