Tag Archives: Narendra Modi

Civilisational Narrative – An Imperative

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice of Mahabalipuram for his informal meeting with President Xi Jinping has an obvious, deep significance and even a deeper message“, writes noted columnist, thinker and political commentator, Sri S.Gurumurthy.

(Courtesy: NewIndianExpress.com | Published: 11th October 2019)

It is strategic civilisational diplomacy at its symbolic best. Narendra Modi found that his second informal summit with Xi Jinping at Mahabalipuram in 2019 had been fixed 1,500 years ago by a prince of the Pallava dynasty, which ruled Mahabalipuram from Kanchipuram. The Pallava prince from Kanchipuram renounced the throne, became a Buddhist monk, known as Bodhi Dharma in India and DaMo in China, almost like how prince Siddhartha became Buddha. His guru asked him to go to Zhen Dan- today’s China.

Bodhi Dharma, who became India’s first spiritual ambassador to China, also emerged as its chief mentor. Regarded as Buddhaabdara (Buddha’s Avatar), he expounded Zen Buddhism and founded the famous Shaolin Temple in China’s Henan province.

Revered as the first Patriarch of China, the rest of the Buddhist world listed him as the 28th in line from Buddha. Modi is now reviving memories of Bodhi Dharma to position him as the icon of India’s civilisational outreach to China, which is integral to his overarching strategic civilisational diplomacy.

Bodhi Dharma’s foray was not limited to China. Popular as DaMo in China, as Dalma in Korea, Daruma in Japan, Dharmottara in Tibet, with his name echoing in Vietnam too, he ended up as India’s cultural ambassador to most of Asia. Just as Modi began gradually changing the secular narrative of India into a civilisational narrative within after his historic victory in 2014, he extended it to foreign relations as well. In 2015, he began writing a strategic Hindu-Buddhist civilisational narrative to give thrust to India’s Look East philosophy.The Mahabalipuram summit, which recalls the 5th-century DaMo today, is an important chapter in Modi’s overarching civilisational narrative to handle the relationship with China that was seriously damaged in the late 1950s and early 1960s. So, the Namo-Xi summit should be seen in the backdrop of Modi’s national strategic narrative.

Post-Independence Secular India – a civilisational orphan

With the rise of radical Islamist terror, particularly the 9/11 attack, Samuel Huntington’s view that the world would become increasingly civilisation conscious virtually binned the utopian Francis Fukuyama’s prognosis of a world free of conflicts founded on free market and liberal democracy.

The politically diverse Western nations began to be seen more as civilisationally Christian, Japan as a civilisation state and China as a civilisation pretending to be a state. But secular India continued to remain orphaned without a civilisational name and a narrative of its own.
Post-Independence India did not attempt to reinstate the national narrative it had lost due to centuries of foreign domination even after it rediscovered it during the freedom movement. Instead, it enjoyed living on borrowed narratives like secularism and socialism.

Lost in fake secularism that increasingly rested on vote-bank politics and in the failed socialism, which proved to be a global disaster, India ignored its spiritual and civilisational foundations that would have helped it develop its own national civilisational narrative. India’s distorted secularism undermined its civilisational assets. Result: India, which had become part of the universal notions of secularism and socialism, had nothing special to talk about itself.

In a seminal essay (to mark the 25th anniversary of Huntington’s clash theory) on civilisational exchanges between China and India titled “Civilisational Perspectives in International Relations and Contemporary China-India Relations”, Ravi Dutt Bajpai (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia) asserts that India and China were both civilisation states but adds, “Although India’s ancient civilisational legacy originates from its Hindu-Buddhist religious beliefs, the constitutional secularism in the Indian polity makes it difficult for the state to flaunt a religious identity.”

Indian intellectualism was even blind to the historical fact that each materialist ideology that succeeded one another and dominated the world for the last couple of centuries increasingly had a shorter shelf life. Colonialism lasted for 200 years. Capitalism lasted100 years. Communism lasted 50 years. And globalisation has been pronounced dead by its chief proponent The Economist magazine in just 25 years. Our nation of thousands of years of these dominant thoughts sprouting, growing and, as Swami Vivekananda said, “vanishing like ripples on the face of waters, living a few hours of exultant and exuberant dominance”. India’s fate as a civilisational orphan continued even after socialism proved to be a global fiasco and secularism turned fake at home. It continued to adopt the socialist narrative for half a century and later a globalist narrative for a quarter more.

In this period, India saw Confucian China re-emerging out of communist China that violently banished Confucius for half a century. India saw ex-communist China establishing over 1,200 Confucian centres and classrooms the world over to present itself as a Confucian civilisation. It saw communist Russia turning Orthodox Christian, socialist Poland turning Roman Catholic.

Yet, it continued with its outdated and borrowed narrative that negated its own spiritual and civilisational foundation, which Mahatma Gandhi in his seminal thesis Hind Swaraj had emphasised as its unifying force. Till Modi came to power, India did not even think of making a draft national narrative for bilateral and multilateral relationship building.

