Apr'19

The IUP Journal of International Relations

Focus

Who can say that the life, the work and the thoughts of Gandhi are for the passing hour, or the fleeting moment? His thoughts indeed constituted the very signposts of post-independent India. One such guiding post is his opinion on the Jewish-Arab conflict in Palestine. In the context of The League of Nations conferring on Britain a mandate to administer Palestine and to assist in the creation there of a Jewish homeland, Gandhi favored a consensus on Palestine. He categorically stated in his article of 1938 in Harijan that "the cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me." Instead, he wanted a consensus not on the partition of Palestine but on a common citizenship and political compromise in an undivided Palestine, for he believed that "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French". This view of Gandhi on Palestine conflict that emerged in the intervening period of the two World Wars is one aspect of his political philosophy that has somehow not attracted much attention from the researchers. Yet, there is a strong opinion among those concerned with the issue that Gandhi had reasons of his own for favoring consensus. According to this school of thought one compelling reason could have been the mounting domestic challenge of creating harmony and concord among the two major Indian communities, Hindus and Muslims, that Gandhi had faced during India's freedom movement. Another reason that often came into light is the request of Indian Muslims to the Indian Congress to extend support to the Ottoman Caliph, who at the end of First World War lost temporal jurisdiction on Palestine. This struggle of Gandhi to build unity among the major communities and thereby withstand the bitter contest emanating from Jinnah and his Muslim League (Simone Painter-Brick, 2009) to remain as the sole spokesman of India's freedom movement appeared to have compelled him to favor a consensus on Palestine. There is yet another opinion such as that of Kumaraswamy (2017), which wonders if the pursuit of galvanizing the Hindu-Muslim unity deprived Gandhi the analytical clarity over the Palestine issue though he did say "his sympathies are with the Jews."

Irrespective of these arguments, the fact remains that it is Gandhi's opinion which had defined independent India's foreign policy-its principled solidarity with the Palestine cause had not allowed Israeli embassy to come up in New Delhi for the first 45 years after independence. But once diplomatic ties were established, India's relations with Israel had undergone significant transition. In the recent past, this relationship has indeed appeared to be on a positive trajectory. The recent visit of Israeli President to India and the visit of India's Prime Minister for the first time to Israel have further consolidated defense ties, technological relations and political links between the two. This growing proximity of India towards Israel, particularly, India's deepening military and strategic engagement subtly points out that Indian foreign policy is slowly turning out to be dictated by its geopolitical concerns rather than meekly submitting to one leader's dictum.

Interestingly, in the first paper of the current issue, "The Impact of Gandhian Ideology on India's Israel Policy", its author, Deepti Tiwari, observing that in the recent past "India has been trying to balance its relationship with Israel with its historical support to the Palestine cause", has analyzed the ongoing transition in Indo-Israel relations, particularly under the regime of the present government. Analyzing the current high-level official visits between the two countries, the author opines that though India has built a close strategic military and economic relationship with Israel, it is taking all the care not to antagonize the Arab countries. She sums up her arguments stating that what matters today for India is not reversing its relationship with Israel but managing it.

This is followed by another interesting paper, "Reforming the Indirect Tax Sector in Palestine: Justifications and Avenues" by Osayd Awawda, that expounds the Palestine tax system in the light of economic requirements of the WB. The author observes that the current tax system imposes a great burden on the poor Palestinians for it is dangerously high and beyond their taxable capacity. As a result, the PA economy, the author contends, had become more unequable in the context of income distribution. Further, due to such high taxes that have become inevitable owing to Article 3 (5) (a) that mandates PA to adopt Israel's rates of customs and other purchase taxes, etc., the author opines that industrial and agricultural development in PA suffered heavily. He therefore strongly argues that there is an immediate need for reforming PA's tax system. In the last paper of the issue, "South Asian Security Framework: A Three-Dimensional View", the author, Shiv Kumar, analyzing the South Asian security arrangement in the light of traditional Indo-Pak rivalry, South Asian regional framework, and the role of super powers in the regional security paradigm, opines that the ultimate security setup revolves around Indo-Pak relations and their alignment with super powers such as the US, China and Russia.

-GRK Murty
Consulting Editor

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The Impact of Gandhian Ideology on India's Israel Policy
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Reforming the Indirect Tax Sector in Palestine: Justifications and Avenues
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South Asian Security Framework: A Three-Dimensional View
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Articles

The Impact of Gandhian Ideology on India's Israel Policy
Deepti Tiwari

Gandhi's politics in India largely coincided with the tenure of the British Mandate in Palestine. His most famous quotation relating to international relations is "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French" which is the guiding principle of India's foreign policy before independence. Even after independence, successive Indian governments have pursued the same line in the sphere of its Middle Eastern policies, i.e., followed Gandhian pro-Arab policy. But with the ascendancy of the present Modi government, things have changed with many high profile official visits. It marks a transition in India's history, where India has finally gone all out in announcing its critically important relationship with the Israeli nation-which has for decades otherwise been a covert, behind-closed-doors bilateral interaction, anchored in military and intelligence discussions. But at the same time, India does not abandon Gandhian policy and continues to have a soft spot for Palestine. As older relationships and partnerships change and new actors emerge, it is time for a reorientation of India's 'Look West' policy in the context of modern-day geopolitical realities.


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Reforming the Indirect Tax Sector in Palestine: Justifications and Avenues
Osayd Awawda

This paper argues that the indirect tax system in the West Bank is incompatible with its actual economic needs such as self-independence and sustainable development in the industrial and agricultural sectors. It also argues that reforming the tax system in terms of efficiency, equity, simplicity, and sufficiency of revenue can make the West Bank economy less dependent on foreign donations and decrease the tax burden on Palestinians living there.


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South Asian Security Framework: A Three-Dimensional View
Shiv Kumar

During the late 20th century, a wave of regionalism and globalization opened up opportunities for the South Asian countries to lay down the South Asian security framework. The initiative began with the establishment of SAARC, followed by BIMSTEC and Mekong Ganga Cooperation. However, the traditional rivalry between India and Pakistan and their diverse approaches such as Pakistan's policy toward its Western neighborhood and India's approach towards its Eastern neighbors through its 'Act East' policy, increased mistrust and divergence with regard to regional cooperation. At the same time, the geostrategic presence of great powers such as the US, China and Russia is also instrumental in the paradigm shift in the South Asian security framework, especially after the 9/11 attack. The paper analyzes in depth the South Asian security framework through the three dimensional layers, that is, internal building based on Indo-Pak traditional rivalry; regional measures, through historical, cultural, religious and commercial connectivity among the South Asian countries; and the role of great powers in the regional security framework. Since these factors are responsible for either fracturing or nurturing the regional security framework in the region, the paper analyzes these core multi-layer factors in determining the South Asian security framework as a myth or reality in the 21st century.


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