Many Thanks for the Us-India Nuclear Deal
President Bush deserves many thanks from India for his superhuman efforts to push the Nuclear Deal first through the Nuclear Suppliers Group meetings and finally through the torturous processes of the US Congress. In one bold stroke President Bush has brought about a dramatic and historic transformation of the strategic relationship between the United States and India. The Nuclear Deal's finalization was beyond the diplomatic reach of the Indian Prime Minister and his Congress Government. President Bush made the 'impossible' possible. India's Congress Party has no legitimate exclusive claims on the successful finalization of the Nuclear Deal.
Against significant opposition within the United States Congress and Washington's powerful non-proliferation lobbies President Bush and the US Administration turned around the Deal that was headed towards a certain deferral to the next US Administration. The difficult task of President Bush was further compounded by the political mistrust and divide generated within India by the unwarranted secrecy imposed by India's Prime Minister and the Congress Party on the Deal's processing so as to garner the success of the Deal as an exclusive Congress Party achievement for electoral gains, hopefully.
The nitty-gritty of the clauses of the Deal would continue to be debated endlessly in India's political circles for quite a few months and it is not the intention in this Column to get involved in that debate. The intention here is to explore the larger gains made by India .It needs to be recognized that there are 'no free lunches' in international relations.
Nuclear commerce which was a closed arena for India for more than three decades has now opened up. In fact it opened up the day the Deal got the nod from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Technically India could proceed ahead in nuclear commerce after this meeting without waiting for the finalization of the Deal in Washington but diplomatic propriety demanded that India should wait for it to happen. The Indian Government on its own merits could not have got past the Nuclear Suppliers Group but for the spirited interventions in India's favor by President Bush and more notably his personal call to the Chinese President with advice that China should stop playing games at Vienna.
The US-India Nuclear Deal should also optimistically open up for India access to high-technology in which the United States is globally predominant and which India could not have access so far with its Cold War obsessions with 'non-alignment' and at times being hyper-critical of US policies.
The US-India Nuclear Deal would give a big spurt to economic relations and trade between the two countries when contracts are signed for the construction of civilian nuclear reactors. The US firms would have to enter into collaboration with major Indian firms for engineering and construction. In this two way process significant job opportunities would be generated in both countries. Besides for Indian firms this sort of joint collaboration would enable quantum jumps in high-technology expertise.
The strategic and political gains are significant in that India is now placed in the Big Power League with the US-Strategic Partnership under way which was initiated at the turn of the millennium and hence it is a bi-partisan effort on which India's Congress Party has no exclusive claim.
President Bush, Sir, many thanks for living up to your commitment and policy goal that the United States would assist in India's emergence as a global power. It is a great historical legacy that you would be leaving behind.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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