GAUTAM MURTHY'S PRESENTATION AT PRAGUE,CZECH REPUBLIC
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - GAUTAM MURTHY'S PRESENTATION AT PRAGUE,CZECH REPUBLIC
Humanities and Social Sciences Review,
CD-ROM. ISSN: 2165-6258 :: 1(4):129–132 (2012)
Copyright c 2012 by UniversityPublications.net
INDIA AND THE EUROPEAN UNION: MULTICULTURALISM AND
CONTESTED IDENTITIES. CULTURES OF GOVERNANCE AND
Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.
India and the EU are the foremost examples of multiculturalism, that countries elsewhere in
the world must embrace as an inevitable consequences of globalization, and the new world
order. India views the EU as an independent and indispensable pillar of a world edifice resting
on multiple pillars, capable of making significant contributions towards fostering a rule-based
international order, and in coming to terms with the challenges of managing global
interdependence. The EU is India’s largest trading partner, and source of Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI). Our economic partnership is based on firm foundations. Indian companies
are investing in sectors as diverse as IT (Information Technology), bio-technology, food-
processing, automotive components, and pharmaceuticals. India and the EU are the two largest
democracies in the world, sharing a common bond of pluralism, consultation, consensus, and
rule of law, strength of democratic institutions, a strong and free press, and an independent
judiciary. These are the principal features defining their strategic partnership. These principles
help manage their continental-sized polities and economies. Decision-making structures are
federative, inclusive, caring and conciliatory.
Keywords: Governance and multiculturalism, India, European Union, Civilization,
Good governance and appropriate and timely conflict resolution are the two primary components
for the successful running of nation-states. India and the European Union (EU) have a lot to learn
from each other’s experience in these two areas of Statecraft.
The EU is the world’s most successful regional organization, accounting for 63% of total
bloc exports. Intra-bloc exports in SAARC, (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation)
with India as a member, are still only 5%. The EU has shown much more commitment than any
other regional organization. It has aspects of both supra-nationalism and inter-governmentalism.
India also has many similarities with EU. EU’s development has transformed governance in
Europe, influencing everything from regulations on the habitat of birds, to voting in WTO. It has
also altered global politics, governance and the relationship of nation-states in the post-cold war
era. There is nevertheless a “democratic deficit” in Europe. Decisions are made by governmental
leaders and bureaucrats without direct input from voters. In India too “democracy” means
periodic elections, which bring about a “compromise between competing elites”, and without
altering the basic conditions of the poverty-ridden masses.
130 Gautam Murthy
India and the EU-Partners in Progress
India sees the EU as a natural partner in its economic development, and interaction with the rest
of the world. The strategic partnership is no longer economic-driven, but covers diverse areas of
engagement. We share a mutuality of interests on many global issues. We are partners in an
intensified fight against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, unsustainable-environment, and
sectarian conflict. When the EU the world’s biggest trading bloc and the largest integrated single
market economy co-operates with India – the second most populous nation and the fourth
largest, fast growing economy, the significance of the partnership goes beyond bilateral relations
and impacts on global equations.
The EU sees Indian multiculturalism and its apparent success, as an example where one can
learn from each other’s experience. In EU circles it is felt if India can exist as a mosaic of
ethnicities, religions, languages and cultures, why can’t Europe follow the same path?
At the superficial level, there are plenty of similarities between the EU and India. The EU
comprises 27 nations with more queuing up. India has 28 states, each marked by distinctive
culture, and 18 official languages. Christianity is the primary religion in Europe: Hinduism in
India. Both EU and India have significant minority populations. But, of course, there are
profound differences too. Europe after all is the cradle of modern nationalism, and some
members of the EU are the oldest nation-states in the world. Thus, however much the EU tries to
gloss over angularities of nationalism; it continues to stumble on them.
EU and India-Civilizationional Issues
What the claim to equate EU with India does is to posit civilizational basis for Europe. The
problem with this formulation came to the fore when both France and the Netherlands rejected
the European constitution. An important reason for this is strong nationalist sentiments in both
countries, as opposed to pan-European identities. The attitude to particular religious minority-
Muslims in Europe brings to the fore EU’s policy of multicultural harmonization. As a greater
number of Muslims, many of them belonging to a generation raised and nurtured in Europe are
implicated in terrorist acts. EU member-states policies towards minorities and migration are
being severely tested. The role of the State should be clearly defined-does the State impose hard
secularism and uniform citizenship on its citizens as in France, or does it give more play to
multiple notions of identity? Many of these concerns, especially with regard to EU’ expansion
plans come into focus when the question of Turkey’s entry to the EU crops up.
India’s problems are similar to EU’s in many aspects. Despite the success of India’s
Multiculturalism, there are serious flaws in the ways it is formulated and practised in India.
