Some 'Gandhigiri' May Help Contain Both Pakistan And China

17/10/2016 8:29 PM IST | Updated 19/10/2016 8:36 AM IST
Jayanta Dey / Reuters

The two systems used a century ago by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to cripple the British economy, especially in India, were promotion of indigenous goods ("Swadeshi") and shunning of foreign items ("Boycott"). Now, in the 21st century, in a liberalized, privatized, sovereign, globalized India, riding on the wave of the internet—a medium that throws advertisements of foreign products right on one's nose, whether one is at work or home—these two systems have become virtually obsolete as tools of war. It is time to reverse that.

Swadeshi and Boycott can be essential tools in our proxy wars and races against these two stubborn nations...

China, running under an authoritarian regime, has liberalized its markets, but still heavily controls the flow of goods and services within its borders. The internet in China is controlled and limited by the "Great Firewall of China", as critics have called it. China "dumps" its goods into India more than any other nation. Pakistan, running under a shaky regime (as usual), is also allowed to trade openly with us, an idea reflected in the flow of actors and films too. Both these countries have illegitimate occupation of Indian territory. Both these nations treat India like a dumping ground (China for economy, Pakistan for terror). Both these countries have declared war on us in the past. Both these nations have heavily supported each other through their thick and thin.

Today, with a virtual war running against Pakistan, supported by China, and a race against the Chinese economy, I suggest that Swadeshi (make in India) and Boycott (resistance to use of Chinese products, such as your laptop, phone, lighter, crackers, and Pakistani products like Atif Aslam etc) can be essential tools in our proxy wars and races against these two stubborn nations that tread round and round the mountain of India like a pair of stubborn mules.

The best policy for India at this juncture would be to cripple one mule and shoot down the other, metaphorically implying military defeat of terror, combined with a unanimous boycott of all goods and services produced by nations that support terror, as well as nations that support nations that support terror. The former is Pakistan, that old cousin of India, and the latter is China, that old uncle of cousin Pakistan. Following a policy of this sort is not easy, which is why it is Gandhian in the first place. Gandhian practices are never easy, whether it is facing sticks without response, or whether it is boycott of foreign goods and thus harder work in the domestic Indian economy. Added to this is the Internet, where one has access to information about the entire world's offerings, just a click away.

If you're starting an industry, do not use Chinese technology. If you've been consuming Pakistani actors as eye-candy, give their Indian counterparts a try.

Now it would be daft to ask the government to appropriate the Chinese poison of controlling the Internet by building more walls, or to expect it to "throw out" Pakistani artistes. The sound Gandhian way would be to apply these policies to oneself. YOU, the reader, has to himself/herself take a stand on these issues. If you're starting an industry, do not use Chinese technology. If you've been consuming Pakistani actors as eye-candy, give their Indian counterparts a try. If you wish to light a cigarette, use an Indian matchbox instead of a dumped Chinese lighter. If you are buying a new computer for your sister or a new fur-ball for your cat, make sure they aren't made in China or in Pakistan. Such small dewdrop-like efforts applied at the individual level can expand exponentially into a huge growth for the domestic Indian economy. Depending on how viral this idea goes, it can actually cripple the Chinese economy, which is the largest source of money-grabbers in the world, under sheer weight of numbers.

The world's economic system is based on free trade and free flow of wealth across borders. Combined with Adam Smith's doctrine of division of labour, this system believes that specialization is the key to economic success. Thus, we are not trained to produce goods for ourselves, using our own effort, for our own economy, but rather forced to specialize in this field and that field, and buy and sell from the global market, depending on our needs. Thus we produce home-grown food, but we eat on Chinese porcelain. The need of the hour is to learn to be domestically self-sufficient and individually self-sufficient in order to destroy the blackmail of the global monetary system (which is heavily influenced by foreign trade and enemy economies). Until we can learn to use technology to make man and nation self-sufficient, and earn ourselves the option of effortlessly rejecting foreign produce, we will continue to be chewed and spat out by countries like China and Pakistan.

Winning an economic race and a political/military battle is not easy, and takes time. However, if baby India never learns to walk on her own feet and fire her own shells, she will never grow into a self-sufficient '"superpower".

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