National narrative- an imperative

The world which became obsessed with globalism after the Cold War, recently began rediscovering the need for a national narrative. The idea of a national strategic narrative was felt in the US in 2009. In 2011, the US government and the Woodrow Wilson International Center jointly authored a paper on the national strategic doctrine in 2011. The paper said:

A narrative is a story. A national strategic narrative must be a story that all Americans can understand and identify within their own lives. America’s national story has always see-sawed between exceptionalism and universalism. We think that we are an exceptional nation, but a core part of that exceptionalism is a commitment to universal values — to the equality of all human beings not just within the borders of the United States, but around the world.”

Later, in 2017, came a paper titled “Stories about ourselves: How national narratives influence the diffusion of large-scale energy technologies” by Joint Global Change Research Institute, United States Maryland School of Public Policy, University of Maryland.

The paper said, “A national narrative rationalises and is supported by the nation’s identity. The narrative gives citizens an awareness of their common values and characteristics as a nation; it also situates a nation among other nations as unique (at least in part). If successful, the national narrative (is) a source of pride domestically and respect from other nations…. Of course, no nation exhibits unanimity around a single story; instead, ‘we find a polyphony of voices, overlapping and crisscrossing; contradictory and ambiguous; opposing, affirming and negotiating their views of the nation.’”

National narrative is NO outdated concept. It is very much a contemporary need. Yet the Indian discourse did not attempt a national civilisational and strategic narrative for India, even though the Supreme Court had held as early as in 1995 — which it refused to review even as late as 2016 — that secular India is compatible in cultural terms with Hindu India.

Narendra Modi writes India’s national strategic narrative

Modi’s tryst with Buddha started soon after he became the Prime Minister. He saw Buddha as the civilisational face of India and Buddhism as the most effective bridge to link the culturally Hindu India with the civilisationally Buddhist Asia.

Modi has endeavoured to integrate Buddha with India’s Look East doctrine. He saw that Dharma in Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain traditions in India and Dhamma in diverse Buddhist traditions in Asia linked people of both traditions more intimately than any single or multiple state policy or pact. Cognate civilisations vault over state-erected walls to connect people with people. Modi saw the Hindu-Buddhist civilisational nexus as the most potent people-to-people link, which even the modern and ex-communist states like China could not ignore.

The Prime Minister’s strategic Hindu-Buddhist civilisational diplomacy started with his first visit to Japan in early 2015. Modi quickly roped in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe into a joint Indo-Japan initiative of “Samvad” — Sanskrit word meaning “dialogue” — through strategic think tanks in Japan, Tokyo Foundation and Japanese Foundation, and the Vivekananda International Foundation in Delhi.

And the first Samvad of Hindu-Buddhist nations on the theme of Conflict Avoidance and Environmental Consciousness took place in September 2015. In his video address to the Samvad, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the idea of Dharma, which was the foundation of Japan’s rule of law, was India’s gift to Japan — a declaration emotionally more powerful than any economic or political pact.

The Samvad

The year 2015 ended with the Bodh Gaya Declaration to make it the global centre of enlightenment. The Samvad II was held in Myanmar in 2017 and Samvad III in Mongolia in September 2019. The Indian and Japanese prime ministers inaugurated each of the three Samvad meets by direct or video address.

The impact of the Modi-Abe civilisational outreach of Samvad on the Buddhist world is phenomenal. The most leading global Buddhist website, the Buddhist Door Global (BDG), which had said in 2017 that “India’s efforts at Buddhist diplomacy are not easy to accomplish”, did a U-turn in 2019 to accept Samvad as “a burgeoning, informal alliance of Buddhist Asian democracies”, adding that “Modi and his allies have been responsible for a resurgence of Buddhist diplomacy unseen in modern Indian history”.

The report concluded, “Words like conflict avoidance and environment consciousness (Samvad’s consistent conference themes) conjure a very specific mode of Buddhist action: one that always leads back to New Delhi’s very unique understanding of transnational Buddhist power.

Undoubtedly Modi has innovated a national civilisational and strategic narrative for India not just for relating to Asia but for relating to the world, by globalising and positioning Indian-Asian Buddha as the icon of his presentation at the UN recently, contrasting Buddha (enlightenment) with Yuddha (war).

As Namo invokes DaMo at Mahabalipuram

Modi’s choice of distant Mahabalipuram for his informal meeting with Xi has an obvious, deep significance and even a deeper message. Can a China that has discarded communism and begun reinstating neo-Confucianism as its national narrative and an India that has discarded the failed socialism and fake secularism and begun re-writing the national narrative in civilisational terms find their common Hindu-Buddhist civilisational roots in Mahabalipuram? Will the spirit of DaMo help Namo and Xi accomplish that will be seen this weekend and in what unfolds thereafter.

Namo’s strategy is to find positive answers to such and other questions is manifest in his choice of the venue — DaMo’s Mahabalipuram.

