Imperialism, Ruling Class


How Prime Minister Modi and his RSS-BJP Govt. bent over backwards to please the chief of the most powerful imperialist power, the biggest aggressor against the world people, is now known to everyone. No effort was spared to showcase personal bonhomie between US President Obama and Indian Prime Minister only to hide the unequal nature of the relationship between the two countries. It is well known how the weak take pride in their friendship with the strong only to cover up their weakness. However, when the results of the visit are analyzed it is obvious that the obvious has prevailed. The Indian Govt. has weakly succumbed to the demands of the powerful visitor.
The operationalization of US-India civil nuclear agreement has been much talked about and has clearly shown how little Indian rulers care about the law of the land and the right of the parliament to frame them. Modi, like his predecessor Manmohan Singh, termed this deal as the cornerstone of the US-India strategic partnership. But it is obvious that from the beginning this deal was, for the US, primarily an opportunity to sell its outdated and untested nuclear reactors to India at exorbitant costs. Indian rulers are bent on serving the interests of US MNCs by proposing to buy their reactors. One would recall a letter written by Manmohan Singh about the proposal to buy Rs. 10000 crores of such equipment when the deal came up for discussion in US Congress and now Modi is acting similarly. This is being done at a time when there is growing consensus in the world against power generating nuclear plants, with no fresh plants being installed and existing ones being phased out. India is stepping in as the buyer for the MNCs selling nuclear power plants. Obviously the imperialist powers and also Indian comprador rulers have contempt for safety of people of India. This is happening at a time when other sources of power are much cheaper- oil prices have plummeted and costs of solar and wind power have been steadily coming down.
US and its companies want to do away with provisions of civil nuclear liability law passed by Indian parliament in 2010. Its section 46 provides for liability of supplier (foreign companies from imperialist countries) along with operator (public sector Indian company) when the accident is attributable to faulty design or equipment supplied by such supplier. Indian comprador ruling class parties limited such liability to a mere 1500 crores (only 250 million $) irrespective of the extent of damage caused by such an accident, irrespective of the culpability of the said supplier in causing such an accident. But MNCs from imperialist countries are not prepared to even accept such a watered down provision. They wish to totally avoid liability for damages. Modi Govt., acting against the Indian law passed with the support of his party, BJP, has proposed to transfer this liability from foreign supplier to Indian tax payer. The Central Govt. has set up an insurance pool with Indian public sector insurance companies covering Rs. 1500 crore liability thereby exonerating the supplier from liability despite a clear legal provision to the contrary. This manoeuvre only shows how far the comprador govt. is willing to go to please its imperialist masters and what scant regard they have for the law of the land. It also demonstrates that positions taken by the ruling class parties in India when they are in opposition do not mean anything for them and they have little qualm in making an about turn when they are in power without giving any explanation to the people.
The other point discussed in this connection has been provisions of India specific Hyde Act and 123 Agreement which envisage intrusive inspection by US of the equipment supplied by them and the fissile material processed by these reactors. It is being propagated that US has agreed to IAEA inspections only thereby dropping the above provision. However the fact is that India has agreed to provide all the information periodically to US and it is not the case that IAEA inspections would be enough.
Even while Indian rulers have meekly surrendered before US imperialism, US is not satisfied with the outcome and US companies are suspicious of legal vulnerability.
This however was not the main aspect of the visit. The main aspect and the main outcome of the visit has been further cementing of strategic cooperation with US imperialism particularly against China. The defense cooperation agreement has been extended for another ten years. It is particularly significant that US-India joint declaration specifically mentions their joint efforts for maritime security particularly in South China Sea. It was during Modi’s visit to US in September last year that South China Sea was specifically mentioned in the joint communiqué of India and USA first time such a reference to a third power made in joint communiqué between India and US. The joint communiqué further deplores use of force or threat of use of force by any country in South China Sea which is a barely concealed reference to China. It is this further strengthening of cooperation between India and USA particularly against China which has been the main aspect of their talks and joint communiqué issue thereafter. While all other agreements have been vague and superficial this has been concrete and clear.
US President Obama has been articulating “Pivot to Asia” to check the rise of China. He has promised to shift major US forces to Asia for the purpose. But with contradictions growing in Europe and Middle-East US imperialism has been bogged down and it is not easy to shift forces. There has been intensification of armed conflict in Ukraine where anti-Kiev forces in Eastern Ukraine have gained ground in the recent past leading to increasing calls in US to provide lethal weapons to the forces of Kiev govt. There is also increasing demand from pro-US govts. in eastern Europe for increase in US forces in the region. On the other hand, conflict in West Asia has become particularly acute with Saudi Arabia facing increasing challenges both in the East and West of the country. Houthis have emerged the biggest military force in Yemen dictating the political developments there. They have forced pro-US and pro-Saudi president Hadi to resign and are demanding installation of a Govt. dominated by them in Sa’ana. Saudis have invested a lot of time and money in fighting Houthis in Yemen and they see it as a vehicle of Iranian influence in the region. On the eastern flank, rise of Islamic State poses a grave threat to Saudi monarchy particularly from a large part of clergy and also people favourably disposed towards IS. With Saudi monarchy, one of the main pillars of US influence in the oil rich region, under existential threat, US is not in a position to move forces from the Middle-East. Increasing Iranian influence in Iraq and strengthening Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria also do not bode well for US influence in the region. Armed conflicts have also grown in several countries in Africa in which US imperialism has vital stakes.
With all these conflicts, Obama Admn. is not in a position to mobilize its forces to Asia and his “Pivot to Asia” remains only a wish. This explains the keenness of US Admn. to showcase Obama’s visit to India as a singular achievement to rope in India in its strategic endeavour to check the rise of China. The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) with US, Japan, Australia and India, which is ostensibly aimed at providing maritime security to check transport of nuclear material and equipments but which is essentially targeted at China, is being developed further. Indian Govt. has shown itself to be willing accomplice in this endeavour. No wonder “highly successful visits” to Japan and Australia and visits of the leaders of the govts. of these countries preceded one by Obama.
This growing strategic partnership between US and India has serious repercussions for India and countries of Asia. Indian rulers are opening further the Indian economy for the exploitation and plunder of US companies in the hope of attracting investments from US and its allies. This will lead to further unemployment and robbing the country of its natural resources. Moreover, anti-China strategic tie-up will further aggravate tensions in South Asia. While disregarding Indian people’s anti-colonial traditions, Modi Govt. invited the chieftain of the biggest imperialist power and biggest aggressor against third world countries to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. Now President Xi of China is going to be the chief guest at the military parade in Pakistan being resumed there after a hiatus of seven years. Russia, after several decades, has started defense cooperation with Pakistan. This is being clothed as aiding in anti-terrorist fight there, but the message is unmistakable. While Modi Govt. pursues agenda of closely aligning India with US and tying India to the chariot wheel of US strategy, other major powers are also taking appropriate steps to counter this even while engaging with India. Modi led RSS-BJP Govt. is endangering the people of India and making them cannon fodder in the strategic game of US imperialism.
While Modi has gloated over the Obama visit and is showcasing it before Delhi elections, the results of the visit are disastrous for the people of India.