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India and US - III

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WASHINGTON - JUNE 29: Attorney Neal Katyal (L), and U.S. Naval Commander Charles Swift, <b>who represent Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan</b>, a speak after the Supreme Court ruled against the proposed military tribunals June 29, 2006 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court ruled that the military tribunals created by the Bush administration to try terror suspects violate both American military law and the Geneva Convention. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->All systems alert: spy ring suspected in top security nerve centre
Shishir Gupta / Pranab Dhal Samanta

Posted online: Sunday, July 02, 2006 at 0000 hrs IST

A Director in RAW (Research & Analysis Wing), the country’s premier external intelligence agency, has been asked not to return to work, all his files and computers have been seized.

A computer systems analyst in the National Security Council Secretariat, the nation’s top intelligence processing unit, is under arrest, his residence raided.

And now a Navy commander who headed the secretariat’s National Information Security Co-ordination Cell is being questioned in what is turning out to be an unprecedented security breach in the highest levels of the intelligence establishment. The breach, detected only a month ago, involves alleged leakage of sensitive information to foreign agents.

Given that the NSC secretariat is the repository of all intelligence inputs from all security agencies at the Centre, investigators from the Intelligence Bureau are still mapping the damage. Work computers of all top security agency officials in the Government and the military are under the scanner.

Sources said the breach could be widespread, covering RAW, the NSC secretariat and even sections in the Ministry of External Affairs.

In particular focus is the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, a bilateral programme meant to ease information exchange, and its former coordinator from the Indian side: Mukesh Saini.

Saini, a Navy commander, was until recently the Information Security Specialist in the NSC secretariat and coordinator of the Indo-US forum. Last week, he was subject to intense questioning by IB officials in a plot involving alleged leakage of information to a woman who is a US national.

Saini now works for a leading US software firm in India. “I do not want to comment on a matter of national security which is currently under investigation,” Saini told The Sunday Express.

IB officials are also examining how Saini was allowed to quit to join a private software firm when he was a key member in charge of a sensitive cybersecurity initative. Government approval is needed for such a transition within two years of retirement. Saini is said to have denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police have arrested NSC secretariat systems analyst S S Paul. Sources said that IB is investigating the alleged links between Saini and the US national whom he is said to have “introduced” to Paul at last year’s Indo-US Cyber Security Forum meeting in Delhi.

Around the time Paul was picked up, the office of Brigadier Ujjwal Dasgupta, RAW’s Director for Computers and
Training was raided, as first reported by The Indian Express on June 17. Dasgupta, also involved in the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, has been on extension in RAW and has now been told that his services are not required. He is also under watch.

Saini’s unit reports to the National Information Board headed by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan. Narayanan, when contacted today, said: “I am not familiar with the details of the case.”

It was Narayanan who had started an inquiry into the alleged spying case of RAW’s Joint Director Rabinder Singh. Singh, despite being under watch, fled the country in May 2004 and is now believed to be in the US.

Source of the breach & possible damage

Investigators are zeroing in on the NSC secretariat as one of the key nodes in the breach. What’s the NSC secretariat?
• Set up post-Kargil following the recommendations of a Group of Ministers, it supports the National Security Advisor.
• Collates inputs sent by IB, RAW, MEA, DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency) and Military Intelligence.
• Prepares strategic forecast for all national security issues, including nuclear issues.
• Houses the Joint Intelligence Council.
• Sample of information it deals with: nuclear programme, security assessment on neighbouring China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh; Kashmir; domestic intelligence.
War plans for 20 years have been compromised

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->NEW DELHI: The navy’s network-centric operation plans and procurement strategy for the next 20 years, the Centre’s military strategy and deployment vis-à-vis the Sir Creek dispute with Pakistan, and the military’s latest assessment of its vulnerable areas are among the secrets leaked out in the navy War Room case.

This has been revealed in the chargesheet filed by the CBI on July 3. DNA has a copy.

<b>“With this compromised information, enemy country/terrorists can know exactly what are the future naval Network-centric Operations for the next 20 years and can accordingly plan their strategies,” the chargesheet says.</b>
Ugly' Americans and 'Ugly' Muslims

Do Muslims need to 'wage a war' to improve their image in the world, just as Washington has tried to do? According to this op-ed article from Egypt's Arabic-language Al-Alam Al Youm, America's clumsy effort to address its 'atrocious' image holds some clues for the Muslim world itself.

By Dr. Sami Al Hachem

Translated By Nicolas Dagher

June 27, 2006
Al-Alam Al Youm - Egypt - Original Article (Arabic)

Karen Hughes: a clueless,
well-meaning public official.

[RealVideoKaren Hughes]


A U.S. business group recently began an effort to change the "repugnant" image of the United States abroad. Before this attempt, the U.S. administration desperately tried and continues to try to improve its image in the world, which is the very measure of hatred. The president’s special envoy to prop-up America's image, [Karen Hughes RealVideo], may be a kind and good lady, but we must conclude from the evidence that the work of the U.S. business group was far more effective than her attempts, which look more like someone preaching alone in the desert!

The reason for her abject failure is that she prefers to deal with the press by issuing press statements! The second reason for her abject failure is that she is trying to defend American policy rather than the image of American citizens; although it is fair to point out that these "American citizens" are the ones who freely elected these particular American policy makers. But the U.S. electoral process has become so complicated, it would be wrong to blame American citizens for the U.S. administration. Still, the strongest advantage of the U.S. electoral system is that it allows citizens who vote for a politician one day, to deny supporting him on another, after it turns out that the politician damaged America's public image and abused the public trust.

What these attempts to improve America's image show, is that America's "atrocious" image has been created by the actual policies of the White House, not ordinary Americans. I personally believe that first, it is quite unfair to blame ordinary Americans, and second; we mustn't overlook the fact that some U.S. policies are baffling outside the context of American culture.

As I always say, America is neither pure evil nor pure good; but it took me a lot of time and reasoning to figure this out. The best evidence for what I am saying is that the American way of life still attracts millions of people around the world, as evidenced by the fierce competition to win "Green Cards," which allows the holder to live on American soil.

Karen Hughes at work: at least the Americans are trying ...


The facts show that there are "good and bad apples" in America, just like everywhere else in the world. But more importantly, what is the perception in the world, not only of Americans, but of Muslim and Arab nationals? Is Arabic and Islamic civil society aware - at least for utilitarian reasons - of the importance of waging a war to improve its image, just as the Americans are doing?!

This is the question that we need to answer.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Fitzgerald: Suggestions for India and Indian-Americans

The government of India should, at the United Nations, raise the issue of what Islam teaches, and insist that this be a subject of discussion. It will get nowhere at the U.N., because the Arab bloc, which controls, in turn, the bloc of Islamic nations, and which has infiltrated so many of the U.N. Secretariat's offices (not only with Muslims – see my January article, “A tribute to Edward Mortimer,” here), and which of course has caused the U.N. and its constituent organizations to spend possibly one-third of their time on Israel as a threat to world peace.

But merely raising the issue -- and this should be by a country deemed to be outside the West, a victim rather than practitioner of colonialism -- will be valuable. It will force Muslims to defend themselves, to be aware that their behavior, and their teachings, and their history, are now under scrutiny. And this, in turn, will force many of them to modify their behavior. Look at Tariq Ramadan's latest line about "using the vote" and so on to gain power in Europe. We want to change Muslim behavior at once. Then we want to educate as many Infidels as possible, so that they will not mistake the perceived quiet, the perceived absence of terrorist acts, as anything but the temporary tactical move it will be, as will be the lapse in demands, in Western Europe especially, made on Infidels -- in order to let Da'wa and demographic conquest proceed unopposed. And that must not be allowed to happen.

But for now, it would be good if the Indian Ambassador were to stand up (and John Bolton will put his famed unpleasantness to wonderful use -- let him) and make this an issue. Howls will come from Muslim countries. Let those howls come. And then it will be time, in rebuttal, to remind the world of the 60-70 million Hindus who were killed by Muslim invaders, and about the forced conversions, and all the rest.

Start talking outside of India, about what has been happening to Hindus in Pakistan, that most treacherous and phony of American "allies" (well, next to Saudi Arabia), to Hindus in Bangladesh, to Hindus and Sikhs and Jains and Buddhists and Christians in India -- all at some time victims of Islam-prompted atrocities.

And try to raise the unembarrassed consciousness of these historic realities among Hindus and other non-Muslim Indians living in the Western world, who should know all this if they paid attention more, instead of spending their time trying to prove their sophistication by belittling those who make much of the Muslim behavior and threat as "communalism" that is beneath them (see, for example, Amartya Sen when he offers his transparent misplaced defenses of Islam).

Those of us who are not Indian should find out a good deal more about what happened on the subcontinent, and cease to so readily accept the "advanced" view which holds that anything smacking of "communalism" (a word used to indicate, of course, those who wish to show their sympathetic interest in, and identification with, Hindu India, and who refuse to play the game of sanitizing the history of Muslim rule) is ipso facto evil.

This kind of thing will only stop if believing Muslims feel that their position in the world, their ability to remain in the Lands of the Infidels, is now being questioned. Only if they begin to feel uneasy, insecure (as in Australia), will they modify at least their outward behavior.

It is a pity that so many in India among those who are called, quite loosely and often quite comically, "intellectuals" -- all shy away from anything that might conceivably be taken as a defense of Hindu (or Sikh) civilization, or culture. Above all, no thoroughly modern Indian will dare suggest that Islam has done great damage to India, to Indian civilization. No, there are exceptions -- such as that cosmopolitan of Indian descent, V. S. Naipaul, who is not afraid of anyone. There are Indian-Americans (Hindu, Sikh, and even disaffected ex-Muslims) and their counterparts in Great Britain, who also know how silly it is not to make the case, to ignore history, or to shy away from the slightest hint of Hindutva, which is often mocked. And why is that, exactly? Is K. S. Lal to be mocked for "The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India"? Is Sir Jahundath Sarkar? Are all the other Hindu historians of India who have been unafraid to discuss what Muslim rule did to India?

One hopes that Indian-Americans interested in all this will begin to contact their Congressmen, and will begin to use their influence to make sure that the history of Muslim conquest, and Muslim destruction of artifacts and temples, and Muslim subjugation of Hindus and then, of Sikhs, will be brought home to them. For what better way to make clear to the Western world that it is nothing they, those benighted Westerners, have done, to Islam or to Muslims? Every non-Muslim group, West and East, North and South, offending or innocent, rich or poor -- it does not matter -- has been treated with hostility, even murderous hostility, by Muslims whose canonical texts teach such hostility.

One hopes that those in the Western world who are articulate and aware, and of Indian (Hindu or Sikh descent, primarily) will help to educate others -- but that can only be done once one has educated oneself. Lal and Sarkar should be household words; the two volumes in which Sita Ram Goel simply lists tens of thousands of Hindu sites destroyed, should be better known.

Let us begin.

I think Indian-Americans should take note of this and start voting for people sympathetic towards Hindu views and causes, we should not waste time in campaigning for someone just because he happens to be of Indian descent, we would be a thousand times better off voting for people like Fitzgerald than these p-sec louts who pass off as Indians, I think if people like Fitzgerald gain some influence and his views spread among others we could see a change (for good) in US policy towards pakiland and India.
<b>US sanctions two India firms for transfers to Iran</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has decided to impose sanctions on two Indian firms for missile-related transactions with Iran, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.

The disclosure came hours after the U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday overwhelmingly agreed the United States should sell nuclear technology to India and rejected a move by critics to delay the vote over concerns New Delhi had not sufficiently aided U.S. efforts to contain Iran.

Under terms of the U.S. Iran-Syria Non-proliferation Act, "we are going to report to Congress about transactions by two private Indian companies with Iran," one official said.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Scientists oppose US law on nuke deal </b>
PTI | New Delhi
India's top nuclear scientists on Thursday opposed the US law for implementing the nuclear deal between the two countries, which they say goes against the nation's interests and make it "subservient" to Washington.

Hours after the House of Representatives approved the Bill and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured Parliament that India would not accept any provision beyond the July 18 agreement last year, they do not at all buy the Government's explanation that provisions of the US law were a matter between the President and the Congress.

<b>They say Washington's behaviour in its nuclear dealings with India in the past did not evoke confidence</b>.

The scientists, who were earlier part of the Indian nuclear establishment, say the deal of July 18, 2005, would be directly subject to the US legislation and will adversely affect India's nuclear programme and strategic interests because there are several provisions which go beyond the agreement.

The scientists discount repeated assurances of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament that India would not compromise on its nuclear rights, saying they were not convincing in the light of what was happening.

<b>Former Atomic Energy Commission chairman MR Srinivasan feels the provisions of the US law are "intrusive" and makes one feel that Washington is treating India as a "subservient entity" and not as a sovereign, responsible nuclear power. </b>

Former director of Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and India's representative in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) AN Prasad says the US has already shifted the goalposts and does not treat India as an equal partner in the deal, a view strongly shared by A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

<b>The scientists said the US was unilaterally imposing conditions in the law that went far beyond the agreements of July 18 last year and March 2 this year entered into between President Bush and Prime Minister Singh</b>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Questions arise on reprocessing restrictions </b>
Siddharth Varadarajan
EVEN AS the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night passed a bill authorising nuclear exports to India under a specific set of conditions, fresh doubts have surfaced about the extent to which the Bush administration intends to fulfil its side of the bargain struck with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last July.

