Wednesday 16 July 2008

The China Factor in India's Nuclear Debate (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat 

Manipal, India — On July 22, should India's ruling alliance win its trust vote in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will go ahead and work out an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. His partners for the past 51 months, the two communist parties, will use their 61 members of Parliament to oppose him – despite Singh having kowtowed continuously to them on economic policy, at the cost of economic reform.

Today, the Indian economy is in far worse shape than it was when he took office in 2004, with government spending out of control, a doubling of the tax burden and a raft of restrictions on private initiative and enterprise.

Why, despite Singh having implemented a "communist lite" program as prime minister, are the two communist parties so anxious to defeat his government and thereby block further progress on the nuclear negotiations begun with the George W. Bush- Manmohan Singh statement on U.S.-India nuclear cooperation on July 18, 2005? After all, the two parties are openly pacifist, having opposed the country's nuclear weapons program since its inception in 1985, and the agreements now being discussed would significantly limit India's freedom of action to build an arsenal capable of responding against a nuclear attack.

Contrary to the reports and commentaries now appearing in the Indian media, the change in stand of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India has little to do with nuclear weapons or energy. It is based on what is perceived – despite ritual denials by the United States and India – to be the principal reason behind the July 18, 2005 accord: the integration of India into the defense architecture of the United States, in the manner of Japan.