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Home > News > Report

'There is no hidden agenda'

March 04, 2006 15:45 IST

Sumit Ganguly is the Rabindranath Tagore Professor of Indian Cultures and Civilizations, and Professor of Political Science. Professor Ganguly's research and writing interests are focused on South Asia. He has published extensively in the areas of ethnic conflict, inter-state war and defense and security policy. His articles have appeared in Asian Affairs, Asian Survey, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Asian and African Affairs, the Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Strategic Studies, International Security, Survival and the Washington Quarterly.

His most recent work, published by Columbia University Press and Oxford University Press (New Delhi), is entitled Conflict Unending: India-Pakistan Tensions Since 1947. He also recently published The Crisis in Kashmir: Portents of War, Hopes of Peace.

In an exclusive chat with rediff readers, Professor Ganguly said that 'the (India-US nuclear) deal has to pass muster in the United States Congress before it can be consummated. Even after it is realized, much will depend upon the strategic choices that Indian decision-makers pursue. explains whypresident George Bush's visitto India significant for the two nations.

The transcript:

ramananda asked,good afternoon, sir...what are your first impressions about the nuclear deal signed in new delhi
Sumit Ganguly answers,They are extremely positive. Of course, the hard work lies ahead. THe U.S nonproliferation community is now up in arms and ready to torpedo the deal in Congress at all costs.

howlinwolf asked,Sumit, how will Bush justify NOT giving a similar deal to the Pakis?
Sumit Ganguly answers,The answer is very simple. They ran one of the world's largest proliferation netweorks and have yet to 'fess up to their activities.

sapan asked,why did bush give more priority to hyderabad..?
Sumit Ganguly answers,To avoid the call center controversy that Bangalore would have raised.

howlinwolf asked,Dr Ganguly, how will this visit impact the peace process on the subcontinent, if at all?
Sumit Ganguly answers,That remains to be seen. It is far from clear what precise message he will deliver to Musharraf about the peace process. The ball really is in Pakistan's court at the moment.

ramananda asked,But will this deal eventually pass congress?
Sumit Ganguly answers,It remains to be seen. Much depends on how the President approaches Congress. He will really have to mend some fences that are in a state of considerable disrepair.

Dave asked,How would Russia see the new US-India alliance?
Sumit Ganguly answers,I really do not think that Russia is at all concerned with this new relationship. It does not affect them adversely. Also, it is far from an "alliance". The term alliance, has a very specific meaning in American diplomatic discourse and involves formal treaty commitments and obligations.

abhishek asked,Mr. Ganguly. I am an Indian in the US and how do you think would the future of relations between US and India would look so as to have a long-term positive impact on the NRIs, especially we students studying here for various degrees and seeking employment
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, inevitably it will. It should, over time, make a visa regime improve and also open up more H-1B slots.

Teerth asked,Hi..Why does Bush think that India still cannot be a permanent member on UN?
Sumit Ganguly answers,This is a complicate question. I think that he has to cross a hurdle at a time. Among other matters, many other states who are in line would object vehemently.

indianpatriot asked,sir, what will this deal mean to the strategic environment in the neighborhood?
Sumit Ganguly answers,It is too early to tell. The deal has to pass muster in the United States Congress before it can be consummated. Even after it is realized, much will depend upon the strategic choices that Indian decision-makers pursue.

Dave asked,Dr. Ganguly, do you think India should still go for Sukhois or F-16s?
Sumit Ganguly answers,The F-16s both for strategic and diplomatic reasons.

sonin asked,Sumit - What are ur expectations when Bush will visit pakistan . I mean to say the package he gave to India , will it be in similar lines .. especially the Nuclear one
Sumit Ganguly answers,There is NO chance for a similar nuclear deal for Pakistan . See my eralier comment on the subject.

howlinwolf asked,what do you think about the anti-Bush rallies by the mullahs and commies in india?
Sumit Ganguly answers,They were rather predictable.

siva asked,Can we trust US ?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, I believe so.

prirad asked,Mr. Ganguly How can NRIs work to mobilize opinion in the Congress for this deal
Sumit Ganguly answers,By writing to their COngressmen and Senators en masse. By writing letters to local and national newspapers.

Teerth asked,Why does US still support Pakistan inspite of knowing that it is home and root cause for terrorism?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Primarily because of Pakistan's physical location and the presence of the Al Qaeda in and around Pakistan.

Aagami asked,Sumit, I am a big fan of India-US cooperation and partnership, but I think India must keep its SELF INTEREST as utmost importance and as does US and no one should get a blinkered vision. For that if Indians should play a China Card to US or US card to China, we should do it. What do you say?
Sumit Ganguly answers,I agree with most of your sentiments.

