Indian Foreign Secretary J.N.Dixit delivering a lecture on September
16, at the influential German Society for Foreign Policy bade official good
bye to non alignment and rolled out the welcome mat for the 'emerging multi
Speaking at Bonn he said: ''We are diversifying our relations. We have,
to use a term in vogue, de-ideologised our foreign policy''. Diplomatic
observers were quick to comment that this was Dixit's way of saying that
with the end of the cold war, non alignment was dead!
Foreign Secretary Dixit went on to speak of a 'multi polar world'
emerging with several powers such as the European Community, Japan, ASEAN
and NAFTA and made it clear that India wants a seat as a permanent member of
the United Nations Security Council along with Germany and Japan.
''If Japan and Germany alone are inducted as Permanent members of
the Security Council, we will not agree. We have already written to the
Secretary General of the United Nations'' he said.
This was the first time that a top Indian Foreign Office official had
publicly voiced a demand that was widely considered as implicit in Delhi's
celebrated calibrated approach to Delhi-US relations. The question of
expanding the Security Council will be debated at the 48th Sessions of the
UN General Assembly which began on September 21.
In its official submission to the UN Secretary General, Delhi has
proposed that the Council be expanded from its current five permanent and 10
non permanent members to 10 or 11 permanent members and 12 or 14 non
Referring to the thorny question of nuclear non proliferation Dixit
said: '' The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty should be non discriminatory.
We shall not accept unilaterally imposed pressure on us in regard to our
indigenously developed technology.''
At the same time Dixit sought to put a brave face on Delhi's internal
problems by saying: ''We are committed to the pluralistic society despite
challenges. Ethnicity cannot be the basis of democratic state.''
Foreign Secretry Dixit's assertion that 'ethnicity' and 'democracy' were
somehow mutually exclusive exposed the soft under belly of Delhi's foreign
policy. It was this myopic approach to struggles for self determination on
the Indian sub continent which may have served to encourage the very outside
'pressures' which Delhi appeared to resent.
Coincidentally, in the same week that Foreign Secretary Dixit was
speaking at Bonn, the new US Asst. Secretary State for South Asia Affairs,
Robin Raphel, in her first public comments on the region after being
confirmed as head of the newly created South Asian Bureau, said in
''While India and Pakistan have got to talk seriously about
Kashmir any solution there that is going to stick and is going to be
meaningful must take into account what the Kashmiri people want for
their political future''
Delivering the key note address at the Asia foundation in Washington she
''The US has observed that in the 20 years since the 1972 Simla
accord was signed between India and Pakistan it has not been used in any
way really to deal with the Kashmir dispute...
Regrettably in the last few years the situation has deteriorated
considerably, much more than it was at the time that the accord was
signed... There was a vacuum in the leadership of the Kashmir people
that had inhibited any kind of political dialogue but this will change.
I am happy to report that they are working on it. They are getting
together and organising themselves so that they have someone who can
speak for them as a whole, as a group... ''
Meanwhile, it is reported that at the talks between Delhi and the US in
Washington on September 15 and 16, the Clinton administration gave up
pushing Delhi to participate in a five nation (US, Russia, India, China and
Pakistan) conference on nuclear non proliferation and settled, for the time
being, for Delhi's preferred option: bilateral talks with the US on those
matters of concern to the US.
In October 1963, Delhi and US signed a 30 year treaty on nuclear
cooperation. General Electric sold India two small reactors for its Tarapur
station. India reprocesed the fuel, making plutonium that was to be kept
under safeguards operated by the Internatioanl atomic Energy agency i.e. it
could not be put to military use. The question now was: after the treaty
expires next month, do the safeguards continue? Can Delhi do whatever it
wants with the plutonium it has manufactured at Tarapur? Delhi said: yes,
ofcourse. US said: lets talk about it.
And, during the second day of the talks which dealt with regional issues,
the US did talk - and called for more confidence building measures between
India and Pakistan!
It was not known whether Sri Lanka also figured in the discussions,
particularly in view of President Clinton's declaration at the United
Nations General Assembly on September 27 that he was making 'nuclear non
proliferation one of our nation's highest priorities' and that the US
intended to ''weave its nonproliferation strategy more deeply into the
fabric of all our relationships with the world's nations and institutions.''
The question is: how deep is 'deep'?