Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit turned out to be profoundly meaningful. With an old world charm, she simply held up the mirror to show us what we were and what we have become as a nation. The image staring back at us looks ghastly, and makes (some of) us feel low.
No one knows what were the real thoughts racing through Suu Kyi’s mind which she chose to keep to herself. She is excessively polite— unlike Nelson Mandela. To be sure, this was not the India she knew in her youth. No doubt, she could see iron has crept into our soul as a nation.
Was it inevitable—what happened? There are no easy answers. Did we try to avoid it happening? No, we didn’t. So, it could have been avoided? Yes, I guess so. The pursuit of realpolitik doesn’t really have to be the only viable option for a civilisation like India.
Yet, we are passionately wedded to it today and can’t think of a life otherwise. The dogma has assumed centrality. Look at the appalling insensitivity of our leadership to human suffering, as evident in the Indian statement on the savage killings in Gaza. We want to be “neutral” since the butcher happens to be a close friend and “strategic partner”! This is realpolitik. Bye, bye, Suu Kyi, don’t visit us again.
Ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.