Under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954, Sections 128 and 129 prohibit nuclear sales to countries that fall foul of a number of conditions. These include agreeing to place all nuclear facilities under international safeguards [128], not testing a nuclear weapon [129 (a)(1)(A)], not abrogating or violating IAEA safeguards [129(a)(1)( and ©], not possessing nuclear weapons [129(a)(1)(D)], and not exporting reprocessing equipment and technology to a non-nuclear weapons state except as part of an international programme which the U.S. is a part of or approves of [129(a)(2)©].

The original draft Bill seeking to amend the AEA to allow nuclear sales to India — shared with New Delhi in March and submitted to Congress — envisaged the waiving of Sections 128 and 129 in their entirety. But in the version passed by the House on Wednesday and due to be passed by the Senate, the exemptions have been limited only to Section 128 and to the single clause of Section 129 which prohibits a recipient state from engaging in a nuclear weapons programme. Tests prior to July 18, 2005, are exempted but not subsequent ones.

According to senior Indian officials familiar with the proposed law, Washington is seeking to impose on the Indian civil nuclear industry a restriction on participating in any multinational fuel cycle initiative in which the U.S. is not a part or even from meaningfully collaborating with non-nuclear weapons states that have already mastered the fuel cycle.

<b>Officials say the July 2005 agreement only committed India to refrain from "transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread." There are several non-nuclear weapons states that currently possess these technologies, including Japan and Brazil. If tomorrow, India decides to collaborate with Brazil on reprocessing or enrichment, either by itself or through an international initiative to which the U.S. does not belong, it is likely to fall foul of Section 129(a)(2)©. This means a future American administration can end nuclear cooperation with India. Officials say that with the Senate Bill explicitly prohibiting U.S. exports of reprocessing technology to India — a far cry from the original commitment of "full" civil nuclear cooperation — an attempt is being made to squeeze the Indian involvement in fuel cycle technologies from both ends</b>.

"The U.S. is pushing its own Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) but there are several other international fuel cycle proposals pending before the IAEA. By limiting the waiver of Section 129 in this way, there will be pressure on us to look at GNEP as the only alternative," an official told The Hindu.

Senior officials are also concerned that the envisaged legislation contains no provision for the reprocessing by India of spent fuel produced by imported reactors or fuel.

Section 123 of the U.S. AEA prohibits an importing country from reprocessing spent fuel without the prior consent of the U.S. "Our understanding was that India would be exempted from this section too," said an official. "Use of spent fuel is integral to the Indian nuclear programme and all our plans are based on this rather than storage or disposal, except for the high level nuclear waste left after reprocessing", he added. India, he said, would have to apply for U.S. consent each time, consent which may either not be forthcoming or be revoked in the future. "The spent fuel storage tanks at Tarapur are living proof of this problem," the official said, with the U.S. neither agreeing to cart the waste away nor allowing India to reprocess it.

<b>Officials say "full" civil nuclear cooperation without India having the right to reprocess spent fuel is meaningless. "So far, the Administration has told us, `Look, its Congress which is tampering with the exemptions.' But the original draft of the Bill drawn up by the White House itself chose not to amend the Section 123 requirement of case-by-case consent to reprocessing," an official said. </b>

During the question-and-answer session following a lecture on the nuclear deal on July 14, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said India would be free to reprocess the spent fuel produced from safeguarded reactors.

Since the White House is not keen to permit this through legislation, the only other route would have to be include this consent in the nuclear cooperation agreement (the `123 agreement') currently under negotiation. But that agreement, too, will have to pass the Congressional gauntlet.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--emo&:cool--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/specool.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='specool.gif' /><!--endemo--> Not all Americans are tourists, IT beckons most
Sabrina Buckwalter
[ 14 Aug, 2006 0151hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

RSS Feeds| SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

Indian outsourcing has inspired comments from Jay Leno and a man who is much funnier, George Bush. It has unleashed debates and even suicides. But for sometime now, Americans have been outsourcing themselves to India for survival. It is tough and sometimes a shocking experience.

But they are also discovering that though India churns out lakhs of graduates every year, there are jobs that Americans are unexpectedly better at.

Joining the Indian workforce from his comfy home in Virginia, Ed Cohen, 46, jumped on to the bandwagon eight months ago, as senior vice-president at Satyam Computer Services' School of Leadership. Cohen brought his entire family to Hyderabad where they have built a warm, happy home for themselves.

Even their dog came along. Seeing a camel for the first time, Cohen says their dog, "freaked out". Cohen has been trying to speak to Indians in Hindi only, to be answered in English.

Cohen and the other Americans who come to India see a promising monetary opportunity. Indian companies are paying Rs 20-30 lakh per year to middle-management Americans. When one year's salary will purchase a nice two-bedroom home in Bangalore, it seems like a lot to an American who would need four year's pay to purchase one in the States.

There are also others who see an opportunity for career advancement.

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<b>US meddles in India's cola ban issue</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New York, Aug 14 (ANI): As the controversy surrounding the presence of pesticides in soft drinks continue to haunt the business of the US-based companies, the United States has warned that the move to ban these products could affect India's hopes of attracting American investment.

Frank Lavin, Under Secretary for International Trade, has described the row as a "setback for the Indian economy", a BBC report said.
Lets see how fast spineless will blink.
Condi Rice writes in the Outlook's special Independence Day edition
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>As we continue working to build a partnership of trust and respect between our governments, we are bolstered by the deep wells of goodwill that exist between our peoples. India and the US can accomplish great things together in this new century. We can define this new era not as "the American century", not as "the Indian century"—but as freedom's century. This is the great calling of our new partnership.</b> <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<b>Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->RICHMOND, Aug. 14 -- Virginia Sen. George Allen ® apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent.

Watch his video on right side
The following is the text of the reply given by Hon'able Prime Minister in Parliament on 17th August on the India-USA Civilian Nuclear Issue>
Hindi Version [Part-A]
Hindi Version [Part-B]
At the outset, I would like to convey my gratitude to all the Hon’ble Members who have participated in this debate. I am grateful for this opportunity to clarify some of the issues arising from the discussion. I will do so in a non partisan spirit and I have every reason to believe that after I have finished that I will be able to carry the whole House with me. Our Government has never shied away from a full discussion in Parliament on this important issue. On three previous occasions on July 29, 2005, February 27, 2006 and March 7, 2006, I had made detailed statements and discussed this important subject in this august House. Once again, several issues have been raised during the current discussions and I wish to take this opportunity to respond to them. I also intend to cover developments since my last Suo Motu statement of March 7 this year.

2. Two types of comments have been made during the discussion in the House. The first set of issues pertains to the basic orientation of our foreign policy. Some Hon’ble Members have observed that by engaging in discussions with, and allegedly acquiescing in the demands made by the United States, we have compromised the independent nature of our foreign policy.

