World View: Narendra Modi May Change India's 'No First Use' Nuclear Policy

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  • Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy
  • Taiwan's proposed trade deal opens old wounds with China

Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win India's parliamentary elections, the first round of which began on Monday. India is the largest democracy in the world, and so national elections are helpd in separate regions over a five-week period. 

Self-described Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) Narendra Modi is the head of BJP, and he's promising a substantially more aggressive foreign policy for India, including a promise to get tougher in territorial disputes with China. He's the "hope and change" candidate for this election, and he's expected to become the next prime minister. 

Modi is also promising to review India's "no first use" policy for nuclear weapons. The no first use policy was adopted with reference to India's arch-enemy Pakistan, and the previous administration has promised that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a war. However, Pakistan does NOT have a no first use policy, so Modi is promising to review India's. 

India's last generational crisis war was the war between Hindus and Muslims that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and the creation of the states of Pakistan and India in 1947. This action precipitated among the worst and bloodiest wars of the 20th century, as Hindus from the new Pakistan state migrated to the India side of the partition and Muslims from the India side migrated to Pakistan, butchering and slaughtering each other along the way. 

India's current prime minister is Manmohan Singh, born in 1932. Although he's a Sikh, he and his family witnessed the massive slaughter of the Partition War, as his family migrated from Pakistan to India at the time. Like many people who survive a generational crisis war, Singh has devoted his life to making sure that nothing like that ever happens again, and he's been remarkably conciliatory towards Pakistan and China since he became prime minister in 2004. 

If Narendra Modi, born in 1950 after the Partition War, becomes prime minister, it will mark a significant generational change. Modi's Hindu nationalism is already strongly asserting itself, and it's made him very popular. If he wins, we can expect to see relations with China and Pakistan become considerably more confrontational. Times of India

Taiwan's proposed trade deal opens old wounds with China

A boisterous protest by hundreds of students blocking the parliament building in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is now entering its third weeks. The demonstrators are protesting a proposed trade pact with China. Supporters of the pact say that it will bring new jobs to Taiwan, while opponents say that Taiwan will lose jobs to China. 

The protests are opening old wounds that haven't healed since the bloody Communist Revolution civil war, when Mao Zedong forced the Nationalist (KMT) forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, to flee to Formosa (Taiwan), passing through Hong Kong, in 1949. China still considers Taiwan to be a province of China, but whether Taiwan will declare independence has been a highly emotional issue since 1949. Taiwan's independence movement took a big stride forward in 1989, when Taiwan's population watched in horror as China's security forces brutally massacred and killed thousands of innocently protesting students in the Tiananmen Square massacre. This triggered a Taiwan student movement called "the Wild Lily rebellion," and led to the creation of a new political party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which explicitly favors independence. (See "Taiwan's Wild Election Battle" from 2004.) 

DPP has been in power in Taiwan for about half of the last 15 years, and whenever they're in power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing issues one threat after another that if Taiwan makes even one tiny step in the direction of independence, China will declare war. 

However, the KMT have been back in power in Taiwan for the last five years, and relations between Taiwan and China have been relatively calm. Ironically, as I reported last month, China's new president Xi Jinping is redirecting China's ideological culture towards Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalism and away from Mao Zedong's Marxist ideology, for fear that a new peasant revolution would throw the current CCP out in the street. 

Xi Jinping also said last year that the situation with Taiwan could not go on much longer, with the implication that China was preparing to use military force to take control of Taiwan. It may have been that remark that triggered the anxieties that led to the current round of protests among those who are bitterly opposed to reunification with China. Reuters and LA Times

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, India, Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, Pakistan, China, Partition war, Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek, Formosa, Mao Zedong, Communist Revolution, Tiananmen Square massacre, Wild Lily rebellion, Xi Jinping 

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