The civilisational link between the peoples of India and China has always been stronger than any government-to-government policy declarations. Modi’s attempt seems to be to awaken the unleveraged civilisational impulses to relate to China whose aggression in 1962 damaged India’s trust in its neighbour.

How Modi handled the Doklam issue has obviously convinced the mighty neighbour that India is no more a pushover. Namo is invoking DaMo, the deeper spiritual chord between India and China, to restore mutual trust, which will be the foundation for a stable and trustworthy India-China relationship.

Postscript: Yet another Kanchi connection to China-India relations. The Sage of Kanchi (the Shankaracharya of Kanchi) who lived for 100 years told the writer of this article in the early 1990s that India should settle the border row with China, which the Sage saw as India’s cultural ally. The writer had mentioned this in 2003 to Atal Bihari Vajpayee when as India’s Prime Minister he was going to China. It was then that the NSA-level talks commenced with China for settlement of the border dispute. Whether recalling DaMo by Namo will fulfil the desire of the Kanchi saint remains to Be seen.

(Courtesy: Sri S Gurumurthy, http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/columns/s-gurumurthy/2019/oct/11/will-damo-help-namo-and-xi-at-mahabalipuram-2045734.html)

Remedy for Monumental mismanagement of the economy by Dr.Manmohan Singh

S.Gurumurthy

In his article (“Making of a mammoth tragedy”, The Hindu, December 9), Dr. Manmohan Singh attacked the demonetisation of high denomination notes (HDNs) by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as the “making of a mammoth tragedy”. In his prose, Dr. Singh speaks less as an economist in which capacity he is respected more than as the former Prime Minister, the role which has actually dented his image. Yet it is best to respond to him on economic issues which he has kept away from, not to his political verses. Undisputed facts, not alluring rhetoric, should decide whether demonetisation is a tragedy or a remedy. Is it a monumental mismanagement of the economy as Dr. Singh charges? Or is it a remedy for the accumulated filth as Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims? To know the answer, the story of the Indian economy from 1999 to 2004 under the NDA and from 2004 to 2014 under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) needs to be recalled.

Real versus statistic

During the NDA rule (1999-2004), real GDP grew by 27.8 per cent, annually 5.5 percentage points. Annual money supply, that fuels inflation, by 15.3 per cent. Prices by 23 per cent, annually 4.6 per cent. Asset prices rose only moderately in those five years. Stocks rose by 32 per cent; gold by 38 per cent. Taking Chennai as an illustration, land prices by 32 per cent. Jobs rose phenomenally, by almost 60 million. The NDA also turned in a surplus of $20 billion in 2002-04 in the external sector, after decades of unending deficits, save in two years in the late 1970s.

Now come to the UPA rule under Dr. Singh, the economist Prime Minister. In the first and best six years of the UPA (2004-05 to 2009-10), before it was hit by scams, real GDP grew by 50.8 per cent, annually 8.4 percentage points — one-and-a-half times NDA’s. The world celebrated Dr. Singh. The UPA was intoxicated by the “high growth” story. But how many jobs did UPA’s high growth produce? Believe it or not, just 27 lakhs against 600 lakhs during NDA’s five years, according to NSSO data. UPA achieved one-and-a-half times NDA’s GDP growth, but just 5 per cent of its job growth. Dr. Singh now bemoans that Mr. Modi’s demonetisation will stifle jobs!

Move on. In the six years, prices rose by 6.5 per cent (4.6 per cent under NDA). The external sector deficit was $100 billion (against NDA’s $20 billion surplus). Did high petroleum prices force it? No. Zero-rated customs duty-led capital goods imports which topped petroleum imports was the culprit.

 Asset inflation

Why was the UPA’s high growth jobless? The well-kept secret is that huge asset price inflation, not production, passed off as high growth. In the first six years of the UPA, stock and gold prices jumped by three times — annually by 60 per cent. Property prices doubled every two-three years. In Gurgaon, not on the property map in 1999, land prices rose by 10-20 times. Asset inflation in six years was three times the annual nominal GDP growth. The asset inflation not the result but the cause of the UPA’s “high growth”! How? Modern economics deducts the non-asset price inflation from nominal growth to know the real growth. But it sees asset price rise as wealth and prosperity and adds it to GDP. See how this economics worked for the UPA.

