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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 38 New Delhi September 8, 2018

Indo-US Defence Deal: What does it Presage?

Sunday 9 September 2018

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

The Indo-US Defence Deal was signed in New Delhi today. It draws India closer into the US orbit. We are of course threatened by a hostile China. The US wants to build up India militarily as a bulwark against China’s expansionist policy. This brings the interests of the two countries to convergence. But India will have to pay for this deal. New Delhi will now have to import advanced military hardware from Washington. How far it will impact on the government’s “Make in India†policy remains to be seen. Also India will be under great US pressure to stop importing oil from Iran. [If that actually happens, what will be its impact on the Chabahar port project to be developed by New Delhi as a counter to Beijing and Islamabad’s influence in the region?] In return, Washington has agreed to “speed up†the process of New Delhi’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). How far the US will succeed against the determined Chinese opposition to induct India into the group also remains to be seen.

Though the US has reportedly assured India that the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act†(CAATSA) will not stand in the way of India’s acquisition of the Rs 40,000 crore S-400 Triumf anti-missile defence system from Russia, it is difficult to anticipate how Moscow, which in recent times is coming very close to both China and Pakistan, will react to the “Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement†(COMCASA) which is the formal name of the Indo-US deal. The possibility of Russia, China and Pakistan coming closer together cannot be ruled out. The massive reduction in the traditional US arms aid to Pakistan is cementing the Islamabad-Beijing bond. US sanctions on Russia are forcing Moscow to lean more and more on Beijing.

The BJP has been following a policy of getting closer and closer to Washington. If India is ultimately compelled to stop import of oil from Iran, how the Arab countries will look at us and whether there will be any change in their attitude toward India are imponderables. All through, the Arab world has been supportive of India, rather than of Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. But now with the Kashmiri people getting more and more alienated from India due to our strong-arm tactics, we cannot expect to take the continued Arab support on Kashmir for granted.

Meanwhile today the TRS CM of Telangana has dissolved the Assembly to hold fresh polls in the State in November (obviously with the connivance of the BJP) while launching a diatribe against the Congress President. The Congress and other Opposition parties, in turn, are organising a Bharat Bandh on September 10 to protest against the fuel price hike and Rafale deal. As for the CPM, its mass organisations’ Delhi march yesterday was noteworthy. However, Left unity was given a silent burial in the process; the party’s increasing marginalisation has regrettably not yet forced it to abandon its sectarian outlook and approach.

September 6 B.D.G.

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