Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bush's Bold Move

Indian Diplomatic Initiative Pays Dividends
Shaping the New Century

Partnership for prosperity
From The Staesman

By offering India “full civilian nuclear cooperation nuclear energy,” President Bush has made a bold move in establishing long term strategic and economic relations with a country that many US experts perceive as a reliable global partner.

Mr Bush did not let the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty stand in the way of his new global vision, where an economically strong democratic India would play a stabilising role in world affairs, especially in Asia. The partnership to help India “become a major power in the 21st century” is not about containing any other rising power but to let India develop as an alternative model of economic growth without compromising fundamental freedoms.

Rapid economic growth of India, 8-9 per cent a year for the next few decades, would lift millions of Indians out of abject poverty.

Besides, an economically dynamic India would make the military containment of China by the USA unnecessary. More equal players in the Asian drama, less the possibility of a single hegemonic power rising. Mr Bush did not welcome India to the nuclear club; nor was that India’s diplomatic goal. He just removed hurdles in India’s search for alternative energy sources to fuel its growing economy.

In the process, however, Mr Bush did acknowledge India “as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology”, recognising it as an exception to the rule, and accepted the fact that India should “acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states.”

When Congress approves the deal, India would be able to buy nuclear fuel for its existing nuclear power plants and shop for building new ones, but in the course of time as trust in partnership increases and diplomatic relations improve further, a whole new world of sophisticated American technology would be open to India, enabling it to leapfrog decades of past sluggish economic growth.

In return India has agreed to do what other nuclear powers have been doing under the nonproliferation treaty, that is, open its civilian nuclear power plants to the International Atomic Energy Agency and continue the moratorium on nuclear testing. Its nuclear military arsenal remains off limit.

Critics in India who fear that the deal would create co-dependency relations with the USA need to consider how South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China have benefited from strong economic partnership with the USA without compromising their sovereignty.

India must go beyond information technology outsourcing and penetrate deeply into corporate America. Had Mr Bush decided to back India’s claim to UN Security Council permanent membership - instead of lifting nuclear sanctions — he might have flattered the ego of the Indian elite, but that would not have helped India solve its energy and infrastructural problems.

The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is certainly in the realm of possibility but even if it materialises, it may not be enough to meet India’s gargantuan need for energy. Clean coal technology, nuclear energy and solar energy are practical alternatives for which the USA has opened its doors to India.

India needs hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign direct investment in building power plants and world-class infrastructure to increase its manufacturing base to create employment opportunities. Nuclear energy would reduce excessive dependency upon oil from West Asia.

Eventually the USA would support India for a UN Security Council seat too. The greatest applause Prime Minister Singh received during his address to the joint session of US Congress occurred when he reminded them “that the voice of the world’s largest democracy surely cannot be left unheard on the Security Council when the United Nations is being restructured.”

It is only a matter of time when India, with one-sixth of the world population, would be offered its rightful place in the Security Council. Partnership was also one of the themes of Dr Singh’s marvellous address to the joint US Congress session on Tuesday. In his impeccable Indo-British accent, Dr Singh told his appreciative audience that India and the USA are natural partners because both are open societies and share similar values. “There are partnerships based on principle, and partnership based on pragmatism. I believe we are at a juncture where we can embark on partnership that we can draw both on principle as well as pragmatism.”

Democracy, multiethnic diversity, and human rights are some of the values that bring the two countries together, but equally important is the fact that India and the USA need each other to fight global terrorism. Mr Bush’s relentless and determined campaign against militant Islamic and Al-Qaida terrorism has begun to change the mindset in Pakistan where there is a growing feeling that negotiations are the only way to resolve long-standing issues. Mr Bush’s policies have helped India fight its own terrorism.

For the next decade or so, India’s diplomacy should have a laser-like focus on one primary goal: speedy economic growth. Would the partnership with the USA help India hasten the pace of economic growth? Yes, of course; therefore, in India’s national interest, this partnership is justified.

It is by far the greatest achievement of the Singh administration, and its diplomatic corps deserves applause for its hard work, bold initiative and creative imagination.

1 comment:

  1. 8-9 per cent a year economic increase in Inia? Only happened once three years ago because of the good weather. After that, never bigger than 8%.

    India is a large population country and should self-dependent as China.

    In 60, 70 of the last century, India got huge support from both socialist and captalist block (you know India cannot be counted on). What did India get? of course lot of weapons. Did any good to Indian life? Nothing.

    Learn from history.