 Unmonitored Rs.500/1,000 notes

Economics says money, growth, prices and jobs are inter-related. Apply this rule to the NDA and UPA periods. During 2004-10, average money supply grew annually 18 per cent (15.3 per cent under the NDA). But asset prices rose by several multiples of it. The moderate rise in money supply over the NDA’s number does not explain the huge asset inflation. The clue hides in the rising unmonitored HDN cash stock with the public which made black money deals easy. In 1999, the cash with the public was 9.4 per cent of nominal GDP. By 2007-08, instead of falling due to rising bank and digital payments, it jumped to 13 per cent of nominal GDP. Later it began hovering around 12 per cent. More critically, the HDNs with the public more than doubled from 34 per cent in 2004 to 79 per cent in 2010. On November 8, 2016, it was 87 per cent. The average annual rise in HDNs was 51 per cent between 2004 and 2010 and the annual rise was 63 per cent by 2013-14. The Reserve Bank of India noted that two-thirds of the Rs.1,000 notes and one-third of the Rs.500 notes — that is over Rs. 6 lakh crore now — never returned to banks after they were issued. The unmonitored HDNs roaming outside banks began driving up the gold and land prices by black cash and the stock prices through Participatory Notes (PNs) — which are largely hawala transfers out of India — that came back pretending as foreign investment in stocks. The PNs rose from Rs.68,000 crore in 2004 to Rs.3.81 lakh crore in 2007.

How did the asset inflation lead to the UPA’s “high growth”? Inflated asset prices to the extent realised by sale got accounted as part of income and included in GDP. Large part of the gains on stock sale got added to GDP with very little tax under Securities Transaction Tax. The spurious wealth effect also led to high-end consumption. The annual private consumption growth averaged 18 per cent till six years to 2009-10 — 80 per cent over the NDA average. The fake wealth effect, powered by HDN cash, scripted the UPA’s “high growth” story. HDNs outside banks took refuge in stocks, gold and land, produced capital gains-led growth and consumption. Had the HDNs circulated through the banking system, it would have multiplied through the fractional reserve model, reduced the inflation and interest, and funded the small-and-medium enterprises starved of organised funding.

 Catch-22 situation

The curse — asset inflation inspired jobless growth — seems irreversible till unmonitored HDNs roam and fuel fake growth. Dr. Singh had had enough wake-up calls when the share of HDN cash was escalating year after year from 2004. He could have de-escalated the hugely growing cash economy had he remonetised the HDNs by lesser denominations without demonetisation — sparing the people of discomfort and economy of short-term damage. Of course, he would have lost the “high growth” brand that made UPA rule an economic success. To unmask this deception and revive job productive growth, the unmonitored HDNs needed to be brought to account forcibly. By his inaction, undeniably, Dr. Singh had landed the economy in a Catch-22 situation. The Modi government could either opt to continue the status quo of jobless growth or force temporary decline in growth to reinstate real growth and jobs. It opted for the latter. Even an undergraduate student in economics will tell you that it will cause hardship and hit growth in the short run. A Cambridge economist is not needed to write a column on that. It is already late. If the status quo of unmonitored HDNs were to last for another five-six years, the size of HDNs would have become so huge that no government may have been able to act against it — inevitably inviting a huge crisis, both internal and external. Prime Minister Modi has rightly called the demonetisation as “kadak chai” (bitter pill). That HDNs promoted high bribery and helped terror funding through fake HDNs cannot be disputed at all. Far from doing a monumental misappropriation or making a “mammoth tragedy”, Mr. Modi is correcting the monumental mismanagement of the economy by the economist Dr. Singh.

 Courtesy – The Hindu

Bharat’s NSG Pursuit, a Diplomatic Masterstroke

At the outset, the subject attempted here is complex and requires context, as it deals with interwoven topics of geo-politics, trade, energy-commerce, climate change, climate justice, diplomacy, ‘international export control regimes’ and multiple others to be precise!

The aim is to simplify this broad subject and understand the recent efforts of Bharat in seeking the membership of the elite Nuclear club (Nuclear Suppliers Group, #NSG). It is important to understand the timeline and the sequence of events that unfolded in the past and how Bharat has now reached the strategic position into becoming the member state among the NSG states.

(This write up draws heavily from various articles that have been published in the media in the past few days).

Introduction

In order to understand NSG (est.1974), first we need to understand the history of ‘NPT (est.1968-70) as a ‘pre-condition‘ to secure the nuclear energy reserves and become part of nuclear club among Developed nations.

The recent development such as “Climate Change agreement” undertaken at Paris (2015) is another important milestone in the pursuit of clean energy, where the rules and controls were framed among the member states as well as for the rest of the world. (The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. An agreement on the language of the treaty was negotiated by representatives of 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. It was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 (Earth Day) and 178 UNFCCC members signed the treaty, 19 of which ratified it. It has not entered into force.)

India has been hard-bargaining with respect to Climate Change agreements, as it affects the economic growth considering we as a ‘Developing’ state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech during the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris, said,“Climate change is a major global challenge. But it is not of our making. It is the result of global warming that came from prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel – toughening his stand in the face of US criticism of India. The PM said,But we in India face consequences. We see the risk to our farmers. We are concerned about rising oceans that threaten our 7,500 km of coastline and 1,300 islands. We worry about the glaciers that feed our rivers and nurture our civilisation. India’s progress is our destiny and right of our people. But we must also lead in combating climate change”. “We need a genuine global partnership. Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet energy needs of everyone”. In an article that the Prime Minister wrote for the Financial Times, Modi ji asked countries to “assume more responsibilities” and provide “affordable cleaner technologies” to the developing world.

