Bush Charms India
Date: Friday , March 31, 2006
It’s a wonderful time of the year for India as President Bush’s visit has reminded us. On his maiden visit to the world’s largest democracy, Bush, as expected, finalized the nuclear accord with India that was signed in June last year. This accord sets the stage for the development of the Indian energy sector whilst unofficially declaring India as a nuclear power.
After the talks with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Bush said: “It’s a necessary agreement. It’s one that will help both the countries.”
The deal will help India build new reactors and gain access to uranium to power its reactors. Even as India will have to split and designate its reactors as civilian and military and open them for international inspection which has been opposed by the opposition parties and a section of Indian media who call it a surrender to the U.S.
Despite the announcement by Bush, the deal doesn’t come through easily. The Congress will have to pass the resolution, which looks like a difficult job given that India is a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Those opposed to the deal, in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere, disagree.
Many supporters of the NPT believe the deal ignores India’s nuclear weapons program. In India, too, critics have alleged that the country’s tradition of non-alignment is being eroded as it forges closer ties with the U.S.
“The Congress has got to understand that it’s in our economic interests that India have a civilian nuclear power industry to help take the pressure off the global demand for energy,” Bush said.
The nuclear deal did not come without bargaining. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who accompanied Bush, was firm that the U.S. did not support India in its quest for energy. However it was after the hard bargaining from the Indian side that the deal was clinched.
India’s biggest Asian rival China was swift to stress that nuclear co-operation between India and the U.S. “must conform with provisions of the international non-proliferation regime.”
However Indian analysts were quick to point out that Bush has done what any other U.S. President would have done - to keep India as a counter balance against the growing influence of China in Asia and the world at large.
The Indian media has dubbed Bush as the friendliest U.S. President since Bill Clinton who came to India in 2000. If Clinton had removed the sanctions against India that he imposed in 1998 in the aftermath of nuke testing by India, Bush went far by doling out nuclear help to India. Looks like the world’s oldest democracy is finding a perfect partner in India.