3. The second set of issues pertain to deviations from the July 18 Joint Statement and the March 2 Separation Plan. Many of the points raised by the Hon’ble Members have also been aired outside Parliament, notably also by some senior members of the scientific establishment. Overall, a listing of the important concerns include the following: that the India-US Nuclear initiative and more particularly the content of the proposed legislation in the US Congress, could undermine the autonomy of our decision-making; limit the options or compromise the integrity of our strategic programme; and adversely affect the future of our scientific research and development. To sum up, this would suggest that India’s strategic nuclear autonomy is being compromised and India is allowing itself to be pressurized into accepting new and unacceptable conditions that are deviations from the commitments made by me to Parliament in July 2005 and in February and March this year.

4. I recognize that many of these concerns are borne out of genuine conviction that nothing should be done that would undermine long standing policies that have a bearing on India’s vital national security interests. I fully share and subscribe to these sentiments. I would like to assure the Hon’ble Members that negotiations with the US regarding the civilian nuclear deal have not led to any change in the basic orientation of our policies, or affected our independent judgment of issues of national interest. Last year during my visit to the US, I addressed the National Press Club in the full glare of the media. A question was put to me regarding what I thought about the US intervention in Iraq. In the full public glare of the media I said that it was a mistake. I said the same to President Bush when he visited India. I said India does not find favour with regime change.

5. The thrust of our foreign policy remains the promotion of our national interest. We are unswerving in our commitment to an independent foreign policy. We do recognize the complexities present in an increasingly inter-dependent and multi-polar world. While we recognize that the United States is a pre-eminent power and good relations with the U.S. are in our national interest, this has not in any way clouded our judgment. There are many areas of agreement with the United States, but at the same time there are a number of areas in which we have differences and we have not shied away from making these known to the US, as also expressing them in public. Currently, we are engaged not only with the US but other global powers like Russia, China, the EU, UK, France and Japan. We are also focusing on ASEAN, as well as countries in West Asia, Africa and Latin America. More importantly, we are devoting proportionately larger time and effort in building relations with countries in our immediate neighbourhood like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Our relations with all these countries are determined by the dictates of our enlightened national interest and we have not allowed any other country, including the United States, to influence our polices. This will not change as long as I am Prime Minister.

6. I would, hence, again reiterate in view of the apprehensions expressed, that the proposed US legislation on nuclear cooperation with India will not be allowed to become an instrument to compromise India’s sovereignty. Our foreign policy is determined solely by our national interests. No legislation enacted in a foreign country can take away from us that sovereign right. Thus there is no question of India being bound by a law passed by a foreign legislature. Our sole guiding principle in regard to our foreign policy, whether it is on Iran or any other country, will be dictated entirely by our national interest.

7. Let me now turn to some of the concerns that have been expressed on the second set of issues regarding possible deviations from assurances given by me in this august House on the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan. I would like to state categorically that there have neither been nor will there be any compromises on this score and the Government will not allow such compromises to occur in the future.

8. Hon’ble Members will recall that during President Bush’s visit to India in March this year, agreement was reached between India and the United States on a Separation Plan in implementation of the India-United States Joint Statement of July 18, 2005. This Separation Plan had identified the nuclear facilities that India was willing to offer, in a phased manner, for IAEA safeguards, contingent on reciprocal actions taken by the United States. For its part, the United States Administration was required to approach the US Congress for amending its laws and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group for adapting its Guidelines to enable full civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the international community.

9. The US Administration had thereafter approached the US Congress to amend certain provisions of the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which currently prohibit civil nuclear cooperation with India. The US House of Representatives International Relations Committee passed a Bill on the subject on 27th June 2006. The House of Representatives passed the Bill as approved by its International Relations Committee on July 27.

10. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its version of the Bill on June 29, 2006. The US Senate is now expected to vote on this version of the Bill some time in September. We have concerns over both the House and Senate versions of the Bill. Since the two Bills are somewhat different in content, according to US practice they will need to be reconciled to produce a single piece of legislation. After adoption by both the House and the Senate, this would become law when the US President accords his approval. The final shape of the legislation would, therefore, be apparent only when the House and the Senate complete the second stage of assent/adoption.

11. Meanwhile, the US Government has approached the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group to adapt its guidelines to enable full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the International community. In March this year, the NSG at its plenary meeting in Brazil held a preliminary discussion on this issue. The matter will be further discussed by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group later this year. On our part, we have separately raised this issue with several countries and urged them to lift the existing restrictions on nuclear supplies to India. I myself have raised this issue with the Heads of State or Government of Russia, France, UK, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Norway, Iceland and Cyprus, among others.

12. In view of the concerns voiced by the Hon’ble Members, I shall try to address each of these concerns in some detail. I shall, however, begin by affirming that our approach is guided by the understandings contained in the July 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan. What we can agree with the United States to enable nuclear cooperation must be strictly within these parameters.

13. The key provisions to which references have been made in Parliament and outside are the following:
(i) Full Civil Nuclear Cooperation : The central imperative in our discussions with the United State on Civil Nuclear Cooperation is to ensure the complete and irreversible removal of existing restrictions imposed on India through iniquitous restrictive trading regimes over the years. We seek the removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy ‑ ranging from nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors, to re-processing spent fuel, i.e. all aspects of a complete nuclear fuel cycle.

This will be the surest guarantee of India’s acceptance as a full and equal partner of the international nuclear community, even while preserving the integrity of our three stage nuclear programme and protecting the autonomy of our scientific research and development. We will not agree to any dilution that would prevent us from securing the benefits of full civil nuclear cooperation as amplified above.

(ii) Principle of Reciprocity : I had earlier assured the House that reciprocity is the key to the implementation of our understanding contained in the July 2005 Statement. I stand by that commitment. When we put forward the Separation Plan, we again made it clear to the United States that India could not be expected to take on obligations such as placing its nuclear facilities under safeguards in anticipation of future lifting of restrictions. India and the United States have held one round of discussions on a proposed bilateral cooperation agreement. India and the IAEA have held technical discussions regarding an India-specific Safeguards agreement. Further discussions are required on both these documents. While these parallel efforts are underway, our position is that we will accept only IAEA safeguards on the nuclear facilities, in a phased manner, and as identified for that purpose in the Separation Plan only when all nuclear restrictions on India have been lifted. On July 29 last year, I had stated that before voluntarily placing our civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted. There has been no shift in our position on this point.

(iii) Certification : The draft Senate Bill requires the US President to make an annual report to the Congress that includes certification that India is in full compliance of its non‑proliferation and other commitments. We have made it clear to the United States our opposition to these provisions, even if they are projected as non‑binding on India, as being contrary to the letter and spirit of the July Statement. We have told the US Administration that the effect of such certification will be to diminish a permanent waiver authority into an annual one. We have also indicated that this would introduce an element of uncertainty regarding future cooperation and is, not acceptable to us.

