India is on a dangerous imperialist course
The second half of 2010 witnessed the chieftains of the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China paying official visits to India. These countries are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, also called P5. The fact that all the P5 chieftains visited our country in close succession shows the high degree of interest that India is attracting among the biggest imperialist powers of the world. The deals that were struck during these visits, and the declarations made, also show that our country is on a dangerous imperialist course, seeking to join the elite club of aggressive plunderers of the world.
It is necessary to look at each of these visits, their content and agreements reached, in the light of the history of each bilateral relation, so as to draw relevant conclusions about what has changed in India’s external relations and in what direction they are moving.
Bilateral Relations of India with the P5
India and the United States:
In the Cold War period, India signed a military treaty with the Soviet Union in 1971. This placed our country in the Soviet camp, even though our leaders followed a policy of engaging with both superpowers under the banner of ‘non-alignment'. The Soviet Union backed India’s intervention in the then East Pakistan to help create Bangladesh. The major part of military supplies for the Indian State were imported from the Soviet Union and not from the US.
Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, there was a long process of negotiations between Indian and US leaders to redefine the relationship. The US imperialists began to see India as a useful ally in their aggressive drive to conquer Asia and establish a unipolar world under their dictate. They saw India as a ‘natural ally’ in their fascistic offensive in the name of "waging war against Islamic terror" and in their promotion of multi-party representative democracy as the only acceptable political process.
In the present circumstances, the US imperialists look upon India as an extremely important market for their weaponry and capital goods. The capitalists of our country have been viewing Indo-US cooperation as a means to globalize their capital and production base, to gain access to nuclear capability as well as to weaken and isolate Pakistan.
The enunciation of the Indo-US ‘strategic partnership’ and the signing of the nuclear deal in 2005 marked a significant shift in the bilateral relationship. For the US, its relationship with India has assumed strategic importance, as a counterweight to China. For India, it has changed from being a relationship of a former colony to an imperialist superpower, into a relationship between two imperialist powers. It is no doubt an unequal relation between a superpower and a newly emergent one. Nonetheless, it has the quality of being an inter-imperialist relationship that benefits both powers, to the detriment of their own peoples and other rival powers.
The visit of US President Obama was notable for the unprecedentedly large delegation of capitalist businessmen who accompanied him. It showed the keenness of the US government to expand American exports to India, as part of its efforts to deal with the domestic recession, huge trade deficit and high unemployment. Deals worth $10 billion were signed with US capitalist corporations during this visit – for supplying equipment in aviation, power and other sectors. A deal was signed with the Boeing Company for the Indian armed forces to buy 10 C-17 transport aircraft worth nearly $3.5 billion. In return for the economic and military supply deals sealed by Obama on behalf of US corporations, India received the open verbal support of the US chieftain for its claim to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
India and Russia:
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, India’s ties with Russia had to be worked out afresh. In the 1990s, bilateral relations were at a very low level, compared to the situation earlier. However, increasing tension between Russia and the US has made the Russian government pay greater attention to reviving its ties with India. Despite its economic collapse in the 1990s, Russia remained one of the biggest arms producers and sellers in the world. It was willing to supply India with nuclear reactors (at Koodamkulam) when the Western powers were unwilling to do so. The Indian rulers are displaying interest to step up military imports from Russia, as part of their policy of maintaining diversity in the sources of arms supplies. Russia also has one of the world’s largest reserves of oil and natural gas, which commodities the Indian bourgeoisie needs badly to achieve its expansionist aims.
During Russian President Medvedev’s visit in December, the biggest-ever military deal in India’s history was signed. This was a contract for the preliminary design of the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi. The total project is estimated to exceed $30 billion. Apart from this, the Russians agreed to provide GLONASS high-precision navigation signals to India, that would reduce the Indian army’s current dependence on satellite based navigation system for signals. While no specific deal was signed, the Russians also committed to provide additional nuclear reactors at Koodamkulam in Tamilnadu.
India and Britain:
Even after the warming up of Indo-US relations in recent years, the Indian state’s relations with Britain continued to be clouded by the question of Pakistan. The British government had been accused as being partial to Pakistan. Resentment had been expressed by various political parties in India over the references to Kashmir during earlier visits by British leaders.
Indian capitalists are today the second largest group of foreign investors in Britain. Exports to India are of high priority in the efforts of British capitalists to get out of the economic crisis with their profits intact.
The centrepiece of the deals struck during the visit of British Prime Minister Cameron in July 2010 was for the supply of 57 Hawk jets to the Indian air force and navy by British Aerospace, amounting to $1.1 billion. In return, Cameron made a political concession much liked in Indian ruling circles, by explicitly condemning Pakistan for "exporting terrorism" to India and other countries.
