Tuesday 10 April 2007

Sonia Gandhi Losing India's Cities (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Although most international commentators spoke of the Congress Paraty's victory in the 2004 Indian elections as the "revolt of the poor," in reality it was the result of defeating their BJP-led rivals in every major city in India bar Bangalore. Rather than a vote against economic reform, it was the slowing down of reforms during the last two years of the BJP-led regime that made the urban middle class -- now 220 million strong -- either abstain or vote against the BJP.

Unfortunately, the present "owner" of the ruling Congress Party, Italian-born Sonia Maino Gandhi, joined the usual pundits in seeing her victory as a vote against reform, and has reined in the economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has instead concentrated on two fields where he is an obvious novice: foreign policy and national security. His experiments in appeasement have been based on a liberal belief that jihadis are just misled idealists who can, with tenderness, be corrected.

Simultaneously, just as the United States and the European Union are beginning to accept New Delhi's traditional stand that Pakistan under its generals is part of the problem and not a solution, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have been cozying up to Pervez Musharraf. They have publicly taken at face value his claim that the jihadis in Pakistan operate independently of the army, even though many routinely use military communications equipment and are trained by those in uniform. It is small wonder that the nearly three years of United Progressive Alliance government have witnessed a sharp increase in Maoist insurgency and the revival of the Kashmir jihad. The army has become dispirited by consistent pressure from the Congress-led government to go soft on the jihadis and surrender Kashmir's Siachen heights. Also, India's nuclear scientists were dismayed at the conditions set out under the Henry J. Hyde Act passed by the U.S. Congress last year, which would in effect end India's three-decade quest for a nuclear deterrent against China.

Saturday 7 April 2007

Will India-U.S. Ties Get Nuked? (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India — A smiling U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on July 18, 2005, that a U.S.-India agreement would be concluded that would regularize nuclear trade between the two countries, and consequently, the rest of the world.

Since the first Indian nuclear test in 1974, India has been the primary target of a comprehensive set of sanctions designed to prevent any external help to the Indian program. Along the way, a large number of hi-tech items -- such as supercomputers -- were made out of bounds to India, which nevertheless persisted with its program, detonating six nuclear devices in 1998 and moving ahead toward development and deployment of a "triad" of nuclear weapons systems that would ensure delivery from the land, air and sea.

Unlike Pakistan, China and Russia, India has not transferred nuclear or missile technology across its frontiers -- hoping to be rewarded for such good behavior by cooption into the major league of nuclear weapons states (NWS). It seemed that on July 18, 2005, the day had finally arrived -- early reports of the U.S.-India understanding were unanimous in stating that the Bush administration had finally given up on containment, and had accepted -- de facto if not yet de jure -- that India was an NWS, and that it therefore made sense for the five "declared" weapons powers to bring it into the fold before New Delhi decided to act the outsider, after being treated as one since 1974.

Influential voices within the country's nuclear and security establishment had been calling for nuclear cooperation with other countries that felt shortchanged by an international architecture that had changed hardly at all since World War II. Among the prospective partners would be Vietnam and Venezuela, who would see little attraction in remaining within the confines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were India to offer cooperation in energy.