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India and China as imperialist powers November 23, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in geo-politics, india.

I havent been posting too much on geopolitics as I would have been say an year ago. Looking through my article archive and the broadcaster blog archive, I see a gradual change in my kind of articles that interest me. Once in a while however, I come across some interesting ideas and viewpoints on geo-politics that I cant wait to put up here. Here is one.

Its impossible to know what it must have been to have lived in 17-18th century Europe when most nations set off to acquire colonies and justify the need for them as millions of people were exploited materially and otherwise. What did the media say, were there competing theories or arguments against colonialism, did the public really bother at all etc. The best we can do is to search for some such similar analogy today. Raja Mohan offers one comparing European colonialism to what India and China are doing in Africa – maintain ties with nations with questional credentials merely for trade purposes and import raw materials and either export them as finished products or for domestic consumption. He says :

Western activists argue, not entirely accurately, that the unfolding rivalry between China and India is similar to the scramble for Africa among rival European colonial powers in the 19th century. Irrespective of the analogy, India is certainly competing with China for oil and mineral resources in Africa. New Delhi might be way behind Beijing; but it is on the same road.

The criticism of China and India is sharpest for supporting the government in Sudan, which is facing flak on the human rights front. Beijing and New Delhi, with their huge investments in Sudan’s oil fields, have no desire to sacrifice their energy interests to compel Khartoum to change its behaviour. Support from China and India has undoubtedly emboldened Sudan to defy the international system. The same is true in Burma, where both countries are competing for influence.

Ofcourse, he himself emphasizes, its not a perfect parallel or a case of history repeating itself. But he has a point nevertheless.



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