By Bharat Verma
Despite India's pretensions of an emerging great power, its influence is shrinking - both, internally as well externally.
Internally, Maoists and insurgent outfits control more than forty percent of the Indian Territory. Similarly, its borders are volatile, with neighbours nibbling into its territory and influence.
The arrival of militaries of great powers to battle terrorism and secure energy resources in the neighbourhood has led to additional complications. Besides, the inability to work out a viable initiative to enhance India's geo-political influence in its immediate vicinity, and seize the initiative internally from disruptive forces by good governance, could lead to unraveling of the great Indian dream by 2030, if not earlier.
These negative and divisive trends tearing the Indian state from within need to be firmly arrested and reversed immediately. At the same time, a strategy to enhance India's strategic footprints in the neighbourhood must be initiated. Or else, India may face the prospect of reverting to its pre-independence status (or more appropriately pre-British) of splintered territories, principalities and fiefdoms ruled by feudals and their private militias.
The external strength and posture of a nation are dependent on internal cohesion.
Are we moving towards a cohesive society and nation? The answer is 'No' - The scenario is increasingly looking dismal.
Regionalism, linguistic differences, religion and caste differences are being exacerbated for purposes of vote bank politics. The trend is certainly not towards integration and consolidation of the nation-state. The psychological fragmentation and regionalism, primarily due to vote bank politics, has resulted in overwhelming regional pressures in determining our foreign policy.
The primary objective of sound foreign policy is to enhance security and economic prosperity of the country in which every citizen has critical and equal stakes. Looking at Israel solely through the prism of Muslim population, Sri Lanka through Tamil prism or Bangladesh (illegal migration problem) through political prism are self-imposed constraints that inhibit India's growth and influence.
The writ of the state governments is being rolled back towards their respective state capitals by Naxalites, insurgents, and crime mafia. The Union's external influence is shrinking due to shortsighted policies and self-inflicted wounds.
India has become a net importer of negative influences instead of acquiring power projection capabilities to achieve dominance in its vicinity. A State or a Union whose writ on its own territory and geo-political influence in the vicinity is shrinking cannot ever measure up to requirements of a great power unless it reverses course!
In picture: A Border Security Force soldier bolts the doors after the Thar Express train left India's Munabao railway station, some 550 km from Ahmedabad, on November 13, 2010. The Thar Express train runs between Jodhpur in India and Karachi in Pakistan. The train halts at the Zero Point railway station in Pakistan and at Munabao railway station in India for completing the immigration formalities and customs checks. (Image copyright: AFP. Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited)