Saturday, November 13, 2010


courtesy– Hindustan Times 12 11 2010

India's position in the world lies in its intrinsic internal strength.
We will end up weakening ourselves if we become a subordinate
ally of the US.

President Barack Obama came, saw and in a sense, conquered, by
drawing India further into the US geopolitical strategic framework,
apart from advancing US commercial interests. Before leaving
Washington, according to The New York Times, Obama said that “The
primary purpose is to take a bunch of US companies and open up
markets so that we can sell in Asia, in some of the fastest-growing
markets in the world“, and “create jobs at home“.
This may sound desperate but logical in the backdrop of the severe
electoral drubbing that the Democrats received in the recent US
Congressional elections.

With unemployment breaching the psychological barrier of 10% and
an economic turnaround not appearing on the horizon, the US needs to
prise open the markets of the emerging economies to sell its products.
By the time he left India, it was announced that deals amounting to $ 15
billion have been sealed, creating nearly 75,000 jobs in the USA. In an
effort to appease India Inc., Obama said, “They (deals) will create jobs
in the US, it is true, but those same technologies will also allow Indian
entrepreneurs to create jobs here”.

The joint statement issued after the visit shows that in the name of
promoting food security through an “evergreen revolution“, the Indian
market is being pushed to open up further for US agri-produce. This
would create conditions of `instant death' for Indian agriculture which
is already reeling under an acute crisis. The flooding of Indian markets
with highly subsidised US agricultural and dairy products may well
escalate distress suicides that are already haunting our country. The US
is now anticipating huge orders for nuclear reactors as well as hefty
defence purchases.

The promise of technology transfer by removing Indian organisations
from the US `entities list', however, does not include the Department
of Atomic Energy. This clearly shows that the commitment made in
the India-US nuclear deal of full civilian nuclear cooperation including
technology transfer will not materialise.Couched in the flowery rhetoric
of India having already “emerged“,rubbing shoulders on the `high table',
the framework for economic cooperation in the joint statement maps
further opening up our markets.

This is happening when the US continues to actively discourage,
through policy prescriptions, US firms from outsourcing, adversely
affecting employment in India.

There is a satisfactory purr in `Shining India' that the US has endorsed
India's entry into the United Nations Security Council as a permanent

Speaking to us in Parliament, through us to India, Obama invoked
many an Indian icon, acknowledged India's spiritual and scientific
contributions including the invention of the zero, effortlessly assayed
through Chandni Chowk, panchayat and Panchatantra, using this
as a cushion to declare that “increased power comes with increased
responsibility“. This was followed by a virtual admonition of India for
not articulating forcefully the issue of democracy in Myanmar.
This was followed by hailing India's commitment towards complete
nuclear disarmament and, therefore, suggesting that we fall in line
with the US in supporting sanctions on Iran. President Obama raised
these issues within the context of universal values of peace, security,
democracy and human rights. Universality of values must necessarily
be accompanied by universality of their application. Talking of
democracy in Myanmar while remaining silent on the gross violation
of the human rights of the Palestinians, or the merciless massacre of
civilians by the 50,000strong US army in Iraq or the illegal economic
blockade of Cuba sounds not merely politically selective but hollow.
Talking of nuclear proliferation and sanctions against Iran and
remaining silent on Israel reveals the agenda of imperialist strategy.

US geopolitical military strategy had led it to underwrite dictatorships
across the world in the name of protecting American interests. Hence,
one can only conclude that the US would be prepared to see India with
`increased power' but only if it comes with `increased responsibility'in
supporting its strategic interests. President Obama clearly said in as
many words in the Parliament that he expected India in its current two-
year term as a non permanent member of the UN Security Council to
play such a role. He has, thus, put India on probation. A probationary
period of two years when support to US positions will determine the
latter's support for India's permanent membership.

`Shining India' is also glowing in a sense of `triumphalism' that the
US has finally nailed Pakistan on the issue of terrorism. Obama spoke
of Pakistan's need to dismantle `terrorist apparatus' on its soil and
bring the perpetrators of 26/11 to book. This comes on the back of
billions of dollars of aid that the US has given Pakistan in return for its
military and logistical help in anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan.
The fact of the matter is that the US needs Pakistan in these efforts. It
would, thus, be naïve for us in India to hope that the US would jettison
Pakistan and support us in the fight against terrorism. The US `Af-Pak'
strategy cannot advance without Pakistan.

In the final analysis, India has to battle the terrorist menace -as we
continue to do -on the basis of its own strength and resilience. Instead,
that we are relying on the illusory props of US support explains why
India failed to raise the issue of David Headley's extradition.
Likewise India failed to remind Obama that double standards on
dealing with industrial accidents are not acceptable. Dow chemicals must be
made to account for the Bhopal gas tragedy like Obama made BP shell
out billions for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

India's position in the world's comity of nations lies in its intrinsic
internal strength. It is precisely this strength that will be weakened
when India seeks the status of a subordinate ally of the US as the crutch
to `arrive' in the world.

These and many other crucial issues will continue to engage us as we
battle to improve the livelihoods of the vast majority of impoverished
Indians -the real India. We, the Indian Left have heard Obama. It is
now his turn to listen.

Sitaram Yechury is CPI(M) Politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP
The views expressed by the author are personal

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