Friday, February 23, 2024

What does Modi mean by a journey of next thousand years?

“What we do today could shape our next thousand years.”

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had a grim visage when he said so in Indian parliament the other day. (Watch video, time stamp: 16.00-17.34). 

And what does India do to shape our next thousand years? 

Be charmed by the West and its hegemony of the last 500 years or hitch on to an emerging multipolar world everyone else is making a beeline to?

Has India made its choice between a unipolar and a multipolar world? 

Is it possible for India to ride both the boats as it hits the choppy waters of international politics? 

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There was once a time when the United States and Soviet Union straddled the world. 

The 1990s spun a new world: Soviet Union was over and terrorism emerged as an instrument of geopolitics. 

In the next 30 years, United States moved quickly through wars and sponsorship of terrorism to spell anarchy in most of the world. 

There was one thread in all this madness: The United States and its Western partners believed that as long as they controlled the seas (Thalassocracy) and didn’t allow the landmass of Europe, Asia and Africa to come together (the Tellurocracy), they would hold the world in their palms. 

It always feared Russia: A gnawing anxiety that if Russia was able to get the Middle East/Arabs by its side, it would be easy for them to control Africa around the Mediterranean. 

Africa, in case you didn’t know, is the richest piece of land in the world in terms of resources. 

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A geographical quirk is extremely handy to the United States and its Western allies in Africa in their quest for domination. 

From the Atlantic to the Red Sea runs a belt of arid and semi-deserts which is called the Sahel. 

Above this Sahel region is the Sahara desert and below are the savannahs of Sudan. 

Sahel is a natural barrier which kind of splits Africa into two, to put it crudely. 

This Sahel, because of its inhospitable geography, is ideal breeding ground for terrorists who move from one theatre to another with the support of the West. 

It was the West which promoted Osama bin Laden in his initial years. 

It was the West which destroyed Libya and allowed its weapons to be looted by a bunch which dominated our headlines under the name of ISIS. 

The United States targeted Syria—which incidentally hosts Russians on its Tartus port—but were foiled by Russia. 

Thanks to Russia, the ISIS soon stopped making news. 

The ISIS as a brand was over but its terrorists still existed and found an unstable Africa, and more so Sahel, a breeding sanctuary from where they could wreak havoc. 

On one hand, they got the funds and weapons from the West which the latter used as a double whammy to send its forces in the region in the name of combating terrorism and “promoting democracy.”

Over the years the Jihadis and terrorists have multiplied many times over despite the presence of West’s army which should tell you a thing or two. 

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As I said, this Sahel region is a boon for the US and its Western allies. 

It’s a strategic advantage to the United States; but to France its a gold mine as despite independence to many an African nations, it still controls West Africa. 

The US calculates that were Russia and Middle East to get together, and look to control Africa—the eternal Western fear of the Eurasian-African landmass coming together—this Sahel region, breeding terrorists to go with its geographical challenges, would bring such a movement to a sudden end. 

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Around the time of the Ukraine Crisis,  this Sahel region threatened to turn upside down the West’s strategy. 

In what could only be described as a Domino Effect, from Mali to Central African Republic to Guinea to Burkina Faso and now  Niger, all of them broke free of the French yoke and a few even managed to get stationed French troops thrown out. 

The coup in Niger though is a tipping point and France isn’t moving its troops out of its capital, Niamey. 

If this “African Spring”—a genuine one unlike the fake “Arab Spring”—was to succeed, France would literally become a pauper. 

France has the support of the United States in this quest which itself is worried for there is a Russian Wave presently sweeping across Africa. 

In a recent mass rally in South Africa, one of the leaders, Julius Malema condemned France and proclaimed: “We are Putin, and Putin is us! And we will never support imperialism against President Putin.”

So defiant are a few West African nations that they are willing to shed blood in case ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States)-a puppet body of France and the West—attacks Niger. 

Algeria, which remembers the cruel rule of France in its history all too clearly, and which is beholden to Russia for its military might, isn’t going to sit idle or just watch the spectacle. 

Then there is Russia’s Wagner Group which has made a name for itself in Africa lately. 

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It’s unlikely that India isn’t following the developments closely. 

India has invested a great deal in Africa, want to ramp it up further for Global South is an important plank in prime minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy.

Africa today is trying to break the bondage of West, and France in particular; they look at Russia as a saviour.

India in many ways is like China in Africa, at least in its approach. Beijing has more money; India more goodwill and both look to make the most of it. 

Both India and China look to support and offer help to African nations which most are grateful about. 

Yet the Africans know all of this help would come to a naught if the West remains an ever-present anarchist in this region. 

The only bet Africans have in their quest is Russia—for both India and China would never take the military route. 

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So when Modi speaks of the Next Thousand Years, he talks of the path the nation must take in its quest. 

And that if it takes the wrong path, it would lose all it has gained in recent years. 

The strident march of these years where India has earned the respect of the world would go in a jiffy if a compromised government, or a coalition government, comes to power in 2024. 

This “Mission 1000” needs to filter through the intelligentsia of this country. 

A wrong choice and the swim of today would turn into the sink of tomorrow. 

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