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. // ]]>

As Britain retreats, India wins battle of World Court

Dalveer Bhandari of India ?? is elected by #UNGA and the Security Council as a member of the International Court of Justice (@cij_icj) for the term 2018-2027. ? Watch Full ? https://t.co/nqUvZqKq6v What is the #ICJ? Full explainer? https://t.co/diHJdvy9pU pic.twitter.com/eQr1uKkYP2

— UN Web TV (@UNWebTV) November 20, 2017 The withdrawal of its candidate by Britain, which had the backing of its fellow permanent members, was a setback for the Security Council that had been locked in a test of wills with the Assembly. A candidate has to win a majority in both the chambers. Bhandari won majorities in the Assembly in the first 11 rounds of voting over two meetings, while the Council blocked his election by giving majorities to Greenwood in the ten rounds of balloting it held. “The British ultimately had to bow down to the will of the majority,” a diplomat said. “The Indians stared them down.” The Council’s permanent members have traditionally had a judge in the ICJ, assuming it to be a matter of right. This time the 193-member Assembly asserted itself, forcing the Council to back down and put at risk the continuation of the ICJ perk of the permanent members. In letters written to the Presidents Miroslav Lajcak of the Assembly and Sebastiano Cardi of the Council, Britain’s Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft said that his country was withdrawing Greenwood’s candidature keeping “in mind the close relationship that the United Kingdom and India always enjoyed and will continue to enjoy”. Bhandari’s election was a dramatic face-saving turn of fortunes for India, as he lost the Asian seat on the ICJ to Lebanese lawyer-turned-diplomat Nawaf Salam, who had been campaigning for two years and had the backing of the powerful Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with 55 members in the UN. Bhandari got a second chance only because an unpopular Britain could not get an Assembly majority for a remaining judgeship requiring a runoff where the two chambers of the UN split in their voting. Bhandari’s cause became a rallying point for the nations not a member of the Council, who were chafing under the domination of the unrepresentative Council to make a popular show of force. India hammered home the representative character of the Assembly compared to the Council and insisted that the UN members follow democratic principles and re-elect Bhandari by accepting the global majority he has received in the Assembly. In the last round of voting on November 13, Bhandari received 121 votes, just short of a two-thirds majority in the 193-member Assembly, while Greenwood received nine in the Council. “The precedent is clear,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at a reception for Bhandari attended by representatives of over 160 countries on Thursday. “As is expected in the 21st century, the candidate who enjoys overwhelming support of the General Assembly membership can be the only legitimate candidate to go through.” Diplomats familiar with behind-the-scenes manoeuvres said Britain indicated late last week that it would withdraw Greenwood, but over the weekend changed course with the backing of some fellow permanent members and came up with a plan for the the Council to call for ending the balloting and set up a joint conference to resolve the deadlock. The statutes of the ICJ provides for a joint conference made up of three members each from the Council and the Assembly to resolve a deadlock that persists after three election meetings. India feared the outcome and campaigned resolutely to avoid it, pointing to the precedents in the elections in 2011 and 2014 and earlier when the candidate leading in the Council withdrew in favour of the candidate with the majority in the Assembly even though in those cases permanent members were not involved. Bhandari’s election upsets what has become a traditional balance in the ICJ. Besides a permanent member going unrepresented, four Asian countries will be represented on the ICJ bench instead of the usual three. Three incumbent judges of the ICJ — President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil – were elected along with Salam in the first four rounds of voting on November 9. Bhandari and the others elected will start their term in February next year.

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