The French consulate in Bengaluru has been warned against the visit by French President Francois Hollande to India as the chief guest of this year's Republic Day celebrations. The warning came through a letter which had originated in Chennai and sent to the consulate on January 11.
The incident has left the security establishment a worried lot. France was targeted by the Islamic State (IS) two months back and the French leadership had declared that it was in war in the wake of the attack that saw over 129 people dead.[French consulate receives threat letter]
Why French troops on R-Day?
India's subsequent support to France's fight against the IS and now Hollande's arrival in India to grace a show that speaks about a swelling national pride presented in the guise of subdued militarism.
The fact that French troops would also take part in this year's R-Day celebrations could make the Indo-French friendship look far too symbolic for the disruptive elements, especially after the Paris attacks.
Was it required for India to make France's war its own?
Whether the warning letter sent to the French consulate means business or not is for the security apparatus to track but this incident raises a question: Did New Delhi act in haste in making Paris's war its own, hence complicating an already tough situation?
The IS's gradually growing network has already been causing headache for India's internal security agencies. Time and again, educated youngsters are being held for being influenced by the IS's activities and although the terror outfit hasn't made any serious inroads in India, but the danger always looms large.
India already has too many problems to deal with
In such a situation, was it wise for India to align itself with the French interests? Why should we blindly support another country's battle as our own when there are considerable differences in the nature and dimension of the challenges that each nation faces today?
France will be happy with our support but why put our own security in more danger when we already have an endless challenge of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan to meet?
If IS targets India, the consequences can be more grave
If the IS and its connected outfits target India because the latter has backed France, then the implications can be far more complicated for India because of its complex social structure.
The Hindu-Muslim relation in India, which has been witnessing testing times now and then, could be dealt with a severe blow if an IS attack eventually takes place in this country.
Why support a war of the West which has a tendency to view the Muslim communities with suspicious eyes while targeting the terror outfits?
India has a drastically different social set-up compared to the West and any move to divide an already polarised scenario will invite immense danger for it, both internally and externally.
The deep polarisation can be fuelled more in no time
We saw how popular actor Aamir Khan's remark on moving out of India just a few days after the Paris attacks ignited a fierce debate in India, which saw even the elite class getting divided right away.
It shows how much worse it can get if the IS succeeds in fuelling a disaster here. The very essence of India's democratic ethos could be in danger.
India already has a good relation with France
France is one of those few western countries with which India had a cordial relation at the height of the Cold War and even during the 1971 war over East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the nuclear tests of 1998 when the West had imposed sanctions on the latter.
Exploit French help for India's own interests instead
There are several dimensions to the relations these two countries share: strategic, military, intelligence, maritime and also cultural.
It would be wiser for New Delhi to cultivate France's strategic support in the Indian Ocean area and regional capacity-building so that it can exert greater influence in its neighbourhood to keep competitors like China at bay. That will serve India's interests more than needlessly joining an ideological battle.
Was this too much love for France a result of an over-enthusiastic foreign policy?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has so far done an impressive job in foreign policy, by bringing India out of the self-imposed limitation of the non-alignment in this age of abundant opportunities.
His reaching out to the US, China, Japan and even Pakistan besides a host of other countries has given the country's foreign policy several dimensions to draw leverage. But perhaps the over enthusiasm also drove India on the verge of an unforeseen danger by aligning itself with the interests of the French.
Non-alignment is irrelevant but balance is relevant
Non-alignment is undoubtedly an outdated idea in today's international relations, but knowing where to draw a balance is an eternal lesson in the realm of foreign policy.