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Globalization Is Having Positive Effects in India, Scholars Conclude at UCLA Conference
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Globalization Is Having Positive Effects in India, Scholars Conclude at UCLA Conference

Wide range of scholars and Indian officials see bright future for Indian-U.S. economic relations but fear instability from terrorists in nuclear Pakistan across the border.

D. R. SarDesai Email D. R.SarDesai

[A highly successful conference on "India-U.S. Relations: Security and Globalization" was held at UCLA April 19. The well-attended meeting held wide-ranging discussions among scholars and representatives of the Indian government on the effects of globalization on the Indian economy and on the risks of terrorist groups gathering in the hinterlands of India's arch foe, Pakistan.

[The conference was organized by Dr. D.R. SarDesai, Emeritus Professor of History. It was sponsored by three UCLA units: the Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations, an affiliate of the International Institute; the Anderson Graduate School of Management's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER); and the Center for Globalization and Policy Research. Following is Prof. SarDesai's summary of the discussions.]

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The guest of honor was the Ambassador of India to the U.S., Lalit Mansingh, who was accompanied by Indian Consul General (San Francisco) H.H.S. Viswanathan, and Embassy Political Counselor, Mr Tirumurty. The keynote speaker at luncheon was Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. UCLA’s Executive Vice-Chancellor Daniel Neuman opened the conference and Ambassador Mansingh delivered the inaugural remarks.

Panelists examined the dilemma the United States faces in balancing its relations with India and Pakistan; transformation of U.S.-India bilateral relations; and the implications of nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. Some perceived globalization as having both positive and negative aspects while others criticized the U.S. impetus to “openness” as self-serving and promoting U.S. hegemony.

The conference was divided into four panels:

I. “India-U.S. Security in the Nuclear and Missile Age,” chaired by Dr. Raju G.C. Thomas, Allis Chalmers Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Marquette University. The panelists were: Raju Thomas; Earle Scarlett, Air War College/State Department; T.V. Paul, Professor, McGill University; and Peter Lavoy, Director, Center for Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey.

II. “Globalization in Developed and Developing Worlds,” chaired by Dr. Bhagwan Chowdhry, Professor of Finance and Director, Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), Anderson School of Management, UCLA. Panelists: Dr. Randolph B. Persaud, School of International Service, American University; and Professor D.R.SarDesai.

III. “Security and Globalization in the Context of International Terrorism,” chaired by Professor Richard Rosecrance, Department of Political Science, UCLA. Panelists: Richard Rosecrance, Daniel Sneider, foreign affairs editor, San Jose Mercury News; and Professor Raju Thomas, Marquette University.

IV. “Future of India-U.S. Relations: Some Pointers. A Round Table Discussion.” moderated by Professor D.R. SarDesai. This was a Q & A session with all panelists.

Prof. SarDesai opened the conference by declaring that U.S.-India relations are the best in 50 years, noting that the U.S. is India’s largest trading partner for both imports and exports.

India Pledges $200 Million to Reconstruct Iraq

Ambassador Mansingh lauded current U.S.-India relations and stressed the importance of growing economic and trade relations between these two large democracies, citing Citicorp, American Express, and New York Life as among the 200 of the Fortune 500 U.S. companies in India. The economy is growing rapidly and is one of the 10 largest emerging markets. Mansingh referred to the positive mention of India in the Bush administration's National Security Studies (NSS) document.

He added that India had pledged $200 million for the reconstruction of Iraq, while simultaneously forging a new and productive relationship with Israel. He said that weapons of mass destruction are a challenge to the world, and terrorism is a global phenomenon “emanating from the same source” against both the U.S. and India.

Ambassador Mansingh stated that Pakistan is the “epicenter of international terrorism” and that terrorist attacks against India have intensified; adding, “the Taliban and al Qaeda, displaced from Afghanistan, are regrouping in Pakistan…. While Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has paid lip service to combating terrorism, his actions have actually been to the contrary.” He stated further that Musharraf has aided and abetted the presence of close to a hundred terrorist training camps across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the growth of “terrorist factories” in the fifteen thousand madrassas in Pakistan, and ultimately has resorted to “nuclear blackmail.” In contrast, India has shown restraint with its “no first use” nuclear policy, Mansingh asserted.

Congresswoman Sanchez Pledges U.S. Support to Democratic India

As the keynote speaker at the conference luncheon, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a member of the Congressional Caucus on India and ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, noted that as a consequence of the September 11 attacks, the U.S. has “learned for the first time what it is like to live under the constant threat of terrorism…. India has been forced to live with that reality for decades, and so by default, India stands as one of the strongest powers to help us, to partner with us in this war on terror.” Sanchez added that India does not “deserve to live under threat of terrorism” and that the U.S. should support India because it is a “strong democracy.”