Dave asked,Dr. Ganguly, what if the next President and/or the next PM decides to forgo the ties which Pres. Bush and PM Dr. Singh strived hard to cultivate? This is not yet time tested.
Sumit Ganguly answers,Quite frankly, the Indo-US relationship is now NO longer dependent on personalities or personal predilections.

Lalit asked,Mr Ganguly, was there any discussions on Social Security taxes refunding to Indians when they return back to India?
Sumit Ganguly answers,I do not know the answer to this question as I am not a tax lawyer.

prirad asked,Is it generally the Democrats would oppose the deal and Republicans will back the deal?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, that is a bit simplistic. Senator Richard Lugar, a very senior Republican, and my senior Senator has stated that he has some 80 questions about the deal.

abhishek asked,Do you think that both India and US have worked on a secret agreement with Israel to destroy Pakistan, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Hardly!

Logo asked,How much of the energy gap between supply and demand can be reduced because of the nuclear deal? Has the nuclear deal gained more importance after the Iran pipeline deal met with problems? If the Iran deal had gone through, would India still have tried for the nuclear deal and also, voted the same way at the UN against Iran?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Much depends on how India utilizes nuclear energy if the deal goes through. I doo not think that India would have held the nuclear deal hostage to the Iranian pipeline.

Philip asked,Sir, can you shed some light on the recent announcement by Pentagon to offer India state of the art technology in defence? Isn't this an euphemism in the current context of india's deal with US.
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, it is NOT euphemistic and India should take the Pentagon at its word and hold them to their promise.

Aagami asked,Sumit, I think BUSH and RICE have done really a GREAT thing in this visit to INDIA to change the course of the world just like what NIXON and KISSINGER did in 1972 by their visit to CHINA, what do you think?
Sumit Ganguly answers,That may be slightly overstated but I would be loath to diminish the significance of this visit.

indianpatriot asked,The kashmir dispute is more about water than religion: wht do YOU think?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, not really. It is about the unfginished business of partition and also payback for India's role in the creation of Bangladesh.

Raj asked,What are the negative consequences of the N-Deal with respect to the our neighbouring states like Pak, Bangladesh, Srilanka. The countries see us as bully in the region and should they be worried.
Sumit Ganguly answers,They will keep carping whether or not the deal goes through. Bangladesh, in particular, has a range of imagined and imaginary grievances against India.

alokbansal asked,What would US expect from India on the Iran issue and what are the options available to US as far as Iran is concerned?
Sumit Ganguly answers,I think that the U.S. would prefer India NOT to go ahead with the pipeline deal.

JohnJ asked,Why is bangladesh so much against us? Are we really so inconsiderate of our neighbours?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Not really. Beating up on India provides valuable excuse for failing to address a number of crucial social and economic problems. It is a form of scapegoating.

howlinwolf asked,Honestly, do you think India has compromised its strategic interests by signing on to this deal?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Not by a long shot!

av asked,Why do you think there is so much fuss about nuclear technology, when (a) it is all about creating a larger market for nuclear power plants built by US companies and (b) India has a strategic oil pipeline project with Iran and Pakistan, where economics could drive some peace? What is it that we, the public, are missing in the picture?
Sumit Ganguly answers,The pipeline was going nowhere in a hurry. Also, please bear in mind that it was supposed to pass through Balochistan, a province that is now aflame and likely to reamin so for some time.

ryan asked,Summit, What are the chances of Bush being able to get the mandate to pass the nuclear deal to the congress.
Sumit Ganguly answers,Much depends on how he approaches Congress. It will require very careful and dedicated efforts.

Raj asked,SG thanks for answering my earlier question. Increasingly more than pakistanis Bangadeshis despise India. HAs India contributed to this or is it a despise a big brother attitude.
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, but ONLY in part.

ramananda asked,In one stroke, Washington ended India's pariah status and drove a stake through the heart of the Non-Proliferation Treaty
Sumit Ganguly answers,Assuming, of course, that the deal survives in Congress. SG

ab asked,Hello there! I dont know whether this question has already been asked: What would be US stand on Kashmir. Will it take some measures there as part of his global campaign for fighting terrororism? Or is Kashmir excluded from that "list" of his? If so why there is a room for double standards. Shouldnt US be taking strong actions to suppress those terrorist training camps as part of his war against terror? Why cant US deploy intellegence to endorse the presence of such Pak supported programmes. I am sure US is aware of all that. But why its blindfolded?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, I have already addressed this question. See below

Truman asked,Dr.Ganguly, why does this deal matters so much? Nuclear Energy would amount to a maximum of 6-7% of India's total need of energy.
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, the estimates are considerably higher especially if one can modernize existing plants and add new ones. Energy efficiency in India is extremely low.

alokbansal asked,You have recommended that India should go for F-16 but Sukhoi is not only better but also cheaper. F-16is also an old aiorcraft and as I understand the assembly line will close down but for orders from South Asia.
Sumit Ganguly answers,I have not seen any evidence of the US abandoning the F-16.

