Ajit Bhattacharjea Indian Express: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 The nuke deal is crucial for India; it’s also of value to the US. But this is not a zero sum game
Prime minister Manmohan Singh needs all the support he can get to maintain the lakshman rekha he has drawn against the challenge to the Indo-US nuclear deal that he and his advisors have drafted so ingeniously. His critics sound like lawyers trying to find some flaw in the text of the agreement and are reduced to quibbling over words and phrases that are designed to convey double meanings. Over the months the draft has shuttled between New Delhi and Washington precisely to find phrases that will meet legitimate Indian objections and yet enable US officials to proclaim that they are not sacrificing the Hyde Act. This is diplomacy of a high order. Both governments have been keen to achieve an agreement that will free India from the restrictions on import of nuclear fuel, import of nuclear technology and construction of nuclear power plants imposed after Pokharan. The agreement is crucial to India’s economic and technological development; it is also of considerable value to the commercial and foreign policy ambitions of the United States. But it is not a zero sum game; both can benefit. In fact, exchanges on language and wording have been a cloak for the serious differences on the closer ties in foreign affairs that the nuclear treaty involves. But our response should not be determined by outdated attitudes. Today the Iron Curtain no longer divides the world; the Soviet Union has disappeared; China has embraced the capitalist creed and has cultivated closer relations to the United States while retaining the advantages of an authoritarian regime. Whether we like it or not, globalisation is determining our global future.
- What should India do in this context?
- Must we continue to regard Washington with Cold War eyes?
- Do we lack the confidence gained by our economic and technological ‘leap-forward’ in recent years to stand up to US pressure even as India did under Jawaharlal Nehru, while securing vital economic aid from it?
Dr Manmohan Singh is risking his job on the answer.