Courting India

November 14, 2007 - 0:0

India is receiving much attention as Asia is replacing the West as the center of economic and military power.

India is being courted by many countries, and particularly major economic and military powers, because the country is becoming a second China and even a rival to its giant neighbor in terms of economic importance.
Aware of its increasingly powerful role as a major economic player, Russia, the United States, and other major players in the international arena are fiercely competing for business with India.
Russia hopes to sign lucrative arms and energy contracts with India.
For example, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to Moscow on Monday and Tuesday, India and Russia agreed to boost economic and military ties, and the two sides discussed an agreement that would allow Russia to build four nuclear reactors in India.
Singh said military cooperation is one of the “pillars of strategic partnership” between the two countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We paid special attention to cooperation in the sphere of nuclear cooperation, to the sphere of military-technical cooperation.”
In addition, India has just begun building a new strategic partnership with the United States.
Forging strong economic relations with India has become so important that the United States and Russia are breaching international regulations by agreeing to build nuclear power plants in India and transfer nuclear technology to the country despite the fact that New Delhi has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
To build nuclear plants in the country, both Russia and the U.S. need special approval from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Russian president has even promised to push India’s case at the NSG.
India’s bid to secure a seat at the UN Security Council has also won backing from some permanent council members including Britain.
The United States, which views China’s rising economic and military might as a serious challenge to its global hegemony, is keen to help India as a counterweight to China.
However, India’s leaders are shrewdly seeking to maintain a “strategic balance” between the major military and economic powers.
According to Business Standard, India is likely to soon initiate formal negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with giant neighbor China, the third largest destination for Indian goods and the country’s biggest source of imports. Sources have said an announcement could be made during the visit of Prime Minister Singh to China in January 2008.
Similar talks are also underway for an India-ASEAN free trade pact, and South Korean steelmaker POSCO plans to start work on a 12-million-ton-capacity steel plant in eastern India by April 2008. The $12-billion plant will be India’s single largest foreign investment project.
India’s relations with Japan have also continued to expand, especially with the announcement of the Eight-Fold Initiative for Strengthening the Japan-India Global Partnership.
The relationship became even stronger after former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Singh announced their desire for a “strategic and global partnership” in December 2007. The two sides also called for the two nations to become “perfect partners” when Abe paid a visit to Delhi in August.
Meanwhile, Iran, an energy-rich country that has close linguistic and cultural ties with India, is also eying India’s power-hungry economy and making serious efforts to finalize the deal for the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, which has been dubbed the peace pipeline.
India’s phenomenal ascent, the unexpected rise in its savings and investment rates, and its sustained high growth rate, coupled with its market of 1.12 billion people, its mature democracy, and its warming relations with China have made the country a focal point of attention