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India and World – Arab Spring
Understanding Arab Spring:
The relative material deprivation combined with a
perceived sense of injustice of the regime as
reflected in the form of high corruption, growing
Americanization of Arab world after 9/11 and its
moral‐political bankruptcy on the Palestinian issue
has ignited the long wounded Arabs on the street.
The flight of Ben Ali, the reclusive dictator of
Tunisia, in view of small scale protests lifted the
fear of Arab autocratic regimes and provided a big
moral solace to the people to come out in the street
against the regime.
Edward Thompson’s conception of ‘the moral
economy of poor’ has direct relevance for
understanding this ‘discontent’ in contemporary
Arab world. According to Thompson, food protests
are not merely ‘rebellions of the belly’ or responses
to economic hardship by the working class, but
expressions of loss of the right to livelihood and
economic justice, which had been hitherto partly
legitimated by states seen as paternalistic.
Middle East – home to five million Indian citizens and most of India’s energy supplies.
To play a greater role geopolitical decisionmaking.After all, the non-interventionist tradition is a relic of the time when India was weak and poor. It seems ill-fitted to the foreign policy of a country increasingly strong and prosperous.
Growing global role:
Given its status as the world’s largest democracy, India can play a unique role in supporting the democratic forces. Presents a working democratic model in a sociocultural environment far closer to the Gulf’s than Western democracies are—and with none of the political baggage of the latter.
Discuss Democracy Vs Non-intervention
India today brands itself on the world stage as ‘the fastest growing free market democracy’. Acting on this belief, India already has worked to strengthen democratic institutions in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and, most prominently, Afghanistan.
India was one of ten founding members of the Community of Democracies and a leading co-founder of the UN Democracy Fund, dedicated to promoting good governance and human rights around the world. India has participated in the multilateral activities of the Center for Democratic Transitions, the Partnership for Democratic Governance, and the Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership.
AS presents an opportunity to project New Delhi’s soft power, which is considerable in the region.
AS states will need to establish the institutions of good governance, from strong political parties to independent judiciaries. New Delhi’s advice and assistance would make these countries better homes for Indian workers, better allies in stabilizing a region of great strategic importance to India’s development, more reliable energy suppliers, and more prosperous trade and investment partners.
The crisis of governance in the Arab world also presents an opportunity to strengthen US-India ties. Whether working together with India or independently toward similar ends, the world’s largest democracies bring complementary strengths to the hard task of building a culture of democracy across the Arab world.
What has it done till now
Earlier this year, India voted with the other great powers on the UN Security Council to sanction Libya following Colonel Gaddafi’s brutal crackdown.
What else can it do
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised the possibility of Indian support for upcoming elections in Egypt. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, has approached India for help with conducting nationwide elections. Given India’s remarkable success in regularly organizing elections for hundreds of millions of its citizens, it’s uniquely positioned to provide this expertise.
First, it is likely to result in the realignment of political forces at regional level that
will strengthen the forces of ‘pan‐Arabism’ against Israel. Under the convulsion of people’s pressure the issue of ‘Arab pride’ with ‘liberation of Palestine’ at its centre is bound to resurface at the regional level in near future. Therefore India needs to avoid a close identification with Israel.
India still has remarkable good will in the region which it might loose if it continues to ally itself too closely with United States and Israel. India needs to maintain a ‘strategic autonomy’ vis‐ a vis United States and must reorient her ties with the Arab world as an indispensable component of her strategic autonomy and commercial exigencies and create a new discourse in line with the evolving norms of Arabism.
With Turkey’s series of anti‐Israel stand and
its shifting focus towards normalizing relationship
with countries of Arab world and Iran in recent
years, the ‘Turkish model of democracy’ has gained
public attention in the Arab world.India therefore, needs to
strengthen its ties with Turkey. A strong tie with
Turkey will help India in protecting its security,
political and commercial interest in Central Asia. It
appears that Turkey is more than wiling to expand
its commercial venture in South and Southeast
Asian countries through India, while allowing the
Indian commercial interest in North Africa and
Central Asia through Turkey.
The rivalry for regional leadership
between Saudi Arabia and Iran along the line of
sectarian identity‐Sunni and Shii is likely to increase
in coming years. Given that India has heavy stake in
Persian Gulf in terms of hydrocarbon, remittances,
service, and trade it needs to maintain a delicate
diplomatic balance between these two regional rival
Fourth, as the region is pregnant with uncertain
future India needs to diversify its sources of
hydrocarbons and must prepare a contingency plan
to look after the six million diaspora located in the
Arab publics are clamouring for reform. Supporting them isn’t a policy of regime change or the imposition of outside values. It is nothing more than pursuing at once our interests and our values.
Many commentators see this popular outburst as beginning of real democratic transformation of Islamic West Asian and North African Countries. Only time will testify this predicament.However, it will certainly lead to some political reform in the region in the direction of greater democratic openness, increased transparency, enhanced governance and increased popular participation.
How can/ should India play a more proactive role in democratic transition??