Indian people have special inclination and talent of surprising other countries. Time difference between Moscow and Delhi is 1,5 hours. How is it possible? They say that is the best difference from the point of view of astronomy and biorhythms. The country has two national days. How could that happen? The first is on August, 15 – Independence Day and this year it was a milestone, - the 65th Independence Day, which is celebrated since 1947. And the second one is on January, 26, when many foreign guests come and a parade takes place in New Delhi on Governors’ Road. This one is called Republic Day and is celebrated since 1950, when Constitution passed and the independence became full, without any dominions.
These holidays differ in their meaning. In January it’s more official and international and is considered to be the main one. The August holiday is a kind of more domestic, for themselves, it’s a holiday of white and green and saffron flag (which was first raised on August, 15 in 1947), and this holiday makes people remember that there is a special Indian conception. What is India, in fact? Twenty eight states and seven territories and more than one billion 200 million people. People in different states speak almost different languages, have different music and dances, different traditions, though they have a lot of in common. They have five religions as main ones!
We can compare in to Europe, which has so many difficulties with unification. Here it’s even more complicated due to different religions. And still Indians don’t have any doubt that they live in one country – in India and they call it “regulated chaos” and admit that this country can’t exist. But it exists and it will exist.
Though it will change. Events of the last one or two years in India reminds what was going on in the rest of the world – global changes which had to do with fundamental principles of European, American, even Middle Eastern life. And the Indians see how serious the changes are.
They make a deep analysis of the country: what country actually appeared in 1947, what political and ideological basis it was built on? Talking about official ideology, we know a set of messages about overcoming national, religious, caste and other differences. But this is not the point to discuss. More exciting is to understand how the management of state affairs was originally organized and what became afterwards.
So in fact we speak about the Indian Nation Congress party. This is the party of Nehru and Gandhi which for 50 years struggled for something which seemed impossible. For independence from the only supercountry of that time, from the empire, which seemed invulnerable between the two world wars and which painted half of the world map with its pink colour.
And the party received the independence and – of course - power, and British empire was crashed down, which led to many other changes in the world. Till recent time Indian politics was the politics of INC, and other parties were secondary to it.
We can easily call INC the monarchy – it was governed by Nehru family – Motilala and his son Javaharlal, then his daughter Indira (widow of advocate Feruz Gandhi, who didn’t have any relationship to Mohandas “mahatma” Gandhi, spiritual leader of INC). Then the third generation of the family was at power, and now the fourth age is very likely to rule the party. But if it will govern the country, is a big question. For today all polls and evaluations say “no”. Moreover, nobody knows who will rule instead. They say that all of a sudden, presidential institution is becoming really influential, though before it was only formal. Otherwise they will have chaos.
For 65 years of independence India outgrew the single-party structure. It used to be and still stays the rule and the best option for the country which solves serious national tasks of survival and of building the base which used to mean even creation of a nation itself in the previous times. And till now most countries live with single-party system, it’s inevitable for some stages of development. «Development» - is a special stage for every nation, which serves as a counterbalance to the stage of keeping the system in a stable working state. Both stages may repeat several times. Now in India we see how they change each other and this change is a long and complicated and unpredictable as India itself.
Visible feature of revolutionary changes is something like mass psychosis. For example, last year an elderly activist Ann Khazare went on hunger-strike to force government pass the law against corruption. Political system successfully dealt with the challenge though the man’s suggestions were complete absurd. Recently he tried to start another hunger-strike but failed after couple of days. The point was that the first time made him national hero for millions of people, and now nobody paid attention. So, the nation looks for changes in traditional way of life and it starts breaking apart. War on corruption always means that some forces try to win support of least competent and politically passive people. Such people are always emotional and non-predictable.
And, finally, another sign of coming changes is lowering of government popularity in general, and of INC in particular. So we see the society breaking apart, without any rationality but many emotions instead. For example, unexpected result of elections in 2004, when the poorest social stratum became very active and the most successful and highly potential Bharatiya Janata party was voted down. It was BJP, which made India one of the key players in the world economics, taking it into the top-ten of world leading countries. But the electorate didn’t appreciate the fact. Elections of 2014 are said to be another tragedy – for ruling INC party.
There is some peculiarity in Indian political split. When the present prime-minister Manmohan Singh of INC conducted reforms in 1990s, trying to break half-social economics, - both he and his BJP opponents paid special attention at Indian diaspora abroad, especially in the USA, which consisted of more than 10 million people. Their investments were the key point for Indian economic recovery as it happened with China some time before. And as a result Indian foreign policy changed it course a little bit. INC, which used to be the symbol of Indian independence, now looks as cosmopolitan “foreign” party and it makes it less popular for orthodox people.
Neighboring countries and Central Asia partners of India are worried about goals and points of its foreign policy. And problem is not only in its formal entrance to SCO, but in much deeper issues.
Particularly, in the fact that India abandoned its traditional foreign policy which it used to have for the last 65 years, and now it balances between several ways of political behavior.
Under Javaharlal Nehru and his descendants Indian policy was based on evidential country’s self-identification as a Third-World, developing, country. Nehru was one of the founders of Nonaligned Movement, which now formally includes several dozens of countries and almost all former colonies of great empires. It didn’t align neither with the USSR and Soviet block, nor with western block, and still had huge profit from both. And, finally, foreign policy included confrontation with Pakistan.
But there is no Soviet block any more and India is one of the leading countries and economical giant, and is said to become second world economic after China in the middle of the century. So foreign policy had to change anyway. And both BJP and INC were anxious about making new relationships with the USA. Not to become their satellite but to improve own status. The result didn’t satisfy neither initiators nor general public (Americans don’t like to treat anybody as equal, that was the problem). As for Pakistan… there are some problems, but they are included in the worldwide context. Relationships with China, the main Indian neighbour, became very important and are full of ambiguity, they constantly become the object of behind-the-scenes struggle in Indian elite. What is China? Pakistan ally and instigator, the first Indian trade partner (the known fact), or a rival? Not clear yet.
So what India will Russia and other SCO countries have to deal with in the coming years? The answer possibly doesn’t exist if even the Indians themselves can’t reply.