The recently concluded India-US Summit is in a way a culmination of a long process that goes back in time. The embrace of our two nations has been fast forwarded by PM Modi and President Biden in their individual understanding of what the future holds.
The US has long been overwhelmingly dominated demographically, intellectually and financially by the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) community and this constituted the majoritarian core of its founders and their values. However, post WW2, immigration and the ability of the US to attract to its shores the best scientific and creative talent worldwide threw up an interesting reality in the third decade of this century. This was the recognition of the BASH (Brown Anglo-Saxon Sikh-Hindu) community with a smattering of Indian Muslims included in it, as probably the most important and influential immigrant community in the US, apart from numerically being the second largest as well.
And when the US looked north to its Canadian neighbour it discovered that the reality in Canada was even more acute as Canadian politics is now heavily influenced by the BASH community let alone professions and mercantilism. Further east, across “the pond” in the UK, the Prime Minister is a Hindu and the BASH community is heavily influential in all aspects of British life. Even in far-off Australia and New Zealand, the BASH community’s influence is rapidly increasing.
The entire Anglo-Saxon world of these five nations, that constitutes the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance has now found that it would soon be time to incorporate India into this alliance as a “Sixth Eye”, as the Five Eye nations realised that the BASH community were now as much “insiders” within their societies as the WASP’s were themselves.
The BASH are a melange of both Macaulay’s and Nehru’s legacies in India. Educated in either British styled Indian public schools or convent-church run schools, and those that missed the first bus, benefiting from the Nehruvian bequests of the IIM’s and IIT’s at the university level, this community is “toilet- trained” in Anglo-Saxon values of democracy and fair-play.
But here’s the contradiction and that is that Nehru deliberately de-coupled India from this natural symbiosis with the Anglo-Saxon world because he was hung-up on de-colonisation and non-alignment. He had an unusual ally in this de-coupling in the RSS which also sought to distance Hindu society from the Anglo-Saxon world and its materialistic and absorptive appeal which prevented the emergence of a non-BASH ruling elite in India. The rapid increase in population and two men who emerged out of the BASH community, namely V P Singh who “Mandalised” India and L K Advani who “Kamandalised” India, paved the way for Prime Minister Modi’s ascent to power. The BASH sought refuge in migrating to the west and succeeding over there like never before.
This reality of the Indian diaspora now becoming assertively integrated into the Anglo-Saxon world did not extend in the same measure to the Pakistani diaspora. The Pakistani’s, overwhelmingly dominated by brash Punjabi Muslims blundered around causing mayhem which peaked with their participation in the events of 9/11. This was a direct attack on the Anglo-Saxon power structure and was soon followed by the exposure of the Dr. A. Q. Khan led caravan of nuclear proliferation to both North Korea and the Islamic world, which had by now become the 21st century enemy of the Anglo-Saxons.
President George Bush recognised these socio-political shifts and brought India out of her nuclear winter into a tentative embrace with the Anglo-Saxon world with the execution and implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal between 2005 to 2008. However, Mrs Sonia Gandhi stuck to her family’s traditional empathy with Russia and her unassertive and status quoist Defence Minister A. K. Anthony prevented intense and vigorous integration with US military and industrial interests. Whispers of the need for regime change in India began to be heard within Washington D.C. during the early years of UPA-2 and this was kick-started with the US owned Omidyar Network allegedly funding the India Against Corruption movement and the Anna Hazare identified political agitation. The rest is history.
The covid-19 pandemic brought to light the existential threat that China presented and the need for the Anglo-Saxon world to de-couple from the Chinese embrace. Almost simultaneously, the PLA started intruding into eastern Ladakh from February 2020 and Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy faced its first monumental setback. The residual value of the close to 18 trips that he had made to China both as Chief Minister of Gujarat and Prime Minister of India was reduced to zero. India had no choice but to formally join the Quad Dialogue in 2021.
President Biden recognised that it was time to embrace India as a nation state and not only or just the ruling party of the day. To this end it sent a strong message to the Modi govt. when it engineered Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the US just weeks before Modi’s visit and right after the spectacular Congress victory in the Karnataka elections. There were unsubstantiated reports of Rahul’s visit to the White House and mystery remains whether he also met anyone other than Asst. Secretary of State Anthony Lu.
There is a view that despite joining the Quad in response to the Chinese land grab in Ladakh, India was still trying to pull its punches and build bridges with China and continuing her defence purchases with Putin’s Russia. Further, when the Govt. of India permitted both Reliance and the Russian Rosneft owned Nayara, the two largest private oil refineries in India, to purchase close to US$ 43 billion worth of Russian crude despite US sanctions after the start of the war in Ukraine, the US was far from pleased, even though a spin is now being provided to justify this. Also, Modi’s attempts to collaborate in creating a BRICS currency and join Chinese attempts to replace the US Dollar in world trade came to nought as both the values of the Yuan and Rouble are fixed by capital controls imposed by their respective central banks and traders and investors cannot freely trade in them. Global trade can be done only in the euro and the dollar with floating transparent exchange rates or with currencies like the UAE’s Dhiram that peg their value to the euro or the dollar.
Additionally, the bipartisan consensus in the US since May 2020 to ban and block the sale to China and later Russia of semi-conductor technology, manufacturing equipment and semi-conductors themselves has created a new technology led cold war and India has had to reluctantly choose its side.
Further, the Hindenburg report released in January this year crippled the Adani Group and its cash throw ups. This has hampered its ability in theory to freely purchase electoral bonds. Even while Mr. Modi was in the US, news reports came in of probes by the Justice Department and the SEC into the workings of the Adani Group. This led to a drastic fall in its share prices on 23 June. With around US $ 10 billion in FX borrowings, the Adani Group is highly vulnerable to such moves of the US govt.
India is the world’s biggest market for defence purchases and the US and China are the two biggest sellers. India cannot buy arms from China! By selling India MQ-9 Reaper drones, the US is inexorably locking India into joining Five Eyes. There is talk of selling two highly sophisticated i-Star electronic surveillance aircraft as well. By transferring the technology to manufacture F-414 jet engines in India, the US has effectively ensured US centred and assisted indigenous manufacture of the IAF’s requirements well into the future. So is the case with local manufacture of the Stryker armoured vehicle for the Indian Army.
A further carrot is the US directive to its business leaders to pursue a “China +1” sourcing policy. The +1 here being India. Micron is already executing a $2 billion semi-conductor plant in Gujarat.
Therefore, the US has succeeded in co-opting all three parts of the Indian power structure, namely the BASH community, the Mandalites and the Kamandalites into a tango with it, both separately and collectively. The price it will extract is a synchronised alliance and integration with US policy and a return to free speech and dissidence within the Indian polity. This will ensure it can never be confronted by a single, dominant power centre from within this polity. AI will do the rest!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Iqbal Chand Malhotra is chairman and producer, AIM Television Pvt. Ltd. He has produced over 500 hours of television programming which have been telecast worldwide. He is a prolific author and appears often on television debates.