Some persons may not like my harping on the failures of Indian leadership, but my article on failed policies has become presciently true. I criticized the delay in testing Agni 3 while waiting for US permission, the self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapon testing that the US made into a condition for the treaty by shifting goal posts, the failure of the Arjuna MBT, the delays of the LCA and the foolishness of buying major arms from America. Let me review the latest developments and give you my new prescription.
India's problem is the lack of significant uranium ore, limited capability for enriching it and lack of expertise in constructing greater than 1000MW nuclear power plants. It wanted to get a supply of HEU under IAEA and NSG safeguards for use in civilian nuclear power plants. It was downright foolish of ignorant and politically naive Manmohan Singh to sign an agreement with America and Bush without understanding anything. US presidents may sign treaties but they do not become effective until ratified by the Senate. There is an existent US law passed by both the House and Senate, the bodies of the legislative branch (which alone is permitted to make US laws'not the president) which prohibit the sale of nuclear material to any nation that is not a signatory to the NPT.
Bush knew that the treaty could not become valid till the house and senate had passed a special law exempting India from the prior law. He also knew that the two bodies would attach additional restrictive amendments to the exemption for India. His Republican party controls the majority in both bodies so if he really wanted he could have expedited the passage of the bill. His main purpose was to restrict the HEU and Plutonium supplies available to India for making bombs. He also knew that India's fusion device (H-bomb) had failed to detonate successfully in the 1998 tests. He also knew that non-proliferation supporters and many Democrats were unhappy with the agreement with India and were sure to add many restrictive amendments to the bill.
Thus the clause that the agreement would be null and void if India tested a weapon was added. Other clauses set a future limit to cut off production of fissile material and banned India from processing spent fuel and sharing any enrichment technology with India. He had two more motives to manipulate India. He wanted to sell F-16s to Pakistan and was able to do so by fooling Manmohan by telling him that since he had signed the nuclear deal with India, he had to sell the planes to keep Pakistan happy. There was the additional hope that he could thus persuade India to buy with cash even more expensive Super Hornets. The other motive was to twist India's arm to back off the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and to make India vote against Iran at the IAEA and the UN.
Our foolish leaders with little understanding for international politics and no understanding of American politics were made suckers. The House passed the bill, but the Senate is gone without passing the deal. A new House will be elected in November 2006 and thus the incomplete bill will expire and the whole process will have to begin again in January 2007. Eighteen months after Manmohan Singh went home elated and boasting about the nuclear pact, there is nothing to show. Australia, which supplies uranium ore to China refused to look favorably towards India's needs and has delayed its decision. In the meantime Russia came through with a consignment of HEU. Russia is an antagonist of America after its bitter experiences of 1991 onwards which dissolved the Soviet Union, sent the Russian economy into a tailspin by following US prescribed privatization, enlargement of NATO and the various revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrghyzstan, all part of Russia's sphere. All these were orchestrated by the US.
In the hope of pleasing America by buying its aircraft, the Indian government has delayed making any decisions. The other reason was that the indigenous LCA Tejas would solve the problem. In the meantime Pakistan has acquired the newest and nuclear bomb delivery capable F-16s from America. Air Marshal Tyagi has warned of India losing its advantage over Pakistan. Our squadrons will decline from 39 to 25 and Pakistan will match us. The retarded Indian government delayed purchase of the French Mirage-5 (2000) until Dassault closed the production line. It has now offered the more expensive Rafaele. The Russians offered the MiG-35. Admittedly the Russian avionics are not as good as the American, Israeli or French ones, but India could have worked out a deal like the one for the Sukhoi-30 MKI, which has a combination of systems from Israel and France on a Russian frame and engine. Even there we had to abort the plan to assemble the Sukhoi at HAL as it would have delayed the full complements of the air-force till 2017. We therefore paid Russia an extra 300 million dollars to let them assemble the planes and finish delivery by 2012.
India delayed in the hope of pleasing America and now as per the latest announcement will buy second hand Mirages from France and Qatar in hurry and panic. The dumb leaders have forgotten the previous US sanctions that denied us spare parts for US Sea Hawk helicopters, GE engines for the LCA and Cryogenic engines for ISRO. As I have previously stated the LCA is much behind schedule and consists of nearly 75% imported parts. It is indeed a shame that we cannot develop our own technology but what is downright asinine is that we don't collaborate or go in joint production with more sophisticated countries. Once again Russia is willing and needs some joint financing.
The other good thing about Russia is that it does not put restrictions on whom you sell the finished product to. The Chinese JF-17 uses Russian engines and is being given to Pakistan without Russian objections, even though Russia is friendly with us. If any US spare parts are used in our product, the plane cannot be sold to any third party that the US disapproves of. Our LCA clearly cannot meet our sophisticated and advanced needs if we use only Indian parts. What is the use of making the LCA, if we cannot sell it abroad and have to import most of its parts? It is better to team up with France, Israel or Russia. The problem with Israel is that it is too dependent on the US and had to abandon its own fighter ( Kfir) to please America. This is not to imply that we must be dependent solely on Russia. Any deal with America has to involve total transfer of technology with no reservations or veto power. It is also likely to be much more expensive and would need greater offsets. Pakistan is too important for America because of Central Asia and terrorism. India is not, as the latest absurd rebuke to India from the US Ambassador to Pakistan clearly proves. He recommended that if India has proof that the ISI was involved in the Mumbai train bombings, India should not announce it publicly, but inform Pakistan privately. He is more interested in defending the culprit than siding with the victim.
We have been developing the tank for over thirty years and yet do not have a prototype that can be used for war, only for training. Pakistan makes its own tanks (Khalid) and submarines (Agosta from France). We assembled German HDW submarines but let our expertise lapse. Now the government just announced that they will buy an extra 1000 T90 tanks from Russia to make up for our incompetence.
We are all aware that private industry is motivated by money, but our government arms factories are not motivated at all and subject to quotas and other handicaps. We need to run them with competent people and on merit by getting rid of non-performing bureaucrats and other personnel. The Atomic energy department seems to function much more efficaciously and the DRDO needs to be revamped along those lines.
Finally we cannot have parties or their leaders who are more interested in propitiating Pakistan, the West or China at the cost of the nation. Those who are wedded to religions or ideology that trump nationality or the nation's future, should not be included in governing coalitions for the sake of lust for power by the Congress or the BJP. This would first require that the parties use some intelligence and common sense in choosing their leaders and the electorate in casting their ballots.