"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
 
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

Goodbye, Non Alignment!

October 1993

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 polar world.'

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 permanent members.

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 Washington:

''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 added:

''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'?

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