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A.K.Antony gains sainthood

Whether the sudden exit of US Ambassador Timothy Roemer from his assignment in Delhi and the government”s decision to reject the two American bids for the MMRCA [Multi-role combat aircraft] tender are related developments is a moot point.
Indeed, MMRCA was a lucrative contract which is worth 10 billion dollars at face value but worth manifold billions of dollars in the downstream through the coming 2 or 3 decades by way of additional supplies, spare parts, servicing, etc. More than the money, the Obama administration pitched hard as the business could generate dozens of thousands of jobs in the US. In strategic terms, MMRCA relates to the weapon system that IAF will use for next few decades and constituted a window of opportunity to gain a veritable American toe-hold in the Indian armed forces. Unsurprisingly, US saw this contract as a great window of opening to surge the military cooperation with India. Thus, a robust US campaign was afoot and Obama himself pitched in by writing to the prime minister. Senior state department officials routinely began singing panygerics – almost on weekly basis – lavishing praise on India as the rising star on the planet and as the cynosure of all good things to happen to mankind. Roemer himself openly reminded the Indian leadership last month that securing the MMRCA would do a world of good to US-India global strategic partnership (read containment of China).
Frankly, the Americans themselves are to be blamed for building up this sort of completely unwarranted hype, which makes on feel red on the face with embarrassment. MMRCA is a bloody serious affair for the Indians and the IAF and Delhi cannot go emotional about it when arriving at a decision. But then, it is a characteristic feature of US (and Israeli) public diplomacy to keep puffing up hot air balloons and foisting then above the playground and make the spectators feel they are the real thing. Whereas, any close observer of the Indian policies – unless one were hopelessly marooned at the extreme wing of the ideological left or the ideologically vacuous Indian right – would have estimated all along that at the end of the day, Delhi would have no option but to assess the operational and strategic needs of its air force with clinical detachment.
Things can’t be otherwise so long as A K Antony holds the portfolio of Raksha Mantri. No matter what you may say about the ‘Mallu mafia’ in Delhi, at the end of the day, you need to admit this much that their finger nails have remained clean after all their dealings with public property. And, mind you, these are testy times when you trust just about no one in the dark. To put MMRCA matters in perspective, Antony’s refusal to be entrapped into making political commitments that he couldn’t possibly fulfil prompted him to have the US-India strategic dialogue scheduled originally for mid-April to be scuttled although Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were all set to travel to Delhi. We all knew at that time that something was brewing in Antony’s Gandhian mind although he is a taciturn man by nature and unassuming to the point of being self-effacing. In fact, that was the first indication that Antony’s mind was working hard about judging which MMRCA offer – American, European, French, Russian, etc. – might suit India’s defence needs optimally in the long-term, and that the choice might just not necessarily fall on the two high-profile American bids merely stemming out of political compulsions.
Equally, some nasty comments by a clutch of notoriously pro-American Delhi-based commentators at around that same time gave the plot away and made one suspect that the US embassy in Delhi might be working overtime about Antony’s ‘obduracy’. Nonetheless, the proof lay in the eating of the pudding, as they say, and one kept one’s fingers crossed.
Objectively speaking, however, the Americans have been vastly exaggerating the dimensions of the so-called US-India ‘golabl’ strategic partnership – US’s ‘indispensable’ partnership of the 21st century, et al – in an attempt to hustle the Indian opinion, which is usually ill-informed, excitable and highly prone to sentimentality and moodiness. This has been a classic situation where the other guy insists on saying to whoever is listening that you are his best pal in town and this is the only game in town and you are hard-pressed to deny that is not quite the case as is being made out and that he is only one among other guys you’d like to waltz with in real life.
The danger lies in upping the threshold of hype in any relationship. When a reality check ensues, you slide into depression. Last week, a former Indian ambassador to the US claimed that it would be a ‘breach of faith’ if India didn’t facilitate nuclear business for the US. Really? He spoke as if he never heard of Fukoshima. What if Antony came to a sober conclusion that IAF needs something far better than what is on offer from the Americans? Will that, too, become a matter of ‘breach of faith’? Whose ‘faith’ are we talking about anyway? The country’s – or some moonlighting individual’s? The problem is that too many vested interests have today developed over the gravy train of US-India partnership. And these fat cats are contributing to an unnatural build-up of expectations and are arrogating the right to set the tempo of the US-India ties that are so crucial to the country’s long-term interests.
The Indian policies in the recent months ample bear out that US-India partnership is not the be-all and end-all of Delhi’s world view. The patient efforts to build content into ties with Iran (which is never an easy thing to deal with), the nuanced stance on Libya, the constructive engagement of China’s Hu Jintao by prime minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the BRICS, the far-reaching India-Kazakh strategic ties, the commendable Mohali overture to Pakistan, Delhi’s stubborn refusal to be drawn into the US-Pakistan tensions or to fall into the American trap of transfroming Afghanistan into an India-Pakistan turf war, an independent line on Sri Lanka keeping the specific Indian priorities in view – all these are to be noted carefully. Why, can’t Washington but notice that Delhi is not even doing any drum beating that an obscure American-Tibetan is bringing the torch of democracy to Dharamsala from across the Atlantic apparently of his own voition!

