India Insight

India’s nuclear path

By Shashi Tharoor
The opinions expressed are his own

When the Commonwealth heads of government meet in Australia later this month, one prominent leader is almost certain to be conspicuously absent: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. India is a strong backer of the association of former British colonies (and some new entrants without that shared heritage, notably Mozambique and Rwanda), so no displeasure with the Commonwealth is implied.

Instead, rumours in New Delhi suggest that the decision to send a delegation led by India’s ceremonial vice-president, albeit an able former diplomat, might be a not-so-subtle rebuke to the summit’s host, Australia.

On the face of it, it is hard to imagine two countries with less cause for conflict. United by the English language, similar democratic political institutions, and a shared passion for cricket, and divided by no significant issues of contention, India and Australia seem obvious candidates for the sort of benign relationship of which most diplomats dream.

Two years ago, a sensitive area did emerge, when reports of Indian students being brutally attacked in “hate crime” incidents in Melbourne and Sydney inflamed India’s excitable media and threatened to derail the relationship. But this has been dealt with successfully, mainly through adroit diplomacy on both sides and effective preventive policing by Australia. The Commonwealth summit might well have provided an opportunity to celebrate the restoration of bonhomie.

Instead, relations have been strained by the continuing refusal of Australia’s Labour Party government to sell uranium to energy-starved India for its civilian nuclear program. A regular supplier of uranium for China’s extensive nuclear-weapons program (while overlooking its record of facilitating Pakistan’s clandestine weapons development), Australia nonetheless justifies its stance on the grounds of India’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Do we need the big bomb?

It’s been more than a decade since the Buddha smiled again.

A debate has exploded in the Indian media about the circumstances of India’s hydrogen bomb test, with a group of scientists questioning the yield of the test.

The government claimed a yield of 45 kilotons; while the sceptics say the yield was much less at 25 kilotons.

K. Santhanam who claims the thermonuclear bomb was a ‘fizzle’ called for more nuclear tests to develop hydrogen bombs.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India-U.S: advancing a transformed relationship

In the space of a decade, the United States and India have travelled far in a relationship clouded by the  Cold War when they were on opposite sides.

From U.S sanctions on India for its nuclear tests in 1998 to a civilian nuclear energy deal that opens access to international nuclear technology and finance, while allowing New Delhi to retain its nuclear weapons programme is a stunning reversal of policy and one that decisively transforms ties.

America has also 'soberly' after decades of differing over counter-terrorism priorities become a vocal 
supporter of India's concerns over the use of Pakistani territory for Islamist militant groups, says the Asia 
Society in a report laying out a blueprint for an expanded India-U.S. relationship
ahead of 
President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday.

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