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India has aspirations of being a world player. It has belief in its ability to play an influential role in global politics. And it believes it is only a matter of time before it becomes a major factor on the world stage. That belief stems from its obvious potential as a nation, armed with human resources of first rate quality, an economy that could well be the biggest in the world given some corrective measures, and a geographical position that would be the envy of most in the world. That potential has not been harnessed to its optimum levels precisely because of that geography.

It is a well-known fact that names, faiths, friends, etc. can be changed at the drop of a hat, but geography cannot be tampered with for the love of God. Geography is what a country is born with, made by tectonic energies over millions of years. It is as permanent as is the earth. So for India to grow to its fullest potential, it first needs to take a deep look at its geography, its location on the map, the vast ocean that surrounds it, and the high Himalayas that have sustained it over millions of years.

An analysis of geography shows that adjoining India are the countries which together comprise South Asia, a veritable sub-continent. And it is with these countries that India has to first reconcile its geographical and political interests. Going by age old Indian wisdom, there is a saying that it is important to have good relations with neighbouring villages. No village is a stand alone entity, and it cannot be in conflict with those on its boundary. This holds true for international politics too. And even more when it comes to India and its South Asian neighbours.

In an election year, it is expected that foreign policy issues will take a back seat. Pakistan has already begun its process, in the backdrop of controversial judicial interventions. India is getting into election mode with parliamentary polls less than a year away. So to expect any breakthroughs would be a wishful thinking. In any case, breakthroughs are not desirable in the first instance. What is required is a modicum of exchange that is decent, humane, and diplomatic.

The sole purpose of governance anywhere in the world is to make society affluent and more secure. Both aspirations are conjoined, and one cannot be achieved without the other. Geographical awareness suggests taking advantage of India’s place on the map. The busiest oceanic trade routes could be aped on land too, thus benefitting more than a billion people. But for that, India and Pakistan would first have to arrive at a reconciliation that is based on a reality check, what is and what is not achievable from an adversarial. This reconciliation will pave the way for the greater good of the region, especially Pakistan which risks falling into a permanent bind with its flirtation with extremism. Geography can help all, but only those who are willing and have the vision to take advantage from it.

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