How did Manmohan Singh treat his subordinates


C. Raja Mohan

To person

C. Raja Mohan is Strategic Affairs Editor for the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi. Prior to that, he worked as a senior editor and Washington correspondent for the daily newspaper The Hindu. Between 2003 and 2005, Mohan was Professor of South Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Mohan holds a Masters degree in Nuclear Physics and a PhD in International Relations. From 1998 to 2000 and 2004 to 2006 he was also a member of the National Security Advisory Board, the most important advisory body to the Indian government on security issues. His most recent publications include "Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India's New Foreign Policy" (2004) and "Impossible Allies: Nuclear India, United States and the Global Order" (2006).

Foreign Policy and the Indo-American Nuclear Agreement

For several years now, India and the USA have been in the process of improving their historically difficult relations on a lasting basis. The highlight of the rapprochement for the time being is an agreement on cooperation in the civilian use of atomic energy that Prime Minister Singh and President Bush signed in March 2006.

Indian Brahmos missiles can carry nuclear warheads. (& copy AP)

When US President George W. Bush and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on July 18, 2005 that they wanted to conclude a bilateral nuclear agreement, it caused a stir around the world. For disarmament advocates in particular, the fact that the United States wanted to give India a special position within the international control regime established for the use of atomic energy was tantamount to a political catastrophe. Nonetheless, the opponents of the agreement, neither the US Congress nor the Nuclear Suppliers Group - An association of 45 states for the implementation of common guidelines for the export of nuclear fuel - would agree to the request to change current US law on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons or the international non-proliferation regime in favor of a single country. In addition, the nuclear world order based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 had already come under heavy pressure from developments in North Korea and Iran.

But despite all the criticism, a year and a half later, in December 2006, the US Congress approved a change in national legislation, paving the way for cooperation with India on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. And once this hurdle has been overcome, it seems inevitable that the Nuclear Suppliers Group joins the Bush initiative and recognizes India as a full partner.

The skepticism and criticism with which the Indo-US nuclear agreement was received worldwide - but also in Washington and New Delhi themselves - have completely ignored the political essence of the agreement. While the majority of the discussions focused on the technical details of the treaty, only a few (in the White House, in the Communist Parties of India, in the People's Republic of China) recognized the importance of this agreement as the basis for a future strategic partnership between the United States and India.

At first glance, it is about cooperation in the area of ​​the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. But in reality, the deal between the only remaining superpower and a rising nation represents a new global balance of power. This also explains why Bush and Singh, despite massive criticism at home and abroad, were willing to throw their entire personal and political weight into the balance in order to make the agreement a success.

Question marks, criticism and an intense debate

The agreements made are quite simple. India will separate its nuclear program into a civilian and a military part, with the civilian facilities being made available to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). New Delhi also agreed to take formal steps to support the global non-proliferation regime. In return, the United States pledges to change its own three and a half decades old law on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the Nuclear Suppliers Group convince them to adjust their fuel and nuclear technology trade rules in favor of India.

But before the agreement could be approved by the US Congress, the Indian Parliament and the international community, both governments had to answer numerous questions. Internationally and in the USA itself, the main focus of the debate was the possible negative consequences of the special treatment of India. It was feared that the deal would undermine international security standards if India's nuclear weapons program was recognized through the back door, and at the same time the ground was prepared for the possible expansion of the nuclear arsenal. And the credibility of India's non-proliferation pledge has been questioned, as has India's role in the conflict over the Iranian nuclear program.

In India, questions were asked about possible restrictions on the national nuclear weapons program. The necessity and costs of separating the civil and military nuclear program, which has always been closely networked, were also discussed. At the same time, it was feared that the international controls could represent too strong an encroachment on sovereignty, especially in the area of ​​civil research and development and in deciding how the nuclear fuel is used. In this context, Washington's reliability as a partner was also questioned. Particularly important to the critics, however, were the unconditional equal treatment of India in the concert of the nuclear powers and the question of the impact of the agreement on the "independence" of future Indian foreign policy.

The many question marks on both sides formed the basis of an intense debate in which not only different political opinions clashed, but also individual government organizations and ministries verbally attacked each other. In the end, however, political arguments pushed the technical issues into the background in both capitals. In Washington, President Bush never tires of pointing out the importance of a strategic partnership with India. Once that was understood, it was no longer a problem to win over 80 percent of the Republican and Democratic MPs in both houses of Congress for the nuclear deal and the realignment of relations with India in the decisive votes. In New Delhi, too, Prime Minister Singh successfully defended the treaty concluded with Bush against criticism from left and right opposition parties and open resistance from influential scholars.