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DSA is As much Yours, As it Our’s | March 2012

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India and Iran were neighbours until 1947, a fact that is just about forgotten today. Both were in regular cultural and trading relations long before the birth of Islam and the discovery of oil, the reasons commonly stated for the closeness between the two civilization states. In a very real sense Iran is India’s oldest trading partner, culturally as well as economically.

India of course has the world’s second largest Shi’a population, the majority belief in Iran. And when it came to hard nosed realpolitik both cooperated closely during the dark days of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. In fact the former Northern Alliance survived its bleakest days only because of the support given by India, Iran and Russia. Even today there is considerable common ground between India and Iran over Afghanistan and how it should be governed. That remains the world’s biggest security concern. Though some would like the world to believe that the bigger threat is Iran.

It does India no credit, from a historical, social and political sense, that even as some countries hurl themselves into conflict with Iran, there is nothing New Delhi is doing to bring level-headedness to an eminently avoidable situation. India enjoys good relations with all those on the other side of the fence with Iran and which is pretty much what is happening in Tehran. There is a sense of siege creeping into the minds of the people, thus throwing a lifeline to the extremely unpopular Ahmadinejad regime. By all logic of social and political aspirations of people for change, Iran should have led the way in sowing the seeds of a spring of its own. But the constant battling, over the airwaves and motorway bombings, has pushed the people of Iran into the clutches of their unpopular president. He in turn perpetuates the throttlehold on patriotism et al. Perfect recipe for a disaster the world must avoid. The setting is, thus, tailor-made for an Indian role of mediation and reconciliation between Iran and the west led by Israel. India, however, has once decided to outsource its foreign policy to those driven by an agenda that is at odds with the regional and national interests.

It is little wonder that India was selected by those who targeted the Israeli embassy vehicle in Delhi. And that too on one of the posh roads of the capital. There is a message in it, for all those willing to listen. But first India must open its eyes and ears to events unfolding around it, rather than wait to wriggle out of a maelstrom in which it is certain to find itself. Perpetrators of the attack must be bought to justice, whether they are Iranians or otherwise. And then both sides of the ever widening divide must be made to listen to the logic of good sense. An insular India is harmful to itself just as it is a disaster to the world. It has proven that over the Maldives coup and now it seems to be burying its head once again over Iran. It does so at its own peril.


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