Thank you, Paul Krugman!

Distinguished economist and Nobel Laureate Mr. Paul Krugman confirmed what this scribe, an ignoramus about economics, relying on political horse sense, had reiterated several times. Namely, that the original aim of the European Union (EU) was derailed by the corporate world which expanded the market by disregarding issues of political identity and culture. 

Analyzing Europe’s current crisis sparked by Spain and Greece Mr. Krugman wrote:

“Europe’s lack of political union became a severe liability. Florida and Spain both had housing bubbles, but when Florida ’s bubble burst, retirees could still count on getting their Social Security and Medicare cheques from Washington. Spain receives no comparable support. So the bubble burst turned into a fiscal crisis too…the biggest costs of European policy failure would be political.” 

I have repeatedly pointed out that the objective of the original fifteen founding members of EU was subverted by the big business lobby that focused only on market expansion at the cost of due importance to political identity. I referred to EU in the context of assessing SAARC’s future. I maintained that the induction of a cultural outsider like China into SAARC would ruin future prospects of South Asia. 

For example, in one of the articles dwelling on this subject, I wrote on December 27, 2005: 

“De Gaulle's vision made European Union the most revolutionary political accomplishment of the twentieth century. It was the first institutional expression of cultural oneness. Its fifteen founding members shared history and culture. They were overwhelmingly Catholic. Now it too is coming unstuck. Driven by the corporate world it expanded mindlessly to include East Europe, and possibly Turkey. Citizens of its original member nations are beginning to turn their backs on it. Its progress has slowed down. 

When politics gets divorced from economics, such things do happen…. India 's first priority must be to create a New Asian Order. Learning from history, it must avoid the pitfalls of the European Union. The SAARC nations broadly represent the contours of South Asia 's cultural oneness. Whatever views the respective governments of South Asia may have, however much its peoples may be influenced by them, the close cultural links existing among peoples stretching from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, from Baluchistan to Dhaka, are undeniable.

International borders of South Asian nations are a legacy of imperialist colonialism. The Radcliffe Award dividing Punjab, the Durand Line dividing Northwest Frontier Province, or the border between West Bengal and Bangladesh violated all norms of nationhood. But they have endured for over half a century. People have developed emotional attachment to their respective sovereign nations. That is where the original EU can become a model to emulate. It would allow the subcontinent to re-establish its unity without compromising national sovereignties.”

These views have been recalled to restate with firmness that current efforts to create Indo-Pakistan accord will not succeed unless the mutual trust deficit is removed by recreating South Asia ’s natural political identity which was destroyed by the Partition. A South Asian Union modeled on the original European Union would accomplish that without in any way compromising national sovereignties. 

The belief that more people-to-people contacts and increased trade would bring lasting peace between India and Pakistan is illusory. As Paul Krugman has indicated the European crisis has arisen from the failure to achieve political union that kept pace with an economic union. India and Pakistan would suffer the same fate unless both governments achieve joint defence that would guarantee a political union based upon trust. If that were done all problems such as the Kashmir dispute would disappear much as the Northern Ireland dispute has evaporated after Britain and Ireland both became members of EU.


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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Views: 3358      Comments: 1

Comment Sir, it is an excellent delineation for a solution of a problem because of this continent's colonial legacy. As per your suggestion, a South Asian Union replacing SAARC would be a meaningful and lasting solution for this subcontinent. What about Chiefs of Defences of South Asian countries meeting once a year for trust and confidence building amongst South Asian Nations? I personally look forward to a day when India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afganistan, Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan form South Asian Union and accept each other's currencies prior to a South Asian Parliament and a South Asian Currency. It is high time South Asian nations show political maturity. South Asian Parliament can be in Kathmandu. This will help Nepal in maturing as a democracy. Yangon can be the seat of South Asian Central Bank, giving it economic confidence. Thimpu can be made cultural hub of South Asia. Colombo can be South Asian Trade Centre. Kabul can be South Asian Defence Headquarters. New Delhi can be South Asian Foreign Affairs and Internal Security Headquarters. Islamabad can be South Asian Energy and Internal Trade Headquarters.

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
23-May-2012 03:06 AM

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