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'India's relevance has increased significantly in the US perception'

What are the issues confronting America and India, the world's two largest democracies, as they re-establish face to face contact at the highest level after more than two decades? Answering a slew of questions on this and other related issues is Commodore Uday Bhaskar, the well known security expert.

kailash (Wed Mar 15 7:51 IST)
Hello sir. how do you see Clinton's trip to Pakistan affecting us?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 7:55 IST)
Kailash : Much will depend on the nature and contact of the Clinton-Musharraf dialogue. I am sure there will be a lot of plain-speaking but this would not be in the public domain. We might want to make an assessment in the weeks and months that follow the Clitnon stop-over in Islamabad.

Suruchi (Wed Mar 15 7:37 IST)
I feel that Clinton is coming to India more for the propaganda sake. I am a resident of Agra. It is so surprising that over a tens of crore is being spent on clintons security for a few hours. It is ridiculous that we give such a lot of importance to the foreign dignitaries and let our own people go to dogs. i really condemn the idea of money being spent on his security

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 7:56 IST)
Suruchi : I don't think your assessment describes the entire import of the Clinton visit. More than the person it is the institution of the US president that is relevant when we talk about the India-US relationship.

KARL (Wed Mar 15 7:53 IST)
Mr Bhaskar, why is that all these years no US president came to India and why is one coming here now?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 7:59 IST)
Karl : India and the US had divergent security perceptions during the Cold war. In those decades, India did not figure prominently on the US strategic radar scope. Hence, there was no contact at the presidential level. However, the post-Cold war is a new ballgame and India's relevance has increased significantly in the US perception. Hence the visit.

munir (Wed Mar 15 7:58 IST)
Commodore Bhaskar: is it worth to invite a retiring president? don't you think we should invite next presidential candidate instead?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:1 IST)
Munir : No, I do not agree with your inference about the effectiveness of an outgoing US president. The US like any other country has considerable continuity in its bureaucracy and this will be abiding well after the Clinton visit.

Jeet (Wed Mar 15 8:0 IST)
Commodoreji: Do you think it is a failure of Indian governmet considering the fact that clinton is visiting pakistan?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:4 IST)
Jeet : No, it is not a failure on the part of the Indian government because Clinton is visiting Pakistan. His decision to stop over in Islamabad is a sovereign decision of the US government and it would be based on their perception of the US national interest.

Yatin (Wed Mar 15 8:2 IST)
Mr Bhaskar, while the moderates in the US are pro India, Madeline Albright has been consistently against India in her statements and shown a stance that wants India to compromise, how much of the US administrations movements are affected by her?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:6 IST)
Yatin : That's a good observation about the divergent perceptions within the US administration about Washington's India policy. The non-proliferation zealots have their own agenda and the regional specialists look at the issue differently. Since Madeleine Albright is the head of the arms control and disarmament agency, it is natural that she would take the position that she has.

chang (Wed Mar 15 8:0 IST)
Sir, It looks like one nice holiday for Clinton -- I mean the Jaipur trip, Ranthanbore, the the Neyla village trip. Do you really think something is going to come out of this overestimated trip from the president of US?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:10 IST)
Chang : All work and no play makes Jack ( read Bill ) a dull boy ! But more seriously, this is a balanced agenda and I think he will get a sense of the substantive issues and the flavour of India. Actually, I wish he was here to participate in the Holi celebrations. Bill Clinton is such a natural for a festival of this nature. If you know Hindi, may I add " arre Billwa ko bhang hi pila dete ! "

Rathod (Wed Mar 15 8:14 IST)
The world laughed at his bedroom antics as it was played out again and again on television screens last year. Lie after lie followed by denails and then confessions of the truth. How can any nation take this man's word or the government's word for the various issues they will discuss. Isn't it hypocritical according to you?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:15 IST)
Rathod : It would be misleading to judge the actions of nations along a morality grid. State as an entity is essentially amoral and my own position is that of a reluctant realist. There were many trransgressions by Pakistan over the years and this caused Washington much discomfort. For instance, despite many warnings during the Soviet occupations of Afghanistan, Pakistan pursued its nuclear weapon programme and the Us administration had no option but to turn a blind eye since the higher priority was that of dealing with the Soviets. It is this pattern that has allowed Pakistan to get away with what it has. However, let me add in the same breath that much as one may applaud pakistan's diplomacy in terms of the equation it has forged with washington and Beijing, the pakistani people and civil society have paid a heavy price in the process.

nirajrao (Wed Mar 15 8:9 IST)
mr. bhaskar, i am repeating my question about india demanding a place in the npt regime and a seat in the security council in exchange of signing the ctbt during the clinton visit. what are your views?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:18 IST)
Nirajrao : To the best of my knowledge, there is no such deal in the offing. The nuclear issue is a very complex one and does not include just the Us and India. As you may be aware, teher is an NPT extension review conference coming up in April and I think this may be turn out to be a a bun-fight.

