Check the PM Under Manmohan Singh, India risks becoming a US cheerleader in the UN Security Council, warns N.V.Subramanian. 2 March 2011: While India's foreign policy mostly has been prime minister-driven, the dangers emanating from that are more now than perhaps anytime before. The opposition which has got the UPA government in the dock on corruption and rising prices has neglected the increasing pro-US tilt of prime minister Manmohan Singh. It must act before it is too late. Although Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, P.V.Narasimha Rao and A.B.Vajpayee, to name the country's most significant prime ministers, made seminal foreign-policy decisions, their successes/ setbacks were determined/ contained by two factors. Because all of them were consummate politicians, intimately aware of the needs of their country, and cognizant of their limits, their decisions came out of deep understanding. Their risks usually were well-considered. Also, India was barely rising in most of their collective tenures except perhaps in the last years of Vajpayee's term. The capacity of India to impact the world and to be impacted in turn was much less than it is now, when the stakes have grown, and when this country and China are admired/ dreaded in the same breath. The present trouble is that Manmohan Singh is the weakest prime minister at a time when India is strongest since Independence. This contradiction is well-known and has been explained before. For example, India's rise is strictly on account of its entrepreneurial genius, for which no government, least of all the UPA administration, can take credit. Indeed, corruption and uncontrolled inflation are denting this rise. The reasons for Manmohan Singh's weakness are also well-advertized. He has no political base of his own and it is principally for this reason that he was selected by Sonia Gandhi for prime-ministership. The disastrous fallouts of his weak prime-ministership are all too evident now to bear repetition. Because he has no say in domestic affairs, Manmohan Singh was given some compensatory liberty in foreign policy-making. Since the PM is uniformly mocked and scorned in domestic political circles (forget the opposition, even Congress heavyweights poke fun at him), he pines for adulation abroad. Some adulation genuinely comes for his international standing as an economist (although that has taken a knocking with absent solutions for India's rising inflation and peaking supply deficits). But a lot is flattery that Manmohan Singh is unable to discern and reject. The Punjabi baley-baley-let-us-bhangra act would not move Pranab Mukherjee, for instance. But the Pakistan prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, succeeded with that and landed Manmohan Singh in a major foreign-policy embarrassment with their Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement. To Manmohan Singh's ignominy, the Congress party dissociated from his statement. Alongwith the Pakistanis, the Americans have realized Manmohan Singh's weakness for flattery. Apparently, the PM cannot get over his "indebtedness" to president Barack Obama for addressing Parliament, where he lectured India against trucking with the Burmese dictatorship, forgetting the shameful US record in the Middle East, where the chickens are coming home to roost. A politician would be immune to flattery. Foreign flattery never worked with Indira Gandhi, Narasimha Rao or Vajpayee, who adroitly sidestepped American pressure to deploy troops in Iraq and to sign the CTBT after the 1998 test. On the other hand, Manmohan Singh bends to please the Americans. For instance, defence circles are shocked and outraged in the manner American companies, especially Boeing, are squeezing the government for fighter-jet, military helicopter, howitzer and other deals. In some cases, pressure directly is coming from the PMO. While the Union defence minister, A.K.Anthony, is personally clean, he is tolerating rampant corruption among his officers. Secret product files and trial reports are leaking from Anthony's ministry. For some reason, the opposition has turned a blind eye to all this. What specially worries this writer in the gamut of Indo-US relations are two areas: Pakistan and the UN Security Council. On Pakistan and particularly the Bombay-carnage investigations, the US is willing to sell Indian interests down the Indus. According to press reports, in return for Raymond Davis, the US will give sovereign immunity to the ISI chief, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in the New York trial initiated by relatives of victims of the Bombay carnage. This is of a piece with scandalous US actions related to David Coleman Headley, the Lashkar-e-Toiba scout for the Bombay carnage. And under US pressure, India reengages Pakistan which obstructs credible court trial of the Pakistani Bombay-carnage terrorists. The second issue relates to India's two-year UN Security Council stint which is presumably the launching pad for eventual permanent membership. This writer fears that India under Manmohan Singh will be unable to resist US pressure to support in the UNSC its reckless interventionist actions abroad. Despite its disastrous experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is gearing up for an invasion of Libya using its mad dictator's savagery as an excuse. Once foreign troops intervene, the Iraq story will repeat. Libyans will forget their immediate cause for a time, embrace ultra-nationalism, and turn against the occupiers. The Al-Qaeda will emerge strongly. It is not possible for India to stop an insane invasion such as this. But in the UN Security Council, it must actively and vehemently resist it. France is already speaking out against an invasion. The point of writing this is that the Indian opposition should wake up to the dangers of Manmohan Singh's unbridled pro-US policies and to restrain him in the UN Security Council. On India's two-year UN Security Council record, much will ride. India's future lies in rising peacefully, and this has to be advertized in the UN Security Council for the entire world to see. Manmohan Singh is not a politician. He does not have the sagacity of his prime-ministerial predecessors. On every foreign-policy step he seeks to take, Manmohan Singh should be examined, cautioned and checked, if necessary, by the opposition. Much is at stake. Much can go horribly wrong.