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
At the same time Dixit sought to put a brave face on Delhi's internal problems by
''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
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
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'?