- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Conflicting views about U.S-Indian relations

Contrary to Richard Fisher's claim that "the U.S. should cheer when later this year India sends its navy into the South China Sea" ("Welcome India's help," Commentary, May 18), there is no reason for the United States to support this action.
It is true that China is a threat to the United States and to our ally, Taiwan, but disagreements between India and China center on each country's drive to achieve hegemony in the region.
India introduced nuclear weapons into the subcontinent last year. Also last year, according to the Times of India, India played host to a meeting with the ambassadors of Fidel Castro's Cuba, Communist China, Serbia, Libya, Iraq and Russia to discuss setting up a security alliance "to stop the U.S." George Fernandes, Indian defense minister, described the United States as "vulgarly arrogant."
India is portrayed as a trade partner, but half of its people live below the international poverty line and 86 percent make less than $2 a day. India is a poor country, but it spends 25 percent of its development budget on nuclear development, according to the British documentary "Nuclear India," while spending only 2 percent on health and 2 percent on education.
According to the Hitavada, an Indian English-language newspaper, India paid the late governor of Punjab, Surendra Nath, $1.5 billion to organize and support covert state terrorism in Punjab, Khalistan and Kashmir.
More than 700,000 Indian troops are stationed in Kashmir and more than half a million in Punjab. Amnesty International reports that there are tens of thousands of political prisoners being held without charge or trial. Many Sikh political prisoners have been in this illegal custody since 1984. The Indian government has killed more than 250,000 Sikhs since 1984, more than 200,000 Christians in Nagaland since 1947 and more than 70,000 Kashmiri Muslims since 1988, as well as tens of thousands of Dalits, Assamese, Manipuris and others.
Two months ago, the Indian government killed 35 Sikhs in the village of Chatti Singhpora while President Clinton was visiting New Delhi. The government's involvement was confirmed by two extensive investigations, one conducted by the Punjab Human Rights Organization and the Movement Against State Repression and the other conducted by the Ludhiana-based International Human Rights Organization.
Recently, six Christian missionaries were beaten by Bajrang Dal members. The Bajrang Dal is a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party.
Shortly before the Chatti Singhpora massacre, a Sikh family saved four nuns from an RSS attack. Since Christmas 1998, RSS members and government forces have destroyed Christian churches, schools and prayer halls, murdered priests and raped nuns. One nun was abducted and forced to drink her own bodily fluids. Missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons (ages 8 and 10) were burned to death by militant Hindu fundamentalists chanting "Victory to Hannuman," a Hindu god. A Christian religious festival was broken up by police gunfire.
America is a moral country dedicated to democratic principles. It should not be supporting a country that engages in these practices. India, however, remains one of the top recipients of U.S. aid.
Instead of encouraging Indian military adventurism in the South China Sea, we should stop U.S. aid to India and declare American support for self-determination for the people of Khalistan, Kashmir, Nagaland, and all the nations within India's artificial borders.
An internationally supervised plebiscite on independence should decide the political futures of these nations. It is the democratic way.
Only when all the nations and peoples of South Asia are free can real peace and stability come to that troubled region, which will contribute to world peace.
GURMIT SINGH AULAKH
President
Council of Khalistan
Washington
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Richard Fisher has put his finger precisely on the spot with regard to the differences between India and China as global powers and the attitude that the United States should take in Asia.
India is a vibrant, functioning democracy, while China is a hegemonistic, communist dictatorship bent on military expansionism in Asia. China also is the greatest contributor to nuclear and missile proliferation worldwide.
For many decades, Indians have found it difficult to understand why a democratic nation like India, as large as China in population and in many respects similar to the United States, should be ostracized and ignored by the United States, while a communist dictatorship with a deplorable human rights record should be given most favored nation status by the world's most powerful and richest democracy.
President Clinton's visit to India has resulted in the potential for forging a most rewarding relationship between the two countries economically, politically and even militarily.
Even hard-boiled skeptics on both sides have realized that there exists today a window of opportunity for both countries to advance the cause of peace and prosperity across Asia and the rest of the world.
Let democracy be the yardstick by which the civilized nations of the world greet and work with each other. Dictatorships and authoritarian states should not be rewarded and equated with democratic nations.
The 21st century must see a return to the basic principles that govern humankind, not a return to the cynical methods of appeasement and indifference.
PHILIP FOWLER
Tamilnadu, India
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I hope Richard Fisher's column is an indication that U.S. analysts are finally beginning to understand the security nightmare being faced by India, and why it is in the U.S. interest to support democratic India against its authoritarian rivals (China and Pakistan) in the region.
India has long been invisible to the power brokers in the United States, but it is clear that economic and strategic compulsions will induce Indo-U.S. relations to improve in the future.
What is urgently needed is a new breed of South Asia experts (such as Mr. Fisher) who are not blinkered by the Cold War conventional wisdom of the past.
NAGARAJA RAO
Minneapolis

The law should punish city officials, not the city[p]

There is an easy solution to correct the problems described in your May 25 editorial "They all knew." Judge John Pratt back in 1978 should have forced the D.C. managers to do their jobs or hold them in contempt of court. Proper care, or lack thereof, for the mentally ill has proven to be a life or death issue.
The problem that the District has always had is that many city employees don't care if they do their jobs or not. Managers must be given the responsibility and the resources to do the job, or be held personally responsible and liable for their failures or incompetence. A judge may fine the District all he wants. What this does is to make the taxpayers of the District pay for the laziness or incompetence of employees and city administrators. If they faced civil fines and even jail time for failing to adequately provide for the care and safety of people whose lives they are responsible to care for, they would take the responsibility far more seriously.
A city is not a person, it is a legal entity. As such, you cannot put a city in jail. Fines may be levied and collected, but it is always the taxpayer who pays these. Governments are run by individuals. Individuals must be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
STEVE BROWN
Germantown

Thought out national energy policy needed[p]

Sen. James M. Inhofe's call for new energy thinking is actually pretty old ("Foreign oil dependence," Op-Ed, May 18). Not that he is incorrect, but every time the price of oil spikes, we get the same call for a national energy policy. Substituting natural gas for oil, however, is not the best strategy. Studies of gas supplies all indicate that a large jump in the use of gas will result in big price increases. The basic problem is that there is a limited amount of gas, and even more limited pipeline capacity. Natural gas is also a polluting fossil fuel. Albeit cleaner than coal or oil, it still generates greenhouse gases and nitrogen and sulfur oxides.
What can truly make a difference are the new technologies. We are at the brink of having electric vehicles, and if we get the electricity from nuclear power plants or other non-fossil sources, we can have an enormous reduction in air pollution and global warming as well as on our demand for oil and gas. Just continuing the trend toward greater electrification and less direct use of fossil fuels in industry should have a major effect.
Yes, we need an effective national energy policy. We just need to be sure we are not trading one limited resource for another.
ROBERT L. LONG
Albuquerque, N.M.
Robert Long is a retired utility executive and head of Nuclear Stewardship, a consulting firm.

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