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No, it was theatrics that didn’t help India


There are several reasons to be disappointed with the much-trumpeted Bush visit to India. The same old Cold Warriors of Foggy Bottom ensured there was no real breakthrough in U.S.-India relations. All the Americans want is a pliant, subservient, junior ally.

Despite the Pew Attitude Survey showing that globally, Indians have the most positive views about America (the contrast with China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan could not be more dramatic), the United States persists with its disdain for India. This was most evident in the Asia Society speech by Bush, wherein he unambiguously placed India in a Third-World ghetto. Never mind that India will be a military and economic superpower with or without American help; it acts like a supplicant.

Much noise was made about the nuclear deal, and U.S. hawks thundered about how giving India any concessions would be tantamount to tearing up the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Guess what, the NPT has been tossed in the garbage principally by America’s own crucial ally in the war against terror, Pakistan, and its godfather China, America’s principal trading partner. The NPT is now a fig leaf that has no meaning. Pushing India into nuclear apartheid is merely inviting it, in the future, to unilaterally abrogate unfair treaties.

That the United States is not serious about addressing India’s very real concerns about terrorism is evident in the recently published “National Security Strategy Report,” where India does not figure among the 12 nations “where terrorists have struck.” Yes, India, which is worse affected by terrorism than any other country in the world! The United States is mouthing the Pakistani line about the terrorists in India being “freedom fighters.”

While I condemn the knee-jerk anti-Americanism exhibited by many in India, I also resent the patronizing tone in the report, which says, “India now is poised to shoulder global obligations in cooperation with the United States in a way befitting a major power.” Translation: India is a banana republic being kindly led by America!

The nuclear agreement, which proponents rave about as some crowning glory, is the worst part of it. In return for vague Bush promises to try to get the U.S. Congress and the Nuclear Supplier Group cartel to consider providing India with enriched uranium, India is making binding concessions which effectively make it accede to the NPT as a non-weapons state, to the CTBT, to the FMCT, and to a cap on its capability to produce weapons-grade material. All this amounts to the old “cap, rollback, eliminate” mantra of the State Department.

Such a one-sided formulation reminds me of the mistake India made in Tibet: giving away major treaty rights for nothing. Now India is giving away its credible deterrent for no more than faint praise.

Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this column from New Delhi.


Yes, the summit ended India’s nuclear isolation


Has India emerged a victor or loser by signing the recent nuclear treaty with the United States?
While Manmohan Singh claims that India made history, the treaty’s detractors insist that India yielded everything for nothing in return.

To understand how these opposing views square off, we need to understand what constitutes a diplomatic victory.

Victories in negotiation are subtle to the extent of being imperceptible—both sides need to emerge winners and claim that they got more than they gave. Restoring the status-quo of yesteryears is often the greatest victory.

And therein lies the litmus test: Did India reverse any major setbacks of the past?

1998 saw India become an international pariah after the nuclear tests. Indian nuclear scientists were forbidden from attending international conferences; the country itself was demoted to the dubious company of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. U.S. public opinion had aligned itself with flavor du jour China, which beckons the United States with bewitching promises of billions of dollars and the siren song of the billion-person market.

The U.S. government imposed economic and nuclear sanctions against India to punish the latter for gate-crashing the nuclear club. The economic sanctions had more bark than bite; by 2002, the United States reversed the economic sanctions, handing India a typical diplomatic victory—much substance with little noise.

Come 2006, India’s emergence as a superpower in the outsourcing industry has earned it the grudging admiration of individual Americans. China, however, has morphed into a scary bully itching to challenge its erstwhile mentor. The Beltway mafia grasps the importance of using India as a counterweight to an increasingly cantankerous China; the continued provision of high-quality services to individual Americans only strengthens the relationship.

And thus comes a surprising volte-face. India, the immature land of snake charmers suddenly evolves to the level where it simultaneously utilizes technology to harness nuclear power for peaceful purposes and possesses the political maturity to separate military use from civil application.

The treaty restores the pre-1998 status—a great diplomatic victory buried in complicated gobbledygook.

A neighbor’s envy is often the best estimator of one’s success. The chorus of Pakistan’s lugubrious laments, China’s derision, and the passionate preaching about furthering peace from professors secure in their ivory towers—the sheer cacophony of it all—should help all skeptics grasp the wonders the treaty wrought.

Just remember, left-handed handshakes from a rival are often greater compliments than right-handed handshakes from a friend.

Toronto-based S. Gopikrishna writes on issues pertinent to India and Indians.