Manmohan Government too has demonstrated extreme vulnerability to U.S. pressures
LONDON: The Manmohan Singh Government's foreign policy is in danger of becoming hostage to its "obsession" with securing a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and its pursuit of ever closer "strategic partnership" with America, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu , has said.
Speaking at the London School of Economics (LSE), Mr. Ram singled out India's decision to vote against Iran at last month's crucial meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an example of how these two issues threatened to undermine the independence of Indian foreign policy.
He described India's support to the U.S.-led "provocative" resolution on Iran as one of the biggest foreign policy "blunders" of the government and warned that it could not afford to commit more such mistakes.
"One fatal mistake such as the vote against Iran, and who knows what will happen," he said in reply to a question from the audience about the future of the Congress-led coalition Government, emphasising that it was a minority government supported by 15 political parties and crucially dependent on the outside support of the Left.
In a wide-ranging lecture on "India's Position in the World" as part of the LSE's Asia Research Centre Public Lecture series, Mr. Ram focussed on India's relations with Pakistan, China and America describing them as the country's "big ticket" foreign policy relationships.
Foreign policy performance
He told a packed audience of academics, students and policymakers that broadly India had done reasonably in most areas of foreign policy. India's relations with China, particularly, had seen a big leap forward both politically and in trade and investment. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India led to a significant breakthrough in many bilateral issues.
"India will do very well to keep on course with China," he said.
Mr. Ram called for sustained efforts to push the peace process with Pakistan and said the difficulties over Kashmir should not be allowed to come in the way of normalisation in other areas of mutual interest. He said it was "clear" that the Kashmir issue was "intractable" but that did not mean that progress on other issues should be held up.
"Normalisation must go on," he said.
Mr. Ram commended the political leadership on both sides for promoting a spirit of détente and said that all those engaged in the peace process deserved "full credit."
Dealing with America was the trickiest of foreign policy issues for India, he said and noted that this was one area where the Manmohan Singh Government had been "least successful." There was not much difference between the erstwhile Vajpayee Government's approach to Washington and that of the present dispensation in New Delhi. Like the previous government, the Manmohan Singh Government too had demonstrated extreme vulnerability to pressures from Washington.
On India's prospects in the 21st century, Mr. Ram warned against some of the more breathless predictions even as he noted the potential and possibilities. Using a cricket terminology, he said India was seen to be "on a good sporting wicket but with uneven bounce."
Earlier, Professor John Harriss, who chaired the lecture, praised The Hindu 's serious journalism and said that Mr. Ram was best qualified to speak on India, having been "very close to the heart" of political debate in his country.
Printer friendly page
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail