Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush ushers new era of India-US friendship

Cyber Age From The Statesman

Partnership based on principle & pragmatism
ND Batra

Last week Ronen Sen, India’s ambassador to the United States, lamented that the American non-proliferation high priesthood and Indian go-it-alone self-reliant nuclear brotherhood have highjacked the debate and clouded the real issue: whether it is possible for two open societies to trust each other and work together.

By offering India “full civil nuclear energy cooperation,” President Bush made an extraordinary gesture of friendship and a bold move in establishing long-term strategic and economic relations with a country that most sensible US experts perceive as a reliable global partner. Nuclear partnership with India is another facet of globalisation.

Thinking outside the box, as they say, 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 strategic partnership to see India grow and “become a major power in the twenty-first century” is not about containing any other rising power, rather to let India develop as an alternative model of economic growth which preserves fundamental freedoms.

Rapid economic growth of India, 8-9 percent a year for the next few decades, would lift millions of Indians out of abject poverty, without diminishing personal and political freedoms. Besides, an economically dynamic India would spill economic growth all around and would make the military containment of China by the USA or another power absolutely unnecessary.

The Asian theatre needs more than one economic and political power in order to reduce the possibility of a single hegemonic power rising and dominating the continent. Asia needs dynamic multipolarity. The nuclear agreement would remove hurdles in India’s search for alternative energy sources to fuel its growing economy. And to set the tone of mutual trust Bush has acknowledged India “as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology.”

Recognising India as an exception to the rule, and accepting the fact that India should “acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states” is a bold diplomatic move on the part of Bush. Only a courageous American President could have taken such a step. In spite of the recent silly diplomatic blunder over visa for the three Indian scientists, on the whole India is being increasingly admired in the USA. Eventually the US Congress would approve the nuclear deal. India would be able to buy nuclear fuel for its existing nuclear power plants and shop for building new ones.

The recent visit of French President Jacques Chirac to India and the agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation has already raised India’s international profile. And in the course of time as trust in partnership increases and diplomatic relations improve further, a whole new world of sophisticated American and European technology would be open to India, enabling it to leapfrog decades of sluggish economic growth. In return India would do what other nuclear powers have been doing under the nonproliferation treaty, that’s, open its civilian nuclear power plants to International Atomic Energy Agency and continue the moratorium on nuclear testing. Its nuclear military arsenal remains off limit.

Global transparency is necessary to stop non-state nuclear carpetbaggers like AQ Khan from trading nuclear weapons. Critics in India fear that the deal would create dependency relations with the USA but they need to consider how South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China have benefited from strong economic partnership with the USA, without compromising their sovereignty. India is too big and too complex to be dictated by any outside power.

India must go beyond the present information technology outsourcing, must go up the value chain and penetrate deeply into corporate USA to learn from its spirit of constant innovation in technology and business methods. It is surprising that the Indian elite is more interested in UN Security Council permanent membership than the lifting of nuclear sanctions. India alone cannot solve its energy and infrastructural problems.

Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is in the realm of a distant possibility but even if it becomes operational, it may not be enough to meet India’s gargantuan need for energy.
It may not be a very secure means of procuring energy looking at the political situation in Balochistan. Even Saudi oil facilities, as the recent failed suicide-bombing shows, may not be very reliable.

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 in order to create employment opportunities. Nuclear energy would reduce excessive dependency upon West Asian oil.

Strategic partnership was one of the important themes of Prime Minster Manmohan Singh’s well-received address to the joint US Congress session last July. India and the USA, as Dr Singh said, 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 for fighting global terrorism. Bush’s no-holds-barred campaign against militant Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaida terrorism has changed the perception in the Pakistani ruling elite as well as the masses that negotiations are the only way to resolve long standing issues, especially Kashmir. Bush’s policies have helped India fight its own terrorism.

India’s global diplomacy should have one primary goal: accelerated economic growth that reaches the bottom of the barrel, India’s huddled masses. The partnership with the USA would certainly help India hasten the pace of economic growth and serve India’s global interests.

1 comment:

  1. Rapid economic growth of India, 8-9 percent a year for the next few decades, would lift millions of Indians out of abject poverty, without diminishing personal and political freedoms. Besides, an economically dynamic India would spill economic growth all around and would make the military containment of China.


    When did India achieve 8-9% growth. Even after 14 years of reform, there was only one year (2003?) India achieved 8% plus growth because of the GOD (perfect monsoon that helped pityful Indian peasants). other than that year, 8-9% growth is always be India's dream.

    To lift most of Indians out of proverty. That's a good idea but not realistic in India because India only has democracy for the people of the elite and high- caste. Even after 14 years of reform, how many Indians benifit from the reform? Those who had chance to go to colleges. That's why 60% of the residents in the finacial capital, Mumbai, are living in slums.

    India to contain China in Military? That's a big joke in the world. Don't forget the war in 1962 when India was supported by both socialism and capitalism blocks, China fight India lonely. Who won? China!!! Brave Chinese sodiers drove Indian's like driving ducks. Frankly, Chinese never though India can be a threat. This is true in the past, in today and will be true in the future. Don't forget, Indian even cannot make a good and quality rifle and bullet today. Don't speak like a big man when you are still a little kid.

    I doubt you really think India can contain India. Don't cheat youself, don't cheat you pityful country men, don't cheat very naive Americans.