History of Nuclear Disarmament & NPT

On August 6, 1945, the United States, with the consent of the United Kingdom (the Quebec Agreement) dropped a Uranium gun-type atomic bomb (nuclear weapon, Little Boy) on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan, during the final stage of World War II. That was the most tragic event in the history of human race. On August 15, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war, Japan announced its surrender to the Allies. On September 2, it signed the instrument of surrender, effectively ending World War II. The role of “bombings” in Japan’s surrender and their ethical justification are still debated.

These events of history coupled with the ‘cold war’ era led to non-proliferation treaty (NPT). NPT’s objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and complete disarmament.

The impetus behind the NPT was, with respect to the concern for the safety of a world with many nuclear weapon states. It was recognized that the cold war deterrent relationship between just the United States and Soviet Union was fragile. Having more nuclear-weapon states would reduce security for all, multiplying the risks of miscalculation, accidents, unauthorized use of weapons, or from escalation in tensions and nuclear conflict.

In 1992, China and France acceded to the NPT, the last of the five nuclear powers recognized by the treaty to do so. In 1995 the treaty was extended indefinitely. After Brazil acceded to the NPT in 1998 the only remaining non-nuclear-weapons state which had not signed was Cuba, which joined NPT in 2002. The treaty recognizes five states as nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China (also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council). Four other states are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan and North Korea have openly tested and declared that they possess nuclear weapons, while Israel (Policy of deliberate ambiguity) has had a policy of opacity regarding its nuclear weapons program.

Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty (NPT) entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance. A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

Nuclear Energy:

Fossil fuel disadvantages include pollution. When a fossil fuel material such as coal is burned to create energy, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is released. This CO2 pollutes the atmosphere and contributes to the “greenhouse effect”. The history of fossil fuels is that these materials were created over millions of years from deposits made up of the remains of prehistoric plants, animals, and micro-organisms. Non fossil fuels, on the other hand, don’t rely on limited resources.

Nonfossil fuels do not have this disadvantage. Non-fossil fuels are alternative sources of energy that do not rely on burning up limited supplies of coal, oil, or natural gas. Examples of these fuels include: Nuclear energy, wind or water generated energy, and solar power. These tend to be renewable energy sources, or means of generating power that can be utilized indefinitely.

There are arguments of “economics and “safety by both sides of the debate:

Proponents of nuclear energy contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing dependence on imported energy sources. Proponents claim that nuclear power produces virtually no conventional air pollution, such as greenhouse gases and smog, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel.

Opponents believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment. These threats include the problems of processing, transport and storage of radioactive nuclear waste, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism, as well as health risks and environmental damage from Uranium mining.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and the group first met in November 1975 (Source). NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

NSG-logo

India has detonated nuclear devices, first in 1974 and again in 1998.  India is estimated to have enough nuclear fissile material for more than 150 warheads. India was among the few countries to have a no first use policy moratorium, a pledge not to use nuclear weapons unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons, however India’s former NSA Shivshankar Menon signaled a significant shift from “no first use” to “no first use against non-nuclear weapon states” in a speech on the occasion of Golden Jubilee celebrations of the National Defence College in New Delhi on 21 October 2010, a doctrine Menon said reflected India’s “strategic culture, with its emphasis on minimal deterrence“.

Pokhran Pokhran2

Pokhran-I

Smiling Buddha” was the assigned code name for Pokhran-I of India’s first successful nuclear bomb test on 18th  May 1974. The bomb was detonated on the army base, Pokhran Test Range (PTR) in Rajasthan. After the test, the Indian government declared that it did not intend to manufacture nuclear weapons – although it had the means to do so – but rather make India self-reliant in nuclear technology and harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Pokhran-II

This was led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam. On 11th and 13th May 1998, twenty-four years after Pokhran-I, the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) conducted five further nuclear tests (Pokhran-II), code named as “Operation Shakti”. India has since declared a moratorium on testing. The Pokhran-II blasts in 1998 put India on the global strategic map. The sanctions were imposed. The then all-powerful West has dis-engaged India for a certain period, which could not last long. India was taken as a serious Nation just as China was always since 1978. India got tough in its negotiations and has grown in self-confidence. This is the ‘sine qua non’ for negotiating global economic deals (India was invited for engagements as it has become absolutely necessary for global partnership).

India argued that the NPT creates a club of “nuclear haves” and a larger group of “nuclear have-nots” by restricting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to those states that tested them before 1967, but the treaty never explains on what ethical grounds such a distinction is valid. India’s then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee (currently the President of India) said during a visit to Tokyo in 2007: “If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but because we consider NPT as a flawed treaty and it did not recognize the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment.”

In March 2006, India and the United States finalized an agreement, in the face of criticism in both countries, to restart cooperation on civilian nuclear technology. Under the deal India has committed to classify 14 of its 22 nuclear power plants as being for civilian use and to place them under IAEA safeguards. Mohamed ElBaradei, the then Director General of the IAEA   (International Atomic Energy Agency) welcomed the deal by calling India as “an important partner in the non-proliferation regime.

