Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: Vajpayee describes India and US as natural allies

Vajpayee describes India and US as natural allies - The Telegraph

K.P. Nayar ()
September 29, 1998

Title: Vajpayee describes India and US as natural allies
Author: K.P. Nayar
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: September 29, 1998

In a landmark speech which took think tanks, intellectuals and
policymakers in America by surprise, Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee today described India and the US as "natural allies,"
whose relations "constitute the key element in the architecture
of tomorrow's democratised world order."

In an address to the Asia Society here on the last day of his
visit to New York, the Prime Minister said: "Indo-US ties based
on equality and mutuality of interests is going to be the
mainstay of tomorrow's stable, democratic world order."

A galaxy of academics, diplomats, corporate leaders, lawmakers
and officials - indeed, the cream of American society with Asia
connections - listened to Vajpayee with rapt attention.

For most of them, it was a new menu from India: for 50 years,
they have only heard Indian leaders talk at America. Vajpayee's
message today was: let us talk to each other.

Even as Vajpayee told the audience that "India and the US are
natural allies in the quest for a better future for the world in
the 21st century," he was uncompromising in his comments on US
attitudes towards India. He confessed to being baffled by the
unsatisfactory current state of relations between India and the
US. "I have been trying to analyse the reasons and I think I can
at least indicate where the shoe pinches us," he said.

"First and foremost it is American reluctance to accept us as a
responsible member of the international community." Going beyond
nuclear policy and disarmament, which have been the main themes
of Vajpayee's speeches during this visit, the Prime Minister
gave a long list of issues where "the US does not appreciate and
accommodate India's interests and concerns."

These included Afghanistan, cooperative arrangements in the Asia-
Pacific region, UN Security Council and non-proliferation. India
has vital security interests and a positive, moderating and
stabilising role in all these issues, he pointed out.

"We have been subjected to technology denials virtually from the
time of our independence. Our own export control regimes are
extremely stringent and there has been no leakage of equipment
or technology from India. Despite this, we find the US unwilling
to accommodate us in terms of technology transfers," Vajpayee

"Similarly on South Asian issues, where our supreme national
interests are involved, we encounter policy approaches from
America that go contrary to our basic irreducible security

In yet another surprise, Vajpayee directly criticised the
administration, although he was on American soil. He said
Indians are unable to comprehend public statements by American
leaders where Indian sensitivities are involved.

The Prime Minister cited a statement on South Asia during
President Bill Clinton's visit to China and American attempts to
pressurise Russia into ending its defence and scientific
cooperation with India in this context.

"For democratic governments like ours, which desire closer
understanding with the US, it becomes extremely difficult to
move forward in the face of such public declarations," he

Vajpayee said he was arguing for a restructuring of Indo-US ties
"not just because they will help India, but also because they
will help the US itself."

In what is probably the most carefully-crafted of Vajpayee's
speeches since he became Prime Minister, he tried to put across
the image of technology- savvy head of government, cashing in on
the image of India in the US of a future computer giant.

Vajpayee's address was titled: "India, USA and the World: Let us
work together to solve the political-economic Y2K problem".

In the course of the speech Vajpayee explained the rationale of
his title. "As we all know, computer professionals around the
world are busy grappling with what is famously called the Y2K
problem. The problem is basically to programme the software to
let the computers know that the year 2000 has begun.

"Have we - the political leaders, heads of governments,
policymakers and intellectuals of the world - begun to
reprogramme our political and economic minds to take note of the
fact that we are soon going to enter a new era? I call this the
PE-Y2K - the Political Economic Year 2000 - problem."

This too was a refreshing change. Over the years, American
audiences had got used to listening to dull speeches by Indian
leaders on non-alignment with homilies about doing good to

In a variation of the famous John F. Kennedy theme of "Ask what
you can do for your country," Vajpayee said: "I have always held
national interest above party and personal interest. This is a
pledge I made to the people of India on August 15."

It was also an attempt to assure people here who have misgivings
about the BJP that the nation's interest will not be compromised
for the sake of the party's ideology.

Vajpayee also put at rest fears that India's problems would
force the country to retreat from world affairs. Quoting
Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister said: "Nationalism and
internationalism are the two eyes of our national body.'

He cautioned that unless the world's financial system was
reformed, the rich nations of the Western hemisphere would not
be immune from the current Asian crisis.

"We in India have taken a principled stand towards globalisation
- cautious, calibrated and steady integration. This approach has
served our national interests well. We have remained largely
unaffected by the turmoil in the Asian markets."

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements