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Indian Democracy and India US Nuclear Agreement


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Indian government is now struggling with the choices regarding India-US Nuclear agreement. President Bush has been most generous to India but the Hyde Amendment is unsettling.

The Indian government is led by the Congress party but supported by many political parties - it is a coalition government. The four-five communist parties that support the government constitute an important political and government ally.

However, the communists parties - who are right about their opposition to the agreement based on their zealous protection of India's sovereignty - are threatening to undermine the coalition government. The communist parties are being realists. Remember the Pressler Amendment that put Pakistan in a hole in 1990 when President Bush refused to certify Pakistan's non-aggressive military intention. Pakistan was then a strategic ally of the United States.

The Congress party, particularly Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, strongly feel that while there is a small probability that a future U. S. President may hold up the nuclear supplies by not certifying the genuine non-military intention of India, that probability is relatively very small. The enormous benefits of the nuclear agreement far outweigh any small risks. The Congress party is betting on better angels.

The many political and government allies - Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, Rashtriya Janata Dal, National Congress Party, Lok Janshakthi Party and others - agree with the assessment of the Congress party and the Prime Minister but they do not want to avoid precipitation of the collapse of the government. None of the ruling political parties want to go elections in the next 3-6 months because the current political environment is treacherous with double-digits inflation.

So the debate goes on. There are many compromise solutions being discussed. This is democracy at its best. The communists parties are right in their assessment, the Congress party may prove to be right in their hope. In my view, a society cannot base its national and security policies on hope - however, robust that hope may be.

In any case, democracy is working charmingly well in India. Amartya Sen put it succinctly, “. . . I would argue that democracy has worked well enough. "

© Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (2007)
Gurumurthy Kalyanaram is a management consultant and a professor. He can be reached at gurumurthy. kalyanaram(at)


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