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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 37, August 29, 2009

ASEAN Tryst and India‘s Signature to it

The Pity of it—O! The Pity of it

Monday 31 August 2009, by V R Krishna Iyer


A little while ago India had appended to its executive (a statesman with rare probity) signature to the ASEAN Agreement. I must confess I am a jurist but not an economist. But economics of the nation must submit to the fundamental jurisprudence which governs the rule of life and the state’s operations. On this basis, I consider the imperial economy which we liberated ourselves as a nation half-a-century ago to invest every little man in India with the right to life in dignity, decency, liberty and divinity a fundamental right. But alas, the Asean Agreement with India’s signatory has forfeited this independence by exposing our markets, agricultural, industrial, commercial and technological to exploitation by other nations free of duty to the depression of our agriculture and right to socio-economic justice. Our plantations (tea, coffee, rubber, palm oil plus plus) are in peril. Our food production through agriculture will cease to be self-reliant. Our industrial development will suffer asphyxiation through MNCs occupying our developmental prospects and our technology surrendering to foreign forces freely dominating our resources by freebooting with the collaboration of our Republic.


Every generation is a new nation. The Founding Fathers who made our Constitution designed swaraj in such manner that our tryst with destiny declared as its major duty the abolition of illiteracy, ill health and to wipe every tear from every eye. The right to life of the vast masses is facing a crisis never before dreamt of. The most aggravating factor is opening the gateway, seaport and airways to every foreign Asian country which can dump on our land cheaper goods since India has vast masses and hunger for five-star life confusing it with development. Gandhiji has said and warned: ‘The Gandhian concept of development rejected the idea that it should aim primarily at the creation of material wealth or the satisfaction of insatiable, endlessly multiplied needs.’ ‘In so far as we have made the modern materialistic craze our goal,’ he wrote, ‘so far are we going downhill in the path of progress.’

The next generation of Indians will realise that today’s signatory to the ASEAN Agreement will eventually bring our country back to regrettable backwardness. The future destiny will render its verdict on the signature to the ASEAN Agreement. The historian will be too late in condemning that this signature has never in the field of development of our progressive nation was so much suffocated victimising so many by the signature of so few.

Now that Parliament was sitting till the other day the least courtesy to that national instrumentality would have been to consult it before signing away a nation’s economy. Alternatively, an eminent Commission of experts should be created to study the implications of the treaty on our declining economy and the States too taken into confidence in our federal polity.

A distinguished champion of civil liberties and human rights, the author is a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

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