In December 2006, United States Congress approved the “United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, endorsing a deal that was forged during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States in July 2005 and cemented during President Bush’s visit to India earlier in 2006. The legislation allows for the transfer of civilian nuclear material to India. Despite its status outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nuclear cooperation with India was permitted on the basis of its clean non-proliferation record, and India’s need for energy fueled by its rapid industrialization for a billion-plus population.

In a meeting on September 6, 2008, the NSG participating governments agreed to grant India a “clean waiver” from its existing rules, which forbid nuclear trade with a country which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NSG’s decision came after three days of intense U.S. diplomacy. At an extraordinary NSG Plenary in Vienna, convened by the 2008 NSG Chair (Germany), PGs adopted a policy statement on civil nuclear cooperation with the IAEA-safeguarded Indian civil nuclear program. (Sourcehttp://www.iaea.org)

The approval was based on a formal pledge by India stating that it would not share sensitive nuclear technology or material with others and would uphold its voluntary moratorium on testing nuclear weapons. The pledge was contained in a crucial statement issued during the NSG meeting by India outlining the country’s disarmament and nonproliferation policies.

On 1 August 2008, IAEA approved the India Safeguards Agreement and on 6 September 2008, India was granted the “waiver” at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting held in Vienna, Austria. The consensus was arrived after overcoming misgivings expressed by Austria, Ireland and New Zealand and is an unprecedented step in giving exemption to a country, which has not signed the NPT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), while India could commence nuclear trade with other willing countries. The U.S. Congress approved this agreement and President Bush signed it on 8 October 2008.

NSG-Seoul-2016

The 26th annual plenary session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group ended on Friday, 24th June 2016, without taking any decision on India’s application for NSG membership. While the 48-member grouping held two lengthy closed-door sessions on the subject of new memberships, several countries expressed concerns over the entry of members who aren’t signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), that India has refused to sign. Through the session, a team led by India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar monitored developments in Seoul, meeting with various countries to try and effect a favourable outcome.

Suhasini Haidar, the foreign affairs columnist writes – “it was this sagacity that the Modi government seemed to be channeling as it carefully worked through speaking to members of the 48-nation nuclear club and tackled the issue of China, which seemed to be openly challenging India’s efforts”. The writings of Chinese strategist Sun Tzu (The Art of War) and India’s Chanakya (Arthashastra) hold several remarkable similarities, especially when it comes to their advice on war and diplomacy. Both spoke of the need for ‘strategy’ rather than ‘tactics’, for quiet diplomacy over the need to pick one’s battles carefully, and to fight them only when one is sure of winning. “The welfare of a state depends on an active foreign policy,” counselled Chanakya in the Arthashastra, “If the end can be achieved by not fighting, I would not advocate conflict.” In the same vein, said Sun Tzu, “To fight and win all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Diplomacy, both wise men would agree, not protracted dispute, is the order of the day.

Undeterred by Chinese opposition in Seoul (2016), India has made it’s point loud and clear, urging for a special session for NSG countries to meet later this year, and consider India’s membership  (before December 2016).

C.Raja Mohan, Director, Carnegie India and the contributing editor on foreign affairs at ‘The Indian Express’ wrote: “If something is worth doing, it deserves a second try — after absorbing the lessons from the complex manoeuvre in Seoul last week at the 48-member club that was set up in 1974 to curb India’s nuclear program following its first atomic test. India’s quest for the membership of the NSG is neither whimsical nor desperate. It is the last step in a bold and sustained effort that began after the 1998 tests to make India a part of the global nuclear management. Until then, the world insisted India either give up its nuclear weapons or face an ever-tightening regime of high-technology sanctions. In 1998, Delhi declared itself a nuclear weapon power and demanded an end to the sanctions.” Call it what you will, Indian diplomacy is shaking off its traditional risk aversion, trading potential favours, exercising leverages and bargaining for productive outcomes. Whether it wins in Seoul or not, Delhi demonstrated that it has the political will to play hard ball on issues of high national interest….

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What happened at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plenary in Seoul (June, 2016) ?

There were deliberate attempts by both China as well as vested interests in Indian media, to confuse Indians back at home, to interpret and misinterpret the outcome from Seoul and on the proceedings within the four walls.

To clear the air that was filled with confusion, misinformation and false propaganda against India’s diplomatic efforts, a noted columnist Ashok Malik wrote in Time of India “The real Seoul story” – “At the NSG plenary, China behaved not as an enlightened power but as a strategic small-timer”. He quoted three reasons for this misinformation campaign:

First, the issues are complex and require context, which many may not have.

Second, the political opposition to BJP is understandably using the occasion to target the Narendra Modi government and making partial assessments.

Third, the Chinese propaganda mechanism has turned much more sophisticated in an intelligent and selective briefing of Indian media. This presents a challenge for India.