(iv) India as a State possessing Advanced Nuclear Technology : Hon’ble Members may recall that the July Statement, had acknowledged that India should be regarded as a State with advanced nuclear technology enjoying the same advantages and benefits as other states with advanced nuclear technology, such as the US. The July Statement did not refer to India as a Nuclear Weapons State because that has a particular connotation in the NPT but it explicitly acknowledged the existence of India’s military nuclear facilities. It also meant that India would not attract full‑scope safeguards such as those applied to Non‑Nuclear Weapon States that are signatories to the NPT and there would be no curbs on continuation of India’s nuclear weapon related activities. In these important respects, India would be very much on par with the five Nuclear Weapon States who are signatories to the NPT. Similarly, the Separation Plan provided for an India‑specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. We have made clear to the US that India’s strategic programme is totally outside the purview of the July Statement, and we oppose any legislative provisions that Mandate scrutiny of either our nuclear weapons programme or our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

(v) Safeguards Agreement and Fuel Assurances : In this respect too, it is worth emphasizing that the March 2006 Separation Plan provides for an India‑Specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under IAEA safeguards together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. We, of course, have the sovereign right to take all appropriate measures to fully safeguard our interests. An important assurance is the commitment of support for India’s right to build up strategic reserves of nuclear fuel over the lifetime of India’s reactors. We have initiated technical discussions at the expert level with the IAEA on an India‑Specific Safeguards Agreement. Both the Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the United States and the India-Specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA would be only within the parameters of the July Statement and the March Separation Plan. There is no question of India signing either a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA or an Additional Protocol of a type concluded by Non‑Nuclear Weapons States who have signed the NPT. We will not accept any verification measures regarding our safeguarded nuclear facilities beyond those contained in an India-Specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Therefore there is no question of allowing American inspectors to roam around our nuclear facilities.

(vi) Integrity and reliability of our strategic programme – autonomy of decision-making and future scientific research and development: In my statement of March 7, 2006, I had assured Parliament that the Separation Plan would not adversely affect our strategic programme. I reiterate that commitment today. The Separation Plan has been so designed as to ensure adequacy of fissile material and other inputs for our strategic programme, based on our current and assessed future needs. The integrity of our 3‑Stage nuclear programme will not be affected. The autonomy of our Research and Development activity, including development of our fast breeder reactors and the thorium programme, in the nuclear field will remain unaffected. We will not accept interference by other countries vis-à-vis the development of our strategic programme. We will not allow external scrutiny of our strategic programme in any manner, much less allow it to be a condition for future nuclear cooperation between India and the international community.

(vii) Moratorium on production of fissile material: Our position on this matter is unambiguous. We are not willing to accept a moratorium on the production of fissile material. We are only committed to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, a commitment which was given by the previous government. India is willing to join only a non‑discriminatory, multilaterally negotiated and internationally verifiable FMCT, as and when it is concluded in the Conference on Disarmament, again provided our security interests are fully addressed.

(viii) Non‑discriminatory Global Nuclear Disarmament: Our commitment towards non-discriminatory global nuclear disarmament remains unwavering, in line with the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. There is no dilution on this count. We do not accept proposals put forward from time to time for regional non‑proliferation or regional disarmament. Pending global nuclear disarmament, there is no question of India joining the NPT as a non‑nuclear weapon state, or accepting full‑scope safeguards as a requirement for nuclear supplies to India, now or in the future.

(ix) Cessation of Future Cooperation : There is provision in the proposed US law that were India to detonate a nuclear explosive device, the US will have the right to cease further cooperation. Our position on this is unambiguous. The US has been intimated that reference to nuclear detonation in the India-US Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement as a condition for future cooperation is not acceptable to us. We are not prepared to go beyond a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing as indicated in the July Statement. The same is true of other intrusive non‑proliferation benchmarks that are mentioned in the proposed US legislation. India’s possession and development of nuclear weapons is an integral part of our national security. This will remain so.

14. Hon’ble Members will appreciate the fact that an international negotiation on nuclear energy cooperation particularly when it involves dismantling restrictive regimes that have lasted for over three decades is a complex and sensitive exercise. What we are attempting today is to put in place new international arrangements that would overturn three decades of iniquitous restrictions. It is inevitable, therefore, that there would be some contradictory pulls and pressures. This does not mean that India will succumb to pressures or accept conditionalities that are contrary to its national interests.

15. I had personally spoken to President Bush in St. Petersburg last month on this issue, and conveyed to him that the proposed US legislation must conform strictly to the parameters of the July 18, 2005 Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan. This alone would be an acceptable basis for nuclear cooperation between India and the United States. India cannot, and is not prepared to, take on additional commitments outside this agreed framework or allow any extraneous issues to be introduced. I have received an assurance from the US President that it was not his intention to shift goalposts, and that the parameters of the scope of cooperation would be those contained in the July 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan. A White House Statement of Administration Policy of July 26, 2006 recognizes some, though not all, of India’s concerns, and conveyed that the Administration has voiced them with the Congress.

16. I can assure you that there is no ambiguity in our position in so far as it has been conveyed to the US. The US is aware of our position that the only way forward is strict adherence to July Statement and March Separation Plan. I am hopeful that the bilateral India‑US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement when concluded will take into account the issues raised here. However, I must be honest and frank that I cannot predict with certainty the final form of the US legislation or the outcome of this process with the NSG, which consists of 45 countries with divergent views. We are hopeful that this will lead in a direction wherein our interests are fully protected and that there is a complete lifting of restrictions on India that have existed for three decades. Such an outcome if it materializes will contribute to our long‑term energy security by enabling a rapid increase in nuclear power. It would lead to the dismantling of the technology denial regimes that have hampered our development particularly in hi‑tech sectors. I will have wide consultations including with the members of the Atomic Energy Commission, the nuclear and scientific communities and others to develop a broad based national consensus on this important matter. I wish to inform members of the House that I have invited members of the Atomic Energy Commission on the 26th August for a meeting. That same day I have also invited the group of distinguished scientists who have expressed concerns to meet me.

17. Finally, I would only like to state that in keeping with our commitments to Parliament and the nation, we will not accept any conditions that go beyond the parameters of the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan, agreed to between India and the United States. If in their final form the US legislation or the adapted NSG Guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the Government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament.

[Prime Minister also gave the following responses to points raised by the Left parties ]
1. Whether the deal will give “full” civilian nuclear technology and lift all existing sanctions on dual use technology imposed on India for not signing the NPT.

Response: The objective of full civil nuclear cooperation is enshrined in the July Statement. This objective can be realized when current restrictions on nuclear trade with India are fully lifted. In accordance with the July Statement, US has initiated steps to amend its legislation and to approach the NSG to adapt its guidelines. We seek the removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy – ranging from supply of nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors, reprocessing spent fuel, i.e., all aspects of complete nuclear fuel supply. Only such cooperation would be in keeping with the July Joint Statement.

2. Cannot accept restrictions on Indian foreign policy to be imposed such as on Iran, irrespective of whether it is in the policy section or in the sense of the House section of the legislation.

Response: Government is clear that our commitments are only those that are contained in the July Joint Statement and in the Separation Plan. We cannot accept introduction of extraneous issues on foreign policy. Any prescriptive suggestions in this regard are not acceptable to us.