Posted in Diplomacy, Military, Politics.

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13 Responses

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  1. jomet_g says

    He is a clean Man

  2. ravi prakash says

    The article spoke about asserting our independent line of thinking based completely on our national interest. In deciding on the European fighters we may have shown our concerns for equipping our Air Force to meet future threats, but I am not sure whether the costs will be lower. As far as our defence purchases are concerned , we have mostly purchased the hardware from the European Arms manufacturers- to cite Bofors, HDW, Glock pistols etc. Since the US has been selling hardware to Pakistan, no advantage is really gained by buying US made hardware. Buying so would have made our country completely dependent on US support for our defence needs as much as it has made us dependent on the US for our energy needs ( via the Nuclear Deal)
    Mr Antony only allowed the MoD to do their own thinking and it suited the occassion perfectly.

  3. ashish sinha says

    liked the article except for one point where the author makes reference to Fukashima as a trading point against US Nuclear deal. If the nuclear deal were not implemented, it sure have been a blow to MMS’ prime ministership and the faith that he built up in his visits to US. Hence for the former Indian ambassador to say that “it would be a breahc of faith’ was absolutely correct. At that time Fukashima incident had not happened, hence linking the ambassador’s comments with FUkashima is ridiculous. Moreover, the author also overlooks the point that Fukashima incident does not relegate Nuclear energy to shadows. Nuclear energy is much needed to safeguard our planet from climate change and global warming. The right questions to ask would be what design changes will be needed so that future nuclear reactors withstand disasters of the scale that struck Japan. Its purely an engineering issue and India would do good to seek nuclear partners technology that can withstand disasters.

  4. Dogra Narinder says

    US must realize that Indian ministers are elected (I hope Anthony was) and not appointed and are very powerful. You cannot afford to intimidate them at the US airports or call the Indian prime minister, ‘Bitch’ !
    Indians have long memories.

  5. G Krishnan says

    Bhadrakumar has made certain sweeping remarks torn out of context. Mr.Antony is known for his clean image and also for his oneness with the masses. But he is also not welll thought as good administrator or fast decision maker. Granting the usual American diplomats boorishness and lack of diplomacy one has to be quite pragmatic too. In todays context Russia is no longer a power what it was and their MIGs and French Mirages have not proved to be any great shakes by our Air Force. So the American products have to be seriously studied and our past antipathy to them because of their closeness to Pakistan should not perclude them if it is suitable for our requirement. We need not be rushed into a decision at their behest but should take a decision soon in such matters. Similarly we are surely obligated to the Americans for taking us out of Nuclear Pariah status and should reciprocate to them in some way. Fukishima does not mean there can never be a nuclear power plant ever to be constructed in our country. It only adds to more safeguards and location considerarions. Antony does stand tall among the today’s minions in the UPA cabinet, but he has to also act which will always be supported by people as they know of his clean image.

  6. andrew lachman says

    There is no clean congress walla, antony and his congress walla will make lots of money from the european,and no money from the american. I am anti obama–( afterall that church he was going to for 20 years ,were teaching anti- asian,and anti white — although he claim he was asleep ) so in a way i am glad he did not get its…Although in the long run ,we would have benifitted by buying American…..To many Indians who come up through reservations,,are anti-india,and anti hindu,,,they think like american kalla, everything must be given to them,they will do anything to harm their country…….

  7. csrangaraj says

    Good decision at last. IAF has Mig 29/35, Sukhoi 30 MKI and this Euro stuff.LCA will also be inducted with anIndian engine hopefully in the near future. No need to crave for permanent membership of UN. It will come if necessary of its ownaccord and then we can reject it , if we have wisdom. US and India are good friends but no bosom pals. That honor belongs to Russia. Be careful of AMericanmachinations in Kashmir and NorthEast.

  8. victor says

    in foreign policy matters, we have taken a great step forward.

  9. Vijairaghavan PG says

    Apart from the merits of the defence merchandise, the rejection must come as an eye opener to the US of India’s possible reaction to its double dealing in the matter of India-Pakistan relations. Typically the US has been running with the hare and hunting with the hound, and no prizes for guessing who the hare and hound are. Poetic justice too that while the US pumps in billions of dollars of the US taxpayers money down a black hole called Pakistan, it had wanted to earn these dollars from a seemingly gullible and easily managed minnow like India. For once, we have reason to be happy that the US has been shown its place in the scheme of things. There are sure to be ramifications of this decision and some may not be very much to our liking. India has for a long time depended upon the US to set things right in the subcontinent, specially in the area of known official support to terrorism from across the border, yet apart from lip sympathy and encomiums to our ‘shared ideals’ the US has been palpably slow and reluctant in addressing the issue fair and square, notwthstanding the fact that their own citizens have suffered in the bargain.Now that the US realises that its economy is becoming heavily dependent on the Indian market, one hopes it will grow up to become a more dependable partner rather than an unreliable friend.

  10. kurien paul says

    Hats off to the decision!!! US thinks we will bow down for evry damm request..

  11. nitin tomar says

    True by buying American War planes our wings in future will be clipped.We may have to dance to their tunes. It’s good to keep US away.

  12. shiva says

    He known for his cleam image

  13. selvarajan says

    well done antony

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