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Shiv R Jhawar

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Molding Regional Unions for a Better Tomorrow
By Shiv R Jhawar   
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Last edited: Monday, January 19, 2009
Posted: Monday, January 19, 2009

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With the EU growing in Europe and the UNASUR in South America, it is now time for other regions to follow suit. If we want a world of greater harmony and prosperity, we must have powerful regional unions evolved, no matter how difficult the task is.

The sooner people realize that the earth is but one country and that there is only one race—the human race—the better off humanity will be. It is humanism, not nationalism, that can ultimately spread peace and prosperity in the world.

On November 4, 2008, the United States elected its first African-American president, a giant step toward true equality. Until it actually happened, few Americans seriously believed they would ever see a non-white President. The dream of Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) became a reality. The seed for a more humanistic era was planted, inspiring 21st century humanity to overcome barriers of race, class, gender, religion, and nationality.

The former Illinois Senator, Barack Obama, achieved this history-making victory with the slogan “Yes, We Can.” Throughout his campaign, he stressed the word "United." His message of unity can be an inspiration to those countries that were divided by the colonial "divide and rule" tactic that prevailed during 19th and early 20th century. This division along religious, ethnic, caste, or racial lines, led these countries - as well as different sects within these countries - to become bitter enemies. Sinhalese-Tamils hatred in Sri Lanka, Hindu-Muslim hatred in India and Pakistan, Jew-Arab hatred in Israel and Palestine, and Tutsis-Hutus hatred in Rwanda are some glaring examples.

One effect of this "divide and rule” policy has been ongoing distrust and enmity between neighboring nations. When developing countries need support, they often look to major world powers while ignoring their neighboring countries. Although there is nothing wrong in approaching major world powers, the tendency to ignore neighboring countries impedes regional security and economic progress.

Increasing coordination among neighboring countries can help usher in regional prosperity, harmony, and peace. This has been amply demonstrated by the European Union (EU), which covers most of the territories of ancient Rome. It was founded on treaties among sovereign countries. The EU, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, has six main organs: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, and the European Central Bank (ECB), which manages the euro currency. Its Parliament members are directly elected by the citizens of all member countries. It is noteworthy that the EU has eliminated the death penalty within its member nations.

The euro currency is an astounding economic success. The majority of the EU countries gave up their own centuries-old currencies to adopt the euro as their single currency. One country can no longer devalue its currency against another member country in a bid to increase its exports. It was the introduction of the euro currency that united EU countries economically. The euro has achieved reserve currency status because investors have confidence in its future stability.

The European Union has created a model for a successful economic future not only for Europe but also for the rest of the world. A call for economic unification of neighboring nations within the Indian subcontinent is described in detail in my book, “Building a Noble World.” Just as the European Community (EC), established in 1967 became the European Union, so also the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), established in 1985, could become an “Indus Union.” By following the EU model, the economies of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Myanmar, which were once an integral part of the ancient Indian subcontinent, could be molded into a formidable “Indus Union.”

Although creating an “Indus Union” could be viewed as a Herculean task, the economic benefits should be substantial enough to overcome present political differences. The EU region has a history of political differences even more hostile than that of South Asia, yet the EU countries are now successfully integrated economically.

In South Asia, also known as the Indian subcontinent, invaders succeeded in keeping people subjugated using the “divide and rule” policy. Knowing that the partition of India on August 15, 1947, would lead to armed conflicts between Pakistan and India, Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), known as the Father of India, wrote to Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India: “It would be a blunder of first magnitude for the British to be party in any way whatsoever to the division of India.”

The most perilous issue standing in the way of an “Indus Union” is the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. The territory known as “Kashmir” covers a total area of 85,806 sq. miles. Chinese-controlled Kashmir occupies 19.2%; Pakistani-controlled Kashmir has 35.5%; and Indian-controlled Kashmir has 45.3%. The Kashmir conflict began when the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947, which not only divided the subcontinent into India and Pakistan but also stipulated that the 562 Indian princely states could accede to India or Pakistan, or remain independent. Although both Pakistan and India are against Kashmir becoming an independent country, some Kashmiris believe that Kashmir should become an independent country – a status Kashmir initially had for 72 days after the British granted independence on August 15, 1947.


In the pursuit of peace and prosperity in the Indian subcontinent, the irrational hatred between Hindus and Muslims must be uprooted. The cultural bonds among South Asians, shaped through millennia of history, are much stronger than their superficial religious and ethnic differences. In India’s past, the cultural identities were not Hindu or Muslim, but were multicultural. India has been a homeland for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jews. Yogananda (1893-1952), the world-renowned author of the book, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” commented: “Countless Hindus and Muslims, now as in the past, have lived side by side in amity. Men of both faiths, in immense numbers, became disciples of the ‘creedless’ master Kabir (1450–1518); and to this day he has millions of followers (Kabir-panthis).”

