India should formulate a totally pragmatic approach for dealing with Trump. This would be different than the typical ideological approaches Indians have tended to use in international affairs. In other words, do not pigeon hole Trump into Left/Right categories. Understand his top priorities as president, and make concrete deals that are free of lofty ideologies.
India’s most important diplomatic offensive should be on Baluchistan. Convince Trump that a game changer would be to free Baluchistan from Pakistan by supporting the Baluchi freedom movement. This will involve US military intervention. And it will change the map of the region forever. Afghanistan will get access to the sea via Baluchistan, and the US will no longer have to suck up to Pakistan for supplying its troops. Afghans will love this freedom from the Pakis. So will the other Central Asian “stan” countries that are presently landlocked. A potential new sea access for Russia will also be a negotiating card to deal with Putin. Pakistan will lose its geostrategic positioning, a card it has played very skillfully for too long.
For its part, India should offer military help in Afghanistan, but only if USA guarantee’s an independent Baluchistan. This will be a win-win deal of a kind that is right up Trump’s alley. Russia may decide to join. A clandestine or indirect role for Israel should also be discussed. As a side benefit, this might also open a new door in negotiating with Iran, given its strategic interests concerning Baluchistan.
Senior Indian military officials should lead strategic discussions with Trump. India should avoid sending the standard team of Indian diplomats because Americans appreciate clear-cut, no-nonsense dealmakers rather than woolly-headed poets or ideologues. This pragmatism will be even more applicable in dealing with Trump. India should also consider appointing some ex-military person as its ambassador to the USA. This US relationship should be a top priority for Ajit Doval.
The most important diplomatic defensive deal would be to convince Trump to end US governmental support for Christian evangelism in India. He was heavily backed by the evangelicals, and they are experienced in extracting foreign policy assistance from the US government. Trump needs to be convinced that a strong India is good for US interests. Weakening India by encouraging the breaking India forces would eventually play into the hands of Islam and China. In the long run, a fragmented India would not become a Christian country, but rather a battleground for the return of Mughalstan. It would be a worse nightmare for the USA than the entire Middle East is. My book, Breaking India, gives a detailed argument in its first and last chapters. This should become required reading for Indian officials involved in this discussion.
The above two-pronged strategy (offence and defence) combines carrots and sticks. India must present itself with a strong posture. It must not become available as an ally in desperate need to get saved.
Issues like H1B visa are important, no doubt. But corporate India and corporate America are already closely aligned on this. Trump will listen to corporate America. That is a good channel to use. The Indian government should lend support, but not dilute its attention from the two top priority opportunities mentioned above.
It is important that NRIs based in the USA should not leverage this event to get government appointments for friends and family. Unfortunately, that is what happened when Obama won – his Indian supporters instantly morphed into personal lobbyists for posts and prestige. They forgot their dharmic responsibility for India. There must be vigilance against this.
After a brief period of chaos on Wall Street, things will recover and stabilise. A more robust economic foundation will emerge in the USA. Trump does have a streak of anarchy like Arvind Kejriwal – the anti-establishment rhetoric. But the United States has a far more mature and robust network of institutions. This sense of chaos and lack of stability will be temporary.
This is also a watershed event in the global collapse of pseudo-liberalism. I use this term to mean liberalism that has become a mask of hypocrisy. Why is a soft stance on Islam considered a requirement for liberalism? Why are elitist individuals and groups having so much power in the guise of liberalism? Despite all its talk of human rights and other liberal agendas, the global movement has caused conflicts, uprooted traditions and promoted pseudo-secularism.
Brexit and now the Trump presidency will compel nations to re-negotiate the relationship between global and local. Trump will also experiment and evolve a new kind of conservatism in his way. The Republican Party must reinvent itself. The prevailing genre of conservative thinking was formulated by the brilliant William Buckley, Jr. I don’t agree with many of his thoughts, but I appreciate the huge imprint he made on the American conservative movement. The Trump era will generate similar fresh thinking just as Reagan inspired a new generation of conservatives for his time. The West’s conservative movement has gone through so many new developments since the second world war: from Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher to William Buckley, and many others along the way. And now the temporary collapse of the myth of American Exceptionalism has become the crucible for developing a new national myth using conservative principles.
