NSG: Where India erred on its bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership; Pratap Bhanu Mehta explains

By: | Published: June 29, 2016 11:16 AM

NSG: Modi government's failure to bag the much-talked about Nuclear Suppliers Group membership for India is under severe criticism.

nsg india, nsg latest news, nuclear suppliers group, nsg india chinaNSG: Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President at Centre for Policy Research (CPR) says that India deluded itself at three levels on Nuclear Suppliers Group membership. (PTI Photo)

Modi government’s failure to bag the much-talked about NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership for India is under severe criticism from all opposition political parties. Where did India go wrong? How important is the NSG membership for India?

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President at Centre for Policy Research (CPR) says that India deluded itself at three levels. In a column in Indian Express, Mehta highlights the three levels of delusion and points out that what was worrying about engagement with the world is the false pretences under which India undertook it.

We take a look at the three main points on India’s NSG bid:

1) “Modi has been unwittingly set up by his government, where the public projection was that this is all a matter of him turning his charm on Xi Jinping; as if nostalgic memories of swinging together on the banks of the Sabarmati can replace the hard realities of politics,” says Mehta.

Also read – NSG: Why India’s hopes of entry are not dashed yet

“If the domestic criticism has been high, it is because government raised the pitch: It appeared desperate to project a political triumph where a prosaic handling might have served it better,” he adds.

2) According to Mehta, China has a more aggressive outward posture and it is seeking its due. “Its (China’s) concern with India, contrary to what we think, is incidental. But it is deeply concerned with the US. That concern will now manifest in the ambition that it will not allow the US to write the rules of the international order according to its wishes,” says Mehta. “It will show that the US cannot claim hegemony over redefining the rules of the game. This is what China is doing in its approach to international law; this is what it is doing in building alternative institutions,” he adds.

Mehta also emphasizes that one should not belittle the opposition and concerns of other countries. “These countries are not insignificant. But more importantly, they are all interested in what kind of a power India will be. Having two powers like the US and China at the high table who believe in great power exceptionalism, particularly when it comes to international law, is problematic. Having India join the table to add fuel to this fire, not to douse it, worries many countries, no matter what our diplomats may say,” he feels.

3) The third delusion is the cynical use to which the American security lobby is putting this episode, Mehta says. “Our relationship with the US will for many reasons be incredibly close. But surely the lesson from this episode is that until India has the power to dictate terms it is in our interest to be an arena of great power agreement.” “Whether Pakistan or NSG, the US alone cannot deliver what we want,” he adds.

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