A Bollywood movie doesn’t need a Hollywood director: India’s march on the road of decolonization
Published: Oct 11, 2022 06:35 PM
A tugboat guides the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant as it leaves the shipyard after the launch ceremony in Kochi. Photo:AFP

A tugboat guides the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant as it leaves the shipyard after the launch ceremony in Kochi. Photo:AFP

On September 2, India launched its first indigenously designed aircraft carrier, the INS Vikrant. As the Indian people celebrated the breakthrough moment of military self-reliance, Western media seemed to be even more thrilled, asserting that the new carrier was made to counter China.

Ignoring the overwhelming pride of the Indian people over the debut of the carrier, Western media outlets simultaneously put "China" in their report headlines: "India launches first home-built aircraft carrier amid China concerns", "India unveils first homemade aircraft carrier, with eye on China". CNN reported that "the new carrier will enable India to take a bigger role in military exercises by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue." AP commented that "India commissioned its first home-built aircraft carrier as it seeks to counter regional rival China's much larger and growing fleet."

However, the Indian government and people attach a totally different meaning to the launch of their first home-designed aircraft carrier, seeing it as a landmark achievement in the process of decolonization. On the Cochin Shipyard in Kochi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the new Naval Ensign, a move aimed at "doing away with the colonial past and befitting the rich Indian maritime heritage". An ensign is a flag that ships or formations carry to denote nationality. The outdated Indian Naval Ensign consisted of the St George's Cross — a red cross on a white background, which is replaced by the crest of the Indian Navy on a navy-blue background encompassed in an octagon, representing the royal seal or Rajmudra of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, known as the founder of the Maratha Kingdom of India and Father of Indian Navy. 

"Today, India has taken off its chest a burden of colonial past and a symbol of servitude," Modi stated at the ceremony, "Until now, a symbol of servitude remained on the ensign of the Indian Navy." Some Indian media pointed out that Indian Navy's effort to eliminate the colonial mindset wins even more attention than the commissioning of the warship itself does.

That cultural and historical departure from a colonial legacy was seen elsewhere. On the day of September 8 when Queen Elizabeth II passed away, the Indian people celebrated the renaming of Rajpath in New Delhi, marking a historical step of decolonization. Rajpath, previously known as Kingsway, a symbol of slavery, is now Kartavya Path. At the inauguration, Prime Minister Modi said, "Today this new aura is visible everywhere, it is the aura of confidence of New India. Kingsway i.e. Rajpath, the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever." 

And yet the Western media do not share at all the joy and pride of the Indian people. They are only interested in trapping India into America's "Indo-Pacific Strategy" and pushing India to the forefront of confronting and containing China.

Western countries are pushing their own geopolitical agenda as they attempt to bring India on board with the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in particular. Like the tricks they played a century ago, Western countries are trying to control Asia by controlling India. But the days when India danced to other's tune are long gone. Lately, India has become the world's fifth largest economy, surpassing its former colonizer, Britain. India is expected to continue to move forward along the road of decolonization and independent development on all fronts, from economic emancipation and cultural revitalization to foreign policy.

As a major regional power and independent player on the international stage with growing national pride, India would reject being used merely as a political tool in this grand geopolitical game as some Western countries have wished.

The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for Xinhua News Agency, Global Times, CGTN, China Daily etc. He can be reached at xinping604@gmail.com.