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World View: Suhasini Haidar's take on Arab Spring

World View: Suhasini Haidar's take on Arab Spring

CNN-IBN's Suhasini Haidar asks: should India have taken a more active line on Arab Spring?

The Arab Spring caught the world by surprise. Unlike countries like the US, Britain and France on one side, and Russia and China on the other all of whom quickly took strong positions, India chose a cautious approach; even as thousands came out on the streets in Tunis, Benghazi, Cairo, Hama, Manama and San'a. South Block instead chose to focus on the safety of Indians in these countries, who thankfully, have not been targeted or harmed. But such caution is a luxury India cannot afford. The WANA region (West Asia and North Africa) is home to 5 million Indians, and is the source of 70 percent of India's energy requirement. Beyond that, as the world's largest democracy, the idea of India fails if it is perceived as supporting dictatorial regimes over democratic movements.

Equally, India must not stay silent when Western countries use those movements as an excuse to launch strikes and support armed insurgencies, as they seem to have in Libya and Syria. To that end, it does India credit that it chose not to club itself with either the US when it called for President Assad's ouster nor with Russia and China who refused to condemn the violence in Syria; instead sending an envoy along with fellow UNSC members and emerging economies Brazil and South Africa to see the ground situation for themselves.

I was part of a group of journalists invited to Syria last month - and I do hope you are able to see my ground report from that trip on the show - the fact is that the conflict in Syria, as it is in other parts of the region like Libya and Bahrain - is that this isn't just about a dictatorship v/s the people, nor just about a conservative Sunni majority vs a Shi'a and Allawite elite, but there is the growing fear that the Secular governments (Syria is among the last) are facing an increasingly Islamist, and often armed opposition. India must take a more active, engaged line on all that is happening in the region, not just because it is in its interests, but because independent voices on the critical events there are essential in an increasingly unipolar world.