Comment: India speaks for small countries and establishes its credential in the CHOGM

In the recently conducted Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in
Perth from October 28-30, it was established that in the 21st century, the head of
the Commonwealth is shifting from London to New Delhi with the rise of India as
a Great Power.

Looking at the events leading up to the CHOGM and the outcome proves that
India has elbowed other countries in the CHOGM, which includes its former colonial
master Britain and aspiring Great Power in the Asia Pacific, Australia.

The western countries in the CHOGM, namely Britain, Australia and New
Zealand, wanted to pin the countries which were ruled by colonial masters before
by bringing about an institution which monitor the human rights in those
countries. This move was scuttled by India saying quite bluntly that CHOGM
should focus more on developmental challenges rather than bringing up the
issue of human rights for which there’s a better multi-lateral institution called the
United Nations.

India also went on to highlight the hypocrisy of the western nations and the
double-standards that they follow in pursuing lofty utopian concepts called human
rights. While the western world is keen to have the status-quo monarchies in
power in the Middle-East to serve their oil-benefits, they’re ready to wield a big
stick against countries like Fiji, Maldives and Sri Lanka which are in the fringes of
their geo-strategic objectives.

If the CHOGM is anything to go by, it’s clear that India has graduated itself from a regional power in South Asia to a Great Power in Asia Pacific that
can speak for the smaller nations in Africa, Latin America and Africa. India’s
pursuance of tactful diplomacy is done with an objective; it understands that
it needs the support of these countries for its candidature in the United Nations
Security Council.

Second, India would also not be conducting its diplomacy based on utopian
concepts like Human Rights while its near competitor is having a free-run for the resources in the Global South’s developing countries. It’s just a matter of time
before India will join the race with China to carve out “Spheres of Influence” in these regions, defining its neo-colonial pursuits. The last image that India will try to project is a torch-bearer of old power players from the West.

On the other hand, it’s good that India has finally understood its diplomatic strength. As the country which houses the most English speakers in the world, it has lived up to the expectation of filling the void left by Great Britain in the realm of Great Powers through the Commonwealth Nations. This point has been stated in the book “Reconnecting Britain and India,” published in 2010.

It’s here that a bit of appreciation for India’s founding fathers is needed.

Despite coming out of the colonial rule from the British and having staunch
opposition from the Indian population against joining the Commonwealth nations,
it was felt that a day will come when India as a Great Power could use its past for
the future. CHOGM has been the starting point of that ambition.

On that note, it will interesting to see on how India conducts its affairs in the
much-expected South Asian Affairs of Regional Co-operation (SAARC) summit scheduled in Maldives from 10th to 11th of this month.

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Maldives contributes double-digit boost to South Asia tourist growth

The Maldives has contributed strong growth to the overall number of tourists arriving within the South Asia region during August, according to new travel industry-supplied figures.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) says that international arrivals to the Maldives were up by 27 per cent during the month when compared to the same period the previous year.

The South Asia region as a whole, which also includes Sri Lanka, India and Nepal among its members, posted an increase of the 10 per cent in the total number of monthly visitors during August 2009, according to the association’s figures.

PATA claimed that a more stable outlook within global economics and a growing number of airline services and seats has allowed the Asia Pacific region to benefit from a surge in tourist demand, particularly during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer holiday period.

Total regional tourist growth for August was seen by the association as being slower than the figures recorded during the previous three months, which were found ranging between 14 and 16 percent. However, PATA remained optimistic about the prospects for tourism across Asia and the Pacific Rim territories in 2010.

“To date, visitor arrivals have grown by a very positive 12 percent during the first eight months of the year,” the association stated.