Our foreign policy is and will be solely determined by our national interests. No legislation enacted in a foreign country can take away from us this sovereign right.

3. Signing of IAEA safeguards in perpetuity for the civilian programme to take place after the US Congress had approved a “123 Nuclear Cooperation Agreement”. All restrictions on India to be lifted before we sign the IAEA safeguards.

Response: I had conveyed to Parliament on July 29, 2005 on my return from Washington that before placing any of our nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure all restrictions on India have been lifted. Under the Separation Plan agreed to with the United States, India has offered to place under IAEA safeguards 14 of its reactors presently operating or under constructions between 2006 and 2014. The nuclear facilities listed in the Separation Plan will be offered for safeguards only after all nuclear restrictions have been lifted on India. This would include suitable amendments to the US legislation to allow for such cooperation, the passing of the bilateral agreement with India and the adaption of the NSG guidelines. It is clear that India cannot be expected to take safeguards obligations on its nuclear facilities in anticipation of future lifting of restrictions.

4. Guarantees on fuel as agreed in the March 2006 statement.

In case the US reneges on supply of fuel, they will ensure continuity through other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Response: Separation Plan includes elaborate fuel supply assurances given by the United States. Understandings in the Separation Plan also provide for contingency of disruption of fuel supplies to India. In such a case, the United States and India would jointly convene a group of friendly supplier countries (Russia, France and United Kingdom) aimed at restoring fuel supplies to India. An important assurance is the commitment of support for India’s right to build strategic reserves of fuel over the life time of its nuclear reactors. In the event of disruption of fuel supplies despite the assurances, India will have a right to take corrective measure to ensure the operation of its nuclear reactors.

5. India will work for an FMCT and for nuclear disarmament with all nuclear weapon states, in line with the Rajiv Gandhi Plan or Delhi Declaration in tandem.

Response: Our support for global nuclear disarmament remains unwaivering. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had put forward an Action Plan in the 1988 UNGA Special Session on Disarmament. We remain committed to the central goal of this Action Plan, i.e., complete elimination of nuclear weapons leading to global nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework. India has agreed to negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. There has been no change in our position on this matter.

6. In the original deal, there is no provision for US inspectors, only provision for IAEA inspectors. The draft US Bills contains such provisions.

Response: In the Separation Plan, we have agreed to offer for IAEA safeguards nuclear facilities specified in the Separation Plan for that purpose. The nature of safeguards will be determined by an India specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This will be applied to the safeguarded nuclear facilities in India. Therefore, there is no question of accepting other verification measures or third country inspectors to visit our nuclear facilities, outside the framework of the India specific safeguards agreement.

7. An India-specific protocol and not an Additional Protocol as per IAEA Standard Modified Protocol.

Response: In the Separation Plan, we have agreed to conclude an India specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The question of an Additional Protocol will arise only after the India specific safeguards agreement is in place. As a country with nuclear weapons, there is no question of India agreeing to a Safeguards agreement or an Additional Protocol applicable to non-nuclear weapon states of the NPT.

8. References to Iran in the House Bill.

Response: We reject the linkage of any extraneous issue to the nuclear understanding. India’s foreign policy will be decided on the basis of Indian national interests only.

9. Reference to Proliferation Security Initiative in the House and Senate Bills.

Response: The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is an extraneous issue as it is outside the framework of the July 18 Joint Statement. Therefore, we cannot accept it as a condition for implementing the July Statement. Separately, the Government has examined the PSI.

We have certain concerns regarding its legal implications and its linkages with the NPT. We also have concerns with amendments to the suppression of Unlawful Activities at Sea Treaty under the International Maritime Organisation.

10. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment linking the granting of MFN status to USSR to Jewish emigration is an example relevant to the current debate.

Response: We have studied the proposed US legislation very carefully, including the so-called binding and non-binding provisions. The non-binding provisions do not require mandatory action, but at the same time, have a certain weight in the implementation of the legislation as a whole. We have conveyed our concerns to the US Administration in this respect. Jackson-Vanik Amendment was binding on the Administration and cannot be cited as a precedent for non-binding references in the current bills. A more accurate example than the Jackson-Vanik Amendment is the set of provisions accompanying the renewal of MFN status to China, that included references to China’s human rights, China’s political and religious prisoners, protection of Tibetan heritage and freedom of political expression.

11. Role of Parliament in approving foreign policy.

Response: India follows a Parliamentary model, as specified in our Constitution, wherein treaty making powers rest with the Executive. However, we have kept Parliament fully in the picture regarding various stages of our negotiations with the United States. Broad based domestic consensus cutting across all sections in Parliament and outside will be necessary. We will work towards that objective by addressing various concerns as fully as possible.

[Prime Minister also gave the following responses to points raised by the group of nuclear scientists]

1. “India should continue to be able to hold on to her nuclear option as a strategic requirement in the real world that that we live in, and in the ever-changing complexity of the international political system. This means that we cannot accede to any restraint in perpetuity on our freedom of action. We have not done this for the last 40 years after the Non-Proliferation Treaty came into being, and there is no reason why we should succumb to this now. Universal nuclear disarmament must be our ultimate aim, and until we see the light at the end of the tunnel on this important issue, we cannot accept any agreement in perpetuity.”

Response: We are very firm in our determination that agreement with United States on Civil Nuclear Energy in no way affects the requirements of our strategic programme. We are fully conscious of the changing complexity of the international political system. Nuclear weapons are an integral part of our national security and will remain so, pending the global elimination of all nuclear weapons and universal non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament. Our freedom of action with regard to our strategic programmes remains unrestricted. The nuclear agreement will not be allowed to be used as a backdoor method of introducing NPT type restrictions on India. Our offer to put nuclear facilities under safeguards in perpetuity is conditional upon these facilities securing fuel from international sources for their life time. If the fuel supply assurances as enumerated in Separation Plan are disrupted, then India will have the right to take corrective measures to ensure the continued operation of these reactors.

2. ‘After 1974, when the major powers discontinued cooperation with us, we have built up our capability in many sensitive technological areas, which need not and should not now be subjected to external control. Safeguards are understandable where external assistance for nuclear materials or technologies are involved. We have agreed to this before, and we can continue to agree to this in the future too, but strictly restricted to those facilities and materials imported from external sources.’

Response: Sensitive nuclear technology facilities have not been covered in the Separation Plan. Therefore, there is no question of putting them under safeguards or under external controls. Even with regard to nuclear facilities that have been included in Separation Plan, safeguards will be applied in phases between 2006 and 2014. These safeguarded facilities will be eligible for and will receive fuel materials and technology from international sources. If such supplies cease, then India will be free to protect its interests through corrective measures. That will be spelt out clearly in the India specific safeguards agreement.

3. ‘We find that the Indo-US deal, in the form approved by the US House of Representatives, infringes on our Independence for carrying out indigenous research and development in nuclear science and technology. Our R&D should not be hampered by external supervision or control, or by the need to satisfy any international body. Research and technology development are the Sovereign rights of any nation. This is especially true when they concern strategic national defence and energy self-sufficiency.’

