An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 05 March 2005

Before leaving India President Bush stated that a strategic partnership launched with India could transform the world and urged New Delhi to take a lead in spreading freedom and democracy. This makes India the local de facto policeman for democracy in the region in no uncertain terms, but India must balance and weigh what reaction it gets from China, which must be convinced to support India's acceptance by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to allow India the same privileges as the five NPT members. When this happens NPT will appear to be dead but a new nuclear order is in the offing. China is not a democracy and on its part insists that this subject of how it rules its people is its internal policy and India will have to tread carefully. A large conference is being held at JNU from Monday 6 March, and the learned and influential Prof Liu Xuecheng Director, Division of American Studies, China Institute of International Studies will be attending.

Separately President Bush advised Gen Musharraf in Islamabad to hold elections in 2007 and denied him the same treatment that India received on the Nuclear deal. India's stock market welcomed the pact and showed its appreciation by jumping to record highs. The media however did not report how important it was for India that our business tycoons met their counterparts traveling with Bush and how they may influence trade and the US Congress to support the nuclear deal.

India is set to make its entry into the NPT from the back door which is ajar and will fully open when US Congress and NSG clear India's entry. This subject was discussed at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, which under Gen Dipkankar Banerjee and MR PC Chari is a most astute think tank in Delhi, as young researchers contribute greatly to the debate. Prof Liu was guarded on China's response but made a strong case for Chinese to join Asia in Asian values and include China in the South Asian frame of security through cooperation in the Indian Ocean China has just openly announced a Defence Budget of $35b. Like many budgets including India’s, pensions and spending on nuclear issues are not included and China has many more hidden spends on defence.

The world media including TIME magazine went to town about the manner in which the US Nuclear Deal with India was accomplished. But it is India's defence deal that was also agreed to by President Bush, which has not been given adequate press. Now news is out that Bush and Manmohan Singh have confirmed that the 17,800 ton LPD (USS Trenton), that former Vice Chief VADM Yashwant Prasad had inspected at Corpus Christi, will be with the Indian Navy early next year as part of the durable defence partnership deal signed on 2nd March.

The US Defence Department hailed the new accord aimed at helping meet India’s defence needs. It also cited the US commitment to providing India with modern fighter aircraft. It said that American firms will compete with contemporary technology in the Indian Air Force’s upcoming tender (RFP) for multi-role combat aircraft, adding that a US firm is already competing in the Indian Army’s commercial tender for a new lighter helicopter. This refers to BELL helicopters which has done excellently in the evaluations against the Eurocopter Fennec. With the new budget the Army should get its helicopter deal through. However, as we explained in the Defence Agents story there is more to defence deals than meets the eye and we hope the Scorpene Type 75 is a clean deal, and sets the path for clean defence deals.

The US Defence Department’s statement said that an agreement would be signed in the near future on logistics support. It cites defence trade and technology cooperation as a vital component of the relationship because it helps “build ties among our defence establishments and industries and to develop interoperability among our armed forces”. An American delegation will visit New Delhi soon to discuss US plans related to the recently issued Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) on the joint humanitarian action by the Indian and US armed forces. USS Trenton is an ingredient of that framework.

Meanwhile, the India–US Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation released on March 2 commits the two nations to a “comprehensive cooperation in ensuring a secure maritime domain”. The US also offered to sell India advanced fighter aircraft. “The US is committed to providing state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in response to India’s requirements for a multi-role combat aircraft,” the Pentagon said. “We have indicated our intention to offer both the F-16 and the F-18, both combat proven aircraft,” it said.

“The world’s most powerful democracy and its most populous democracy would rally global efforts to push for democracy, fight terrorism and break down trade barriers”, Bush said in a keynote address at the end of the three-day visit. “The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before and the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world,” he said.

Referring to Iran Bush said, “In Iran, a proud people are held hostage by a small clerical elite that denies basic liberties, sponsors terrorism and pursues nuclear weapons.”. He urged India to play a world role in a global struggle for freedom. “India’s leadership is needed in a world that is hungry for freedom. Men and women from North Korea to Burma, to Syria, to Zimbabwe, to Cuba, yearn for their liberty,” he said. “We must stand with reformers and dissidents and civil society organisations and hasten the day when peoples of these nations can determine their future and choose their own leaders.” In summary a lot is expected of India the newly recruited policeman in the East.

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