There has been considerable confusion about the now-infamous 123 Agreement, with the Left parties threatening to bring down the government if it goes ahead with the deal. For long, I wondered what was so wrong with the deal that it threatened the longevity of the government. Finally, I lost patience with all this politicking and decided to check out the agreement myself. The full text of the agreement is available on the site of The Hindu (link above). To me, it appears that the two governments have thought out every possible problem and addressed them all in the text of the agreement. Personally, I believe that a deepening strategic and political relationship with the United States can only be beneficial to India in the long run. The 123 Agreement only cements that growing relationship with what is arguably the world's most powerful state.
Having failed to detect anything objectionable in the agreement itself, I decided to check out the site of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is leading the protest. What does the Party say against the deal? A whole lot of things, some of them, factually incorrect. In an open letter to Members of Parliament, the Party states that, "Under the terms set out by the Hyde Act, it is clear that the Indo-US nuclear cooperation would not cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle. It denies cooperation or access in any form whatsoever to fuel enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production technologies." However, the terms of the 123 are quite clear. In Article 2(2), there is a guarantee of "full civil nuclear cooperation". The Communists' fears of the US dictating terms in India's foreign policy are entirely unfounded. The principal objection of the Left is to the Hyde Act of 2006 that requires that US foreign policy be directed to securing India's cooperation to actions against Iran and in securing its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative. However, a detailed examination of the said law reveals that the Hyde Act merely requires that the US Government "encourage" India to take the above steps and cannot, in any way, force India's hand in the matter. I fail to see how the US can pressurise India into taking a foreign policy stand inconsistent with its existing policies, or detrimental to its national security.
That said, I must observe that India's Left seems to be stuck in the Cold War-era of anti-Americanism. Blind opposition to the US is neither sensible nor desirable in today's situation. India will only stand to gain with an enriching and deepening strategic partnership with the US. Proponents of non alignment must realise that there is an increasing interdependence in today's world and that the world cannot work around India. The inverse is also true. In an increasingly unipolar world, it is impossible for India to continue avoiding any serious strategic partnership with the US. It is better for both the countries if we rid ourselves of the Cold War-era scepticism and approach the new dynamic with a positive attitude.