Any visitor to our planet who hadn’t been prejudiced by the cliched images in the media and school lessons on imperial history, would look at India’s landmass, population, economic status and automatically assume that it was a key player on the world’s stage. Well, now it is and we must applaud Manmohan Singh for his conviction and follow through on this policy.
Prime Ministers are, mostly, known for one thing during their premiership – whether its Blair, Vajpayee or Clinton, but it seems that Manmohan Singh has bucked this trend and emerged as a leader with two significant achievements to his credit.
Firstly, the liberalisation of the Indian economy (with all its benefits) and secondly, to gain the confidence of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to allow India to participate in nuclear trade (which may bring India closer to energy independence).
The first time I met Manmohan Singh was when the Congress were in Opposition. I walked away with a regard for his intellect and for his personality, that makes him the erudite gentleman that he is. My second meeting reinforced the image that the media had created of him as ‘an accidental politician’.
In my view, the fact that the Indian lobby has arm twisted the NSG to put aside its rules, carefully developed over 40 years, to the benefit of India, and India alone is a significant victory, not only for Manmohan Singh, but for the Indian establishment. The greater victory is that the NSG have agreed to do this at a time when issues related to the transfer of high technology are being tightened and also when non-proliferation has become ‘the’ issue concerning geo-politics today.
Given the US’s need to bring some balance to South Asia by countering Pakistan, I don’t see the ratification of this deal as a huge problem. They’ll probably need to introduce an India specific bill to amend the US Atomic Energy Act.