Thursday, January 26, 2006

To Vote Or Not To Vote

Did I not vouch not to disclose my political opinion? Especially if they are not exactly conducive in the uni-polar, post-9/11 world! Lo, I almost told you!

But, on our republic day, as I read the US Ambassador putting India’s vote on Iran on balance with India’s access to civilian nuclear technology, I had to think. I think everyone in India should start to think - what’s going on?

Let me clarify. It is not about India should vote for the resolution. Yes, we should – not a question. Politics of the world has been conducted with little consideration to what one would call ethics, and the consequences so far have been disastrous. We need to inject a little consistency and value above our naked self-interest, and it is in no one’s interest to have another state going nuclear.

So, India should risk its ‘deals’ with Iran and vote against it.

But, for the sake of getting its ‘deal’ done with US? I think we should be very careful before thinking that way. Two reasons:

One, it will be foolish to expect that voting for the resolution will give us the nuclear deal. It will not – this will be judged on its own merit, quite rightly, and on the broader considerations of America’s geo-political interest. This administration may not leave a legacy which will be followed through, either by John McCain’s or by a democratic administration. So, the two issues are quite separate, even from a self-interested point of view.

Two, while there are lots of people in India who are quite happy about the attention that India is receiving from US of late, one has to remember that US interests in India are purely of that of a foot soldier. While I have doubts whether George Bush even cares about common American Servicemen’s lives as long as he can spin the media, I am under no illusion that the only interest United States may have in this ‘friendship’ is commerce [on largely unequal terms] and a geopolitical agenda to contain China. Let me ask how many of my countrymen want to die – even for a noble cause like protecting American lifestyle [and the idea that freedom should be available for the chosen few to do whatever they like] – against Chinese armies, and I guess I would get a very different answer from what the current optimism shows.

So, what am I trying to say in this muddle? I am actually saying that India should vote against Iran, because even apparently civilian nuclear facilities can produce the raw material for deadly weapons, but also rethink whether it needs the US support for its nuclear programme, and what the goals and objectives of that nuclear programme should be [or whether India needs nuclear energy at all].

As for US friendship, I guess it is important to be friendly with every country. But on equal terms, if possible. And, for that, Indian Government needs to spend more time building friendship with Pakistan,, Bangladesh, Nepal, China, Iran [by working with them on equal terms, by promoting business and such things] – and less time worrying about what US will think.

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