A Valentine gift or assault on India's sovereignty?
THE Unites States is in a position to consolidate a long-term relationship with India, edge Pakistan away from chaos, prevent another regional war, and address such important issues as the spread of nuclear weapons, terrorism and China's regional role. United States looks at enormous economic profits. India has a population of more than 1 billion, which means a big market. India has already become the third largest economy in Asia after Japan and China. Then, the "China factor" is a strong boost to US- India relations. A US think-tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently issued a report on the US agenda with regard to the rising power of India namely India as a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States. Similarly, the opening of the Indian economy has also encouraged India's civil society to expand its interactions especially exports with the United States.
India and US-from estranged to engaged democracies
It is worth noting that the 'transformation' in India - US relations emerged after a fairly long process. India's turn towards Washington increased dramatically after the events of September 11, 2001. In Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's Prime Minister at that time, Bush found a perfect partner-statesman, who equally weary of a history of US-Indian antagonism and strongly inclined to regard the United States and India as "natural allies"("India, USA and the World", Remarks by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Asia Society, New York, September 28, 1998). From 2001-2003, the courtship between the United States and India grew in ardour and expectations.
Since 2001, the Indian government has pressed the United States to ease restrictions on the export to India of dual-use-high technology goods, as well as to increase in civilian nuclear and space cooperation. In June, 2005 US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and visiting Indian Defense Minister Pranab Muakherjee singed a ten year India-US military cooperation agreement namely New Framework for the US-India Defense Relationship. Some of the important frameworks was capacity building which include:
* Expand defense trade between India and the US.
* Expand missile defense collaboration.
The document outlines the institutional architecture within which they will cooperate more intensively.
Mitt Romney, a former candidate for Republican presidential nomination, views India as potentially profitable for U.S. market and investment, due to its flourishing economy and huge population. Romney said in 2005 that although outsourcing to countries like India is a problem, "we'll see new opportunities created selling products there. We'll have a net increase in economic activity, just as we did with free trade." Sam Brownback, another Republican Senator, calls India "one of our most important strategic partners in Asia." Like Bill Richardson, he has stressed India's potential role as a "counterweight" to China's economy. In 1999, he called for an end to economic sanctions intended to force India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Brownback voted for the United States-India Energy Security Cooperation Act of 2006 in part, he said, because "India has protected its nuclear program for thirty years and has not proliferated."
In March 2006 George W. Bush visited New Delhi and signed a controversial deal to provide India with the technology to develop its nuclear power programme, at the same time giving the green light to expand its nuclear weapons technology. The Indo-US nuclear deal is a remarkable progress in India-US relationship. As part of the nuclear deal with the US, India has agreed to identify and separate all civilian and military nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safeguard regime (Joint Statement between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, office of the President, see the Whitehouse, July18, 2005). This means, to accomplish the goals mentioned in the deal, India needs to place all its nuclear facilities not directly associated with nuclear weapons production or deployment, under safeguards, in return for nuclear technology and fuel supplies. India has many civil nuclear facilities in this category which they would not like to bring under the scope of US oversight.
In dealing with the nuclear issue, India and USA refers to Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, which is known as 123 Agreement. Under this Act, there is a ban on transfer of nuclear technology to other countries. The Hyde Act was passed by U.S. to make an exception for India, to allow transfer of technology for civil nuclear energy. The next step is to enter into agreement with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) for safeguards of the civil nuclear reactors to be set up, and to enter into an agreement with the NSG (nuclear suppliers group) for supply of nuclear fuel i.e. uranium for the civil nuclear reactors. Once India accomplishes the agreements with IAEA and NSG, then the U.S. Congress will vote on the 123 agreement. Once it is approved by the U.S. Congress, then the deal is complete and India and U.S.A can enter into nuclear commerce i.e. supply of nuclear reactors, transfer of technology, supply of nuclear fuel etc.
In July 2007 the two countries announced finalisation of the deal after months of hard-hitting negotiations on a bilateral pact. India had objected to what it said were new conditions in the agreement unacceptable to it. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was "unable to accept" the 123 agreement on Indo-United States civil nuclear cooperation as finalised and would "definitely seek a review of the agreement when it comes to power" as it was of the view that it constituted an "assault on our nuclear sovereignty and foreign policy." BJP had consistently opposed the deal since the July 18, 2005 joint statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George Bush issued in Washington.
The controversy against the Congress was that it did not publish the full text of the agreement. "It was the CPI-M which procured the document from Washington and published the full text." On the current political scenario, Mr. Karat of BJP said, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government has "lost legitimacy" after withdrawal of support by the Left. "Our stand, irrespective of what others do, is that the Left will vote against the Government for their betrayal of national interests," he said. Regarding withdrawal support of the left, Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor of Dept of International Relations, University of Dhaka said, "we know that the Left do not want the government to involve in the controversial nuclear deal with US." Besides, he thinks that this may be the time for the Left to stand autonomously and to prove its efficiency as an independent strong party who has a large vote bank in India.
Successive New Delhi governments dominated by Singh's Congress party called themselves non-aligned, but gravitated towards the Soviet Union and nursed a haughty disdain for America. Mr. Sinngh seemed prepared to dump the nuclear deal, and even U.S. officials last week pronounced it dead. But Congress has not been the natural party of power in modern India without learning many tricks of political manipulation. Singh and his operatives let the communists blow off steam to the point of national boredom and then did a deal with the small Samajwadi party, which represents low castes and Muslims in the state of Uttar Pradesh where it is under pressure and needs support. So the communists have deserted, Samajwadi will save the Singh government, and the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group are ready to sign off on the deal by the end of the Bush presidency (Manthorphe: 2008).
We cannot deny that India will create a countervailing force to China.' The role for India's armed forces would, in essence, be to support America. India's UPA government has embraced the accord for two reasons. Because it constitutes de facto recognition of India as a nuclear weapons state, opening the door, or so goes the reasoning, to India obtaining other elements of the world-power status its elites so covet. And because the import of advanced civilian nuclear technology will enable India to reduce its dependence on energy imports and devote a greater portion of the resources of its nuclear programme to nuclear-weapons development (Nilofar Suhrawardy: 2006). According to Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd), "The UPA government's term is ending in the next six months. Its attempt to frame a new relationship with the US - an important adjunct of its foreign policy - to gain strategic dividends- may be a compulsion for the Congress led UPA government to finalise the deal immediately. Some critiques are also of the opinion that the major motivating factor of the UPA government may not only be for enhancement of its geopolitical status but also for a seat in the UNSC - which may not come without a heavy cost to India's sovereignty."
Under the deal, Washington will produce an economic bonanza in nuclear exports to India and can monitor the nuclear program of India.
China was less positive, urging India to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and also dismantle its nuclear weapons. China was swift to stress that nuclear co-operation between India and the US "must conform with provisions of the international non-proliferation regime". China decided to attack the U.S.-India nuclear agreement, albeit indirectly. India's traditional rival, Pakistan, indicated that it sought a similar agreement.
Meanwhile, however, other vital nuclear players seem to have come on board with regard to the U.S.-India nuclear deal. Britain, Canada, France, and Russia are eager to play major roles in upcoming civil nuclear energy projects in India. All of these states expect to get aligned with the global economic benefits in mitigating competitive demand in international oil markets; it will fabricate an economic bonanza in nuclear exports to India; it will increase the risk of seeing nuclear weapons proliferate and fall into new hands; it might trigger a nuclear arms race in south Asia; it could heighten world tensions by alarming the Chinese leadership with fears that Washington is trying to encircle and "contain" China's emergence.
All these arguments some supporting the deal, others opposing it should recalibrated by the opinion-makers who are using them and minimizing the risk of allowing USA to monopolise the strategic advantage with India to work towards the implementation of the U.S.-India nuclear accord. From the realist perspective it is indeed a valentine gift for India. If India ever turned aggressive this could be the kind of deal future generation will rue.