DateThe History of Native Indian-American
The history of native Indian Americans is quite complex. There has always been the question as to where they originated, whether they were from Siberia, Beringia, Phoenicia, and Alaska or even from al of these parts. However, it is known that they were some of the first people to inhabit America making them the first horticulturalists and environmentalists. They were also known to be excellent fishermen, big-game hunters and agriculturalists. Initially harvesting wild vegetation, they progressively developed hybrids in an effort to increase the productivity. Within no time, beans, squash and maize were key agricultural products.
Supporting more than fifteen percent of the total world’s population today, India is second to China in terms of total population. According to India’s constitution, the country is sovereign, secular, socialist and a democratic republic. While it is run by a federal government, its central government wields more power as far as its states are concerned. India incorporates a rich history where it has in the course of history been invaded from Iranian plateau, Arabia, Central Asia, Afghanistan as well as the West, with its culture and people absorbing and customizing these influences thereby coming up with remarkable cultural and racial synthesis (Moraes 1).
Like numerous other countries, the political and social organization of India has been determined primarily by language, caste and religion. The initial steps towards self-government were taken in late 1800s, with the country becoming a republic in mid 1900’s. Since then, it has undergone a lot of transformation both internal and external; transformations that have deeply shaped not only its course but also that of other nations.
It is important to acknowledge that, the fundamentals of its foreign policy were put in place during the freedom movement. The philosophy of its foreign policy has been based on being friendly to every other nation, use of peaceful means to resolve conflicts, the belief that every other nation is sovereign, and freedom of action as shown in the philosophy of non-alignment. It has also been based on equity in conducting any activities pertaining to international relations.
With such a foundation, it is therefore no wonder that after attaining independence in 1947 through long-drawn-out struggle, all the bitterness of the past conflicts was relegated to the periphery setting the pace for an entirely new era of friendship and peace. It forged a friendship with its former colonizer Britain therefore creating the impression that it did not have any inherited conflicts or problems with other countries (Thakur 2). It had succeeded in attaining peace via peaceful means, which set the country to the family of free states, without any enmities or unresolved hatred, territorial or otherwise. The country has always been determined to have cooperative and friendly relation with every state. Its aim has been promoting social and economic progress without being embroiled in national and international conflicts. Nevertheless, it is some of its actions that have triggered or at least shaped foreign affairs albeit by default, even when it was not meant to be the case.
In May 1998, India carried out nuclear tests that shook the unsuspecting world. Since time immemorial, India had persistently questioned the reason as to why the five nuclear powers (Russia, United States, France, United Kingdom and China) had not followed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty of 1970 and gotten rid of their nuclear weapons. Even after having shown its nuclear capability in 1974, the country had not tested it for over two decades. Its decision makers had made it clear that no nuclear tests would be carried out until the completion of a comprehensive strategic review on the security concerns, as well as the best way of coping with them. In this case, when the explosions were seen in Rajasthan Desert, corresponding explosions were set off in various capitals of the world. This was due to its prompting of Pakistan to test its nuclear bombs 2 weeks later. This attracted a lot of criticism from pundits, academics, foreign diplomats and policymakers who insinuated that declaring Pakistan and India as nuclear powers would encourage other countries to acquire these weapons therefore unraveling the basis of weapon non-proliferation. This could drive the continent into nuclear war.
The condemnations directed at the country however overlooked the reason behind the tests. The tests were driven by the country’s fear as to the enduring threat that was posed by Pakistan and China, as well as bureaucratic pressures that emanated from the country’s scientific-technological complex. While the world did not pay much attention to these concerns, there is evidence as to the assistance advanced to Pakistan from China in the 1990’s more so in design of nuclear weapons as well as ballistic missile technology. This converted Pakistan into a fundamental strategic surrogate of China in the South Asia. While many may view the tests as a preparation for a nuclear aggression, subsequent statements and doctrines have explicitly undermined the fact that India views this arsenal as a deterrent and not instruments of war.
Essentially, the main role of a nuclear arsenal is to shield the country from any prospective coercion or nuclear blackmail from Pakistan or China. India has clearly renounced the use of nuclear arsenal as a first option and demonstrated its disinterest in using its nuclear arsenal in pursuit of political or territorial expansion, but rather to deter any would-be blackmailer or attacker. While the likelihood of nuclear confrontation between Pakistan and India remain small, the weaponisation and the response of Pakistani have generated more stability-instability paradox. Having in mind the fact that none of them would be likely to use these weapons on the other, both countries live under perpetual temptation of making temporary and limited incursions in peripheral areas. This was witnessed in 1999, when the Pakistani troops crossed the boundary (Line of Control) in Kashmir holding onto the territory for over a month.