Response: Our independence for carrying out independent research and development in nuclear science and technology will remain unaffected. There will be no external supervision of our R&D since none of the sensitive R&D facilities which handle nuclear material have been included in the Separation Plan. Nothing in the Separation Plan infringes on our sovereign right to conduct research and technology development concerning our national defence and energy self-sufficiency. Government is committed to preserve the integrity of the three stage nuclear power programme, including utilization of our vast thorium resources. Certain nuclear facilities including centers such as TIFR, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics etc., have been designated as civilian in the Separation Plan. As these facilities will not handle nuclear material, there is no question of safeguards being applied to them. We expect these centers to participate as full partners in international collaboration project.

4. ‘While the sequence of actions to implement the cooperation could be left for discussion between the two governments, the basic principles on which such actions will rest is the right of Parliament and the people to decide. The Prime Minister has already taken up with President George Bush the issue of the new clauses recommended by the US House of Representatives. If the US Congress, in its wisdom, passes the bill in its present form, the ‘product’ will become unacceptable to India, and diplomatically, it will be very difficult to change it later. Hence, it is important for our Parliament to work out, and insist on, the ground rules for the nuclear deal, at this stage itself.’

Response: I had taken up with President Bush our concerns regarding provisions in the two bills. It is clear that if the final product is in its current form, India will have grave difficulties in accepting the bills. US has been left in no doubt as to our position. The ground rules for our discussions are clear. These are the parameters of the July Statement and the March Separation Plan and commitments given by me to Parliament in the three Suo Moto Statements and my reply to today’s discussions will be the guiding principles of our position. Parliament has been kept fully informed at every stage of the discussions. In their final form, if US legislation or the NSG guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, the Government will draw the necessary conclusions consistent with my commitments to Parliament.

It brought satisfaction to all major political formations in the Indian Parlaiment.Later it was welcomed by the top scientists of the nation, who had earleir voiced their concern about thedeal.
It took a lot of angst and for retired personnel to break with their reticient personality for this speech. Why? Why did the rhetoric have to be raised to high pitch? Why did the opposition have to be unveiled?
The key is para 13 which asserts India's soveriegn rights. Dare aya durst aaya.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Rep. Harris: Church-state separation 'a lie'
POSTED: 5:37 p.m. EDT, August 28, 2006

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a religious journal that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws."

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

Harris made the comments -- which she clarified Saturday -- in the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which interviewed political candidates and asked them about religion and their positions on issues.

Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

Electing non-Christians allows 'legislating sin'
"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said.

Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans, who called them offensive and not representative of the party.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, who is Jewish, told the Orlando Sentinel that she was "disgusted" by the comments.

Harris' campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been "speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government."

The comments reflected "her deep grounding in Judeo-Christian values," the statement said, adding that Harris had previously supported pro-Israel legislation and legislation recognizing the Holocaust.

Harris' opponents in the GOP primary also gave interviews to the Florida Baptist Witness but made more general statements on their faith.

Harris, 49, faced widespread criticism for her role overseeing the 2000 presidential recount as Florida's secretary of state.

State GOP leaders -- including Gov. Jeb Bush -- don't think she can win against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Fundraising has lagged, frustrated campaign workers have defected in droves and the issues have been overshadowed by news of her dealings with a corrupt defense contractor who gave her $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

<!--emo&<_<--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/dry.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='dry.gif' /><!--endemo--> and how the same subject gets displayed in India though India does not have any law as such:
Religion, politics are best apart


New Delhi, August 29, 2006

The issue of whether the singing of Vande Mataram be made optional in schools has erupted into yet another show of majority versus minority debate.

And clearly there are no easy answers.

Here's a sample of responses we received on the topic.

Tariq Kalim of Muscat, Oman, felt this was an open and shut case of exploiting religion for political reasons. Here's what he said.

"It is very depressing to see political parties without any exception playing the vote-bank politics. The live issue at the moment is regarding the national song.

"Let us understand one thing, Indians - be it Hindus, Muslims, Christians or any other religion - are sentimentally rooted to their beliefs and traditions, not to mention that vast masses are un-educated or less educated."

"This is a deadly combination that can be used in ways that could be good or bad for the country."

"In the game of politics our leaders can do anything for their selfish gains. In doing so they don't care for the country, they don't care for any religion and they don't care for the Indians."

"What they care is ensuring that they have a secure vote bank even if it is achieved by polluting and polarising the masses."

"Few elections back, the Ram temple issue was used with great success. At that time few could see the real motive. Out of those few a sizeable section still preferred to willingly go along because of their religious beliefs. Are we any better off today except for the fact that Babri Masjid has been demolished?"

"To be honest, till this issue was racked-up, I didn't even know that Babri Masjid existed. I am sure most Hindus wouldn't have known the exact spot where Ram was born."

"Under the circumstances, if there was a great sentimentality involved and the real reason was to have a temple at that spot, ideal situation would have been to resolve the issue locally involving only 'non-political reasonable Hindus' with 'non-political reasonable Muslims'."

"Shifting of mosques is always possible and could have been done. But the moment all out efforts were made to popularise the issue, the real agenda was clear - it was politics and not religion."

"With all parties gearing up for the next elections, the political think tanks have now generated the issue of national song. It is almost 60 years since independence. As an Indian we are all proud of our country, the Flag, the Anthem, the Song, and above all the values."

"During these sixty years, how many people have caused disrespect to these national symbols? Even if in future there is any instance of disrespect as an Indian I strongly believe the guilty should not go unpunished. I am sure all Indians will share these sentiments."

"So what are we trying to achieve by raking-up this issue?"

"With the issue gaining publicity the polarisation of vote banks has started. Good thing is that this time a greater percentage understands the real agenda. But that is not enough. We as Indians for the sake of India have to be more vocal and assertive. Even if one person can convince one other person the percentage of more aware people will increase."

"Only when this percentage reaches the threshold point will the political parties think of focusing on real national issues rather than these selfish self-generated issues."

Irshad of Hyderabad, India presented a more traditional picture of much-talked about Hindu-Muslim divide.

"Well, if Mr Jinnah said something and if it was right, then just because he along with RSS was the cause of partition, shall we refuse to accept the truth?"

"Let's be clear, in Islam, a Muslim is not allowed to bow, worship or say the words which are in any way related to worshipping any other than the Almighty. If someone does it is his stand but to enforce everyone to do it, when there is no consensus, will be the death of freedom."

"Why insist on singing this song if it causes some sort of trouble? We've heard so many slogans but is it justified? It has been a fashion to brand someone (mainly Muslims) as anti-national if they don't agree with the so-called nationalists."

"It must not be the yardstick to measure the faithful. Better live and let live others peacefully."

Not all were opposed to the idea of the national song being compulsory.

