ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Masters of War

The groundwork for a new India-US Defence Framework Agreement is being laid.

Narendra Modi truly relishes political spectacle. On 28 September India’s prime minister will, most likely, address some 20,000 overseas Indians at New York’s Madison Square Garden, perhaps rivalling even the Democrat and Republican conventions that have been held there. But that is not what will interest the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon waiting to bag orders for the Apache and Chinook helicopters, the C-17 and C-130J transport planes, and the Javelin anti-tank missiles. The United States (US) Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel followed each other to New Delhi for the annual meetings of the “India-US Strategic Dialogue”, but no doubt also to establish the groundwork for the Summit Meeting between Modi and the US President Barack Obama in Washington DC in September.

As expected, John Kerry’s visit attracted greater media attention than Chuck Hagel’s, but even the “Joint Statement” issued on 31 July with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated that “they looked forward to the visit of US Defence Secretary Hagel ... to deepen discussions on military exercises, defence trade, co-production and co-development, and research on new technologies for defence...”. Kerry, of course, welcomed the raised ceilings on foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence, railways, e-commerce and insurance, though we are pretty sure that he and the business honchos of theUS military-industrial complex are disappointed with the new ceiling of 49% on FDI in defence production, which would not give total management control to them. And, as far as the facilitation of the US-built nuclear power plants in India by Westinghouse and General Electric-Hitachi is concerned, surely Kerry and these corporations still remain discontented over India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 and its reluctance to dilute it.

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