The outcome of the visit of President Obama of the United States is to further strengthen the strategic alliance with the United States.
The Joint Statement issued after the visit indicates that the main agenda was to prise open the Indian market for the business and commercial interests of the United States and its efforts to draw India into a closer security and military relationship.
Against the backdrop of the deep recession and high unemployment afflicting its economy, the US is desperately trying to reduce imports and increase its exports worldwide. The framework for economic cooperation contained in the joint statement reflects this agenda.
In the name of promoting food security and raising agricultural productivity, what is being pushed is the agenda of opening up Indian agriculture and retail trade for the profiteering of American MNCs like Wal-Mart and Monsanto.
This will be detrimental to the interests of the crores of small and marginal farmers and unorganised retailers in India. The passage of the Seed Bill, which promotes the interests of the multinational seed companies and compromises the seed rights of Indian farmers, is high on the Indian government’s agenda.
The way is being paved for the opening up of India’s financial and higher education sector for American companies. All this is being pursued at the behest of the U.S.-India CEO Forum.
The approach of the UPA government is also evident. Instead of emphasizing that India’s priority is for lifting the vast mass of people out of poverty, hunger and disease and in that context framing India’s relations with the United States, the Congress-led government has catered to the US business and strategic interests, by accepting the self-congratulatory approach that Obama recognizes India as a world power.
What this means is spelt out in the joint statement Â a close defence and security relationship which will involve also buying US weaponary on a large scale; falling in step with the United States’ deceptive and self-serving talk of human rights, democracy and on nuclear non-proliferation.
All these are a continuation and reiteration of the Manmohan Singh-Bush joint statement of 2005 and 2006. India agrees to comply with the sanctions on Iran but will keep silent on Israel and its nuclear arsenal. India is told to behave "responsibly" with regard to exporting democracy and human rights interventions by the United States.
Given this one-sided interpretation, there can be no mention of the human rights of the Palestinians in Gaza, or the illegal embargo on Cuba, or the slaughter of Iraqi civilians under the military occupation for the past seven years. India can become a permanent member of the Security Council when the United Nations structure is democratized on the basis of its independent role and influence in world affairs. Endorsement by the United States should not amount to toeing its strategic interests.
The joint statement implies that India’s two year term in the Council will be a probationary period as far as the United States is concerned. The commitment to buy weapons from the United States comes after the End Use Agreement was signed in 2009. India will not benefit from such arms purchases. By the agreement we cannot modify the weapons systems nor produce spare parts and will have to allow annual inspections.
The UPA government has to explain whether the lifting of restrictions on access to dual use technology for certain Indian entities comes alongwith new conditions such as the purchase of arms and steps for tying closer the armed forces of the two countries through agreements on the anvil.
The "Afpak" policy of the US which has been endorsed in the joint statement will not resolve the problem in Afghanistan. That requires a multilateral approach. While talk of cooperation in fighting terrorism is there, the Indian side has obviously not insisted on bringing Headley to book.
The reference to the WTO’s Doha round conceals the incompatible agenda of the United States which wants to open up the markets of the developing countries while continuing to massively subsidise its own agriculture. The Joint statement refers to India signing and ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation. This is with regard to the issue of civil nuclear liability. The Indian parliament has enacted a law in which foreign suppliers can be made liable for damages in the case of a nuclear accident.
The UPA government’s decision to join the Convention on Supplementary Compensation cannot circumvent the national law. On the global climate negotiations, the US clearly has nothing to offer and the joint statement is therefore unsurprisingly confined to general remarks and platitudes. The reference to the Copenhagen Accord is misleading, when the entire world is aware that President Obama is no position to guarantee even the minimal voluntary commitment that the US has made under the Accord.
It is unfortunate that the Mahmohan Singh government has not even raised the issue of justice for the victims of the Bhopal Gas leak which is an important matter in India-US relations. Notwithstanding the fulsome praise for the one-sided and unequal relations with the United States in the corporate media, the real interests of the people of India are not served by such a relationship.
What is required is a Indo-US relationship which is based on equality and mutual interest.
November 9, 2010