It had to happen. Thomas Friedman’s love fest with India has hit a snag. However, he may not have the best reason for his first lover’s quarrel - he does not endorse the recent nuclear arms deal with India (“Are we asking India to join the club”, Nation/World, Tampa Tribune, March 10, 2006).
He opens his article quoting, “India is a country that had me at hello.” Whatever happened to “I love the India she wants to be and the India she almost is”?
India is a growing economy and one cannot treat her same forever. If India wants to join the ranks of a developed nation, she cannot afford to sign the non-proliferation nuclear treaty. Since India became a nuclear power in 1974,
she has battled several times with Pakistan, but had it not been for nuclear arms, she would have had several full-fledged wars with her neighbor.
The nuclear deal is not altruistic as many are led to believe.
First, treaty or no treaty, countries will continue to ignore it. We have Iran and Iraq, who have violated the treaty and we are still on the sidelines and not be able to make a dent on their transgressions. India, on the other hand, has an excellent record in keeping their nuclear facilities safe.
Second, US companies will be selling India technology and reactors for civilian nuclear power stations. We desperately need to look at new avenues of reducing our trade deficit.
Third, what better way to satisfy the energy hungry Indians and leave more oil for us until we (want to) figure out new energy sources. Environmentalists should praise the agreement as the pollution from the alternate low-grade coal fuel would pollute the world even more.
Fourth, what better way to convince the nuclear wary citizen of USA that atomic power is safe?
Is it that bad for India to join the club of five – USA, China, Britain, France, and Russia. Just look at the countries other than USA and convince me that they are model countries. China is robotic in its economic and social plan with little respect for human rights; Russia is still married to its old political structure and reeks of poverty and chaos; France has become a nonentity; and Britain is just surviving because of old colonized money and legacy businesses.
USA and India are alike in their democratic and secular ways. However, India has a lot of catching up to do - 80% of Indians still live on $2 a day income. Low cost of energy will create a large middle class because it is reliable infrastructure of power, water, and communications that are the necessary ingredients of a thriving community.
I hope that the recent borderline xenophobic attitude of our Congress that derailed the US ports deal with Dubai will not show its ugly face when the Indo-US nuclear arms deal is presented to them. We no longer live in an isolated world and many Americans may not realize how interdependent we are.
In a world that is flat, we are in a desperate need of a trading partner that is large, democratic, secular, educated, and fair. No one other than India fills that tall order.
Autar Kaw, "Nuclear Deal with India Needed", Personal
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