31 MAY 2018
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
GS II- GOVERNANCE-POLICY
Q1. Discuss how India’s nuclear policy has changed with time with the main aim of becoming one of the responsible nuclear powers.
- Today India occupies a special position as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, to quote from the 2005 Joint Statement announcing the India-U.S. nuclear deal. This status is a product and a reflection of the steady attempt by New Delhi to shift attention away from its nuclear weapons and towards its civil nuclear technology. India could not act like just another nuclear weapons power. That route to the top table closed when the NPT was negotiated. India has therefore had to make different choices from the original five.
- India published a draft nuclear doctrine within five years of testing. The U.S. first published its Nuclear Posture Review in 1994. None of the other NWS has an explicitly published doctrine. Even though debate on doctrine has since stalled, the point remains that India hoped transparency would help legitimise its nuclear choices and carve out a path to the nuclear top table.
- Reality, however, did not pan out that way. Each pronouncement on deterrence only strengthened the link between India and Pakistan. India learned that its international interlocutors were unable to view nuclear possession by the two South Asian neighbours with any degree of equanimity. Nuclear weapons bound India ever closer to Pakistan; worse, they gave Pakistan the ability to invite international attention to the bilateral relationship by playing on extra-regional fears of tensions escalating to a nuclear level. By the Mumbai attacks in 2008, India had shifted attention away from weapons to the civil nuclear side of things. That it kept the response to Mumbai firmly in the diplomatic sphere despite Pakistan’s attempts to raise the bogey of Indian troop deployments speaks to the realisation that India’s nuclear weapons could be used against India by those outside its borders. This is the reason that India had a muted presence in current discussions on deterrence. The U.S., Russia and China are modernising their nuclear assets; the U.S. and Russia are also developing weapons with calibrated yields. Pakistan claims to have developed tactical nuclear weapons. India has stayed away from these discussions. Its position, as declared in 2003, states that India will respond to WMD use against it with a strike designed to cause unacceptable damage.
- In contrast, India has been very vocal about joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the informal groupings that control trade in nuclear and dual-use technology. Along with the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, they control trade in sensitive materials and technology; together, they provide ballast for the nuclear regime underpinned by the NPT.
- Joining the NSG and MTCR would help as the informal guidelines for membership require accession to the NPT. India has most of what it needs from the NSG from the 2008 waiver, certainly for the current desultory progress in nuclear power production. Membership would not significantly affect power production, and yet accession remains so totemic as to overshadow the fact that we have actually joined the MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.
- India’s choosing to clear its path to that seat using civil nuclear rather than weapons development is a purely pragmatic decision.