howlinwolf asked,"The contradiction -- demanding Iran abandon its program on the one hand while granting India unconditional privileges on the other -- is a situation Tehran is already taking advantage of." Do you agree?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Please bear in mind that India NEVER signed the NPT and Iran did. It is in wilful violation of the treaty's obligations.

johnj3 asked,i saw a comment somewhere that said that pakistan was a counterweight to india-china cold war.. now does pakistan have a future that consists of it not being a counterweight? or will its place in history be always that?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, that is a misapprehension. Pakistan was useful to the United States for other reasons having to do with the containtment of Communist and then Soviet power.

johnj3 asked,how is the npt affected by this? iran who is a signee has already broken it..
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, not just Iran but also North Korea. The NPT is NOT directly affected as India NEVER signed the NPT.

Truman asked,Thanks for replying to my question, SG. Do you think a Nuclear Bomb equipped India is better for America?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Not really. India should have its nuclear arsenal for its own strategic reasons.

abhishek2 asked,Sumit, how is the current trend in the US congress, based on your research that you may have conducted, do you think the deal would be torpedoed or approved by the Us congress, also if we are and were actively lobbying with the Jewish lobby, how do you think would it affect the deal?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Please take a look at a porevious answer. I have already addressed this question isn some detail. Thanks.

Tamilan asked,My feeling is that India got almost what it wants. Considering track record of US policies, what is the hidden agenda of US to concede too much for India.
Sumit Ganguly answers,I honetsly do not think that there is a "hidden agenda".

grnsavvy asked,Don't you think this nuclear deal will drag other advanced energy technologies such as coal gasification to the back seat, because this point of time India wants a magic bullet to solve their all energy needs.
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, I think that they should and will move on parallel tracks.

Philip asked,Does this well and truly signal the end of any Cold war remnants?
Sumit Ganguly answers,One can only hope so. Much depends on how the U.S. Congress reacts and how dexterously India can move on other fronts.

anirad asked,Do you see China Signing a similar deal with Pakistan
Sumit Ganguly answers,I doubt it.

anindian asked,I have always wanted to ask this: America was the first and the only nation to have used the Atom Bombs towards mass destruction - not once but twice - the second after a few days and after seeing the enormous loss of lives and destruction the first had caused. And even today the US must be sitting on the largest cache of Nuclear weapons with matching delivery systems. Why is it the world does not unite and ask for some commitment from the USA?
Sumit Ganguly answers,This is a legitimate question. Sadly, international politics is far more about power and less about morlaity and justice.

Supriya asked,SG, Is this nuclear deal going to provoke China and Pakistan? Will this cause insecurity in this region?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, not really. However, it should put China on some notice. They hasave long watched the improvement in Indo-U.S. relations with much apprehension.

sharad asked,Would it be safe to assume that a Democratic president would have made the same deal with India?
Sumit Ganguly answers,I HONESTLY doubt it.

Truman asked,Dr.Sumit, then the theory of "powering India to counterbalance the 'China' threat" is flawed? Does it exist in the first place? Because if it does, then I am sure a Nuclear (read Bomb) powered India is what America needs.
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, it is. Because I doubt that very many Indians want to play that role even while they perceive a legitimate threat from China.

alokbansal asked,Do you think President Bush will nudge Pakistan towards genuine democracy
Sumit Ganguly answers,Sadly, I doubt it. The President seems more concerned about the evisceration of teh AL Qaeda and less about promoting democracy in Pakistan. I wish it were otherwise.

priya asked,Dr Ganguly, Do you see any chances of a turn around of india's economic and foreign policy dues to a change in government( eg. Left alliance) in the near future?
Sumit Ganguly answers,God forbid!

howlinwolf asked,Given that Bush is entering his 'lame duck' period, how truly significant do you think this visit was in real terms?
Sumit Ganguly answers,He is not quite a "lame duck".

anirad asked,Will INdia now be expected to Toe the US position in all internation affairs?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, not by a long shot. Anyone who thinks so fails to understand how fiercely independent India's policymakers are.

reddyarizona asked,Dr Ganguly, I saw you on PBS yesterday. I seems like USA yeilded to Indian demands more that expected. Are we sensing any desperation on the Amerian side? If, so, why?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Hardly. Bear in mind that the real battle is just beginning. Surely you saw the intrsnsigent reaction of Mr. Cirincione!

hvmn asked,Should the Indian PM not follow up the Bush visit by himself going to China and ensuring all is well with the Indo-China relationship?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No. There is no reason to kowtow to the regime in China.

vk asked,Is it possible now to get nuclear fuel from any were with out the deal passing in the congress? Thanks,
Sumit Ganguly answers,No. Not really.

