Friday, February 11, 2005

Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India's New Foreign Policy

Crossing the rubicon my C.Raja mohan, the Strategic Affairs Editor of The Hindu is an account of how india has changed its perspective interms of foreign affairs.How india has adapted to the unipolar world after the collapse of the soviet union, how it has found its own standing in the international arena, shedding the anti imperialistic and third world champion attitudes.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, there is a chapter for USA,russia,china and pakistan. In a given chapter he gives the histroy of india's relation with that country, how every prime minister from nehru to vajpayee handled the affairs with those country.He also gives different views about the relation as perceived by india and other countries.And also gives some pointers on how things should be handles in the future.The rest of the chapter is on how india has to use it's geographical location as an advantage interms of foriegn affairs and how it should deal things in the future.

Talking about how india was trying to follow china's example , he quotes chinese premier Deng's advice to the foreign policy makers of china
watch and analyse (developments) calmly, secure (our own) positions, handle (changes) with confidence, conceal (our) capacities, be good at keeping low profile, never become the leader and make some contributions.
The book gives lot of insight into the contribution of various prime minister's. The more i read about india's foreign affairs and politics my admiration for P.V.Narashima rao is growing.He is the person who changed india's destiny, without much of a fuss.Whether it is the nuclear bomb, or economy or changes in foreign affairs it all points to P.V.Narashima rao.



P.V.Narashima rao's predecessor rajiv gandhi tied india's nuclear disarmament with US and other nuclear powers. He was calling for total abolition of nuclear arms.But the world changed when P.V.N became the prime minister, he inherited an economy that was nearly broke,there was no soviet union to support,and the US fresh from its gulf war victory was strutting as the only super power of the world.In 1992 the UN security council passed a resolution stating that proliferation of nuclear and other wepons of WMD is a threat to international peace and security.US and other western nations where warning india, the list topper among the countries likely to acquire nuclear weapons that it has to face the wrath of the entire international system if it did not fall in line.
P.V.Narashima Rao and his principal secreatary J.N.Dixit, understood that the moment of nuclear reckoning was at hand.They knew they had to summon all the intellectual guile to wriggle out of the situation.India could not have found diplomats more wily than these two.

Bush senior asked india to join a conference of 5 nations with US,Russia,china and pakistan to discuss nuclear non-proliferation in the subcontinent.
Negotiating framework proposed by bush was deeply offencive to india's sense of standing.Not only would the confrence concentrate on getting india and pakistan to behave on the nuclear issue, but their conduct was going to be supervised by washington,moscow and beijing sitting at a higher table.The ultimate insult was that china,which india saw as an equal , was to become a guarantor of peace and stability in the sub continent.This was a china that india knew helped pakistan acquire nuclear weapons.In no way was india going to accept such a set of negotiations.

In typical fashion, narashima rao was non commital.pointing to the political difficulties at home, he said that he would prefer to discuss the problem in detail with the united states bilaterally before he could join multilatral nuclear negotiations.It was agreed that bilateral nuclear talks would begin within few weeks.

Having found an escape route at a critical moment,Narasima Rao launched india on a two track policy - engage the americans in a nuclear dialouge and prepare for conducting nuclear tests.The first was a visible track and the second invisible.Narashima rao gave orders to the atomic energy establishment in bombay to get ready for another round of nuclear tets, but the scientists wanted time-at least 2 years.Meanwhile, the pressure from the united states was relentless.'Buy me time' was the constant refrain from narasima rao to dixit.The foreign office bobbed and weaved and found every trick in the diplomatic book to avoid getting into multilateral negotiations on the nuclear issue.In the talks india invented arguments for expanding the multilateral negotiations framework to include every possible country from israel to japan.

Buy December 1995 india was ready for pokhran -2 .Narashima rao had achieved the impossible.He had managed to fob off the various international pressure on india to close its nuclear option.The economy, formerly the weakest element in the country's portfolio, had turned around and was now an attractive feature that created the basis for a different relationship with the world.In addition he was ready to conduct nuclear tests and hence put india in a different strategic pedestal.
It's a differnet story that US found india's preparation for a nuclear test and rao had to pull the plug on the supposed tests in 1995.But raja mohan agrees that PVN was the one who prepared everything for india to cross the nuclear rubicon.

This book is a definite read for anybody who is intrested in india's foreign policies .

Rao True father of Indian bomb
shekhar gupta's Interview with PVN
Rao the Nuclear Architect

Comments:
Thanks for the tip Sen. It's on my purchase list. I'm utterly fascinated by Indian politics. It's also heartening to note that here in Oz we are finally taking India seriously as a regional power in the coming multi polar world. Enjoying reading your stuff.
 
Glad you liked it phill.Think " Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb" should also be intresting for you.
 
Senthil thanks for the info.
Yes! Like you i also think P.V.Narashima Rao has done lots of things with any sort of political hooplas.
 
Read the above as
"Without any political hooplas"
 
found your blog while listening to music and reading movie reviews ... keep up the good work ! Thanks
 
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