With a humanistic and democratic approach, an “Indus Union” could work toward prosperity and peace among its member countries with a key objective of having its own unified currency similar to the euro.

The unification of the Indian subcontinent based on the EU model offers the following benefits:

1. An "Indus Union" will give top priority to solving the dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, which has been standing in the way of regional stability and prosperity for over six decades. Like the EU, an "Indus Union" will have its a Court of Justice to settle legal disputes between its member countries, such as the Kashmir dispute. The competent judges in the Court of Justice will be representatives from each country whose impartiality is beyond doubt.

2. An “Indus Union” could end the deadly arms race between Pakistan and India. Imagine if the money spent on the combined defense budgets— over US $41 billion—were used instead to reduce the abject poverty of the people in the Indian subcontinent.

3. An “Indus Union” would become the world’s largest consumer market. With a combined population of 1.48 billion people living in the Indian subcontinent (World: 6.6 billion), it would attract unprecedented levels of commerce and foreign investment.

4. Like the EU, an "Indus Union" can have its own central bank to issue and manage its common currency, say Indo. This common currency will protect incomes and savings, lower borrowing costs, and promote trade, investment, tourism, job creation, and prosperity in the Indian subcontinent. The strength of the euro during recent financial crisis has already demonstrated that in turbulent financial waters it is far better to be on a large ship than in a small boat.

5. An “Indus Union” could influence regional human rights issues such as those in Tibet. With solid support from an “Indus Union,” the Dalai Lama, the world famous leader of the Tibetan Buddhist religion, could negotiate more effectively with China. The plight of the Tibetans is a human tragedy. To survive as a cultural and religious entity is a basic right of the peaceful Tibetan Buddhists.

6. An "Indus Union," with the world's largest population, could get a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Can a regional union get a permanent seat on the Security Council? According to Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations, the United Kingdom and France can merge their permanent seats on the Security Council to form a single EU seat.

Despite many difficulties, the Indian subcontinent is approaching a brighter future. Rama Tirtha (1873-1906), a renowned professor of mathematics, observed and identified cycles of time, which he called the Law of Periodicity. In accordance with this law, financial prosperity has been moving in the past 5,000 years from the peak of civilization in India. Prosperity passed through Persia, Assyria, and further west to Egypt; next came the turn for Greece; after that, Rome, and then Germany, France, and Spain; then it traveled to Great Britain. It did not stop there; it traveled further west to America. In America, prosperity traveled from the east coast toward the west, until it reached California. It then crossed over the Pacific Ocean with the cycle of prosperity turning back to the East. In the Far East, Japan has already become a prosperous country. In his book, “In Woods of God-Realization, Volume IV,” Rama Tirtha declared: “After Japan, China will rise and gain prosperity and strength. After China, the sun of prosperity and learning will again smile at India.”

Besides South Asia, other regions represented by the African Union (AU), the Arab League, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), could also benefit from the EU model. To promote international peace and security, the United Nations (UN) would do well to facilitate the evolution of these regional unions. Interestingly, South American countries have already formed a regional union, which is based upon the EU model. Effective May 23, 2008, South American countries evolved into the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), from its predecessor, the South American Community of Nations (CSN).

Regional unions should become links between nations and a world-governing body. Once regional unions are evolved throughout the world, their memberships in the UN's Security Council would eventually raise the UN status to that of a true world-governing body. The UN must strive to create a world in which "right is might," not "might is right."

With the EU growing in Europe and the UNASUR in South America, it is now time for other regions to follow suit.
If we want a world of greater harmony and prosperity, we must have powerful regional unions evolved, no matter how difficult the task is.

The sooner people realize that the earth is but one country and that there is only one race—the human race—the better off humanity will be. It is humanism, not nationalism, that can ultimately spread peace and prosperity in the world. In his book, “Imagine All the People,” the Dalai Lama states, “We need a world body where each member’s function is to protect humanity in general, without considering 'my nation,' 'my continent,' 'my religion,' or 'my culture' first. The well-being of humanity at large would be their main concern, beyond all notions of artificial frontiers.”

[Shiv R. Jhawar is the founder of Noble World Foundation (www.nobleworld.org) and the author of the book, “Building a Noble World” available at amazon.com. He holds a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jhawar became an enrolled agent to practice before the IRS in 1979 and since then, he has been running his own tax consulting firm in Chicago.]


Web Site: Noble World Foundation Blog



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