RaveeIndiana asked,Sumit, the US is giving control of several of its ports to a UAE company. Though globalization *is* the way to go, where do we draw the line to FDI? Does the USA expect the same out of India too?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, the ports issue has become quite politically fraught and is far from settled.

sunny asked,What makes you think he came to Hyderabad?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Look below for the answer.

Supriya asked,SG, If Bush could convince his senators and American people about the war in Iraq, don't you think he can convinve this nuclear deal with India easily?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Because he successfully sold Iraq as a threat.

ramachandramahale asked,what are the real benefits of Indo-US nuclear deal and will it flow in the near future?
Sumit Ganguly answers,It first needs to be ratified in Congress before we can see the flow of ANY benefits.

RamyaMenon asked,The US President praised India's efforts towards rehabilitation in Afghanisation. Does that mean India joining US against Iran
Sumit Ganguly answers,Hardly. India has very good, independent relations with the Karzai regime.

indianpatriot asked,Are you a Republican? Suppose a democratic government comes in next year, will it have a similar outlook towards India?
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, I am not. I was merely making a judgment based upon my understanding of American politics.

Nits asked,Would you like India to facilitate democracy in Pakistan and also work with it to become NPT have members or do you think India needs to see Pakistan as a long term threat and not work towards any facilitation
Sumit Ganguly answers,I doubt that India could promote democracy in Pakistan given the highly adversarial features of the relationship.

alokbansal asked,You have stated that the President is more concerned with Al Qaeda. Do you think Pakistan i establishment is doing all it can to get rid of Taliban and Al Qaeda
Sumit Ganguly answers,By NO means!

RaveeIndiana asked,Dr. Ganguly, How big a role do you think Mr.Blackwill had to play in the current thaw in India-USA relationship?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Only in part. The relationship had alerady improved BEFORE Blackwill came on the scene.

Truman asked,SG, then would it be safe to conclude that the Nuclear Deal has NOTHING to do with the bomb? And you also mentioned that you do not see China offering a similar deal to Pakistan. Why not?
Sumit Ganguly answers,It has to do with accepting the reality of India's nuclear status, its role as a growing regional power and with an interest in India's markets.

RaveeIndiana asked,Dr.Ganguly, what is the next step for India vis-a-vis its nuclear status? Is it a gradual coercion towards signing the NPT or the CTBT? Bush himself is inclined towards further nuclear testing but Clinton was aggressively coaxed India to sign the CTBT.
Sumit Ganguly answers,No, I do not think that there will be pressure to sign the CTBT, at least NOT under this administration which has little or no use for it.

Amol asked,Why should we trust Mr. Bush? Why should India give US more priority? What steps are been taken by india to be self sufficient and also to be away from countries like USA?
Sumit Ganguly answers,What did the quest for self-sufficiency buy India over a span of forty-odd years?

ramsengupta asked,Do you think Musharraf's argument that he is the only opposition to the mad mullahs in Pakistan is valid?
Sumit Ganguly answers,I do not buy it for a moment. Look at Hussain Haqqani's excellent book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.

howlinwolf asked,Does this deal mean the end of the NPT as we know it?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Hardly.

Rahul asked,Dr Ganguly will the outsourcing business in india will grow?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, inevitably.

vikram asked,What are the issues which are keeping India from not signing NPT? Whole world has recognised India as a nuclear state and global power economically. What's your opinion whether signing NPT will get India more technology transfer and in terms better energy security?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Signing the NPT would force India to forswear its nuclear option.

disco asked,Dr. Sumit, why nuclear-deal is seen as sellout deal by some people?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Largely because they are misinfomed or uninformed.

CommunistRat asked,Australian Prime Minister John Howard is visiting India right after Bush and the French Presiden Jaques Chirac has just left. How would you explain this sudden interest of West in India? And its implications for India?
Sumit Ganguly answers,It reflects India's growing economic, diplomatic and military clout in the world.

anirad asked,Will the BJP accept this deal?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, after some public grumbling to please their constituents.

Truman asked,One last question sir. Why don't you see a similar deal in offing for Pakistan from China?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Largely because the Chinese do not wish to provoke the United States and also they have their own misgivings about Pakistan.

howlinwolf asked,Do you think the concerns of the Indian nuke scientists have been addressed?
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, I think so within reason.

RaveeIndiana asked,Dr.Ganguly, Do you think that a Democrat government at the helm in Washington would change America's stance regarding the CTBT or NPT? I know its tough to guess, but would then then insist that India sign the CTBT or NPT.
Sumit Ganguly answers,Yes, I believe so. However, India can exercise its sovereign right NOT to do so as it has done quite effectively in the past. I fear that this will be the last question I can answer as I have several other tasks that I must attend to this Friday afternoon. I hope that all of you have enjotyed the chat as much as I have. I have tried to answer as many questions as I can and with the greatest possible honesty and candor.

The Bush visit: Complete coverage | Chats | The nuclear deal

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