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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Nation-building secrets India can learn from allies Japan and the UAE


Political scientists have long known that procedural democracy and a liberal and tolerant liberal state do not necessarily coincide; one can exist without the other. Economists also know that economic growth cannot last long without the freedom to pursue ideals, as the communist world has discovered.

India’s wise founders chose to be a free, secular democracy where all citizens enjoy civil liberties. It’s what keeps our diverse nation united and keeps our citizens free and peaceful. The lesson for our friends is that we must continue on this path.

For decades, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Japan have been two of India’s closest friends and partners. Both are developed countries; however, when they embark on their nation-building journey, both are poor developing Asian countries and things can go wrong in a number of ways.

rise of japan

Typically, both of their ascents start with a crisis. On a damp July morning in 1853, Japan traveled through the centuries thanks to a surprise display by the American Commodore and his battleships. From centuries of isolation under the Tokugawa shogunate to the age of steam, Japan’s ruling class was brutally delivered and plunged into turmoil. The result of the agitation was the return to power of Emperor Meiji and the charter oath.

In 1868, the Emperor of Japan promulgated a remarkable five-point charter, the consensus of Japan’s elite, that would propel Japan to become the first industrialized nation outside the West.

Among its promises was the establishment of a council to unite the various elements of Japanese society, the right of all to the pursuit of happiness, an end to feudalism and “the evil customs of the past,” and the search for knowledge anywhere in Japan. world. Not all of the promises were implemented immediately or fully, but enough was done to transform Japan and lay the groundwork for what it is today.

The Japanese understood that not all was good in their civilization and religion and that great sacrifices had to be made to remain independent and prosperous. These changes included social solidarity of all classes, rational and scientific thinking about superstitions, and the opening of knowledge and culture to the world. In the first half of the 20th century, extreme nationalism was on the rise, but when the defeat of World War II revived, Emperor Hirohito once again remembered the charter oath and its modern, humane and democratic impulses as a moment when modern Japan must return to the foundation of the nation.

This shift from radical nationalism to a democratic liberalism that pursues freedom and prosperity for all citizens led to Japan’s rise.

The rise of the UAE

The seven emirates that make up the UAE, formerly known as the Trusil States, have been a British protectorate since the 19th century, like much of the Gulf. The moment of crisis came in 1968 when Britain announced its intention to withdraw all troops east of the Suez Canal.

Although Abu Dhabi’s ruler, Sheikh Zayed, offered full compensation for the British deployment, it declined and a bitter game between the emirates began. While the other emirates have barely any oil revenue, Sheikh Zayed had the foresight that they would fall prey to outsiders alone and unite to become independent. He chose to share the wealth with other emirates by funding federal structures and directly subsidizing some smaller emirates. Sheikh Rashid, ruler of Dubai, understands this too, and wisely agreed to serve as vice-chairman of the new coalition.

Oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi in the early 1960s, but that could have led to the natural resource curse seen in many other places. What works is a flat tribal social structure, small population, and wise leadership. Once sufficient funds are available, they are used for health, education, housing and roads.

From 1969, Dubai also had oil, but that wasn’t enough to transform it. Sheikh Rashid spent his meager income on infrastructure construction, and more importantly, he promoted policies of economic and cultural openness and tolerance. He realized that its transformation in a highly competitive neighborhood would not have been possible without the social, religious and economic freedoms Dubai offered.

At the beginning of its founding, the UAE peacefully handled the Abu Musa incident with Iran and the Braimi incident with Saudi Arabia without getting involved in nationalism. Since then, the UAE has maintained a cautious foreign policy, balancing the US, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, and now Israel with a volatile neighbour.

It continues to maintain a policy of religious tolerance, establishing a Large Hindu temple in October 2022and the most recent inauguration Abraham Family House in Abu Dhabi There are synagogues, churches and mosques in the same complex, and the number of tourists from Israel in 2022 exceeds 150,000. By the end of 2022, the UAE will also announce the passage of a law This will allow non-Muslim expatriates to abide by the personal laws of their home countries with regard to divorce and inheritance.

India’s lesson is unmistakable.

(Mohsin Raza Khan is an associate professor at the Jindal School of International Affairs and executive director of the Center for New South Asia.)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Health.


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