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Thursday, January 14, 2010

असीमित चुनौतिहरू

Challenges Beyond the Boundaries

gauging the stakes of pulling itself out of the mesh for Nepal

Amid the cacophony about the imminent failure to write the constitution on time, Nepal is all set to loose further ground on its already bleak geo-political status. Every single country that has indulged in internal strife and conflict for long has seen itself decline further down the hierarchy in this world governed by the power and wealth. While the finger-pointing and demagoguery keep displacing any meaningful discourse in the political stage, our standing among the international community is not the only thing to suffer, however. The stakes of pulling Nepal out of the mess are thus enormous.

It is natural for the citizens to be oblivious about the remote-looking international developments when there are enough crises back home. But this never prevents the international developments from impacting our future. The stark example of this was the failed Copenhagen Summit on climate change where the hopes of the impoverished and disaster-prone countries like Nepal and Bangladesh were dashed. We may be standing with the knee-deep domestic problems and suffocating strife, but the impacts of a warmer and polluted biosphere won't spare us. Instead that will only aid the misery and starvation of the people.

This is why we need to keep an eye at the major international developments even amidst the chaos around us. That may help us anticipate our fate if not change it with all the clumsiness and myopia of the political leadership.

Nepal's multi-faceted dependence on India and the supposed bullying by the latter has come to the limelight after the provocative rhetoric of the Maoist leaders in the recent days, who were comfortable with the status quo so long as they were in power. The issue of maintaining the traditionally stable and strong relationship with the northern neighbor has also not escaped the attention. By its very nature, the US can never be away from any discourse about the foreign relationship of any state in the world. Understanding the dynamics of the world politics with these three states as the major players is thus crucial to understanding fate of any other state in the world.

The collapse of the USSR, the time-tested friend of India began a new era in the international politics involving the three giants. The drift of India towards the sole remaining superpower was enormously facilitated by the adoption of the neo-liberal economic policies in the early nineties. The two decades post-USSR saw the continuation of the miraculous economic growth of China founded on the reformist policies of Deng-Xiao-Ping as India followed the same footsteps with near-miraculous growth approaching double-digits. That was sure to increase the standing of both the territorial giants in the international stage and a sort of competition was inevitable.

There now remains no doubt that China is all set to challenge the superpower status of the US. And the perception that a strong rival next door is the last thing desirable for China, has only pushed India further towards the US. And there are the other players like Israel whose increasing proximity with India has further cemented the relationship among the allies and to-be-allies of the US. The new fronts like Afghanistan where the clash of interests of the born-rivals India and Pakistan have got important implications for the larger geo-strategic equation involving the three giants.

Despite the relatively balanced Sino-US relations at the moment, an unprecedented series of hostilities is being increasingly forecasted for the not-so-remote future when the two rivals will no longer see the need to pretend that the peace in the world is worth sidelining their own geo-political interests. The recent events like the surge of the US troops in Afghanistan and the reaction of the Chinese, the deal for the construction of a 7,000 km gas pipeline between Kazakhstan and China and the reactions in the west, the duel about the mineral assets in the South China sea between China and its neighbors, the US's attempt to engage the Burmese Junta with negotiations, etc. highlight the depth to which the global tug-of-war for supremacy is taking place. These apparently minor events took place after few major ones like the signing and activation of the much hyped 'civilian' nuclear deal between the US and India that signaled the phenomenal changes in the international relations.

Either way, the clash of interests between the US with India on the way to the US-led alliance and China can no longer be hidden. For one thing, it is very difficult to match military might of the US with the staggering $638 billion annual defense budget for 2010, larger than the combined defense budget of every remaining state in the planet, with its worldwide network of military bases. Unlike US, however, China has no extravagant missions like Afghanistan that have drained the wealth out of the US already shaken hard by the economic turmoil over last one and half years. The US with its ballooning budget deficit has fared quite poorly when compared with the Chinese state that enjoys the largest trade surplus in the world with the huge foreign exchange reserve. The financial muscle is sure to aid the effort of the Chinese to catch up with if not outpace the century-long dominance of the US in science and technology; thus in the race of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.

Amid the intensifying battle for energy resources throughout the globe, it was hardly a surprise that the Copenhagen Summit failed the way it did. Every single participant of the summit was aware of the danger of the phenomenon of the global warming and the importance of the green technology in the long run. But none was ready to sacrifice the 'dirty' industries that gave life to their erstwhile economy by cutting the real emissions of the polluting gases. On top of that, the military strength with the stockpile of the weapons and ammunition heavily depended on a strong economy while the military industry itself being a heavy producer of greenhouse gases. It was then no surprise that the lead polluters including the giant three clinched a face-saving non-binding deal with which they could confuse the outraged sufferers of the world at no price.

What has been ever clearer since is that the global race to supremacy is going to worsen the misery of the bulk of population in the third world that would benefit from a world community more responsible towards the common good of everyone. Not only the rescue of the rapidly deteriorating environment, but the common good also means a reduced expense on the weaponry, efforts to mutually reduce the nuclear stockpile, attempts to alleviate the choking poverty and prevent the spread of the life-threatening diseases like TB and AIDS.

Coming back to Nepal, the challenges are sure to multiply as the global race increasingly pushes the charity tasks like donating for education or health of the poor countries beyond priority. That may well be complicated by the growing tensions between the two giant neighbors as it may not always be possible to keep one of them happy without risking angering the other. By far the most important task, however, will be to make ourselves strong from within by seeking an amicable solutions to the internal problems and avoiding a major conflict. That will enable us to make a better choice when the moment comes to do so.

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