AM

The thread begins in 2008, with India winning the “waiver” from the NSG to undertake nuclear commerce despite being a nuclear power outside the ambit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The next logical step was for India to apply for membership to four high-tech export-control regimes:

  1. the NSG,
  2. the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR),
  3. the Wassenaar Arrangement (conventional arms, dual-use technology)
  4. the Australia Group (chemical-biological weapons).

Intl2

If India was in the Group it could veto any change that would harm India, Teflon-coat the 2008 “waiver” and additionally contribute to the global nuclear regime.

Astonishingly, the UPA government did not apply. It made a noise, but nothing more. Its nuclear liability law, which had problems that were eventually sorted out by the Modi government in 2015, may have deterred it. The liability law had made the 2008 waiver infructuous and nuclear commerce with India near impossible.

India applied to the MTCR in 2015. After a setback it got in, on the second attempt, in 2016. In May 2016, it applied for NSG membership for the first time. By June most of the countries (about 40 of 48) were willing to take it in straightaway, no questions asked. This was a significant diplomatic achievement over two months.

What next? The application is before the NSG. There is a renewed effort to have a special plenary decide on it in 2016 itself. That may or may not happen, but the NSG cannot defer the decision indefinitely. More critically, China has shown its hand. Unlike 2008 much of the diplomatic legwork was done by India, and not the US.

In or Out of NSG, New Delhi’s Carried Out a Diplomatic Masterstroke, says Harsh V. Pant from http://www.thediplomat.com.  (Harsh is professor of international relations in the Defence Studies Department and the India Institute at King’s College London. He is also an adjunct fellow with the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC).

He writes, “India’s diplomacy in pursuit of membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group shows the country at its bestIndian diplomats, meanwhile, can claim credit for setting the contours of great powers politics today even as they pursue Indian interests with a singular clarity. This is a tribute to the Modi government’s deft handling of foreign affairs. It has managed to energize a risk-averse and ossified bureaucracy—a bureaucracy that goes into spasms of hyperventilation just hearing the term “lateral entry.” India’s foreign policy bureaucracy is today realizing that a new form of “lateral entry” has forced it to shape up and that’s the entry of Modi and his foreign policy team. Modi’s style of foreign policy has been so disruptive that a new paradigm of foreign policy is being created that will have long term implications for the country. Those who criticize Modi for only bringing in a new style of Indian diplomacy with no substantive change should now recognize that stylistic changes in foreign policy have their own logic, eventually leading to new conceptualizations of state power.”

Despite the sanctions in the past and the continued technology denials, India is marching ahead. Bharat as a democratic nation is at the cusp of becoming global leader with it’s strong political leadership, young demography and a robust economy. The strong diplomacy with hard bargains are necessary to keep up the momentum and cannot afford to simply sit back.

Advantages for India joining NSG group:

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Clean Energy: India is a growing nation whose need for energy is massive. India has set goal for itself about sourcing 40% of power from non- fossil sources. Now in order to fulfil this goal, Nuclear energy can play very important role as India now wants latest technology in this field and membership of NSG means access to all these technologies.

MakeInIndia: ‘Make in India’ is a stated objective of the Modi government and developing an efficient and secure nuclear-based manufacturing and research ecosystem will go a long way in establishing innovation in advanced technologies. NSG membership will allow for sharing and joint research in advanced technologies that can then be exported to other member states.The moment India gets a place in the NSG group, it is definitely going to help indigenous Indian companies which have always worked in isolation as every-time India conducts nuclear tests, it is slapped with international sanctions. Make in India will help in indigenization of nuclear technology from the various deals under which nuclear reactors are going to be built in India to be used in India as well as for selling to other countries. Once India enters into NSG, this initiative will be implemented better, creating not only employment but technology development as well.

Getting State of Art Technology: The NSG membership will help India to gain access to technology for a range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power plants for India, which is essentially a nuclear ‘traders’ cartel. India has its own indigenously developed technology but to get its hands on state of the art technology that countries within the NSG possess, it has to become part of the group.

  • India will have its say in matters concerning nuclear energy.
  • Indian companies like L&T, Walchandnagar (experienced in making nuclear power plants), will find new markets overseas.
  • Member nations will assist India in disposal of its nuclear wastes.
  • It will pave the way for India’s entry into other establishments like “The Australia Group” and “The Wassenaar Arrangement”
  • It will also help India to make a stronger bid for UNSC seat.

If the NSG was able to grant a “waiver” to India in 2008 on the basis of its past performance, it should have no objection to admitting the country as a member this time as well because of its clean track record in adhering to all its commitments.

