ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deals in the Making

If one were to go by prime minister Manmohan Singh, negotiations to finalise the so-called 123 agreement, which would “operationalise” the Indo-US nuclear deal, are in their “last leg”. What this presumably means is that both the high-level Indian team, headed by national security advisor M K Narayanan, which is in Washington this week, and its US counterpart, led by Stephen Hadley, think that a deal is within reach. Since the end of the cold war, Indo-US relations, except for a brief period following India’s nuclear tests at Pokhran, have witnessed a transformation to the extent that “India in the 21st century is a natural partner of the United States”, as US president George W Bush put it in a speech on March 3, 2006 at a summit meeting in New Delhi. The sentiment is of course mutual; a Bharatiya Janata Partyled government had earlier declared the country a “natural ally” of the US. Given a mutuality of interests then, the 123 deal may not be too hard to consummate.

Deals of such a nature have their commercial counterparts; major US corporations in the military-industrial complex are waiting in the wings to derive huge pecuniary gains. This is akin to what has been happening since the other major deal that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government inked – the framework agreement on Indo-US defence relations. That deal advances Indo-US collaboration in missile defence shields, as also co-production of defence equipment. The latter makes it more attractive for India to source its combat aircraft from the likes of Lockheed Martin (F-16 Falcons) and Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet). So also, the 123 agreement, once finalised, will bring in big money for the likes of General Electric and Westinghouse.

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