Saturday, October 2, 2010

Geopolitical patriotism

Most Indians think their country is small. Or more correctly, you'd never hear an Indian elite say the following, "My country is vast and enormous." They don't think so.

There are many sources for this madness. The first is that we've been indoctrinated with stories of loss about pre-partition India. Secondly, some of us have been fed myths of "Akhand Bharat", a fictional area in South Asia which is essentially a union of the set of all historical empires that could ever be considered Indian.

The most important factor is the goddamn map. The Mercator projection, invented by imperialists, makes India look really, really small. Its a false projection, and the best way to see the world is with a globe. Here is a test for you. Next time you look at a map, look at India and then, look at Greenland. India is 10 percent larger than Greenland. Not joking at all. If the map doesn't look like that, its total bullshit.

Listen, I understand that those six bigger countries than India, are really very large. But size isn't everything.

First, lets look at time multiplexing. What I mean is, of the six countries bigger than India, all of them have gigantic spaces that are unlivable. India is the bigger country over time. In the winter, for example, the area you can comfortably walk around in Canada is very small. You can backpack around India during that time. Same for Russia. Australia has a serious, serious desert in the middle of the country. In summer, India is hot too, but not that crazy. You can still eat a mango in the middle of UP in May if you like. Its a place people live, unlike the scorpion-home and mining country in the center of Australia.

Other places have the issue of access. Brazil has rainforests that are not just inaccessible, but are filled with a variety of strange and poisonous plants, insects and animals. While that is an amazing and beautiful display of biodiversity, it doesn't really mean the country is wide open to see.

In the end, its probably just the U.S. and China that are gigantic, and still in a temperate zone where a large part of the country is accessible year round (and the U.S. still has a lot of Canada-type areas and China has mountains and deserts in Tibet and the Gobi respectively).

But thats fine isn't it? Being number three is ok.

Now I can hear you guys saying, "but its good to have land". Canada has oil in its wasteland. Brazil can exploit the genetic diversity in its forests. Australia has everything except oil in its desert.

Trust me, the answers will come if India lives up to its potential for prosperity and becomes a wealthy country. All these countries simply are exploiting whatever resources they have to stay ahead. If we have land that is accessible year round, maybe we can extend agriculture on it, grow flowers and grapes for wine. We could expand our tourism to see the ancient structures our prolific ancestors scattered across the land. We can build new cities. I won't argue against the mineral wealth of gigantic wastelands, but once you value unlivable places, how about mining the watery depths that we have access to in the Indian Ocean? Or not mining it to create giant fisheries?

My point is, once you realize India is a contender, and in the game, there are different ways to look at the facts. We are not a small country. We are the seventh largest country. Stop being a surrender monkey.