South Asia takes control of its destiny
The summit between Asian and European leaders in Bangkok augurs well for the future of these two regions.
The meeting between the 15 European Union members and the leaders of ten Asian countries discussed the strengthening of political, cultural and economic ties between the two continents. The atmosphere described by the large media contingent was "upbeat and non-confrontational."
Indeed as an Asian, one is proud that these countries exploited by colonial powers, ravaged by wars and suffering from famine were in a small period of time able to wrest political and economic control from others and begin a life of their own.
The sleeping giant of Asia - China - has now risen. Shedding an archaic economic system, it is now skipping ahead merrily with growth figures in the double digit.
Of course one need not elaborate about Japan and South Korea. These are Asia's power houses. Following them are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Vietnam is now opening up. Combining Confucian work ethics and morality with new ideas of management, the people of Asia, that is South Asia and those on the Pacific Rim, have left their other Asian brothers far behind.
Admittedly one feels proud to be an Asian by virtue of the Arab world's placement in this continent. However, one feels sad that we and others in East Asia have also been left far behind.
In the Indian sub continent, the focus is not on economics but politics. In India, which has democratic traditions, a sorry state of affairs exist. The country is deeply divided on several issues. Communalism, extremism, hatred, etc. seem to be the order of the day. The ordinary man yearns for progress. All he gets are "hawala reports."
Pakistan is fragmented by politicians and political parties who see "dark and sinister hands" to disturb the security of the country. The truth is too bitter a pill to swallow.
In Bangladesh, a power struggle between grappling women politicians, political parties is bringing the country to a grinding halt. Sri Lanka know no peace. What have these poor people done to suffer at the hands of these terrible Tamil Tigers?
The similarity in the political situation is quite obvious. At times there are people in the subcontinent who question the gains of independence. Was this tryst with destiny meant to bring in "babu" prime ministers, corrupt politicians, film-star leaders, fakirs, pirs and dark-spectacle-wearing soft-speaking mafia-type gangsters-turned student, leaders-turned immigrant movers who spew out venom and hatred? The masses dance. In ASEAN countries they work.
And since the Arab world is in Asia, it expects to be well-placed somewhere in the list. It is doubtful whether many can make the grade.
Despite its people and coffers, the Arab world has not been able to find its niche in Asia. A period of lost opportunities and a lack of purpose have denied them a place among the gold winners. "Command respect", my teacher told me once, adding, "do not demand it."
The world of South East Asia and the Asian Pacific Rim have, by virtue of their sheer grit and determination in consolidating their gains, made Europe look at them seriously.
They have made the United Sates also think twice.
Europe now treats this part of Asia as an equal. Europeans are wise enough to realize that enhancement of economic relations between North America and Asia will, in the long run, not be in their favor.
They, therefore, would like to establish a link between them and Asia. They know that tapping into Asia's economic dynamism will prove a boon for them.
The Europeans are bending over to please Asia. They are calling for a "renaissance" in ties between the two continents.
They said the same thing in the late 18th and 19th century when they colonized Asia.
However, at the end of this century, it is the Asians who are calling the shots.
Topics: South Asia