The mindset of Indian liberals is best described in an old Hindi film song, sung by Mukesh, ‘<em>Mujhe raat din ye khyal hai/woh nazar se mujhko gira na de…</em>’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-ydz6wXRvc). Rough translation: ‘I am worried all the time lest I fall in her esteem…’ <em>Woh</em> being the lady the poet is madly in love with. In the case of liberals, <em>woh</em> stands for the Left.
The poet lives and dies for the approval of the <em>maashook</em>; the liberal for approval of the Left. He unquestioningly accepts the most preposterous theories and ideas emanating from pinkish academics and intellectuals; he swallows whatever the popes and bishops of public discourse dish out and vomits them whenever it is possible. Liberals blindly internalize every Leftwing abomination, be it Black Lives Matter or moral equivalence.
So, prominent journalist Shekhar Gupta writes, “The Chinese, like us Indians, are also a civilizational nation and carry the collective weight of nostalgia about a more glorious past. In our case, it could be the Akhand Bharat of the Mauryans or the Gupta golden period. Theirs is the hankering for a return to the expansive borders of the Qing Dynasty. Let’s describe this, for convenience and brevity, as their ‘Akhand China’ fantasy” (https://theprint.in/national-interest/its-time-for-china-pakistan-even-india-to-rethink-the-fantasy-modi-called-expansionism/454258/).
This is egregious moral equivalence. To begin with, Akhand Bharat is a Hindutva fantasy, not a national one. And even for the leaders of the Sangh Parivar, it is an arousing slogan rather than a blueprint for action.
Secondly, Akhand Bharat fantasy is just that—a fantasy. No government under the Bharatiya Janata Party—which, by the way, has ruled India for 12 years—has even tried to make it real.
It needs to be mentioned here that in 1994 the Indian Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution noting “with deep concern Pakistan’s role in imparting training to the terrorists in camps located in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.” It also declared, “India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The resolution gives carte blanche to all governments post-1994 to attack Pakistan. But neither the government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee nor the one under Narendra Modi has done anything to take PoK back from Pakistan, despite grave provocations from their side. This is primarily because India, under any government, is a peaceful nation that neither unnecessarily attacks other countries nor occupies their territories.
Gupta needs to be reminded that, after comprehensively defeating Pakistan in 1971, India did not become an occupying force in the newly liberated nation. It handed over the reins of the country to the Bangladeshi nationalist leadership and quit. India could very well have annexed Bangladesh, for it was part of India not long ago.
In policy terms, Akhand Bharat signifies nothing, but Akhand China is not a fantasy; it is a reality; it is irredentism, pure and simple. Further, Chinese irredentism is backed with force, whether the issue involved is Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, or territories in the South China Sea.
There is no neighbor of China’s—India, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan—that is not having trouble with it. There is nothing illegal and immoral that China is not involved in—from nuclear and missile proliferation to shielding terrorists, currency manipulation, theft of intellectual property, debt-trap diplomacy, exporting the coronavirus to the world, and trade in human organs.
Against this backdrop, Shekhar Gupta’s moral equivalence—clubbing India and China together—is not just asinine but also insidiously immoral. For what he is essentially saying is that both India and China have irredentist fantasies, so there is nothing exceptional about China. He makes both countries look equally bad, or at least China not exceptionally bad. The only big communist country is not as bad as it is made out to be. For this very reason, Leftist intellectuals will like his stand on China.
Now, Gupta can sing ‘<em>Mujhe raat din ye khyal hai/woh nazar se gira na de…</em>’.