Tuesday, August 28, 2007

US-India bridge of friendship

A bridge of friendship

From The Statesman

The civilian nuclear deal is a bridge to the world of sophisticated technology not only in the United States but also in Japan, Europe and Russia. Access to high-end technology depends upon trust.
The world can trust India.
Indian diplomats had to overcome strong opposition in the US, which cut across party lines as well as scholarly and journalistic communities. By letting India bypass the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and benefit from “full civilian nuclear energy cooperation,” President George W Bush made a most courageous act of statesmanship and took a firm step in establishing long-term strategic and economic relations with India. The Bush administration has accepted India as a “responsible state with advanced nuclear technology,” recognising it as an exception to the rule, and that India should “acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states.” India is at par with China and other nuclear powers. Why does the Indian Left want it otherwise?
The pragmatic partnership to let India grow and play its rightful constructive role in global affairs is not about containing any other rising power; it is about having faith in India to develop as an alternative model of economic growth without compromising fundamental freedoms. That’s how Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s metaphor “Arc of freedom and prosperity” should be understood.
Rapid economic growth of the Indian economy, 9-10 per cent a year for the next few decades, primarily through the efforts of its rising entrepreneurial class, will lift millions of Indians out of poverty. An economically dynamic India on a perpetual growth curve will make the containment of any rising Asian power unnecessary. More the number of equal players in the Asian theatre, less will be the possibility of a single hegemonic power rising and dwarfing others.
The deal will remove hurdles in India’s search for alternative energy sources to fuel its growing economy. Moreover, as Ratan Tata told Karan Thapar of CNN-IBN: “Over time this will give India tremendously powerful position in the knowledge industry, in research and development, in high technology.”
From a poor agricultural power to a great knowledge power is every man’s dream in India. India must go beyond information technology outsourcing and capture the corporate global, as it has begun to do.
After successful negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India will be able to buy nuclear fuel for its existing nuclear power plants and shop for building scores of new ones.
In the course of time as trust in partnership increases and diplomatic relations improve further, a whole new world of sophisticated global technology, European, Japanese and American, will be opened 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’s, open some of its civilian nuclear power plants to inspection and continue to observe abstinence on nuclear testing. Its nuclear deterrent will remain off limit.
Critics in India who fear that the deal would create co-dependency relations with the US need to consider how China has benefited from strong economic partnership with the US without compromising its sovereignty.
Of course there is no such thing as absolute sovereignty in an interdependent world.
There is more power in the American shopping cart than in all the Chinese manufacturing plants, as the recent crisis of confidence in the safety of its products shows.
China had greater sovereignty in the days of Mao Zedong than today when it has more than a trillion dollar in foreign exchange reserves.
A country’s currency is a symbol of its sovereignty but China has tied up its currency, Renminbi, to Uncle Sam’s dollar. Whither sovereignty?
The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline will not be enough to meet India’s gargantuan need for energy. Clean coal technology, nuclear energy and solar power are practical alternatives for which the US has opened its doors to India.
France gets 80 per cent of its energy from civilian nuclear plants. In the next 15 years China plans to build 30 new nuclear power plants at a cost of more than $50 billion.
Why should India be left behind? 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 for its youthful millions. Nuclear energy would reduce excessive dependency upon oil from the Middle-East, a most unstable region.
Prime Minster Manmohan Singh was very perceptive when he said that Indo-US partnership is based “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, Europe and the US need one another for fighting global terrorism.
As the recent bomb blasts in Hyderabad show, terrorism is alive in India. India cannot fight terrorism alone.
Whether it is the Congress or BJP that rules India, for decades to come India will have no choice but to put a single-minded focus on one primary goal: speedy economic growth, which the partnership with Europe, the US, Japan and Australia will hasten.
The Indian Left might force a hasty general election, but that will not be the end of the civilian nuclear deal. The next political party in power will pick up the threads and consummate the deal, perhaps the greatest achievement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom historians will rank with Jawaharlal Nehru.
(ND Batra is professor of communications and diplomacy at Norwich University and is the author of Digital Freedom)

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