A pale buff coloured background in the newspaper is bound to draw attraction towards itself, and when the headline reads something like "Pokharan PrimeMinister", it makes the reader all the more curious. Thursday morning, waking from a long overdue sleep, I sat reading the ex-Prime Minister of the Republic of India say something about India having sold out to the US, making long term commitments in exchange of mere promises from President Bush. This coming from a man who possibly played the most crucial role in India's resurrection as a global player couldn't just be brushed aside as mere balderdash.
How much ever the current government claim about Indian relationship with the US never being better, it can simply not be denied that this relationship is built only on the framework that Vajpayee and Clinton left for the current leaders of the two countries, two leaders who are nowhere as charismatic and authoritative as their predecessors. And so Vajpayee's words couldn't just be taken as meant to add fuel to the competitive parliamentary politics, for they were from a man who had redefined and dictated India's outlook towards the United States for a considerable time.
I wonder what would have been on Manmohan Singh's mind on board the Air India flight to the red carpet welcome at Washington. Manmohan Singh comes across as a humble, sincere, scholarly individual and it wouldn't be impossible for someone to dismiss him as the man unfit to be discussing India's acceptance as a responsible nuclear power, amidst all the political cynicism at home, with George Bush. But Manmohan Singh has a way that does get the message, stern or otherwise, across. So he may have not made all the headlines in the media, but he had the attention of those who mattered. And as he concludes his visit to Washington, he must have all the reasons to be satisfied and to believe that this visit would be instrumental in a new power balance in South Asia, with Washington's acceptance of Indian nuclear capabilities, its assurances on the Indo-Pak Line of Control issue and continued commitment towards increased economic cooperation.
What remains to be seen is how does India respond to the outcomes of this visit. The current administration will have its work cut out if it has to prove to Vajpayee and the nation that it has not made "long term specific commitments" in exchange of "merely made promises". A nuclear India is of hardly any interest to the United States, for it will only add up to another crease on its forehead; what is in its interest is India's economy and if we falter here, with all this political turmoil being caused by the Left and continue our lack of appreciation of the needs of infrastructure prevailing in the country, no bridging of the nuclear divide will be relevant. No longer can we expect Information Technology to shoulder the burden of "India Shining" and making India "relevant". And then, if this visit has increased India's proximity to the United States, as claimed, then Manmohan Singh is bound to face some music at home- no doubts about what the Communists think of the Indo-US relationship. This could go anyway. Any way that India wants it to go.