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HVK Archives: India can do without N-club membership

India can do without N-club membership - The Free Press Journal

M V Kamath ()
July 16, 1998

Title: India can do without N-club membership
Author: M V Kamath
Publication: The Free Press Journal
Date: July 16, 1998

In his exclusive interview to Malini Parthasarathy of The Hindu,
Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State, appeared to be
earnestly addressing himself to the task of narrowing the gap
between the U.S. policy perception and that of south Asia,
particularly India. On the other hand, the Secretary of State, Ms
Madeleine Albright has been making obnoxious remarks about India
which ill-behoves a responsible cabinet member. She seems to have
a pathetic fixation about India that (a) it wants to achieve
reatness - whatever that means - through acquiring nuclear
weaponry and (b) that it wants to 'blast' its way into .nuclear
power status or greater respect. She recently told Newsweek: he
international community does not believe India's actions in terms
of nuclear explosions has increased its status or security". She
must be disabused of some of her pet theories.

In the first place in holding nuclear tests India was not
aspiring either for glory or greatness. India was great long
before the United States came into existence and its greatness is
not dependent on acquiring nuclear weapons. In the second place
it was never India's intention to 'blast' its way into the
Nuclear Club which, in any event, is white, racist and self-

For India importance lies in being militarily strong, not in
being member of any Club, nuclear or otherwise. India has a
history of over a thousand years of foreign invasions and it has
a long memory. Never again would it like to see attacked by
anybody whether it be China, Pakistan or some one else. The
United States with its two hundred odd years of history does not
understand India's psyche and it is pointless to attempt to teach
Ms Albright India's feelings. In any event one gets the distinct
feeling that she does not want to understand. In the course of
his interview, Talbott said India has made a 'mistake' in
conducting nuclear tests. In this he couldn be more wrong. If
any mistake has been made by anybody, the party is the United
States. It may argue that it was forced to do so by
circumstances, but the fact remains that in the past fifty years
the United States has erred grievously in its approach towards

First, the United States saw an exaggerated 'enemy' in the Soviet
Union and later still, in China. Containing these two powers and
playing off one against the other became America's sole aim and
purpose. South Asia lay under the soft under-belly of the Soviet
Union. Here the United Sates wanted an ally. Had India agreed
>from the very beginning to play ball with the United States, it
would have been looked at more kindly. A newly independent India
did not want to be subservient to any power, which irked America.
In Pakistan it quickly found a nation willing to do as it was

Overnight, the United States decided to befriend Pakistan at
India's cost. It supported Pakistan's unjust claims on Kashmir
and it armed Pakistan to its teeth. And it enlisted the support
of Britain, France and Nationalist China in demeaning India at
every rum. These were not exiguous mistakes. They were major
international crimes. They pushed India more and more to seek
help from the Soviet Union when it would have been happy to stay
out of Super Power politics. If Talbott does not understand these
things, he understands nothing. Meanwhile India saw China
conducting nuclear tests with scant respect to American opinion.
It also witnessed China perfecting inter-continental ballistic
missiles with cavalier unconcern for .world' opinion.

Incidentally, Talbott must remember that there is no such thing
as 'world opinion". There is American opinion and it is common
knowledge that the United States can twist the arms of small
nations to agree with it on any topic. And between them, the
United States, Britain and France have the means to influence the
opinion of others through careful manipulation of news through
the Associated Press (AP), United Press (UP), Reuters and Agence
France Presse (AFP). In the circumstances, Talbott's references
to world opinion mean nothing. American opinion can be made
palatable to small countries in need of help - and there are,
unfortunately, scores of them.

Then, in recent years, India witnessed an even more frightening
development. In order to 'contain' the Soviet Union, the United
States went in a big way to help China, to the extent of giving
it access to American and western nuclear technology. The United
States went one step further: it looked the other way round as
China passed on nuclear secrets and technology to Pakistan.
What, in the circumstances, was India expected to do? Wring its
hands and ask for mercy? There was only that much that India
could take by way of calculated blows.

