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‘We Must Now Choose’

Why did we choose this topic? Because things are changing in a fundamental way around us. And they affect our chance to transform India into a modern developed country in which each Indian could achieve their full potential. So I thought I should speak about those changes and how we might respond to them, using them to promote our national interests.Let us first consider the changes that we see around us in our immediate neighbourhood, the Indian sub-continent, then at our extended neighbourhood, east and west, and finally at the world order as a whole.I. The Indian sub-continentThe first decade and a bit of this century were probably the best decade in the subcontinent???s history in terms of economic growth, democratisation, connectivity and intra-regional cooperation ??? with one major exception, Pakistan, and, possibly, the Maldives whose future is unclear at present. For all the other countries in the sub-continent from Afghanistan to Myanmar this has been a period of unprecedented and sustained economic growth, of growing connectivity with each other, of settling internal conflicts and democratisation, and of cooperative relations with India. This is true of Sri Lanka (with the end of the civil war, restoration of democratic norms), Nepal, (where the 12 year insurgency ended, Maoists mainstreamed and democracy brought in), Bangladesh (which is coming to a reckoning with its past, fighting extremism, growing faster than ever,and working closely with India), Bhutan (which was ahead of the curve in driving change herself), Afghanistan (compared to an abysmal earlier condition), and Myanmar (where predictions of doom have been belied). This is not to say that all their problems have been solved. Each of us, India included, has major internal political issues and is in need of structural adjustment of their economies to cope with the new global and regional economic situation. But overall, the base has been laid, if we choose to build upon it, to continue progress



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