References:

  1. NSG History & Timeline:
  2. Column by C. Raja Mohan (Director, Carnegie India and contributing editor on foreign affairs at ‘The Indian Express’) : http://carnegieendowment.org/
  3. Column by C. Raja Mohan
  4. Press Meet by Smt.Sushma Swaraj (MEA)
  5. The Real Seoul Story at NSG by Ashok Malik 
  6. Why India rightfully deserves NSG membership? -column by Siddharth Singh
  7. PM Modi’s address at Paris COP21 Plenary (30th Nov, 2015).
  8. India – US Civil Nuclear Cooperation (Ministry of External Affairs)
  9. PM Modi’s address at COP21 Plenary: “Prosperous have strong carbon footprint, world’s billions at the bottom of development ladder seek space to grow”
  10. PM’s article Financial Times (The rich countries must take more responsibility for climate change)
  11. In or Out of NSG, New Delhi’s Carried Out a Diplomatic Masterstroke – column by Harsh.V.Pant
  12. Wikipedia

 Additional Reading:

Could India have been an NSG member already? 

NehruK

Nehru rejected US offer of help, says a new book authored by Maharajakrishna Rasgotra, who served as India’s Foreign Secretary under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and retired in 1990.

“Kennedy’s hand-written letter was accompanied by a technical note from the chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, setting out the assistance his organisation would provide to Indian atomic scientists to detonate an American device from atop a tower in Rajasthan desert. In the letter Kennedy had said that he and the American establishment were aware of Nehru’s strong views against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons, but emphasised the political and security threat China’s test would spell for Nehru’s government and India’s security.

“Nothing is more important than national security”, Kennedy’s letter had emphasized. However, after discussions with Dr Homi Bhabha and G.P. Parthasarathy, Nehru finally turned down the letter, though he was not disinclined to the offer initially and had instructed Dr Bhabha to “work out a plan of action on most urgent basis, should we finally accept Kennedy’s offer”.

The book tells the story of India’s foreign policy formulation from the initial years till towards almost the end of the 20th century.

Book Title: “A Life in Diplomacy

Author: Foreign Secretary Maharajakrishna Rasgotra

  1. Defence News Column-I
  2. Defence News Column-II

Interesting read from an editorial in China’s state-run “Global Times” on 28th June 2016.

China tried to ‘upset‘ India, but rattled by Indian Social Media 🙂

China_Mag

A song, a vision for the Glory of Bharat

पथ का अन्तिम लक्ष्य नहीं है
सिंहासन चढ़ते जाना।
सब समाज को लिये साथ में
आगे है बढ़ते जाना॥

इतना आगे इतना आगे
जिसका कोई छोर नहीं
जहाँ पूर्णता मर्यादा हो
सीमाओं की डोर नहीं
सभी दिशाएँ मिल जाती हैं
उस अनन्त नभ को पाना॥१॥

छोटे-मोटे फल को पाने
यह न परिश्रम सारा है
देवों को भी दुर्लभ है जो
ऐसा संघ हमारा है
सफल राष्ट्र का अनुपम वैभव
सभी भांति से है लाना॥२॥

वैभव तब ही सच्चा समझे
सब सुख पाएँ लोक सभी
बाधाओं भय कुण्ठाओं से
मुक्त धरा गत-शोक सभी
गुरु की पूजा न्याय व्यवस्था
निखिल विश्व में सरसाना॥३॥

इस महान उद्देश प्राप्त हित
लगे भले जीवन सारा
एक् जन्म क्या बार -बार ही
इसी हेतु जीवन -धारा
जियें इसी हित और मृत्यु को
इसी हेतु है अपनाना॥४॥

RSS General Secretary Wishes BJP and citizens of Bharat on the Political change

RSS Sarakaryavah (General Secretary) Bhaiyyaji Joshi issued a press statement related to the massive victory of Bharatiya Janata Party in 16th Lokasabha elections. BJP has gained absolute majority and will form the new Government at the centre.

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Following is the full text of his statement

In the recently held Lok Sabha elections, Bharat presented an amazing example of healthy democracy to the world, which is matter of great pride for all of us. We are also glad that the process of electioneering by and large was peaceful, restrained and lead by awakening of masses like never before.

In this election, thousands of political activists, hundreds of candidates across political parties, media houses, administration and security forces, all have played an important and satisfying role. During electioneering, some ideological differences may have surfaced at times and there may have been some personal allegations/counter-allegations. However, with the culmination of electoral process, we are very hopeful that everyone will now take constructive steps to get back to normal, amicable & positive environment in the interest of the nation. Driven by the undeterred spirit of brotherhood, we expect everyone will work together towards fostering a positive environment for growth and peace.

Millions of voters have expressed their desire for change. We are hopeful that the newly elected government will be successful in fulfilling the people’s aspirations. By setting aside the ideological, religious and social differences, we expect the new government to create an environment where nation stays united, there is total social inclusiveness and no one ever feels exploited.

There is no doubt that the role of government is highly crucial in democracy. We also have to acknowledge though that the process of lasting & positive change has its own pace and will be possible only through collective and coordinated efforts of government, administration, all political parties, common masses and social and religious institutions.

Hearty congratulations to the newly elected government and all fellow citizens of Bharat!

SD/-

Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi

RSS Sarakaryavah,

Nagpur