"Those who dis-respect 'Vande Mataram' they should be identified and forced to respect. Otherwise they must be declared as 'anti-national' and forced to quit India," said Ashish from Guwahati in India.

Virendra from Pune, India felt the national song was a beautiful song meant to pay respect to our motherland and that Arjun Singh was busy playing the communal card.

"Vande Mataram is one the most beautiful song ever composed. It has been national song of India right through the independence/national movement."

"The Indian National Congress party of today has followed the policy of divide and rule capable of doing any thing to capture or stay in power. People like Arjun Singh are the biggest traitors."

"So let them go to hell and let us all sing 'Vande Mataram' and pay our most heart-felt and warmest homage to our beloved country."

Thomas of Dubai, UAE gave a very plausible view.

"I don't think forcing anyone to sing 'Vande Mantaram' will show respect to the song. I don't know why this controversy has come up at all. In my school days this song was sung by all the students irrespective of their religion. I think it is still being done. Why then use force? Take the case of the making Hindi compulsory in South India way back in 70-80s. There was a big hue and cry."

"Now that there is no compulsion, there are more people talking and learning Hindi. Rather than raking up such issues which create unnecessary controversies (which the so-called religious leaders are waiting to take advantage off), why don't we bring up issues like making education compulsory?"

"Don't force anything down anybody's throat. It will just have the opposite effect."

Now, in our poll section we asked our surfers whether everyone should be forced to sing "Vande Mataram" to show respect to the national song.

Shaema of Hyderabad, India was not at all impressed at the results it threw. Here's how she put it.

"These results of the poll (Yes - 74.86 %, No - 24.58 % and can't say - 00.56%) are alarming for India. It clearly shows that a vast majority wants to forcefully impose their ideology on those who will never sing 'Vande Mataram'."

"Are we heading for a Lebanon or an Iraq? If yes, then the majority has to lose more than the minority. It's your call!"

Jeo Lal Sethi from Bangkok, Thailand put it rather straight.

"National unity is above all."

SM Bombwal from Gurgaon, India felt the national song symbolised Indianess. Therefore, it ought to be sung.

"'Vande Mataram' is like an Indian passport that you must possess if travelling abroad. Singing it shows your love of country and entitlement to live in India. Not singing it is like fore-saking your passport thus the nationality and citizenship."

Clearly there are no easy answers.

<!--emo&:cool--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/specool.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='specool.gif' /><!--endemo--> NRI's to run in US polls
Source: IANS. Image Source: AFP

Five Indian Americans have qualified to run in the Nov 7 elections in the US for various legislative offices.

Washington:Five Indian Americans have qualified to run in the Nov 7 elections in the US for various legislative offices.

"Indian American and South Asian community's involvement in US mainstream politics will continue to grow," Clinton administration appointee Rajen Anand told India West, an ethnic Indian newspaper.

In Arizona, Democrat Rano Singh won her primary unopposed to contest the state treasurer's race.

In Minnesota, incumbent state Senator Satveer Chaudhary was elected unopposed in the Democratic primary.

A law student at the University of Maryland, Neil B. Sood, was elected unopposed in the Republican primary for the House of Delegates.

Kumar Barve, 43, easily won re-election from District 17. He has become the longest-serving elected Indian American official. He represents a district with a population of 110,000 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

In Maryland's District 42, newcomer Dilip Paliath, 35, an attorney, won the third highest votes to move on to the November elections.

"You know, with the population increasing and activism increasing, more people will be running, pretty soon it will not be news because it will be normal," Anand said.

<b>Indo-US ties lauded at White House's Diwali reception</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The White House hosted Diwali on Thursday in the historic Indian Treaty Room in the Old Executive Building for the fourth successive year. However, for the fourth time running, President George W Bush, who was busy campaigning for his besieged Republican Party in Pennsylvania and Virginia, failed to be there.
<b>Bush, however, sent a written greeting to all those celebrating Diwali, saying, 'Every year during Diwali, Hindus remember their many blessings and celebrate their hope for a brighter future'.

He said, 'The Festival of Lights demonstrates the rich history and traditions of the Hindu faith as friends and family come together in a spirit of love and joy'.

Bush declared that 'this celebration unites people around the world in goodwill and reminds us of the many cultures that enrich our nation'.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
This is a very good argument and needs to be remembered when India's cooperation is required on a vote.


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Burns, who will lead a high-level delegation to India next month, said, "When I go to Delhi, I want to talk to people who are experts on counter-terrorism because we want to upgrade our conversations with the Indian government."

"But in the cases of these new charges going back and forth, I don't think its appropriate for the US to get invoved publicly because we have two friends in the regions, different relationships but two friends, and our counter-terrorism agenda with Pakistan is fundamentally important to us and we appreciate the support President Pervez Musharraf gives us and our new cooperation with India is also fundamentally important," he added.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--emo&:blow--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blow.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blow.gif' /><!--endemo--> 'US bolstering Pak is difficult for India'
[ 2 Nov, 2006 1251hrs ISTPTI ]

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WASHINGTON: The US policy of acting as an "external equaliser" in the South Asian region and bolstering Pakistan has created difficulties for India, former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has said.

<span style='color:red'>"There is a difficulty when US policy acts in the region, in the entire region, as an external equaliser. It has pursued a policy of bolstering Pakistan which then encourages Pakistan to box well above its weight,"</span> Singh, said while briefing reporters at the School of International Studies at the John Hopkins University.

"Then the US loses interest and Pakistan on its own begins to flounder and when it flounders there are difficulties for India. When the US bolsters Pakistan there are difficulties for India. This is the reality," he said.

“However, it is no good asking America to do something about it, because the US, as far as Pakistan is concerned has run into a blind alley," he said.

"Forgive me but that is the reality. There is no other option but to continue its policy with Pakistan that it has and therefore India would have to continue to pay a price," he added.

Stressing that India has to find an answer to this, he said, "we have to beat it internally and we have to beat it bilaterally because in the nature of the situation is that Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq--this is our neighborhood and in this neighborhood we are only eight and a half minutes away. The US is 8500 miles away. We have to deal with it."

Singh maintained that problems faced by India will have to be settled by the country.

"<b>One of the greatest failures of independent India's diplomacy has been its inability to manage its relations with all its neighbours. </b>If I don't admit it then I am denying the existing reality," the former External Affairs Minister said, pointing to the unsettled issues of border with China and Pakistan.

"These are signal shortcomings. It is India that has to answer," Singh said.

To a query, he said Washington is welcome to strike a similar civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan but warned that a "great deal" will have to be transformed internally as well within Pakistan, such as democracy.

"You are most welcome to want to do that (giving Pakistan) but the question that arises then is that a great deal will have to be transformed internally within Pakistan, like democracy," he said.

He said India believes in equal and legitimate security for all. "I cannot claim that India alone has a right to be secure in the region. All countries have a right to be secure and feel secure. That is not being idealistic. That is being realistic".

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