The Right Route

Tens of thousands of people shouting anti-Bush and anti-American slogans on Friday converged in the capital New Delhi to protest US President George W Bush’s visit to the country. Waving red flags, holding placards and banners portraying Bush as a war criminal it was the Left party workers and its sympathizers from across the country that is at the forefront of this protest. One of their major complaints has much to do with—not so much America itself but— the Bush Administrations Iraq policy. This appears to be the main rallying factor drawing the protests. What is however worrying is the cold war mindset that the Indian communists have still not been able to erase despite knowing fully well that the world has moved on to a new world order of globalization and inter-dependent countries. 

It is also a shame on the part of the Marxists in India to protest in the way they are doing today given that they have no qualms about Big Brother China doing business and trade worth billions of dollars with Mr. Bush. And when it comes to their own, Indian communists always act against the interests of India whereby they believe in the right of other countries to do things that they insist are bad in India. So privatization and capitalism are bad for India but good for China.   As such it is clear that such type of protest is not only out of step with the new world reality but contravenes on India’s own aspiration to be a great regional power. 

What Bush has done in Iraq is highly questionable. But at the same time, one cannot get into the complexity of Washington’s foreign policy in the Middle East. As much as no country can dictate itself on another sovereign state, in the same way what the US does in the UN or Iraq, with the EU or WTO concerns its national interest. The more important point that needs to be focused here is on the bilateral ties between India and the US and whether or not such a relationship remains beneficial to India. And for this there are forward looking minds within the establishment who are mature and reasonable enough to know that any bilateral tie cannot remain a one sided affair but one in which both sides take something out from each other in a manner of give and take.

This brings us back to the high profile Nuclear Agreement between the two countries. Here India cannot expect to walk away with all the benefits and similarly, the Bush Administration cannot merely dictate the terms of agreement. At the end of the day, both New Delhi and Washington must go home with the satisfaction that the agreement takes into account the interests of both nations. And once this basic premise is understood by both countries on reasonable grounds, a mutually beneficial agreement will be that much easier to achieve and implement. Whatever downside there may be, from India’s point of view, the nuclear deal will not only assure energy security to drive its booming economy but also allow the long denied access to dual use knowledge which will propel India to the front ranks as a technology power nation.