However, I am concerned about India’s intellectual crisis and the present state of conservatism in India. The old dynasty politics and the old pseudo-secular intellectualism are marginalised. But disruption is only half the story. We also need construction of new ideas. Where are the new and vibrant thinkers of the calibre of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay? I am disappointed that Hindu intellectuals tend to idolise the 50-year old works of previous giants, but lack the institutional mechanisms to help us compete in the global intellectual Kurukshetra. The best way to respect our previous great thinkers is to continue their level of creativity and audacity.
Author Rajiv Malhotra Born in 1950, Rajiv Malhotra is an Indian American researcher, writer, speaker and public intellectual on current affairs as they relate to civilizations, cross-cultural encounters, religion and science. He studied physics at St. Stephens College in Delhi and went for post-graduate studies in physics and then computer science to the USA.
Rajiv served in multiple careers, including: software development executive, Fortune 100 senior corporate executive, strategic consultant, and successful entrepreneur in the information technology and media industries. At the peak of his career when he owned 20 companies in several countries, he took early retirement at age 44 to pursue philanthropy, research and public service. He established Infinity Foundation for this purpose in 1994.
Rajiv has conducted original research in a variety of fields and has influenced many other thinkers in India and the West. He has disrupted the mainstream thought process among academic and non-academic intellectuals alike, by providing fresh provocative positions on Dharma and on India. Some of the focal points of his work are: Interpretation of Dharma for the current times; comparative religion, globalization, and India’s contributions to the world.
He has authored hundreds of articles, provided strategic guidance to numerous organizations and has over 300 video lectures available online. To best understand Rajiv’s thoughts and contributions, his books are a good resource. Besides Invading the Sacred, in which Rajiv is the main protagonist, he has authored the following game changing books:
Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism
Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines; and
Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity
The Battle for Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred, Oppressive or Liberating, Dead or Alive?
Academic Hinduphobia: A Critique of Wendy Doniger’s Erotic School of Indology
Currently, Rajiv Malhotra is the full-time founder-director of Infinity Foundation in Princeton, NJ. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and is adviser to various organizations.
Infinity Foundation has given more than 400 grants for research, education and community work. It has provided strategic grants to major universities in support of pioneering programs including: visiting professorships in Indic studies at Harvard University, Yoga and Hindi classes at Rutgers University, research and teaching of nondualistic philosophies at University of Hawaii, Global Renaissance Institute and a Center for Buddhist studies at Columbia University, a program in religion and science at University of California, endowment for the Center for Advanced Study of India at University of Pennsylvania, lectures at the Center for Consciousness Studies at University of Arizona.
Rajiv Malhotra inspired the idea of Swadeshi Indology Conference. The first ever Swadeshi Indology Conference was held at IIT, Chennai from July 6 to July 8, 2016. This conference hosted well-researched papers that highlighted the discrepancies and mistranslations in the studies of Indology done by Prof. Sheldon Pollock. This conference is the first of a series of conferences that have been planned to address multiple issues raised by Western Indologists requiring astute examination, analyses and rejoinders, culminating in a published volume with a selection of papers.
Another major initiative of the Infinity Foundation is the HIST series. The HIST (History of Indian Science and Technology) series is a compilation of multi-Volume History of Indian Science and Technology based only on solid academic scholarship, and not on wild extrapolations. To accomplish this, each volume was subjected to rigorous peer reviews. The following volumes have already been published and printed as part of this IF project:
- Marvels of Indian Iron Through the Ages
- Indian Zinc Technology in Global Perspective
- Water Management and Hydraulic Engineering in India
- History of Metals in Eastern India and Bangladesh
- Harappan Architecture and Civil Engineering
- Beginning of Agriculture and Domestication in India
- History of Iron Technology in India
- Indian Beads History and Technology
- Himalayan Traditional Architecture
- Animal Husbandry and Allied Technologies in Ancient India
- Harappan Technology and Its Legacy
- Reflection on The History of Indian Science and Technology
- Chalcolithic South Asia: Aspects of Crafts and Technologies
- Traditional Water Management
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