India Should Stand Up To America On Russian Weapons Deal  

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Since the beginning of time, Russia has been the major supplier of weapons to the Indian military. It is estimated that about 70% of the heavy weapons of the Indian army are of Russian origin. Even though India has started buying weapons from other sources like America and Israel, yet Russia remains the largest supplier of weapons to India. America came up with a new act called the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Under this act, America started pressuring India to stop buying weapons from Russia. However, India tried to make America understand that it depends upon Russian weapons for its defense. Therefore, it cannot stop buying weapons from Russia.  Similar pleas were made by two other countries, Vietnam and Indonesia. America assured these countries that they will be exempted from the Act. However, now America is saying that such exemption cannot be made.

On September 6th, the American Defense minister and Foreign minister (Secretary of State) are coming to New Delhi for talks with their Indian counterparts. This is called a 2+2 meeting. It is generally believed that the Americans will try to pressurize India to stop buying Russian weapons, otherwise it can face sanctions. The Indian Defense Minister, Nirmala Seetaraman, said that this Act is an American Act and not of the United Nations, and India will only comply if it is a resolution of the UN, rather than of any one country.

India is an independent country and it will decide which weapons it needs for its defense. No other country can decide what India needs for its defense and security. India should firmly stand up to America if it tries to pressurize or threaten India to stop buying weapons from whatever country it needs or wants to. This is India’s right as well as its duty. At this time, India is trying to acquire S-400 missile defense system from Russia. India has made a deal with Russia for 39,000 crore Rupees. India has made it clear to America that it wants this deal to go through. India also gets fighter jets Sukhoi-30 MKI, T-90 tanks, BrahMos missiles and large parts of ammunition from Russia or they are license-produced here. Russia also is a supplier of spare parts for the M-17 helicopters and MiG 29 fighter jets. The Kamov helicopters will be jointly produced here. It is obvious that if America starts interfering in these, then that will create big difficulties for India.

Not only India is a big country as far as area and population are concerned, it is also an emerging economic superpower. Last year, India beat France to become the sixth largest economy of the world. This year, it will beat UK to become the fifth largest economy of the world. India’s GDP is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world. If this trend continues, then India’s economy can surpass America by the year 2050. It is obvious that America or any other country can become India’s friend, but cannot become its master. I still remember that during my college days, I participated in a discussion: Mr. Dollar a friend or a master? I said that America will realize one day that it can become India’s friend, but it can never become its master. My concept is equally true today.

World events of the last two decades have made it clear that the hegemony of any one country does not last indefinitely. America’s days as the only superpower of the world are now over and the world has already become multipolar. India, Russia, China, Europe and America are now the established centers of power. Relations among these power centers can now be only based upon principles of equality and mutual respect. India has to firmly make America understand that it has to recognize and respect India’s stature as an equal partner in the new world order.

Russia, China and India are the leaders of the new world order, a multipolar world. India’s role in the new world order is crucial. It can play the role of a peace broker and maintainer of balance of power rather than align with one side. America should not try to use India to contain China or counter Russia. India can play a better role in resolving conflicts rather than becoming a party to the conflicts. In the end, India should take inspiration from and play the famous song of the great American singer Tom Petty to the American visitors: “I won’t back down, I will stand my ground.”

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.


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