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Mr. Inder Kr. Gujral

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"International relations is an inequituous World"

I.K. GUJRAL
10th December 1999

With the end of cold war, views regarding the strategic polarities vary. It is believed that the power pendulum has decisively swung in favour of USA despite the French view that refuses to accept this unipolarity. China too share this belief. Though it recognises the armed superiority of USA.

In the United States itself, the power role of the US is seen differently by different segments of strategists. The American Enterprise Institute believes that the United States being the sole super power, has to play a policeman’s role in world affairs. Keeping in mind its technological superiority, the Clinton administration has retrenched American military bases in some parts of the world thus reducing its military budget. Without conceding the concept of multipolarity the U.S. strategic blueprint for the 1990s has projected a policy of selectivity of American strategic interests where the US regards itself as a supreme decision maker. It seeks partners in some strategic areas of the developing world like the Gulf region, and the Korean peninsula. Whenever its allies hesitate to go along with it, the US strikes alone with its global spread of military power. In 1990, the US was able to build a coalitions of fifteen countries to punish Saddam Hussein. But it could mobilise the Britain alone, when it struck Iraq in 1996. Recently, without any ally, the US carried out missile strikes against terrorist bases in Sudan and Southern Afghanistan. Once again the United States and Britain together forced Iraq to let UN inspection team continue their ‘inspections’.

The US strategic doctrine for the 1990s asks it to sustain its capability to conduct, alone if necessary, two major wars in the developing world at the same time. In spheres of Peace enforcement the USA is not willing to place its military force under UN command. Whenever necessary it expects recognition of its own military action as UN action.

Despite the power supremacy of the United States, several centres of power do play a role in international arenas. Whenever, the allies of the United States chose not to go along with it, they carefully refrained from opposing its actions. It may be of interest to note that the US sanctions slapped on India and Pakistan could not get a similar response from Britain, France and Italy in Western Europe, Russia and China. Russia were critical of this move though the Chinese, with their silence, conferred on the American sanctions a virtual kiss of approval. But it has not given any financial help to Pakistan when it direly needed it. But it chose to bring its relations with India to a standstill taking the rhetoric of some members of the Indian government too seriously.

Characteristically the French Government has made its move to atonomously lay a new foundation of a strategic relationship with India. Though, the fact remains that since June very little foreign investment has come to India from Western Europe even when most of them did not join the sanctions.

It is a reality that we live in a world unequal in wealth, technology and military power. On vital matters, we find the rich industrial and post-industrial countries standing together to defend their interests against the developing states which constitute the vast majority in the world community. If there were a world government, this majority would have carried a far greater weight on important global decision makings than at present. Whether it is in the nuclear field or in the WTO, the hard reality is that the rich stand together against the poor. Of course, the rich continue to have differences among themselves, and, as far as trade, technology and commerce are concerned, (it is not all honey and sugar, between the European Union and the United States.) Even in the European Union itself there are differences. That are journalistically described as ‘trade wars’. A Japanese scholar recently created waves by writing a book on the "next war between Japan and the United States".

Regarding all essential matters the poor nations of the world stand at the receiving end. In the WTO, for example, there is currently an organised assault on the Indian and Pakistani patents of the Basmati variety of super fine, naturally scented rice which is not grown anywhere else in the world. The high standards of social equity that the rich countries have achieved as a result of centuries of their lead in technologies, trade and business and political cum military superiority are now expected from developing countries who are far behind in technology and industry.

India is next to no one in expressing its distress at the employment of children in different informal industries in the third world. But when the employment of children in carpet making is used as a tool to discriminate against the export of carpets from India, Pakistan, Iran and other countries, it is a victory of commercial interests over the historical experience of nations, not to speak of compassion and sympathy. For in the poor nations thousands upon thousands of families are forced against their wishes to depend upon earnings of young children employed in unhygienic, unprotected informal industries as well as agriculture. This is not to justify the cruelty inflicted on the children who should be seen in school and playgrounds not in shops and restaurants working in harsh environment.

In the nuclear area too we find a same kind of discrimination. The NPT which came into force in 1970 sought to create a world permanently divided between five nuclear powers and the rest non nuclear ones. Worse, the non-nuclear nations were permanently denied access to technologies without which they could never cross the barrier to real industrialisation. India had to refuse to sign the NPT even though India stood since the early 1950s for complete and universal global nuclear disarmament. Though India remained outside the NPT, it scrupulously observed all its non proliferation provisions. Then came the CTBT negotiations in Geneva. For part of the long negotiating period it was my privilege to serve India as its Foreign Minister and Prime Minister. I was astounded to find in the draft treaty an "entry into force clause". The treaty required the signature of India and Pakistan to come into force. This provision was added into the draft without even consulting us. How could the nuclear powers take India for granted ? With all my personal preference for non proliferation, I was left with no option but to block the CTBT at Geneva.

India had exploded a nuclear device in 1974. The then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi declared that India would use nuclear power only for peaceful development. India had acquired proven capability to make nuclear weapons but refrained from doing so because of its commitment to non proliferation. India, however, had kept the option open in the hope that the nuclear powers would some day move towards complete disarmament. In 1988 India presented a plan to the United Nations providing for step by step progress towards that universally desired goal. One has only to look at the atlas to note the grim realities of nuclear weapons actually deployed in the oceans and lands surrounding India. The Diego Gracie military base in the India Ocean, the presence of warships equipped with nuclear weapons in the Gulf and Mediterranean. India’s great neighbour China is a full fledged nuclear power, while its other neighbour Pakistan was developing a nuclear weapons programme with the help of China and even the United States during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Still India refrained from going nuclear. I even suggested that the five nuclear powers to conclude a no-first strike agreement among themselves, extending it to the whole world, in which case, I said, India would consider signing the CTBT. There was no response. Except China, no nuclear power has announced a no-first strike commitment. On the contrary, the NATO is now projecting a doctrine of first-use to advance its perceived interests.

The nuclear powers would not appreciate that in the absence of any credible de-nuclearisation programme, it would be difficult for a self-denied non -nuclear country for ever remain so when some members of P-5 did not hesitate to themselves defy the NPT and pass on the weapons and technologies to areas and countries of their choice. India very well knows that nuclear weapons are not weapons of war. It is also aware that viable nuclear weapon programmes are excessively expensive. A diversion of 2 percent of GDP from defence to education can totally wipe out illiteracy.

I remain conscious of the prevailing world order that is in favour of the powerful and the rich. The nuclear weapons may I say again, may never be used but their ownership by the P-5 gives them an aura of superiority that rejects a new world order that may be democratic & equituous.

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Bio-Profile :
Mr. Inder Kr. Gujral

Bio-Profile :
Mrs. Shiela Gujral

Excerpts from the book "A Foreign Policy for India"

Selected Speeches

Latest Articles