November 4, 2007

India is the new friend of dictatorships

Just as thousands of saffron-clad Buddhist monks hit the streets of Rangoon to protest against the military junta, India's oil minister was in the Burmese capital negotiating greater involvement for Indian gas companies.

For days the Indian foreign office maintained a studious silence as violence escalated in its neighbors. Pressure on the Indian government from US and European countries did not deter Delhi from its now well-established policy - that economic and security interests dictate foreign policy. Earlier this year Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited Burma and was questioned on India's growing economic and military ties with the authorities there.

On a number of recent issues India has either refused to react, delayed its response or just said it is an internal matter for the countries concerned. Israel's invasion of Lebanon last year, the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the actions of Sudan's military authorities, Iran's nuclear stand-off with the US and the recent crackdown in Burma are all examples of this new approach.

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