Professor Raju G.C. Thomas commented that whenever the U.S. calls South Asia “the most dangerous place on earth” the chances of open conflict are heightened. In his view, nuclear weapons are “great equalizers among unequal states.” He noted that the British have endorsed the policy of Pax Americana as a method of bringing peace among smaller, weaker states along with “a little erosion of sovereignty,” which all things considered may be the “best way to go.”

Earle Scarlett highlighted U.S. efforts to transform relations with India and referred to ongoing military-to-military cooperation, joint naval exercises, U.S. trade, aid, and help fighting AIDS, among others, and the intensified reciprocal exchange of high level official visitors to both countries. He referred to the candid ongoing discussions among Indian and American officials on a range of subjects, including India’s fiscal policy and persistent poverty. Scarlett’s perspective was that, with the demise of the bipolar world, the United States, as the sole superpower, is in a precarious position of possessing a preponderance of power, yet must remain humble and not subscribe to a Manichean view of the world. However, the U.S. must handle tendencies toward secular or religious millenarianism that threaten American security.

T.V. Paul referred to increasing trade between India and China, which has attenuated the rivalry and potential for conflict, at least superficially, between New Delhi and Beijing. He estimated that China relished Pakistan’s current “proxy war” with India as a means for Beijing to retard India. China does not want a solution to the India-Pakistan conflict because it does not want a “peer competitor in Asia,” he said. China signed the nonproliferation treaty but violates it from time to time, Paul added.

Peter Lavoy contended that the U.S. has been unable to influence India’s nuclear policy. In the mid-1950s, U.S. “legitimized” the Indian nuclear program, first by trading it nuclear technology in exchange for thorium deposits in India’s Kerala state, and later through President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” project. Today the U.S. has prioritized the prevention of war between nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, rather than nuclear nonproliferation, which he found “regrettable.”

Debate over Effects of Globalization and U.S. Policy in South Asia

In the ensuing question and answer period, Neil Joeck of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory contended that the U.S. faces competing objectives in South Asia, e.g. working with Pakistan on Afghanistan while India seeks to end terrorism against itself but avoid war with Pakistan. Some panelists felt that engagement rather than isolationism was the best U.S. policy in regard to Pakistan, while simultaneously collaborating with India and factoring U.S.-China relations in the calculus.

On globalization, Dr. Persaud posited that there are alternatives to this process and that American hegemony was firmly linked to U.S. prosperity. For that reason the U.S. promotes “openness” in the international economic system. Persaud cited former National Security Council Advisor Brent Scowcroft as saying that the U.S. is trying to maintain global control in its own hands. When the U.S. refashions the world economic order, the options of the Southern hemisphere will be negatively affected. According to Persaud, the U.S. arrogates to itself the right to define the character of the new world order, and resorts to overt power and cultural hegemony in the form of “cultural globalization.”

Daniel Sneider stressed the view that nuclear proliferation and terrorism were the main problems facing America as well as the need to prevent Iran and nonstate actors from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons and materials. With regard to Iraq, Russia, and Pakistan, the U.S. is concerned especially with the safety and storage of both weapons and materials. Sneider estimated that in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal there were 30 to 50 deliverable nuclear weapons and additional fissile material. Scenarios such as an Islamist coup, civil war in Pakistan, a rogue commander seizing these weapons, a terrorist attack on nuclear materials, or a transfer of information by Pakistani nuclear scientists, would be disastrous. Further, al Qaeda is trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Terrorists as Territorial Irredentists or Religious Millenarians

Prof. Thomas defined some of the concepts pertaining to terrorism. Territorial irredentists were trying to change established boundaries, e.g. the case of Khalistan and the Sikhs, or the case of the Uighurs in China. Religious (Hamas) and secular millenarians or ideologues are trying to create a new mundane or temporal world order. But the critical issue is how do democracies deal with terrorism? To what extent are laws such as the Patriot Act threatening U.S. democracy?

Prof. Rosecrance expressed the view that globalization has positive features and was an inexorable process that was not going away. He ended by saying that today’s capitalism is hydra-headed, and forecast that while there will be more episodes of terrorism, there will also be a corresponding “movement of abundant capital” to other economic and financial centers. This will be “characteristic of the next ten years,” he added. The discussion that followed indicated that globalization has, by and large, had a positive impact and brought about major interchange of products, technology, and services across the world.

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