People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 31

August 02, 200

More Steps towards Being US Ally


Prakash Karat



IN the two months of the second edition of the UPA government, the signs are clear -- the strategic alliance with the United States will be widened and deepened. This has been confirmed by the outcome of the visit of US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to India.


The crux of this strategic alliance is military collaboration. Four years are complete of the ten-year Defence Cooperation Agreement with the United States. In June 2005, the UPA government had entered into an agreement titled New Framework for the US India Defence Relationship. The United States accords priority to the defence collaboration which is the key to making India its strategic ally.





The Indo-US nuclear deal was a quid pro quo for this defence agreement. This was confirmed on  the eve of the Clinton visit by the US assistant secretary of state, Philip J Crowley who stated that the End Use Monitoring is "part of the fulfillment of an important initiative that India and the US have signed in the area of nuclear cooperation". The End Use Monitoring Agreement was the key issue for the US side during the Clinton visit. It marks an important step in the plans of the United States to sell large scale defence equipment to India.


The Congress-led government has always been shy of spelling out the implications of the framework agreement. The then Defence minister, Pranab Mukherjee, had stated in parliament that "The framework contains only enabling provisions. It does not contain any commitments or obligations." What was not spelt out was that a series of agreements would flow out of this framework agreement. The Pentagon was more forthcoming about the scope of the military collaboration. In March 2006 during the Bush visit to India, the Pentagon had issued a statement explaining the benefits of the new relationship. It stated:


"These will serve key objectives of our strategic partnership by helping to build ties among our defence establishments and industries and to develop interoperability among our armed forces. Defence technology cooperation will contribute to strengthened military capabilities and will also result in economic benefits through expanded trade."


In 2006, the Maritime Security Cooperation Agreement to have joint operations between the two navies was arrived at. Next to follow was the Logistics Support Agreement. This would have facilitated the use of Indian ports and air bases by US armed forces for refuelling, maintenance, servicing, communications etc. This agreement could not go forward due to the strong opposition put up by the Left when it was supporting the government.


Earlier during the BJP-led government's tenure, a "General Security and Military Information Agreement" (GSOMIA) was signed between the two countries. This agreement was a prerequisite for closer military ties and transfer of military technology and equipment to India. The agreement provides for confidentiality for supplies from the United States. The US had been insisting on such an agreement from the time of the Narasimha Rao government.





The United States insists on End Use Monitoring Arrangements (EUMA) for supplying high-level military equipment. It has such arrangements with all its NATO and other allies. The intrusive inspections will enable the United States to monitor not only the equipment it supplies but also collect data on related Indian equipment and its technological capabilities. The United States will not allow modification of its equipment nor permit India to indigenously make spare parts for such equipment. The end use condition would also mean India will not be able to use the defence equipment in any manner other than what the United States provides for.


Foreign minister S M Krishna was wrong in stating in parliament that such agreements have been signed with other countries.  Russia and earlier the Soviet Union, which has been the biggest supplier of weaponry to India has not ever asked for any end use agreement. Neither have the French or the other countries. The UPA government is already in the process of buying US defence equipment. Since the framework agreement, India has bought naval reconnaissance planes, military transport planes and the ship USS Trenton. The intrusive terms of the End Use agreement for the Trenton include the condition that it cannot be used for offensive operations.


The EUMA will pave the way for largescale buying of US weapons which is one of the main factors for the US wanting this defence relationship. Along with the 50 and odd joint exercises between the two armed forces already conducted, this will be the key step for ensuring "interoperability" between the two armed forces. The United States wants to ensure that there is compatibility between the equipment and technology used by the two armed forces which is essential for joint operations.


Under the Defence Framework Agreement, the growing coordination between the two armed forces is evident. The US Pacific Command Chief visits India every six months. India falls under the Pacific Command jurisdiction. The collaboration is institutionalised through the Defence Policy Group which meets every year and by the various sub-groups set up.


The next stage in the implementation of the framework agreement will require the signing of the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Logistics Support Agreement. This would signify the graduation of India as a full fledged military ally of the United States.


Nuclear Deal :

Technology Denied


The Indo-US nuclear deal is also part of this unequal alliance. The decision by the G8 countries to ban the transfer of Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries which have not signed the NPT is going to affect India. The stand taken by Finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, that this decision has no relevance for India as it has got a clean exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will not wash. The NSG is currently engaged in formulating the guidelines on transfer of ENR technology.  India while getting the exemption from the NSG had committed to accepting all the guidelines of the NSG. When the G8 decision is translated into an NSG guideline, India will be shut out of accessing ENR technology.


The deception practiced by the Manmohan Singh government that it has got full civilian nuclear cooperation which includes access to technology for the full fuel cycle is about to be exposed. For those in the know, this is not a surprise. The Hyde Act had specifically prohibited transfer of such technology to India. The 123 agreement also states that the United States will have to make a new law for providing such technology. When the NSG puts in place its new guidelines, then the government's claim that it can access such technology from other countries will also be negated.





The subordinate relationship to the United States which has been established by the Congress-led government has wide repercussions. During the BJP-led government India had signed on to the US ideological enterprise called the "Community of Democracies". India became part of the convening group of the Community of Democracies. The then Clinton administration promoted this forum with the ideological plank that free markets and democracy go together. The founding ministerial conference was held in Warsaw, Poland in June 2000. The COD is backed by the US government's National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has funded a number of "democracy movements" and "colour revolutions" in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Nicaragua and a host of other places. In a little noticed event, the 5th ministerial conference of the COD in Lisbon on July 11 and 12 was attended by Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for External Affairs. The Congress-led government has climbed on to the US sponsored free markets and democracy bandwagon.


The visit of Commerce minister, Anand Sharma to Washington in June resulted in the Indian commitment to get the Doha round of negotiations of the WTO revived. It is widely feared that India will resile from its firm stand on issues like agriculture and Nama (non agricultural market access).


The India-Pakistan joint statement during the NAM summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh has caused a lot of controversy. The issue is not the need for dialogue with Pakistan, but the suspicion that the UPA government takes positions which are a result of "advice" from Washington. What is required is an independent approach both to Pakistan and Afghanistan.


The Indo-US strategic alliance is influencing not only our foreign policy but all other spheres in our domestic policy making. The joint statement of the Clinton visit promises more such interventions in the economic and political spheres.


The prime minister and the UPA government seem to have drawn the wrong lessons from the Lok Sabha verdict. It does not give them the licence to compromise national sovereignty and to convert India into America's ally.