Uruguay (Wed Mar 15 8:17 IST)
Mr Bhaskar what does our diplomacy lack, because of which we have suffered so much all these years? Please do tell us sir

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:20 IST)
Uruguay : Given the compulsions of the Cold War and India's own set of values, there was very little room for manouvre as far as Indian diplomacy was concerned. But now what we need is a certain nimbleness that will locate the national interest - economic, military and societal - in the driver's seat.

Umesh (Wed Mar 15 8:20 IST)
Mr Bhaskar In your suggestion should India sign the test ban treaty and the reason for your answer pls

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:22 IST)
Umesh : No, there is no hurry for India to sign CTBT just now. The prime minister has repeatedly stated that India would work towards building a consensus on the subject and that in the interim, India would abide by the central provision of the treaty : that is, it will not test and has adopted a self-imposed moratorium on testing.

Shanti (Wed Mar 15 8:22 IST)
Will the US armtwist India into signing the CTBT and ensure that India does not marry its nuclear warheads to delivery systems?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:23 IST)
Shanti : No, I don't think so.

Sasikant (Wed Mar 15 8:22 IST)
commodore bhaskar: but what us has to gain with the pakis? after all they are of no use after cold war, isn't it?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:29 IST)
Sashikant : Your assessment about pakistan's utility in the US schema in the post Cold war years needs to be qualified. While Islamabad and the pak military may not have the centrality they did during the Cold War, Pakistan's geo-strategic location cannot be ignored. If you look at the map - from Saudi Arabia to the pak-Afghan border, the Paak army is the most relaible and professional institution to further US strategic interests. Some pakistani scholars have even claimed that the only real strategic interest that the US has in Pakistan is to ensure that the pak army remains aligned with US interests. Hence the quip that Pakistan';s fortunes are determined by the three A's : Allah, Army and America.

Radha (Wed Mar 15 8:25 IST)
Pakistan is a dying state, a relic of a state used as a weapon delivery device and storage center and training center for the militants to fight against Russian troops in Afganhistan. Does the US side with Pakistan because of this misguided sense of past history?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:29 IST)
Radha : You may want to see my response to sasikant.

pavanjha (Wed Mar 15 8:29 IST)
Destination India for Clinton. Our Government might be seeing the visit as a major step in its Foreign policy. But how significant it is for the public of India ? In your opinion what achievements we are looking for ? How would you like to address Mr. Clinton during his visit Friend Clinton Tourist Clinton God Clinton (As beggers say (for IMF Loans and Lifting Sanctions)

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:34 IST)
Pavanjha : This visit is significant for the Indian public and my own senses that this will be evident in the weeks and months after the visit. The US president does not control the US economy or the choices made by multinational companies and foreign investors. yet there is a symbolism about his coming here that will give a fillip to those sectors that have a direct bearing on the lives of the Indian public. As far as addressing him is concerned, Clinton has the ability to be all things to all people but the right form would be " Mr president." There is no case to depart from established protocol.

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:37 IST)
Hello folks, I am trying to answer all the questions posted - but there seems to be a long list. Please bear with me but we only have another fifteen minutes so I will be brief in my responses.

Mora (Wed Mar 15 8:35 IST)
mr bhaskar: india always propagates peace at global level so why don't we sign the npt? after all we are gandhians, isn't it?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:38 IST)
Mora : Gandhi would not have endorsed any form of discrimination - including nuclear - which is what the NPT is all about.

nirajrao (Wed Mar 15 8:10 IST)
mr. bhaskar, i am repeating my question about india demanding a place in the npt regime and a seat in the security council in exchange of signing the ctbt during the clinton visit. what are your views?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:42 IST)
Nirajrao : A recognition or acknowledgement that india and the US have a number of areas that would allow for cooperation and consultation - and this includes the entire political, economic and military bandwith. Till recently, the India-US relationship was predicated on a singlke issue - nuclear non-proliferation and this led to the estrangement that characterised bilateral retaions till recently. One hopes that the Clinton visit will lead to a broadening of the base of the relationship - that would be my choice of the singlemost significant milestone.

Manohar (Wed Mar 15 8:42 IST)
Mr Bhaskar what should be our agenda when we meet the president which issues are going to have priority?

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:45 IST)
Manohar : There can be no single issue but as I had said earlier many issues could be identified along the political, economic, military, technological, societal and environmental determinants. From India's claim to be on the UN security council to the fine print about the WTO and its impact on developing countries right up to state-sponsored terrorism are issues that merit notice.

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Wed Mar 15 8:56 IST)
Bye bye folks, time is running out. We will catch up after the Clinton visit-Insallah. And in tHe meanwhile Id Mubarak and happy holi to all of you:-)