Washington, July 19: After scoring a major achievement in getting America’s stamp on India’s nuclear weapons status and President George W. Bush’s commitment on civilian nuclear co-operation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today sought the help of the US Congress to underwrite the agreement.
Congressional support is needed to change nuclear non-proliferation laws to ensure that such co-operation becomes functional. In his address to the joint session of Congress, Singh was at pains to argue: “We have never been, and will never be, a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies.”
Citing an impeccable record, he said: “We have adhered scrupulously to every rule and canon in this area.”
He contrasted this with the proliferation activities of Pakistan. “We have done so, even though we have witnessed unchecked nuclear proliferation in our own neighbourhood.”
India was fully aware, he told them, of the immense responsibilities that came with the possession of nuclear capability. The Prime Minister hoped that “with the support and understanding of Congress, the full benefits of our partnership will be realised in the months and years to come”. But he was not referring to only nuclear co-operation but a more broad-based partnership.
Singh was making India’s case for a role in global governance as the world’s largest functioning democracy. His message was that America should work together with institutionalised democracies and open societies to guarantee global stability and prosperity.
To evolve a system of global governance “that carries credibility and commands legitimacy”, Singh argued that two conditions had to be met ' the system must be participative and should reflect “contemporary reality”.
He assured the US of co-operation to strengthen the system of global governance by finding “a reasonable and balanced outcome” of the Doha round of world trade negotiations and sought its support for Security Council membership.
“You would agree that the voice of the world’s largest democracy surely cannot be left unheard on the Security Council when the United Nations is being restructured.”
The Prime Minister spent considerable time impressing upon Congress members the deeply institutionalised nature of Indian democracy and its relevance within the country and outside. His two-fold attempt seemed to be to show how deep-rooted Indian democracy was and how this offered an opportunity to the US and India to forge close economic ties ' 400 of the Fortune 500 US companies are already in India ' and promote democratic institutions in other countries.
The concomitant of valuing democracy, Singh argued, was to protect it against terrorism and an obligation to help others who “aspire for the fruits of democracy”.
Thus, he offered to work together with the US to fight terrorism in all its forms as well as partner it in “a global initiative to help build democratic capacities in all societies that seek such assistance”.
“Partnerships can be of two kinds. There are partnerships based on principle and there are partnerships based on pragmatism. I believe we are at a juncture where we can embark on a partnership that can draw both on principle as well as pragmatism,” he said.
The previous night at a banquet hosted by Bush, the Prime Minister had emphasised the same theme. “We have all grown up learning the story of the unfinished voyage of Christopher Columbus. Setting sail to reach India, he discovered America. I now invite the people of America to complete the voyage of that great explorer.” ( )