Saturday, September 6, 2008


After days of agonisingly difficult negotiations with the Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) in Vienna, India has got the Deal. Is it a sell out to the US as the Communists and even the BJP claim or is it a historic deal, as Dr Manmohan Singh thinks it is?

For most who do not either understand the fine intricacies of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal or do not wholly buy the statements of Indian politicians, the litmus test is simple. Just look at who is opposing the deal and you will know where the truth lies.

It has now emerged that China had been quietly lobbying hard with at least 30 members of the NSG to ensure that India does not get the unprecedented, unconditional waver that it finally has. The other country who had been in league with the Chinese to see to it that this meeting of the NSG ended without the unanimity needed to push the deal through was, you guessed it, Pakistan.

Had the Chinese succeeded, it is possible that India’s nuclear isolation would have continued for long. With President Bush, due to whose relentless push the NSG finally came around, demitting office in a couple of months, this ok was critical so that Bush could get the Congress to give its approval to the Deal during his Presidency.

The Chinese were acutely aware that India’s commies were perfectly aligned with them in their opposition to the deal. One can keep arguing about the reasons behind that coincidence but the harsh fact cannot be ignored. Then, they had an unexpected stroke of luck when India’s supposedly ‘nationalist’ party, the BJP, chose to prefer petty politics over national interest, and started speaking in the voice of India’s communists.

Had this deal not been sealed with the NSG in Vienna, with elections due in India, there was a strong possibility that this ‘tide in the affairs of men’ would have been missed forever. This was a very small window in which everything was falling in place in favour of India, including the personal commitment of the US President, supported by his administration. The Chinese knew that had they succeeding in shutting India out in Vienna today, lack of political consensus in India would have ensured that India would have remained out in the cold for a long time.

Fortunately for India, Bush also knew what the Chinese knew and he moved swiftly and decisively to shut them out and get the NSG to open the doors for India. It is only because of the intense pressure generated by him that China finally retracted its concealed fangs and the other countries who were strongly opposed to the deal caved in today. While we may justifiably claim the credit for this success, it is worth remembering that it is Bush who finally swung it around for us.

The significance of the unconditional waver give by the NSG to India can also be gauged from the telling fact that the stung Chinese stayed away from the NSG meeting today. Surely the Chinese are not upset because India will now be able to generate 20,000 MW of power by 2020 by setting up more nuclear power plants!

This deal has grave long term implications for China, a fact well known to them, even though India has not spoken about it. India today has joined the big league of nuclear powers by getting them to open their firmly shut doors to let in India alone. Now, India can legitimately and legally pursue its goal of building a credible strategic nuclear capability which will radically alter the hopelessly skewed balance of power between India and China.

Till now, China, which had raced ahead and achieved the status of the one and only unchallenged military power in Asia, was beyond India's reach. Till now, India had no hope in hell of closing the huge nuclear gap between the two nations to a level of acceptable comfort and credible deterrence. Till now, India was hopelessly vulnerable to China’s possible future designs on Arunachal Pradesh and other bits of Indian territory claimed by it for long.

From now on, India can access technology and materials to quickly regain the position that it had meekly and, it must be said, foolishly surrendered to its intrinsically hostile neighbour. From now on, should it finally choose to, and as it should have done long back, India can stop benchmarking its strength against a small country one third its size.

India’s commies, due to ideological loyalties, and the BJP, due to political pettiness, are shouting hoarse that India has sold out to the US. India, they say, has surrendered its sovereign right to conduct nuclear tests in future. It has to be lack of intelligence and/or blatant intellectual dishonesty that can make someone make that kind of statement. Which country is going to give India a carte blanche to explode nuclear bombs without a serious reaction from the rest of the world and a possible collapse of the NPT regime?

Let us be real. India has already pledged not to carry out further tests voluntarily. Yet, it reserves its sovereign right to carry out further test should a need arise. Similarly, other countries reserve their sovereign right to react in the manner they deem fit, should India choose to explode a device in future. This imposes a certain responsibility on India to desist from doing so on a whim or to make an irresponsible political statement to its internal constituency. Considering the kind of leaders that India is throwing up within striking distance of the PM’s chair, that danger is very real.

Therefore, if a situation arises in future that necessitates a nuclear test, India will carry it out as a responsible nuclear power, after consultations with the Americans and others. If that constraint is unacceptable to the BJP, then that party is not fit to run this country. If it is just posturing for political gain, then it is even more unfit to govern.

Dr Manmohan Singh deserves all the praise for taking on the entire opposition and even the hungry-for-power-at-all-costs members of his own party to see the success signal from Vienna. No NPT, no CTBT. This so called lame-duck, ‘nikamma’ Prime Minister who many said was the weakest PM India has ever had, has got a victory for India that every Indian can be proud of. It is indeed a historic victory which will catapult India into the big league where it should have been three decades back and where it most definitely belongs in the 21st century.

Singh, you indeed are King.
Readers may also like to read the following posts:

1. Nuclear Deal: Do you have it in you Mr Advani?
2.Nuclear Deal politics: Singh is Kinng
3. Nuclear Deal:It's your pagri again Dr Manmohan