US refuses to take ISRO and DRDO off Black list: Strategic relationship under strain?


The southern Man
Senior Member
Jul 15, 2009
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US refuses to take ISRO and DRDO off Black list: Strategic relationship under strain?

Ahead of the visit of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington for his thanks giving summit there are a sea of differences that is affecting the strategic relationship between the two countries.

While the differences on the climate change issue are yet to be ironed out, US continues to be non-committal on India's role in an expanded UN Security Council. Infact the issue of the US support is as good as dead according to insiders. Plus there are fresh strains on the non-proliferation issues; there is already a strong lobby within the Obama administration that wants Obama to press Singh to make a binding commitment on signing the CTBT, once the US revives the treaty in its own Congress.

Another sticking point is that despite several reminders US has refused to alter its entities list, or the black list that bans trade in sensitive technology for some Indian companies, including a dozen key government companies like Indian Space Research Organisation and Defence. This is despite the fact that the matter has been raised several times with the US as India is in dubious company of countries like North Korea, Pakistan and China that have a past track record of proliferation.

Then why India, is it a pressure tactic because all it is required is for the US President to issue an order to the US Department of Commerce which can remove these companies off the list. While the Prime Minister may be feeling good about getting to dine with Obama at his first state dinner, for the moment the strategic dimension of the relationship is on the backburner and for now it has become a relationship under tremendous strain.India's Envoy in Sudan, Deepak Vohra has become a cause of embarrassment for the Foreign Office, considering that he continues to defy the ministry's order and has a past history of controversies which refuses to go away.

The envoy who was posted to New Zealand refused to take up his post, forcing the Ministry to accommodate the former Navy Chief Suresh Mehta, who is now headed there as the new High Commissioner. According to South Block insiders, Vohra didn't stop at that and has now dared the Ministry to appoint someone in his place, and has warned that if he doesn't get a posting of his choice and that too, strangely only in Africa, else he will continue to stay put.

Considering that India's lines of credit in Africa have come under a cloud of suspicion because of dodgy deals by some envoys, the ministry has been left wondering if there is something more to Vohra's new found love for Africa. Besides, the reports from Khartoum are also not too good. While the file is moving back and forth the insiders believe that Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna may not be left with any choice but to take action against such errant officials who are holding the government to ransom.

While the Foreign Ministry's external publicity may be in tatters but the ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash is heaving a sigh of relief that he has managed to pull enough strings to survive as the spokesperson of the foreign office despite an elaborate exercise to find a new officer for the job.But despite survival the ministry's public affairs face is fighting a public relations battle within the foreign office. Prakash who was handpicked by the Former Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon for the job, has come under a cloud of criticism with his own officers not willing to work under him. And the grapevine has it that now his Director, External Publicity Gopal Bagley has opted out of the division after petitioning the ministry for several months citing not so good working environment.

Even the previous Director, Nagma Malick had left for similar reasons. Now it's time to put the house in order before it is too late because while the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao is trying hard to boost the morale of her officers, if the situation doesn't improve it may cause a major embarrassment to the big bosses in South Block.

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