BRITAIN’S SLIDE, INDIA’S OPPORTUNITY

C’est de la folie” — “It is madness”. The Russians who massacred the British thought they were drunk. Europeans view Brexit as a modern version of that madness, complete with rivalries, jealousies in the camp, over confidence, a decision made without looking at the consequences  and now an inability to turn back in the face of imminent collapse. The decision, as the Government is fond of saying, has been made. The right excuse for the get out clause hasn’t quite materialised. Russian interference in the referendum may yet form one of the reasons if the pragmatist finally take over from the current shipwreck. British politicians and commentators have been fond of saying that Britain punches beyond its weight. A subliminal realisation has existed that Britain is no longer the military power, the economic force or the innovative leader that it once was. But that realisation has not understood what kept the balloon inflated. A sense exists among many Brexitors that Britain can rise from the ashes. Not having lost any major wars, there hasn’t been a period of reckoning that could have precipitated introspection. Hence old habits and institutions have been fossilised as the indomitable character of Englishness. Divide and rule, a tendency to take unnecessary risks sometimes out of sheer boredom with a status quo, and double speak have been hallmarks of the colonial age that have not quite left the establishment’s approach to the modern world. The world is much too aware of those habits and many an ex colonised country knows how they lost their lands to deceptions and exploitations by the Imperial British. They are too cautious now. Old habits die hard. Europe is weary and even mocks the failed divide and rule approach taken by the three British Brexiteers to create disunity within the European camp . ‘We know you too well’ Europeans say.  Neither is the misplaced confidence that the ‘world and Euope needs us more than we need them’ is proving true. Britain is about to lose two important agencies, the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.. Its place as the premier finance centre of the world is at risk as Europe and Euro starts to consolidate its place in the financial sphere. The loss of the European Medicines Agency is adding to the brain drain that has started since Brexit. Britain no longer appeals to the brightest and the best in the world. Before Brexit, there was confidence that British excellence and the expertise as the Financial centre will ensure that Europe will want to keep these agencies in UK! Hasn’t happened. Prime Minister Theresa May, unfairly nicknamed the Maybot, is steering a creaky ship in very difficult waters with rebellious crews at logger heads with each other. Her demeanour and character is now reflective of Britain as a country, uncertain of itself, fast finding that the ‘great’ in Great Britain is not working anymore and the country is shedding the props that enabled it to ‘punch beyond its weight’. There is now tremendous insecurity and self doubt . Some are wondering whether it is an intelligent and sound nation or as the LibDem leader Vince Cable says, ‘living in Alice in Wonderland.’ Why has it come to this? The British were famously thought to be safe, guarded, sensible and reliable. There doesn’t seem to be much of that on display now. The country’s establishment has failed to change its approach to a world long accustomed to its (Britain’s) old ways and a world much changed by a post industrial fast moving internet based economies and egalitarian social changes. A class system suited to imperial colonialism, a Monarchy serving as an antiquarian tourist attraction and a political system out of sync with modern complexity do not inspire the need to go through ‘revolution’ of a kind. There is still too much gloating and living in past glories. That may be its nemesis as it clings to habits and character that also lost it the Empire within a very short period. Compared to the Roman and even Mughal Empire, the British Empire was the shortest in time span. Beneath the veneer of decency and reason, there is a long history of gory bloodshed, unnecessary wars and eccentric decisions that make no sense. There is an inability to coexist and get along as equals. Instead, its class system is so entrenched that there is still no concept of a nation of equals. Rather this divisiveness influences its approach to the rest of the world. Not having had a real crises calling for introspection, Brexit seems to be a self inflicted moment long awaited. For too long It has been carried and cushioned by camping with Europe as EU, with its ex colonised countries as Commonwealth, and as special relationship with its racial allies, the Anglosaxon world, namely USA, Canada and Australia. It has lived off its seat at the Security Council’ Reality check is dawning every day.. America is not interested in UK as it once was. The special relationship now is a paper myth played up to keep the British upper classes happy. All this is opening an opportunity for the biggest and now most influential of its ex colonised land, India. India’s growing influence in the world has been tested in the appointment of the fifth Judge at the International Court of Justice, an institution, like many that Britain was instrumental in setting up. The very eminent and knighted Sir Christopher Greenwood, has lost out to the ordinary Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari. Knighthoods no longer impress the world. While having a majority in the Security Council, Britain could only muster 68 supporters against India’s 121 in the General Assembly. Even the special partner, America ditched it and Europe no longer felt obliged to stand by it. The rest of the world, which Brexiteer had placed great hopes in, was scarce in support. While that comic Foreign Secretary tried to find a ‘sour grapes spin to it, the loss of this prestigious seat is a sign of times to come. The Commonwealth is going to be Britain’s next testing ground as a boisterous India throws its weight around the world. UK already looks as the junior partner in the Commonwealth. Sooner or later, the issue of who should be head of the club will rise again. India has raised concerns in the past about the Queen being perpetual unelected head of Commonwealth which promotes democracy! What may be a poignant moment in the very near future could be if Britain loses its Security Council seat. With India leading the charge in the General Assembly for changes, there will no doubt be dramatic changes precipitated at the UN within the next decade if not sooner. Power is reversing between the once colonised and the Imperialist. It is India that is rising and Britain that is sliding downwards. There is still hope. Britain still has some of the most intelligent and intellectual minds in the world despite the brain drain.  If it finds a way back into Europe, it may give itself time to readjust to reality. That of course depends if the next few months bring it closer to self reflection. But if it continues to whistle in the wind along with its Foreign Secretary living in the glorious past, the shrinking of its power may come too soon. For India, Britain’s demise augers well, as it takes on the real leadership of Commonwealth and increases its punch at the UN. // ]]>