While the nuclear tests were widely condemned, it came as a surprise when America supplied civilian nuclear technology to India in July 2005. There were arguments to the effect that the act would be tantamount to rewarding criminality or irresponsible behavior. There were predictions that it would encourage more proliferation from countries like Iran, Brazil, North Korea and Pakistan and even prop sales from other suppliers like Russia, France and China to likely proliferators. However, this relationship between US and India continued thawing more so during Bush administration. While there may have been an improvement in the bilateral relationship between US and India, sanctions imposed still remained in place. It is due to India’s non aggression characteristic that the US wanted improved relations with an increasingly assertive and rapidly growing regional power.
India has always held onto the view that the neighborhood concept is an ever-expanding circle with cultural and historical commonalities as the central axis. This view has always guided its relations with the South East Asia. For example, in 1947, this country organized Asia Relations conference while in 1954, it chaired International Control Commission, and played a major role in organizing Bandung Conference the following year. India has been executing the “Look East” policy, underlined by crucial economic considerations. Significant steps have been made in pursuing this policy with the country being admitted as a member of ASEAN regional forum and Full-dialogue Partner of the same organization in 1996 (Varshney 2).
A vibrant foreign policy is characterized by its responsive capacity to differing developments. After the Soviet Union broke up, Central Asian Republics emerged. As a result of the economic and strategic importance of the region, India was quick to solidify the bilateral relations it has with each of the republics. With countries in East and Central Europe shifting to market oriented structures and political pluralism, India has been building on the existing institutional and business linkages in an effort to strengthen ties with these countries.
India’s foreign policy has always been founded on improving relations with its neighbors. It is therefore no wonder that India played a distinctive and historic role in liberating Bangladesh, which became a sovereign state in 1971. By implementing the 1974 and 1964 Agreements, issues pertaining to stateless people in Sri Lanka were resolved. India also assisted Maldives in deterring armed mercenaries from taking over the country in 1988 thereby helping in the preservation of the country’s integrity.
India has gained international recognition for taking concerted efforts in strengthening ties with its neighbors. The initiatives have five principles as their basis. With neighbors such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh, India would not be aiming at reciprocity but rather does everything in trust and good faith. At no time should any country in the South Asia allow its territory used against another country in the region’s interests. It acknowledges that none of them should interfere with another country’s internal affairs.
In addition, all the countries in South Asia should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one another. Finally, it acknowledges that all disputes amongst them should be settled via peaceful negotiations. The canons played a very critical role in strengthening relations. Testament to this is the signing of a treaty with Bangladesh as to sharing of Ganga waters. There has also been a lot of advancement in key projects for economic partnership with Nepal and Bhutan while improved relationship has been noted with Sri Lanka. While there may be a strained relationship between India and Pakistan, India continues to pursue policies that would improve the relations under similar agreement that was signed by both countries in 1972. This agreement provided for bilateral and peaceful resolution of any outstanding issues and establishment of long-lasting peace in the continent.
In the 90’s, the economic problems facing India and the breakdown of bi-polar political system made it necessary for New Delhi to examine its foreign policy thereby lead to adjustment of foreign relations. The previous polices were inadequate in coping with the severe international and domestic problems it was facing. India lost quite a bit of international leverage after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Domestic economic and political influences, pragmatic security and economic considerations reinforced India’s dependency on the US abandonment of its anti- Israeli policies in Middle East. It also aligned itself with Central Asian states as well as newly industrializing republics in Southeast and East Asia.
India’s affairs have had profound effects not only in its foreign affairs but also those of other nations. It is notable however that, its policy or non alignment and non interference with any other country’s internal affairs has endeared it to quite a number of states. It is worth noting that even with the strained relationship between India and Pakistan, there have been no serious conflicts and it continues pursuing an improvement of relations between the two.
Moraes, Frank. “Succession and Division in India”. Foreign Affairs. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
Thakur, Ramesh. “India in the World: Neither Rich, Powerful, nor Principled”. Foreign Affairs. 14 July 1997. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
Varshney, Ashutosh. “India’s Democratic Challenge”. Foreign Affairs. 6 April 2007. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.