The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The visit of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to the United States has resulted in a joint statement by both sides. The statement reflects the overall trend of the past few years, of India being accommodated as a strategic ally of the United States. The defence framework agreement made preceding this visit, further indicates this trend.
The joint statement has emphasised the resolve of the Indian Prime Minister and the US President to promote democracy globally and to fight terrorism. The Prime Minister in his address to the US Congress has also made democracy a major theme.
The announcement of US India Global Democracy Initiative to strengthen democracies in third countries must be viewed with skepticism. The NDA government had also joined the “community of democracies” floated by the Clinton administration. The United States is hardly the exemplar of upholding democracy around the world. Such a bilateral initiative displays the anxiety of India to align with the United States at a time when the superpower has become notorious for its unilateralist and anti-democratic activities. Instead of the bilateral global democracy initiative, it would have been better if the joint statement had confined itself to stating that only through the United Nations can democratic practices be strengthened.
Regarding terrorism, it would be better, if the government of India realizes that an important aspect of global terrorism today is the use of State terrorism and the gross violation of national sovereignty which in turn spawns fundamentalism and terrorism. Iraq today is a glaring example of how imperialist aggression and State terrorism has resulted in an upsurge of terrorist violence not seen before within Iraq and which has now affected European capitals like Madrid and London.
It does not serve India’s interests to applaud US leadership either for spreading democracy or combating terrorism.
Much debate has erupted on the agreement reached on nuclear cooperation as given in the joint statement. The first and central point which needs to be made is the manner in which such a vital issue has been decided with the United States by the UPA government. It was incumbent on the government to place their views and proposals for discussion with all the parties concerned before deciding on the course of action. Many security and foreign policy issues were negotiated secretly during the NDA regime through the Strobe Talbott-Jaswant Singh negotiations. The UPA government should not continue this undemocratic practice.
The CPI(M) had opposed the nuclear weaponisation programme of the BJP-led government. It does not subscribe to the views emanating from those who advocate nuclear weaponisation as a path for India’s “great power” status. Distinct from this, the CPI(M) and the Left parties have argued consistently that India should have an independent nuclear policy. India had always opposed the discriminatory policies of the nuclear haves and have-nots. It was also committed to nuclear disarmament and making the world free of nuclear weapons. The Rajiv Gandhi plan for disarmament was the last major initiative taken in this regard. The BJP-led government had begun the journey of accepting junior partnership of the United States in return for a de facto recognition as a nuclear weapon state without acquiring a legitimate position in the nuclear club. The current agreement marks an end to India’s nuclear disarmament policy.
There are legitimate apprehensions that with the intangible promises made by the United States, restrictions will be imposed which are going to hamper the pursuit of an independent nuclear technology policy for peaceful purposes. There is also the question whether research activities for overcoming reliance on import of nuclear fuel will be hampered.
It is important that India carefully calibrate its steps strictly in response to measures taken by the US, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the IAEA. The CPI(M) expects the government not to undertake unilateral measures which may compromise national interests.
In talking about energy and environment it should be remembered that it is the United States which has refused to sign the Kyoto protocol and is placing obstacles for working towards using cleaner and more efficient technologies. As far as energy is concerned, the United States’ interest in setting up “energy markets” in India is evident in the statement.
The joint statement has endorsed the recently signed Indo-US defence framework agreement. The CPI(M) has already opined about its harmful consequences for India’s strategic interests and independent foreign policy. The joint statement and the various briefings of the visit are silent about what the United States has got in return for offering civilian nuclear cooperation. The government should clarify whether there has been an understanding reached about buying US defence equipment to the tune of billions of dollars. The CPI(M) and the Left parties have already spoken out against the purchase of F16 fighter planes.
There is no clear-cut commitment by the United States about India’s permanent membership in the Security Council. It is pertinent to point out that the United States had opposed the G4 resolution in the United Nations regarding the expansion of the Security Council.
India as a major developing country needs to have a balanced and equitable relationship with the United States. The joint statement does not give much credence to this aspect. India continues to give more concessions compared to what the United States has to offer.