Global contradictions in India?

Indian companies are staunch defenders of free trade, but the country is reluctant to accept international aid in the wake of the deadly tsunami.

The politics of globalization aren't simple, as evidenced by India's response to the tsunami tragedy.

India-based technology companies have been at the forefront of promoting global trade and visa programs that allow Indians to work in the United States. And yet the Indian government has been hesitant to accept international aid in the wake of December's deadly tsunami, which reportedly killed nearly 10,000 Indians and left thousands missing.

Is this a glaring contradiction when it comes to international exchanges? Seen another way, is the reluctance to welcome foreign aid--a longstanding policy for India--wise given that help can come with strings attached?

In any event, India's sense of national pride seems to be playing some role. A delegation of Indians living abroad responded with "resounding applause" when India's finance minister asserted the country's resolve to go it alone to fight the tsunami aftermath, according to an article in the Times of India Friday. One delegate at the gathering of expatriates in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) compared the tsunami approach with that of the country's nuclear weapons program. "When (former Indian Prime Minister) Vajpayee went ahead with the nuclear tests in 1998, he forced the world to sit up and hear us out," said psychologist Dr. Viren Kothari, according to the Times. "Today, the government is once again telling the world we are strong, we don't need your help."

It seems, though, that India isn't walling itself off completely when it comes to offers of help. The Associated Press reported that the finance minister said the government would consider international assistance for reconstruction of the tsunami-devastated south.

"We believe we are a large enough country to provide relief to our country and we even have provided relief to Sri Lanka and the Maldives," Minister P. Chidambaram said, according to the news service. "However, long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction require massive investments."

 

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