My answer is No. Which is why we have crisis after crisis in our relations with them.
India is a great power. We should know the world better. And also know how to play our part.
For almost half a century, we remained nonaligned. We thought that we could avoid paying the price for other peoples? folly. But we did pay a heavy price for our non-alignment. And got no thanks for our sacrifices.
The end of the Cold War and the debacle of the Soviet Union brought us closer to America. But America was in no need of a non-aligned country. It was determined to deny us a role in the world. So when we exploded a bomb, it was an affront to the United States. For us, it was the firm demonstration of our self-assertion. There was no going back after that. No government in this country can give up our nuclear option.
The phenomenal growth of China altered the global situation. It was no more possible for Washington to contain China on its own. So it turned an adversity into an opportunity.
China was eager to break its isolation in the world, get into the American market and secure advanced technology. And America needed China'scheap goods. In a world of rising prices, China alone could keep prices down. This was possible because it has control of the economy. This was America'sopportunity. In fact, Clinton had said: ?US relation with China will determine whether the new century will be one of security, peace and prosperity for the American people.? That is the importance of China to the USA.
But America is cautious. China is no ?Bhai-Bhai? to Washington. Which is why it is seeking an alliance (an Asian NATO) of nations of Asia against China. It wants India in it to make it more meaningful.
But India has never played these global games. Which is why it chose to remain non-aligned. We cannot get out of this tradition unless we re-learn our history. But that is another story.
Ours has been a case of love-hate relation with America. I do not know why. We have a pro-US lobby in this country. It serves largely US interests. And we have the Left lobby (Communists) which hates America and serves Chinese interests.
As I said before, India cannot replace China. But it can open up its markets for America. This is the price we are paying for the little considerations that Washington has been showing of late. Of course, this is too high a price.
For about 30 years or so, India has been an outcast to America. It has tried to block all our efforts to be a nuclear power. We have been denied dual-use technologies. But India has gone out of its way to keep its doors open to America.
The BJP government of Atal Behari Vajpayee changed all that, thanks to Jaswant Singh. Vajpayee even called America a ?natural ally?. It was this change in attitude which set in motion the negotiations for a new strategic relationship.
Then what is it that made the Communists reject the deal? It is because of Chinese pressure. Nothing else would bend the CPM. Had it not been for Chinese pressure, there was nothing which could have persuaded CPM to bring down the government. In any case, the communists are never known to have pursued India'snational interests.
After the debacle of the Soviet Union and the decimation of communism throughout the world, the Indian communists had been lying low. But, of late, they have found their way back to the thick of Indian politics, thanks to the coalition compulsions?. of some parties. And the first thing they did was to object to India'scloser relations with America.
Of course, no one thought that the negotiations would succeed. But when it did succeed, Beijing knew that history was turning against it. Hence the obduracy.
Let us be clear on this: China can never be a friend of India, nor can it allow India to emerge as a great power. But America can be a friend also to help India.