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India’s NSG Bid – China’s successful opposition & the road ahead

Tashkent : Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Tashkent on Thursday on the sidelines of SCO Summit. PTI Photo (PTI6_23_2016_000094B)
Written by Niladri Bose

China seems to have, according to news from Seoul available so far, successfully blocked PM Modi’s diplomatic push for a seat at the Nuclear Suppliers Group. For now. Several countries influenced by an adamant Chinese lobby have also opposed India’s bid citing Non-Proliferation Treaty being the cornerstone for such an inclusion – Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and Turkey to name a few.

Should we be disappointed?

Yes, a tad bit for sure. PM Modi has been personally working to get us the entry. It seems that his efforts have not been enough to sway the Chinese, for now. And his failure is our failure. Because he represents my country. Me & you at the international level.

Should we be heartbroken? What’s the road ahead?

Not at all. India’s nuclear program will continue unhinged with or without a seat at the NSG. The development is in fact quite expected. And China’s actions will have ramifications on itself. They can almost forget about getting into the Missile Technology Control Regime, that India is now a part of. And a trilateral (India, US & Japan) pressure point will continue to keep them at bay in the South China Sea. Or for that matter circling of the ‘husband-wife’ duo through Iran, Afghanistan and beyond. No backdoor concessions there, either. On the other hand, supplies of nuclear material to India will continue to grow. No foreign nuclear reactor supplier is waiting for India to get an NSG membership. If at all, they are waiting for certain local issues (activists and NGOs not letting reactors to be built being one of them) to get resolved, that have no bearing on whether India is an NSG member or not.

Have we failed completely?

Absolutely not. Gone are those days when an Indian Foreign Minister read out a speech meant for another country at the UN. Gone are those days when Indian delegates treated international conventions as foreign tours. Now, thanks to PM Modi, India passes through those corridors as a giant & exerts an immense amount of diplomatic authority. Always keeps a plan B ready for deployment too. NSG will happen eventually. There is no doubt. Perhaps even within PM Modi’s first term. The next plenary meet will be in Switzerland, next year. And I see India pushing herself into the agenda with even more vigour and influence.

So why are we burning mid-night oil for a seat anyway?

The reason is more political in nature. India received an NSG waiver in 2008 on condition of abiding by any rules NSG may make in future. Being in NSG would mean participating in that decision-making process. Also, as an NSG member, India would be in a greater position to expose & implicate Pakistan and its disastrous proliferation records. The interesting part is there are other ways for India to do both the above even without being a part of the NSG.

Conclusion:

So you see this was going to be a win-win for India either way.  And this has been possible, only because of PM Modi and his team’s meticulous planning and execution of foreign policy. Getting the US (who in fact defined the rule of NPT being a necessity to get in, and yet, is ready to exempt India) and other developed countries into one’s confidence, was not a small feat by any stretch of the imagination.

And if (hypothetically speaking) foreign policy was to be made the only criterion to vote for someone, I would choose PM Modi every time. With my eyes closed.

What do you think, let us know your views below!

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