Though the Indian State has been vociferous in its defence of multiculturalism, it has often failed
to deliver. The Constitution of India has clauses that contain aspects of Hindu majoritarianism,
despite India’s professed Multiculturalism, and secular credentials. The State’s and Judiciary’s
construction of Hinduism is intent on homogeneity. The wording of the Constitution is also
instructive. The reference to Hindus in Article 25 includes Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. It is not
only the State that makes a mockery of the slogan-“Unity in Diversity”. For most Indians,
diversity is something that is best celebrated in theory. As soon as diversity threatens the
majority, it falls back on uniformity and national unity, for “survival of the Nation”.
India and the European Union... 131
INDO-EU Economic Co-Operation
Economic co-operation between India and Europe is gathering momentum. India-EU bilateral
trade is today $45 billion-EU being India’s largest trading partner EU accounts for 25% of FDI
coming into India, amounting to $ 7.5 billion. EU is a major source of high grade technology and
technology transfer. Indo-German collaboration companies were market leaders in as many as 15
product groups. Although in absolute terms India’s trade with EU has increased, there are some
disturbing trends. In relative terms, as a percentage of India’s total exports and imports, trade has
declined consistently in the last decade. The European economies are unable to take full
advantage of the expansion of the Indian economy. One of the reasons for this is the slow growth
of the European economies – less than 2.5 per cent decadal growth. As economic growth in the
EU is projected to rebound in the coming years, this is the appropriate time to give a boost to
India-EU economic cooperation. Indo-EU ties are now upgraded to a “strategic partnership”,
after the annual summits since 2000, covering all aspects of economic and political cooperation.
Movement of professionals between EU and India should be possible with the mutual
recognition of higher qualifications. With a special relationship, Indian companies can penetrate
in a big way rapidly growing European outsourcing. Integration of economies would improve the
competitiveness of both India and the EU.
A rapidly aging population coupled with increasingly better standards of living amongst EU
citizens has prompted the EU to look towards Asia to bridge labour-supply gaps.
Europe is today a global super power of world historical importance, second to none in
economic clout. It has constructed one of the most successful systems of government – the
modern social – welfare state, which for all its flaws has brought in unprecedented prosperity and
security to Europe’s people. It is the single most successful contributor to voluntary international
cooperation. The original European Economic Community (ECC) of 1957 has grown from the
founding six members to 27, knitting together 500 million people. Its values are spreading across
the globe – far more attractive, in many respects, than those of America. Europe’s trajectory is
up, not down, and is even rising. Northern Europe’s social democracies are on top of the World
Economic Forum’s ranking of the most competitive economies. 60 per cent of US foreign
investment goes to Europe. US business invests more in European nations like Belgium, Ireland,
and Switzerland than in the whole of China or India. Instruments to engineer peace, the softer
tools of civilian power, lie with Europe – The “quiet super power”. EU has emerged as Europe’s
most innovative and significant contribution to modernity. Europe and EU emphasizes
community relationships over individual autonomy, cultural diversity over assimilation, quality
of life over accumulation of wealth, sustainable development over unlimited material growth,
deep play over unrelenting toil, and universal human rights, India too values all these qualities.
Hence we should work together harmonize our synergies, through closer collaboration and
It is only through multiculturalism shared by both India and the EU that global problems
such as terrorism, environmental degradation, reviving WTO talks and religious fundamentalism
can be mitigated. The Berlin declaration, commemorating EU at 50 states “For centuries Europe
has been an idea, holding out hope of peace and understanding. That hope has been fulfilled”.
The real success of both India and the EU are linguistic pluralism, accommodation of diversities
and heterogeneities and above all functioning vibrant parliamentary democracies.
132 Gautam Murthy
The commonality of values between India and the EU pluralism, consultation, strength of
democratic institutions, independent judiciary and free press, are part of the mutuality of
interests. India and the European Union are the two foremost examples of multiculturalism and
plurality of identities, something that countries in other continents must embrace as an inevitable
aspects and consequence of globalization. Despite the flaws of multiculturalism, India and the
EU see each other as indispensable pillars, making significant contributions towards fostering a
rule-based international order and in meeting the challenges of global reciprocity and
The crisis of governance in India has three principal aspects-politico-economic aspect,
institutional dimension and ideological hegemony. The political economy of development in
India has led to the realignment of the dominant coalition forged and sustained in the early
decades of post independence period (India gained her freedom from British colonial rule in
1947).This realignment can be seen along sectoral and caste lines. As part of this process, some
sections of the business class and the peasantry have started viewing the interventionist
prominence of the State no longer an enabling factor, but as a constraint on its expression. With
the new economy gaining visibility and prominence in India, the demand for dismantling India’s
controlled economy gained more acceptability.
Statutory institutions in India, especially the executive and legislature have suffered serious
erosion of credibility, as a result of rampant corruption. The image of the Indian State being a
“strong” one has got eroded as a result of changes in the party system, intensification of political
competition, emergence of coalitional governments, and the presence of distinct regional regimes
and their increasing assertion. All these issues complicate “governance” in India.
It would be interesting to study how the EU also resolves problems of “governance”, now
that 27 countries, both pre- and post 1991, are “working” together.
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