Indias Foreign Policy Predicament


Would being cozy with new found friends alienate trusted allies? A tough nut to crack. This is exactly the dilemma which the UPA government at the center faces today. As the PM and the Left remain adamant on their versions of the Indo - U.S. nuke deal this question assumes greater significance. One thing is clearly evident; the U.S. is awed by the double digit (one can say inflated numbers) growth figures, military might and influence of China in South - East Asia and wants to counter it by firing the bullet from India's shoulder as it recognizes Pakistan as a spent force in the region. In short, a zero sum game, an equation balancing its variables.

From our independence we have maintained and nurtured an independent foreign policy which does not undermine India's sovereignty. Many would argue that India had a leaning towards the Soviet Block till the 80's and the Indo - Russia - China axis is still relevant. However India as is widely known was a founding member nation of NAM and has always committed itself to resolving thorns through dialog rather than force. But we live in an imperfect world, where forging and strengthening relationships is an instrument of economic gains and political mileage.

Being ditched and being on the opposite side of the spectrum is not new for us. China did it to us in 1962 (we signed Panchseel agreement with them in 1958), incursions inside our territory in Arunachal is an ongoing affair. Pakistan is the habitual offender - 1948, 1965, 1971, 1999....the proxy war is still on. IPKF suffered at the hands of both LTTE and Sri Lanka in 1989 - 1990 while Rajiv Gandhi lost his life fighting for peace in the abode of Ravana. At all these times India was fighting a lone battle against everyone. These tale of events made India realize that either you chose a father figure who doles out billions of dollars in exchange of sovereignty or tread along the path of economic growth which is riddled with challenges. We chose the latter, courtesy our visionary PM's 1991 budget, and now we command a dominant place in international politics (we are chucking a sizable amount of Uncle Sam's role), which is a reason for us being hounded.

As we enter into another 8 percent growth year, fulfilling the mounting energy needs of our population is an area of concern. With crude oil shooting up to $142 per barrel, and our coal not being of the highest quality compounds the problem. Nuclear power is a cheaper and a viable option. France meets almost 45% of its energy needs through Nuclear energy. This deal gives us the technology and fuel for our starving nuclear reactors along with IAEA safeguards thereby in a way circumventing the U.S. sanctions. It has the potential to propel India as a major player in international affairs (read U.N. Security Council membership) and develop us as a regional power in face of our hostile neighbors. We would have an umbrella to protect ourselves from heavy rain. The question is whether the deal typecasts India as a strategic partner of U.S. and do we compromise our freedom and liberty in garb of this deal. Would we be compelled to toe the U.S. line on Iraq and Iran with whom we have cordial relations? Wouldn't this deal revive the beleaguered U.S. nuclear industry and oil the U.S. economy?