India’s nouveau riche are often, sadly, self-centred braggers who enjoy flaunting their wealth. It’s a reflection of a more general trend in India—as it grows and its wealth increases rapidly, it’s also becoming increasingly self-centred as a nation, lost in its own world and not bothering about its responsibilities and moral duty towards its neighbours, even when they’re in crisis.
Pakistan, for example, is facing its worst floods in living memory and the international media is full of stories of the large-scale devastation and massive death toll in flood affected parts of North West Frontier Province, Punjab and Sindh. Millions of lives have been affected by this epic natural disaster.
But while the international community and aid agencies pump aid to those affected, neighbouring India seems to be aloof and blind to the tragedy affecting Pakistan—I’ve yet (at the time of writing) to hear of any aid package for the victims from the Indian government. Meanwhile, the Indian media is barely giving the disaster the time of day, with news channels instead full of stories on the corruption wracking the Commonwealth Games.
Compare this with the United States and other Western nations, which are trying to mobilize resources domestically and internationally to assist the victims. This is obviously good politics—the Obama administration wants to win the trust of a Pakistani public that often sees the United States as working against their interests.
But as an immediate neighbour, India should also try winning the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people. As the largest country in South Asia, India needs to demonstrate big heartedness towards its smaller neighbour. After all, good ties with the neighbours will be a prerequisite if this country of a billion people wants to claim a leading position on the international stage.
The comfort of having a bit more money has made India an international conformist that doesn’t want to take risks. It’s an ironic contrast with the country’s pre-liberalization days, when a poor India was a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.