Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


India is already in friendly alliance with the US through  a long process, which was intensified by the NDA government of Vajpayee and not by the UPA government of Manmohan Singh. Does the proposed Indo-US nuclear deal which would allow India acquiring nuclear material and technology for civilian purposes make India subservient to the US ?


The left parties have made the Indo-US 123 nuclear deal appear so dangerous that they allied with BJP to topple the present Congress led government of Manmohan Singh. The question is this: Does the 123 deal itself reduce India to a subservient status or is it mainly a manifestation of growing relations between the two countries?


The fact is that India is already in friendly alliance with the US as a result of a long process, which was intensified by the NDA government of Vajpayee and not by the UPA government of Manmohan Singh.


In a significant departure from India’s traditional pro-Palestinian stand, the NDA government of Vajpayee invited Ariel Sharon to India. The criticism by the left parties at that time was symbolic and not confrontational. There was no all-India Bandh or its equivalent. Also symbolic was the protest by the Left during President Bush’s visit to India and during the joint Indo-US military exercise on the east coast of India.


Indo-US relations can only be seen in the context of the changed world situation and the immense cultural and educational interactions between the two countries with almost 2 million Indians currently residing in the US.


The contention between the US and the former Soviet Union was a prerequisite for the attempts by Nehru, Chou-en-Lai, Tito, Sukarno and Nasser to develop the non-aligned movement.  The collapse of the Soviet Union changed the balance of world forces. Every country including India had to find their place in this changed situation. Nation states can only have allies for a given period of time or epoch; no such alliance can be permanent. As De Gaulle stated “France does not have friends; it has only interests.”


It is therefore natural for India to seek allies just as is the case with China. Neither country has stable allies; both are in search of favorable alliances. The United States is currently the most powerful country in the world, largely because of its military supremacy and partly because of its economic and political power accrued over a period. There is nothing wrong in India seeking friendly alliance with the US based on India’s interests.


Of course every element of alliance between countries is based on some concessions. According to influential American political circles, the US made unusual concessions to India despite India remaining a non-signatory to Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. India too earlier made some concessions especially with regard to its stand on US-Iran relations. Yet neither US surrendered its interests to India nor did India to the US, as demonstrated by the more recent statement of the Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman on India-Iran relations.


It is a bit puzzling that some of the left circles have concluded that India is not only making concessions by agreeing to the deal but becoming, in effect, a semi-colony of the US. The era of colonies and semi-colonies is over – this at least has been one effect of globalization in which multinationals and not national financial institutions have replaced the old imperialist framework.  Indeed the only country that has fallen in line with the US dictates is Pakistan and that too because it faced serious military threat. The US has no other method of bringing any country under its subordination other than military threat. The Indo-US nuclear deal is too small an affair to bring India to its knees.


So no matter what government is in power in India including a leftist government, the chances of which are currently so remote that it is only a hypothetical possibility, it may have to attempt to maintain a friendly relation with the US based on its own interests.


There is only one way a country can become subservient to the US and that is by assisting the US in its wars of aggression like in Iraq and Afghanistan or possibly Iran in the future. Even under Vajpayee’s rule, India did not agree to militarily cooperate with the US in its attack on Iraq. India carries out its own operation in Afghanistan, which has nothing to do with the operation of the US-led coalition forces and is possibly in contradiction with them in specific cases.


In conclusion, India is likely to have friendlier relations with the US than it had during Indira Gandhi’s time but it is unlikely to become subservient to the US.

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