India and France:
Although a NATO ally of the US, France’s foreign policy has not followed the lead of the US in all matters. For instance, France has specialised in certain hi-tech military industries and has sought to expand the markets for its products irrespective of US policies. The Indian state has utilised these inter-imperialist contradictions, as in the case when it got the French to supply nuclear fuel for the Tarapur power plant at a time when other Western countries were reluctant to supply it.
During the recent visit by French President Sarkozy, five agreements were signed to establish the first two of six nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra at a cost of approximately $25 billion. France openly expressed support for the Indian state’s quest for permanent membership in the UN Security Council.
India and China:
From the late 1950s until the late 1980s, the relations between India and China were very tense even though both countries had emerged from a colonial past. The immediate issues clouding the ties were an unresolved border between the two countries, Indian support for the exiled Tibetan Dalai Lama, China’s close ties with Pakistan, besides others. However, the larger context of the hostility was India’s role in both US and Soviet backed attempts to isolate and provoke China under Mao Zedong. A brief border war was fought between the two countries in 1962.
The increasing integration of both China and India into the capitalist global economy has led to major changes in their inter-relationship. Trade ties have increased phenomenally, to the point where China is India’s largest trading partner, and the trade turnover between the two is about $60 billion.
The capitalists of the two countries are in competition with each other in various markets; and there is inevitable rivalry for expanding their respective spheres of influence. At the same time, the rise in their relative economic strengths offers opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation.
The visit of the Chinese Premier to India made it clear that neither side is in favour of military hostilities at the present time. The tension continues, with neither side at ease with the other. It is obvious that the US is encouraging the ambitions of the Indian bourgeoisie eastwards, in confrontation with China, which is a factor that further complicates the Indo-Chinese relationship.
As was highlighted in the news reports, unlike the other P5 leaders, the visiting Chinese Premier neither expressed support for India’s Security Council ambitions, nor condemned Pakistan for ‘exporting terrorism’. Business deals worth more than $16 billion were signed, and it was agreed to keep up the trend of regular high-level visits.
Given the present international conditions of global economic crisis and relatively rapid capitalist growth in our country, the interest of the leading imperialist states to expand the respective shares of their capitalists in the Indian market was evident in all these visits. The ruling capitalist class of our country sought to take advantage of this heightened interest on the part of the P5 to rapidly scale up its military might and strengthen its case to be part of this elite club.
The Indian bourgeoisie is rapidly expanding and upgrading its military capability to match with its status of being an imperialist big power. Besides reaffirming its military dominance in the immediate region, particularly with respect to Pakistan, there is also the aim of matching up to the rise in China’s military power, as well as to have a force available for more distant military adventures. In the coming decade it is estimated that 300-400 billion dollars will be spent in military upgradation.
From different historically evolved starting points, the relationship of India with each of the big imperialist powers of the world is changing towards becoming a relationship between two imperialist powers. There are no principles guiding these relationships, but only the naked pursuit of one’s own imperialist interest by each party. Each of these bilateral relations, by the very nature of relations between imperialist states, is characterized by both collusion and contention.
Both when the Indian rulers collude with the US or another major imperialist power, and when they contend, the aim remains imperialist. That is, both collusion and contention with other imperialist states are motivated by the narrow self-interest of the capitalist class in power, headed by the monopoly houses with expanding global empires.
Our country is being ruled and steered by a class of people who care more about their private wealth and empire building aims than about the wellbeing of the masses of people whose toil creates the wealth of our country. We are ruled by a class that is eager to follow the example of US imperialism and become an aggressive and exploitative power, hated by the vast majority of the world’s peoples.
The imperialist course of our country is generating huge profits for the Tatas, Ambanis and other monopoly capitalists. It is at the same time generating increasing insecurity and destruction of livelihoods for large masses of people.
The economic burden of the massive military purchases from abroad will fall on the heads of the entire people in the form of servicing the national debt. The political suffering and loss of lives resulting from the growing militarization of India will fall on our own people who are fighting for their rights and being repressed, as well as on the people of other countries against whom the military might of India is directed.
The ruling class in our country is an imperialist bourgeoisie. It is neither an agent of any foreign power nor does it have any anti-imperialist character. It is a thoroughly reactionary class, eager to dominate and plunder not only the land and labour of our own country but also those of others.
The reactionary ruling class is steering our country towards consolidating its position as a member of the big league. This is a course that is dangerous for the livelihood and rights of workers, peasants, oppressed nations, nationalities and tribes, persecuted minorities and other oppressed sections of our society. It is a course that adds to the tensions and the danger of war spreading wider in Asia. It is a course that deserves to be opposed and condemned by all.