Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US and France, beginning next week, presents an opportunity to break the “hat-in-hand” cast around Indian diplomacy. Long used to reacting to events, this is a chance to take initiative.
The Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement is in the last lap of a long run. Non-proliferationists in the US are making last-ditch efforts to somehow water down the deal. With the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver in the bag, the PM has a strong hand: France is ready for nuclear cooperation. If peaceniks damage the deal, US companies stand to lose more.
This possibility is not lost on US officials. That was one of the reasons behind attempts to “time” the NSG waiver. Had that been the case, India would not have this opportunity. Citizens will keenly watch what the PM and our diplomats do abroad. It’s time they were bold. French enthusiasm can more than match a dour US legislative establishment.