Skip to comments.A Nuclear Hat Trick For Dr Manmohan Singh(Indian PM)
Posted on 09/04/2006 6:03:37 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
A Nuclear Hat Trick For Dr Manmohan Singh
An IDC Analysis
New Delhi, 29 August 2006
Dr Manmohan Singh is not known for his cricketing skills, but more as the Finance Minister who saved India from defaulting on its external debt in 1991. Yet recently he had to bowl against three formidable batsmen on the pitch created by the Nuclear Deal he negotiated with President Bush. The PMs UPA allies, the CPM were not happy with some clauses, and the BJP went to town even on clauses which did not exist, while the former nuclear doyens (scientists) of India revolted as one. The fact that Dr Singh used his oratory, forbearance and patience to answer the first two in Parliament and bowl them over, and then spoke technology to the scientists in a closed door session on Sunday at his residence, can be termed a hat trick for Indias Prime Minister. All this augurs well as the deal impinges on Indias strategic future and energy security, so essential for Indias growth.
A walk down memory lane to appreciate Dr Singhs thinking is called for. It is he who set India on a path of economic growth and uniquely implemented a dual rate of conversion of foreign exchange in 1992, that worked despite the Doubting Thomases. Dr Singh was assisted by Montek Alhuwalia currently his sounding board in the Planning Commission, and a team of like minded economists that propelled India on its present path of liberalisation. Dr Singh admitted he had changed his approach from being a Fabian economist to a realist modern day believer in globalisation, but with a heart for the poor, seeking a middle path. The PM has not changed in his approach.
In 1991 Dr Singh arrived in Singapore from Bangkok with Alhuwalia after attending the Paris Club meeting where he successfully secured a $3 billion loan, to bail India out. There were of course IMF conditions attached, and PM Narasimha Rao was informed of the details in a two page coded dispatch sent from the Singapore mission, effortlessly dictated by Ahluwalia. A large team of bankers, industrialists, economists and civil servants including secretaries N K Singh, Geetakrishnan power secretary and economist Deepak Nayyar flew in from Delhi with the then Commerce Minister P Chidambaram. Their Singapore mission was to garner funds, loans and investments in power projects including Enron as Foreign Direct Investments. Dr Singh was undemanding and unassuming, and the two Ministers had a delightful husbandwife economists team as their personal secretaries, who coordinated programmes smoothly.
Dr Manmohan Singh surprisingly took great interest in the briefing given to him on Singapores large 700,000 strong reservist military and ASEANs security concerns, which included Indias nuclear submarine INS Chakra. When Singh noted Singapores defence budget of $ 2.3 billion in 1991, was almost one third of Indias for a mere 2.5 million people and the 625 sq miles island state he posed questions. The High Commissioner and the Defence Adviser had to explain the concept of Total Defence, whose architects were Lee Kuan Yew, Goh King Swee and Rajaratnam. Surprisingly the briefing lasted long and Indias security issues and defence budget were also discussed. Dr Singh is a researcher, and next day casually asked some searching questions on larger security issues which impinged on economics. Singapores belief that a benign strategic relationship was essential for economic cooperation, is what Singapore had pursued for its rise and with India steadfastly for the last 12 years. The IndoUS Strategic pact and now the nuclear deal reinforces that belief as India is emulating it. Sanjay Barua media adviser to Dr Singh has also alluded to this, in his recent book which includes defence economics.
Dr Singh this time around as PM, is once again in search for that middle path of globalisation, which can uplift the millions in India, and yet propel India forward. Indias economy today is poised for the rich, endowed and educated young who can find their feet in entrepreneurial outlets or secure jobs, but uplift of the poor, attention to infrastructure and energy and national security internal and external, need greater attention and depth of knowledge. Energy security is now scripted in the UN charter with other securities, and will greatly impact Indias strategic interests in the future. Last week in Parliament while rendering a robust reply to the opposition on the IndoUS Nuclear deal, stroke by stroke, the PM spoke of safe guarding Indias strategic interests.
Dr Singh used bytes like history will judge me, and trust me, and we have to take risks, which is what leadership and pragmatism is all about. These were the sentiments Mrs Indira Gandhi and Gen. Sam Manekshaw and the three Chiefs respectively employed when they led the nation, in the 1971 war. Sam was the last leader to behave as a self appointed Chief of Defence Staff, to ensure strategic coordination for tactical actions and Bangladesh was born. Dr Singhs present stance and oratory augurs well for Indias image as a new born leader in the region. India need not be shy any more or apologize for its strength. No more should India craft its security to meet regional threats, but more as a regional power and to take on the responsibility that goes with it, to ensure stability.
Indias ambitious missile programmes, the ATV nuclear submarine being readied at Vishakapatnam, the Sagarika underwater launched missile vehicle being tested at Wheelers Island, coupled with Indias military ambitions in space, the acquisition of refueling air tankers for long range flying and the soon to be acquired Phalcon AWACs, and possibly Akula submarines and the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Gorshkov) by 2008, will completely alter the balance of power in the Indian Ocean. It is economic might coupled with military capabilities that make up national power in the main, and it is evident to the world that India is on its way to achieve it, supported by the soft power strengths and now an industrial boom, being witnessed in parts of India.
Dr Singh has since assuaged the retired nuclear scientific community which had toiled relentlessly and secretly, to make India a nuclear power. He assured them that their concerns on the need to keep the home grown Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) and Thorium reactor technology, out of IAEA and US reach would be met. He has also assured them that India will have the ability to process adequate fissile material for its needed arsenal, which will not be capped despite the deal. We are confident the PM has a plan to ameliorate the large costs of separating the military and civilian nuclear facilities, as at present they are incestuously inter-twined, and the civilian nuclear scientists rightly seem worried on that account, for the future. Those in the know of nuclear arsenals, are aware the Armed Forces cannot take over the management of the fission nuclear cores stored at BARC, and the neutron triggers, detonators, lenses, safety locks and the electronics stowed elsewhere that are needed to assemble the devices (war heads). BARC and DRDOs Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory (TBRL) scientists at Chandigarh will have to continue to research and do what they do today, for Indias minimum credible nuclear deterrent, and keep improving on timings of assembly. The Armed Forces will have to practice with dummy warheads, and the Strategic Force Commander (SFC) will have to designate targets and match inter service procedures.
Dr Manmohan Singh has explained all this to the nation, and stated his work is cut out in Indias economic and security domains and his lips echo the words Trust Me, as you did in 1991.
With that logic, South Africa and the IDF may, or may not, have Nweapons. An odd bit of logic, perhaps others here will have a different take.
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