Nuclear India Must End Its China-bashing

Joe Leahy writes in the Financial Times:

’s success last week at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna unleashed a wave of nationalist chest-beating greater even than a few weeks earlier when Abhinav Bindra, a shooter, became the nation’s first individual to win an Olympic gold medal.

The nation’s cable news channels dropped their usual fare of gory crime stories and political corruption scandals to provide blanket coverage of the intricate negotiations with the NSG, which eventually agreed to lift a global ban on nuclear trade with India, ending the country’s decades of nuclear pariah status.

But the media celebrations had an ugly side – China-bashing. Perceptions that Beijing had tried to block the deal from behind the scenes sparked outrage among commentators, who suspected China was championing the interests of its ally and India’s nuclear-armed rival, Pakistan.

“It is in times of adversity that one learns who one’s friends are,” the Indian Express wrote in a piece lambasting China. The main business daily, The Economic Times, went further. “Slimy dragon wants deal for mother of proliferators,” it said, referring to perceptions that China might call for an NSG waiver for Pakistan as well.

Rather than crowing about getting one up on the Chinese “dragon” and Islamabad, this should be a time of introspection for India. When the celebrations had died down, Mr Bindra’s medal prompted soul-searching on why the world’s second most populous nation had only just won its first individual Olympic gold.

So, too, the nuclear deal should set Indians thinking about why their government has taken this long to tackle energy security, probably the country’s most critical long-term strategic challenge.

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