My idea of India is dated, like me. I mourn its passing. My idea of India first came into focus in the early 1990s. Eyes-wide-open, I stepped into a strange and foreign country. I embrace how India has changed for the better since then. But not everything has changed for the better.
I arrived on the subcontinent after the Cold War had ended. I had worked to prevent mushroom clouds between the United States and the Soviet Union, and now I carried the toolbox of confidence- and security-building measures to India and Pakistan. My game plan was to present this tool box and ask thoughtful and proud people to have a look, and to consider whether there might be something here worth adapting to the subcontinent’s special circumstances.
The India I read about was the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. I also read about the struggle for independence, and how Gandhi’s non-violent civil disobedience movement shamed Britain before the entire world. Satyagraha works when rulers have a conscience. It fails when they have no conscience. Satyagraha was Gandhi’s gift to us all. It produced a vibrant experiment in democracy and secularism.
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