Successive governments gave the 'go' signal to Indian scientists
to perfect their nuclear infrastructure. But they were not still
bold enough to okay nuclear tests, still afraid of American
reaction. The BJP had the courage to stand up to US
blandishments. And the order was given to the BARC to go ahead
with the testing. It wasn't meant to show off, or seek
'greatness' or anything of the kind. It was strictly a measure of
self-defence. The PS do not need to welcome India into its
nuclear fold. They do not need to bestow India with permanent
membership of the Security Council. India knows its place in the
world. No one can change it or take it away from us. Again, if
the United States does not understand this, it understands
nothing. In this interview Talbott has tried to be conciliatory.
He says "it would be profoundly wrong for anybody in India, from
the Prime Minister down to the reader of The Hindu to think that
the United States is playing its China card against India". Mr.
Talbott, tell that to the Marines.

There is just one other small matter that needs to be brought to
Talbott's attention. India does not like to be slighted. And, to
put it mildly, the language used both by President Clinton and
Secretary of State Ms Albright has been arrogant, abusive and
unbecoming of any diplomat. India is not there to be ordered
about. The worst thing that could have been done by the United
States is to hurt India's sense of self-respect. No government
can thereafter agree to sign the CTBT or NPT, even if it
sincerely wants to, without getting some kind of apology from
Washington. Sitting. in the Oval Room twirling his moustache and
telling India to sign the CTBT and NPT immediately or face the
consequences is not the best way to get India's cooperation.
Drunk with power, Clinton does not know to handle India. Let it
be said here and now: India is under no illusion of how much it
costs to remain independent. But it also knows the price of being
unprepared. The year 1962 when India was humiliated by China
when, over the years India has gone out of its way to befriend
Beijing, is remembered. The emotional bruise has not healed.
Indeed, by helping Pakistan with its nuclear ambitions, China has
worsened India's feelings. It isn't easy to forget the past. But
even if China were a real friend, with what face can the United
States tell India to forego its right of self-defence on grounds
of costs, when it has spent over $ 5.5 trillion on its own
nuclear arsenal or about $ 96 Billion a day! Who does the US
think it is fooling? How many thousand hospitals, how many
million kms of roads, how many hungry mouths could have been
taken care for that money? The instant reply of the United States
would be that it was making that sacrifice for democracy to
flourish. That is so much balderdash. For the best part of four
decades Pakistan was ruled by a military dictatorship. And if
China is today slowly veering round to democracy it is not
because of American importunings but because the communist
leadership realised that Communism is a god that failed. That had
nothing do with American tutelage.

When the United States stops using the language of the brute and
the bully, when it learns to respect India and when it ceases to
pitch Pakistan against us, it may still come to learn that
India's values remain high and its willingness to cooperate in
efforts to make the world safe is there for the asking.

But it cannot be commanded, now or ever. For the United States to
demand that India sign the CTBT unconditionally, is not only to
exhibit a belligerent arrogance that will fetch it no dividend
but to force India to take an even harder stance than it would
normally want to. It is immaterial whether the Big Five admit
India into their Nuclear Club. They are welcome to bask in its
'glory'. But what they cannot prevent is India marching to the
sound of its own distant drum. Some years ago, when an Air Bus
crashed in Bangalore - India has as good a record of accident-
free flying as any developed country - a French technician was to
remark facetiously: hat do you expect when you give a camel
driver a Mercedes-Benz to drive?" The answer is: a hydrogen bomb

India was denied access to a Super-Computer by the United States
lest it use it for purposes of exploding a nuclear device. India
quietly went on to develop its own PARAM-1000 that out-computers
all western-built computers. And now we are told developed
nations are making a beeline to buy India's FLOSOLVER MK 3 - made
entirely by India by Indian scientists. Moral: Keep your
membership of the Nuclear Club to yourselves, gentlemen. India
can do without it.

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