President Bush has made the New World Order a dirty concept. But a nwo is inevitable. It will be different from Bush's dream. On May 10, 2005, Russia and the European Union arrived at a historic and far-reaching agreement largely ignored by the Indian media. In four areas—economy, external security, democracy, and education—EU and Russia have committed themselves to converge. Road maps for progress in these sectors have been outlined. Visa free travel will emerge.
India and China should learn from this. Before attempting a free trade area encompassing Delhi and Beijing, both nations need to put out home fires. China must resolve problems in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinghiang. India must bring Pakistan aboard a South Asian Union.
The EU has arrived today where old Hindustan would have reached if imperialist intervention had not distorted its evolution. Imperialism bequeathed irrational international boundaries such as Durand Line and Radcliff Award. Cultural nationalism provides a foundation for genuine statehood. It allows substantial autonomy to provinces and regions.
As for democracy, it may have a parliamentary, presidential, unitary, federal, multi-party, single-party or party-less model. But it must have human rights, the rule of law, freedom of expression and decisions reflecting majority opinion. Its form has to be determined by a country's history and tradition. Basically, it gives people self-rule. That is why denial of democracy often leads to demands for sovereignty.
Large parts of the third world need urgently to erase distortions inherited from imperialism. The nations of South Asia should take the lead towards creating a new Asian order as a component of the emerging world order. If India and Pakistan accepted a South Asian arrangement having common defence, common market and no visas, autonomous regions within both countries would become acceptable. Kashmir and Baluchistan are two trouble spots that require urgent attention. Both can be resolved in the context of a South Asian Union.
Time is running out. Encircled by over half-a-dozen nations, the Kashmir Valley is potentially the Switzerland of Asia. As for Baluchistan, it remained independent for a year after Partition. Pakistan forcibly annexed it. It has just 6 per cent of Pakistan's population but 40 per cent of its land. It has mineral wealth and a port more strategic than Karachi. Baluchistan and Kashmir, independent of a South Asian union, would be tempting prizes for big powers. Will Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf wake up in time?
(Puri can be reached at email@example.com)