Indian political leaders look so happy with themselves, so complacent and complacent … Where is the driving force, where is the ambition, where is the hard, unwavering will to project India in the 21st century as a superpower?
I have been a defender of India for three decades. In thousands of articles, numerous books and videos, I have told my country of origin, France and the West in general, that India – not China – is the country of the future and that the French should invest there, not only economically but also geopolitically. For India – a vibrant democracy – is at the crossroads of many extremisms: From Islamic fundamentalism, born in Afghanistan, Pakistan or even Indonesia, to Muslim hegemony, which wants to dominate the world.
Similarly, for three decades I have been an enemy of China, a communist dictatorship that killed nearly a million Tibetans, and millions of its own Chinese, through Mao Zedong’s violent, bloody, and megalomaniacal cultural revolution. I have also repeatedly said that India has a good karma because it never invaded other countries except peacefully, as Angkor Vat is a testimony to, and never tried to impose Hinduism by the power of its armies, as Christianity and Islam did. And that China’s bad karma would soon overtake that country.
I have been an avid skier and I watch on television the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which just ended on Sunday. I marvel at the flawless, impeccable and dazzling way they are performed by a nation that knew nothing about winter sports 20 years ago. While there must have been a lot of Western support and know-how, it takes tremendous technological, electronic software and practical skills to execute them this way.
In contrast, India has a background in skiing, whether it is at Gulmarg in Kashmir or Auli in Uttarakhand. Still, I wonder why there is no promotion of this sport in India, whereas Xi Jinping wants 300 million Chinese children to ski by 2025, and has invested billions of dollars in ski facilities and even artificial ski resorts.
So, when I come home, I see Indian political leaders on television: they look so happy with themselves, so complacent and complacent … Where is the driving force, where is the ambition, where is the hard, unwavering will to project India in the 21st century as a superpower, economically, politically, militarily and even sportingly? We see that China, even in the midst of COVID-19, has begun to produce full power and is flooding the world with quality goods. But does India produce any laptop, any mobile, any electronic hardware, such as computer chips, air conditioner, refrigerator or aircraft (like Brazil) of international quality?
Yet Indian politicians still look very happy with themselves. The Indian 2022 budget has been celebrated everywhere – I am not an economist, but it seems to me that there are many gray areas. Where should all the money come from for all the grants that are awarded to almost everyone? By borrowing? From more loans?
The media does not ask the right questions: Why do middle-class and upper-class Indians still send their children to American, English, or Canadian universities after 75 years of independence? Why do these young people eventually settle in the United States or elsewhere and never come back, the biggest brain drain in the world? Why do the very few NRIs who want to return and invest in India return to the United States because they have such a hard time doing business in their own country?
The Chinese president laid a golden blanket for the Chinese Americans, even though they were Christians, to bring their skills back to mainland China and invest there. But we see here in India that so many restrictions have been placed on the OCIs (Overseas Citizens of India) that the Indian government has even stopped issuing five-year visas and is pursuing a Nehruvian suspect-first policy towards Westerners, who want to work in India.
When we return to the sport, cricket has stifled all other sports, and eleven spoiled lads go into the spotlight, media attention, corporate sponsorship, travel first class, stay in five stars, earn millions of rupees, while athletes, hockey players or football players have to to make it hard. Why is India so obsessed with cricket, a colonial sport, whatever its values, and neglecting other sports like skiing?
People will say I am negative but I love India. I want India to succeed, I want India to overtake China because the Indians are better people, more tolerant, more open, more spiritual. But when I look at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, I’m in doubt.
Sri Aurobindo says that in the hour of God, when the spirit of the divine is over a land, progress can be made in a few years, which would normally take centuries. It is my belief that this is the golden moment for India. It actually started with a bang, and we saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi showcase his far-reaching vision and dynamism needed to make transformations that bode well for the future. But Delhi is a golden prison made by the British for their own glory, far away from the rest of India, so imbued with its own taste of power – and the BJP seems to have settled in these VVIP shackles , as Congress did before.
We need to get rid of this complacency, and like the Chinese, but with an extra inner quest and sublimity that was put off rishis and as many contemporary saints as Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, embarking on an ambitious but also ruthless, non-Gandhian quest to project India as a superpower. We may be looking not only at President Xi, who has made China a superpower in sports and other things, but also at President Vladimir Putin, who is hated by the West but loved and respected by the Russians themselves because he first thinks of Russia. It is time for India to wake up and make up for the lost years.
The author is a French journalist and author of A story about India as it happened (Garudabooks.com). He is also building a museum of true Indian history in Pune. Views are personal.