Monday, June 9, 2008

CPM, china-patriots in South Block,prtpage-1.cms

Red Star Over South Block

9 Jun 2008, 0105 hrs IST,


As the Manmohan Singh government enters its last year in office, the contradictions in the approach to national security and foreign policy issues between a mainstream national party like the Congress on the one hand and the communist parties, which appear determined to make India a client state of China on the other, are becoming increasingly evident from the communist opposition to the Indo-US nuclear agreement. There are also other serious differences between the approach of the communists and virtually all other national parties on crucial issues of defence, national security and foreign affairs — differences that cannot be papered over any longer.

In its 2004 election manifesto, the CPM has advocated talks between India and Pakistan for a "denuclearised environment" in South Asia. This CPM formulation would result in India acceding to the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) by the back door and in China to becoming the only nuclear weapons power in Asia.

Interestingly, this formulation coincides with what China has constantly advocated since 1998, when it demanded that India should give up its nuclear weapons, sign the NPT and agree to UN intervention in Jammu and Kashmir, as demanded in the UN Security Council Resolution 1172 of 1998. These demands have been reiterated when China speaks of its reservations on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The real reasons for Chinese opposition to the Indo-US nuclear agreement were voiced in an article in the August 2007 issue of the influential Renmin Jiabao magazine, which stated: "The US-India nuclear agreement has strong symbolic significance (for) India achieving its dream of becoming a powerful nation...In fact, the purpose of the US to sign a civilian nuclear agreement with India is to enclose India into its global partners' camp. This fits in with India's wishes". The CPM finds fault with the India-US nuclear agreement for precisely the same reasons as China.

While decrying India's nuclear weapons programme and making China the sole guarantor of nuclear security in Asia, the CPM overlooks the entire China-Pakistan nuclear nexus. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are of Chinese design. China has, over the past three decades, clandestinely provided Pakistan with nuclear weapons designs and technology, including plutonium facilities for manufac-turing thermonuclear warheads. Even if we sign a bilateral agreement for a denuclearised South Asia as the CPM proposes, how do we deal with clandestine Chinese proliferation to Pakistan? Moreover, the Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II missiles that Pakistan periodically tests, which are capable of striking at cities across India, are of Chinese origin. Despite this, the CPM joins the Chinese in expressing opposition to missile defence systems. Does the party want Indian population centres to be defenceless against attacks of nuclear-tipped missiles? Have CPM leaders ever voiced concern about the Pakistan-China nuclear and missile nexus to their Chinese comrades during their visits to the Middle Kingdom?

In July 2000, a CPM delegation including Jyoti Basu and Somnath Chatterjee visited Israel, met then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and discussed possibilities of increased investments and cooperation in a number of areas including agriculture, information technology and electronics, for projects in West Bengal. But, the CPM now vociferously objects to defence collaboration with Israel, knowing fully well that apart from sophisticated systems like missiles and airborne warning systems, the electronic monitoring systems that Israel supplies are crucial for checking infiltration across the LoC and safeguarding the lives of our soldiers. In its manifesto, the CPM steadfastly avoids any reference to Pakistan-inspired cross-border terrorism, while championing the cause of India-Pakistan dialogue, primarily to contain American influence, while Chinese influence in the region grows. One has yet to hear a CPM leader unequivocally condemning Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

While condemning the foreign policies of the NDA government as being supportive of "US Imperialism", the 2004 CPM manifesto asserted that on foreign policy there is no difference between the Congress and the BJP. Unlike the CPM, which wants China to be the dominant power in Asia, with India denuclearised, the Congress party's 2004 manifesto promised to "fine-tune" India's nuclear and missile capabilities, while reiterating the country's commitment to nuclear disarmament. Moreover, while there is a broad-based national consensus on improving ties with China, virtually every political party in India has been forthright in condemning continuing Chinese claims to Tawang and indeed to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh. The communists alone continue to waffle on Chinese border claims and maintain that it was India and not China that was guilty of aggression in the 1962 conflict!

Despite the Indo-US nuclear agreement, there is strong opposition in the non-proliferation lobby in the US to ending nuclear sanctions against India. An American academic opposed to ending sanctions recently noted: "We did not realise that your communists are as opposed to your nuclear programme as the Chinese. We believe that they would be as good allies as the Chinese in joining us to end your nuclear weapons programme. It's a pity that we did not realise this earlier". What our communist comrades fail to realise is that wittingly or unwittingly, their recipes for foreign policy and national security fit in beautifully with Chinese long-term objectives of isolating India by strengthening their own growing ties with the US, while getting others to undermine India's relations with the United States.

The writer is a former high commissioner to Pakistan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Left Bashing At Whose Behest?

LEFT bashing, in fact CPI(M) bashing, for its opposition to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is, indeed, reaching a crescendo. The drumbeaters of US imperialism and the cheer leaders of India Inc. continue to mount a scurrilous attack through a web of fabrications against the CPI(M) which are far removed from both rationality and fact. The latest is a vituperative tirade against the CPI(M) for blocking the Indo-US nuclear deal by a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, G Parthasarathy (`Red Star over South Block', The Times of India, June 9, 2008). The running theme of such slander is that the CPI(M) is “determined to make India a client state of China”.

