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Dynamics of India’s hegemony in S Asia


Muhammad Hanif

SINCE independence in 1947, India is struggling to establish its hegemony in the South Asian region. It is doing so by using a strategy that combines economic related incentives, sugar coated negative propaganda and the use of political and military coercion. History of South Asia clearly demonstrates many incidents of India’s high-handedness used to pressurise its smaller neighbours to submit to its policies. For example, right at the time of partition, India unlawfully annexed Junagarh and Munawadar in 1947, parts of J&K and Hyderabad Deccan in 1948, Goa in1961 and Sikkim in 1975.
Likewise, India has many times compelled Nepal and Bhutan to accept various agreements favourable to it. It is a well known fact that India has made Bhutan a client state. As Nepal shares 1700 KMs long borders with India, to coerce Nepal to submit to the its dictates, many times India has closed its trade with other countries through its territory. Recent economic blockade of Nepal enforced by India is an example. Since Modi came to power in 2014, India is out to establish RSS guided Hindu hegemony inside India as well as in the region.
While other smaller neighbours are being pressured to submit to the India’s hegemonic desires, India is also trying to harm the power and image of nuclear Pakistan to make it compliant by using its diplomatic moves, tariff and non tariff barriers for its goods, military pressure and false propaganda machine to blame it for supporting violent incidents in India and Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). While doing so, India tries to mask the fact that for the last more than two decades, it is crushing Kashmiris’ indigenous freedom struggle by using a force of more than 700,000 security forces personnel supported by inhuman draconian laws, who have committed rampant atrocities on the Kashmiris.
India is also using covert political interference in the neighbouring countries to bring favourable parties in power by funding its friendly political leaders and parties. It has recently politically interfered in Nepal and Sri Lanka, to change the government in Nepal since it was deepening relations with China and India promoted the coalition lead by Maithripala Sirisena to defeat the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Rajapaksa had accepted China’s investment in Sri Lanka that was not liked by India.
India is also playing with the national interest of Bangladesh by pressuring even a pro-India government of the Awami League to resolve Teesta river dispute on Indian terms. The Maldives also resented the Indian interference in its domestic political developments. India is using its economic support to Afghanistan to have a military footprint there to hurt Pakistan’s interests and it is already using Afghan soil for destabilizing Balochistan. India has militarily interfered in Myanmar by launching an attack on the so called terrorists deep inside Myanmar territory.
India also keeps threatening Pakistan for launching surgical strikes in its territory in reaction to its alleged support to the Kashmiri’s freedom struggle. During Modi’s rule in India, although India’s hegemonic policies towards its neighbours and the issue of atrocities being committed by Indian security forces in IOK have worsened, but these Indian excesses are not catching world’s and UN eyes because of major powers’ interests linked with India.
In view of India’s hegemonic treatment of its neighbours, its efforts for becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), should not be supported by the world community. Because a country which cannot create friendly atmosphere in the region by resolving its own disputes with its neighbours peacefully in a just manner, how that country as a member of the UNSC, would play its role in settling international issues and crises. In case India is given a space to become a permanent member of the UNSC, the UN will lose its credibility and its efforts to make the world a safer and peaceful place will also fail.
— The writer works for the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad.