Out of Box

The timing of French President Jacques Chirac’s three-day visit to India will no doubt deflect some of the criticism from the Opposition parties leveled against the UPA Government on India’s nuclear agreement with the United States. This is not to forget the rancor of the Left Front which is giving outside support to the Manmohan Singh led government and virtually trying to control the strings that operate the Government’s economic and foreign policy. It will be indeed good if the Left Parties themselves are made answerable for some of their own actions instead of merely pointing fingers at the government. 

One of the problems with Left Parties is that they would always like that the benefit of doubt be bestowed on them. A coalition arrangement as the present one provides ample ground for the Left to point fingers and poke their noses at everything and anybody without being held responsible. How would one explain the fact that the Left never joined the government at the Centre despite ample opportunities to partake in the governance of the country? In short, they would like to wield as much power and influence over the government but will rather abdicate responsibility when it is thrown at them. If the Left does have a view or have to address their known constituency, it would have been a worthier cause if they participated inside the government. That way, at least power and responsibility will go hand in hand.

As far as the Left questioning the government’s stand on the nuclear deal with the US and the vote against Iran is concerned, it should first contemplate on what it is saying and this requires that it understands the changing nature of international politics rather than merely opposing for the sake of argument. In a hard critique of the Left, a senior journalist and noted columnist Tavleen Singh points to the ‘Marxist sense of impunity’. “They only need to worry about winning elections in West Bengal, so why should they care what they say and do?” Tavleen goes on to state that the Indian Marxists operate on double standards whereby they believe in the right of other countries to do things that they insist are bad in India. So privatization and capitalism are bad for India but good for China. 

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently told Parliament, India’s Foreign Policy continues to be guided by an enlightened national interest. And certainly the author of India’s Foreign Policy Jawaharlal Nehru’s understanding of this enlightened national interest goes much beyond the cold war cliché of non-alignment which the Left would like to dearly hold onto while the real world has moved on to a new framework of politics. The Left should take a cue from the recent statement made by the Prime Minister  about the need for ‘out of box’ thinking and that issues would have to be judged on “merits rather than in a mechanical or deterministic manner”. As rightly pointed out, while we must be guided by the experiences of the past, we need not be constrained by it.