U.S. tries to armtwist India on Dow issue
New Delhi: A recent exchange of emails between Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman, accessed by Times Now, would suggest that the United States is trying to pressure India to take back its demand for 1,500 crore in compensation from Dow Chemicals in the Bhopal gas tragedy case. However, government sources say the emails only prove that the U.S. is exerting pressure, not that the government has succumbed to it.
The revelations come in the wake of the government working on a petition demanding 1,500 crore from Dow Chemicals for the victims of the Bhopal tragedy, following recommendations made by a Group of Ministers on June 22.
According to Times Now, Dr. Ahluwalia emailed Mr. Froman on July 30, just two days before a matter of crucial importance to India was to be reviewed at the World Bank. A copy was also sent to senior bureaucrat Pulok Chatterji, who was earlier with the Prime Minister's Office but is now with the World Bank.
The email, which relates to India's borrowing from the World Bank, says: “We are about to hit the arbitrary single borrower limit in IBRD which will force IBRD to cut new lending to India drastically unless the limit is relaxed. You may remember I had mentioned this as an issue when we discussed the IBRD capital increase in G20. The matter is coming up in the IBRD Board audit committee on Monday. The U.S. is a member. The management wants a relaxation for India. Could you speak to the Treasury to get the U.S. ED on our side? At a time when countries are graduated out of soft assistances it is normal to switch them to IBRD. But we are faced with a sharp reduction. I am asking our ED's office to send you on my behalf a note which will be self-explanatory. Larry will fully understand. Hope you can help.”
Mr. Froman's reply — the same day — is very revealing: “We are aware of this issue and we will look into it. While I've got you, we are hearing a lot of noise about the Dow Chemical issue. I trust that you are monitoring it carefully. I am not familiar with all the details, but I think we want to avoid developments which put a chilling effect on our investment relationship.”