Similar unfounded attacks were mounted earlier. Needless to add, they will continue because of very strong potential benefits for the vested interests in trying to discredit the CPI(M) and the Left, on the one hand, and curry favour with the Indian ruling classes and US imperialism, on the other. A former senior officer of India's intelligence apparatus slanderously wrote that the CPI(M) is “driven by China's concerns” (`The Manchurian candidates' by B Raman, Hindustan Times, August 21, 2007). Without an iota of substance, amongst the thrash of fabricated abuse, he hurled preposterous charges that CPI(M) leaders had forced the present UPA government to issue visas to 1000 Chinese engineers. With such disinformation guiding our intelligence apparatus, in the past, it is no wonder that India lost one prime minister and one former prime minister to assassins and continues to pay a heavy price due to intelligence lapses. Thanks to small mercies, this gentleman has now retired. Such writings, however, could well be with an eye to seek lucrative post-retirement occupations.

India & Inc. has joined the chorus with the FICCI secretary general airing similar allegations (`Sabotaging India's Rise' by Dr Amit Mitra, The Times of India, April 10, 2008). Since the tenor and content of all these and other such attacks against the CPI(M) are similar, let us take up the main argument that our opposition to the nuclear deal is at the bidding of China.

Those who know of the CPI(M)'s birth and history will know that for nearly two decades both the international communist giants - the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China - opposed the CPI(M)'s policies from different perspectives. The CPI(M)'s policy directions are always determined by its own perceptions of what is in the interests of India and its people. Those who are willing to eagerly surrender India's sovereignty to US imperialism will do well to refrain from offering unsolicited advise and certificates of patriotism. If our detractors are worthy of character and substance, then they ought to meet our arguments on their merits, not through perfidy.

It is aggressively argued that any attempt to cap India's nuclear strategic capabilities will immensely benefit both China and Pakistan. Who, may we ask, is vigorously pursuing this Indo-US nuclear deal which, as is well-known, will limit India's strategic capacities, thus, providing advantage to our neighbours? Could we, then allege that those promoting this deal are acting at the behest of China and Pakistan?

Such slander apart, we are charged with preventing India's energy augmentation by opposing this deal. Particularly, at a time when global oil prices are soaring. However, consider the following facts. India's current power generation is 127 gigawatts (gw). At the current rates of growth of GDP, this needs to grow to 337 gw by 2016-17. There is no doubt that if this is not achieved, India's pace of development would be severely restricted. The moot question, however, is whether nuclear energy expansion is the only, or, the best option that we have today?

In 2006, 3.9 gw of nuclear power was generated, 3 per cent of India's total power generation. In the most optimistic scenario, after the operationalisation of this deal, this would grow, at best, to 20 gw by 2016, or just over 6 per cent of the projected generation.

Further, is nuclear power cost-effective? On the contrary, it is the most expensive option. As compared to coal, it would be one and a half times more expensive. Compared with gas, it is twice as expensive. So is the case with hydro electricity.

Given the abundance of coal reserves in India, the Planning Commission estimates that thermal energy would dominate power generation in India. As far as hydro electricity is concerned, given the potential of nearly 150 gw, only 33 gw has been installed as of 2006. In addition, over 55,000 MW could be imported from Nepal and Bhutan. The tapping of such huge hydro potential will not only augment our energy capacities at half the cost of nuclear energy, but will also tame these rivers which regularly consume the lives of thousands.

Thus, the government's argument that the Indo-US nuclear deal is to augment our energy resources sounds untenable. Huge commercial orders running into thousands of crores of rupees for the purchase of nuclear reactors would be placed on US firms. The profit bonanza to multinational corporations is there for all to see with the attendant benefits to sections of corporate India. Recollect that for more than three decades the USA has not installed new nuclear power reactors! Is India then actually going in for this deal to bolster US economic interests? If the same amount of resources were to be spent on generating power through hydro, thermal, gas, clean non-renewable and solar electricity, India's energy augmentation would be many times higher. Thus, the nuclear deal not only exposes India to greater vulnerability in areas of strategic security concerns and independent foreign policy as noted in these columns in the past, it drains a huge amount of our scarce resources.

This deal has substantive implications for India's sovereignty in the future. Instead of meeting these issues, a web of fabrications based on so-called extra territorial loyalties of the Left is woven. Similar slanderous allegations mounted by the BJP at its recent national executive meeting were dealt with in these columns last week. Particularly, how the BJP-led NDA government reiterated India's stated position that Tibet is an integral part of China.

In this current conjuncture, in the post bipolar Cold War world, the natural tendency in international relations is for the movement towards multi-polarity. US imperialism seeks to subvert this by imposing a unipolarity under its tutelage. India's role in the comity of nations will be determined by its championing of multi-polarity and its traditional leadership role of the developing countries. Any alignment with US imperialism to impose unipolarity will dissolve India's distinctiveness in world politics. This is precisely what the Left seeks to prevent in the interests of India and its people.