Nuke deal a conduit to import US crisis into India

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with US President George Bush

By Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

October 14, 2008 -- India's United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government finally sealed the nuclear deal with the US on October 10. For the Congress Party and the coalition of ``Unashamed Partners of America'' headed by it, the nuclear deal is the supreme achievement of the government. On the eve of signing the deal, India's external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee reiterated India's commercial commitment to the US nuclear energy industry: "We look forward to working with US companies on the commercial steps that will follow to implement this landmark Agreement." In a second statement issued after the agreement's signing he also reiterated India's commitment to implement the agreement in good faith even though no such reciprocal assurance was made by the US to confirm New Delhi's claim regarding the so-called US ``guarantee'' on uninterrupted fuel supply.

On India's part, faithful implementation of the commitments, whether declared or undeclared, has long been underway. From the vote against Iran at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the continuing prevarication and procrastination on the issue of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline proposal, India has been complying with the Hyde Act, which requires India's foreign policy to be congruent with US priorities and objectives, in letter and spirit. And now Pranab Mukherjee's explicit assurance reaffirms the commercial component of India's commitment, which can only be music to US ears at a time when the US economy is passing through its worst crisis in some eighty years. The dilapidated atomic reactor industry in the US is awaiting hefty orders from India even as massive military purchases are in the pipeline.

The day Pranab Mukherjee and Condoleezza Rice inked the nuke deal, US President George Bush met the finance ministers and central bankers of the G7 countries – the US, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada – and leading officials of the IMF in a desperate bid to check the growing financial panic that has now begun to spread beyond the US horizons to overshadow the G7 sky. The meeting of the G7 finance chiefs called for "urgent and exceptional action" and the use of "all available tools to support systematically important financial institutions and prevent their failure." In a separate statement US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson admitted "never has it been more essential to find collective solutions to ensure stable and efficient financial markets and restore the health of the world economy".

History is replete with examples showing what the US really means by finding "collective solutions". It desperately tries to pass on its crisis to other countries and refuel its military-industrial complex to underwrite its economy, and in the process steps up politico-military intervention across the world. And it is precisely at this juncture that the Indian ruling classes have pushed India into a tight strategic embrace with the crisis-ridden US – a country that is hated by most nations of the world for its imperialist arrogance and aggression and whose economy is now emitting waves of financial instability and panic across the global economy. Strategic partnership with the US can only prove to be a conduit for importing the entire gamut of crises facing the US into India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ilk epitomise the typical Indian comprador mindset that considers the US to be the pinnacle of capitalist success and would do everything to bask in the American sun. But the much-trumpeted great ``American Dream'' is now fast turning sour. Just a couple of days before Pranab Mukherjee signed the deal, almost every newspaper in India carried the shocking story of an MBA degree-holder from India killing his entire family as well as himself as all his fortunes collapsed in the ongoing financial meltdown.

The nuke deal and Indo-US strategic partnership is not a passport to US-sponsored prosperity and power, it is an invitation to greater crisis and vulnerability to US blackmailing and arm twisting. All right-thinking Indians must reject this sordid comprador capitulation with the contempt it deserves.