Chapter 9: INDIA SINCE INDEPENDENCE - IX
Foreign Policy of the 1990's
The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union
meant that US would now emerge as the sole superpower. India had
established commitment towards Liberalization, Privatization and
Globalization. Though Indo - Soviet friendship was over but Russia
would now become a close ally to India. Fortunately, the Central
Asian Republics too were strategically located and had rich natural
resources. Their historic ties with India were close too.
India's relations with the Middle-East too were good. The foreign
policy was always in support of Palestinian objective even though
India had close ties with Israel. India also refused to support US
sanctions on Iran - Iraq. This led to support to India from the
Organization of Islamic Unity which Pakistan couldn't use to its
Regional trade blocs were being established and India had to work to
accommodate them in its foreign policy. The S.A.A.R.C had still to
achieve its importance. A.S.E.A.N had emerged but India was still a
dialogue partner. Countries on the Indian Ocean Rim would seek to
form a forum of multilateral assistance. India would also need to
align its strategy to consider strengthening ties with East Asian
countries. Japan which was a biggest donor of funds could be used as
a leverage to China. Singapore was a tiny city state that had
knowledge to become a leading technological world power. India also
had good historical ties with Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand.
India had to prevent the uni-polarization of the World and urge the
developing nations to assert themselves instead of silently
accepting US hegemony. The NAM bloc, G-77 and SAARC could be used to
reform existing institutions like UNSC, IMF and World Bank to ensure
greater participation and fund flow to the developing countries.
Regarding nuclear security India though had conducted tests but
wasn't a signatory to the Non - Proliferation Treaty made by the Big
Four nations that wanted to monopolize nuclear weapons. China had
joined this club too but this treaty was discriminatory towards
India as it imposed restrictions on other nations but made no firm
commitment to de-nuclearize weapons on the Big Five nations.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty too was one such discriminatory
treaty. NPT and CTBT were not signed by India.
India's goal was to have a position of respect at the World
order, maintain independent foreign policy and keep her interests
Pokhran and Kargil
The Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998 were a scientific achievement for
India. However instead of winning praise for them the country had to
face sanctions due to irresponsible manner in which the handling of
the publicity was done. The Defence minister had earlier named China
and Pakistan as Most dangerous threats and identified them in a
communication to President Lincoln. The identification of nations
led to the belief that nuclear weapons were meant for use against
these nation's. This led to tensions between China and India and
spoiled years of diplomatic negotiations. RSS mouthpiece too had
courted controversy by claiming such weapons would be for the
Pakistani threat.Other peaceful nations became wary of India's
intentions and supported US sanctions against India.
The next controversial incident was Pakistani invasion of Kargil
which led to a battle in which the intruders were repelled. The
Pakistani mujaheddin backed by the army had infiltrated and occupied
strategic positions of Kargil and Indian army had to mount a
military exploration against all odds to reclaim these peaks. The
battle saw unanimous backing to India from the World including old
Pakistani allies like US, China. US supported India due to its
growing fear of Islamic terrorism and China as it felt India was
it's only ally against increasing US Hegemony.
The Government was criticized for politicization of the War. It was
alleged that intelligence regarding the infiltration had reached the
government and that it had deliberately delayed decision for winning
public opinion. The communal splinter groups like VHP, BJD, RSS
often invited Army officers to rallies and meetings. Rakhi's and
blessings were sent to Hindu officers and personnel by RSS. Often
the Servicemen of other communities were ignored. This
communalization of army could have serious repercussions. The
apolitical and secular nature of the army had been carefully
nurtured by Indian polity for last 50 years.
Shortly after the Kargil War the democratically elected PM
Nawaz Sharif was removed in a coup by General Musharraf who became
the Chief executive and President. Musharraf was accused of being
the chief perpetrator of Kargil War as a phone conversation
intercepted by Indian intelligence agencies showed that PM of
Pakistan was kept in the dark.
The Kandahar incident too affected the ties between India - Pakistan
when a plane was hijacked and the hijackers demanded release of
terrorists in Indian jails. Musharraf was invited to India by
Vajpayee and his visit was broadly publicized by the media. The
exercise was a failure of Indian leaders and a success for Pakistan
as Musharraf put forth his view that the militancy in Kashmir was
due to indigenous public aspirations. The 2001 attack on Indian
Parliament almost led to a war like situation with massive built up
of military on both sides however war was averted.
The free and fair elections in Kashmir under supervision of Election
commission of India and observed by international community led to
gaining of credibility for India. Also the subsequent elections in
Pakistan neither convinced the indigenous public nor the
- For Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and the smaller neighbors India doesn't ask for reciprocity but gives all it can.
- No South Asian country should allow use of its territory for attack against another country of same region.
- No country will interfere in the internal matters of another.
- All South Asian countries will respect territorial integrity of each other.
- All South Asian countries shall settle all disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.
Indo - US Nuclear Agreement
The sanctions against India were lifted after the 9/11 attacks on
US. India was looked upon favorably even before this by the
Clinton administration. The public opinion of India in US was in
favor of a dialogue between both nations. Indian diaspora of
highly qualified professionals also aided this. The George Bush
regime too was in favor of India although it favored the strategic
importance of Pakistan in the war against Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Indian government wanted to please the US administration and
offered Indian soil as a base for operations. It had also offered
to send troops to Iraq in 2003 but overturned the decision due to
public protests. Indian government had steadfastly disallowed any
interference on the Kashmir issue since it was a bilateral issue
but it was believed US was an informal intermediator there.
It was on these lines that a civilian nuclear cooperation
agreement was signed between the Vajpayee government and the Bush
administration. However this agreement was strengthened by
Manmohan Singh government. This led to modification of US laws and
India got access to full civilian nuclear energy cooperation and
trade with US. This also led to civilian nuclear energy
cooperation agreements with other nations. On
the other hand it is believed India had to vote in favor of a
resolution against Iran by the IAEA. This was due to pleasing of
The Indo - US Nuclear agreement was a historic deal in
which the concessions given to India were more than those given
to any other country. By the 123 Agreement,
India got freedom to continue with its nuclear weapons program
which wasn't given to any other country by US. India also got
uninterrupted fuel supply to its reactors and a right to build
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 or Nuclear Liability Act
This is a highly controversial Act passed by Parliament to limit the liability of operators of Civilian nuclear reactors in India. The Act was passed to ensure that foreign private sector companies could participate in the construction of Nuclear reactors in India. This was necessary to get US manufacturing companies to participate in the Indian process.
The Act has capped the maximum amount of compensation that can be awarded to victims during a nuclear damage to Rs. 5 billion and an additional liability that shall borne by the Central government of upto Rs. 300 million.
The operator of Indian nuclear plants shall be NPCIL and it is a government owned company. Thus the entire liability has to be borne by the Central government and so the tax payers. However the operator can claim a compensation from suppliers of defective parts.
Only the operaor of the power plant can sue for damages and not the victims.
The limit of 10 years has been prescribed for claiming damages under this Act. However nuclear reactor accident victims emerge many years after this. Also Civil courts are barred from interference and only a Nuclear damages commission can handle such cases.