Why NSG membership matters to India: All you need to know

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2016 13:55 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. NSG member countries will meet in Vienna on Thursday to take up India and Pakistan’s applications. (AP)

NSG -- the three letters have dominated the news and virtually tailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he closes his five-nation tour.

Member countries are meeting in Vienna on Thursday and are also expected take up India and Pakistan’s applications.

Islamabad sought the membership 10 days after New Delhi. So, here is your guide to what is NSG (short for the nuclear suppliers group), why India is keen on it and why it has come to define India’s strategic goals in the last few days?

1. A reiteration of non-proliferation credentials

Founded in the aftermath of India’s nuclear test in May 1974, the NSG is a club of 48 countries dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.

An American initiative, its objective was to make India join the non-proliferation treaty. India has stayed away from ‘discriminatory’ NPT.

It was 2008 civil nuclear deal with the US, seen as a validation of India’s non-proliferation credentials, which paved the way for Delhi’s NSG bid.

The NPT remains a biased regime that classifies the world into the nuclear-haves (the US, and Russia, the UK, France and China) and have-nots (all other countries). There is little to suggest that big five will work for a world free of nuclear weapons.

2. Clean energy push

India is a growing country with massive energy needs. It has set for itself an ambitious goal of sourcing 40% of its power from non-fossil sources and here is where nuclear energy comes into play. India will need latest technology and NSG membership will come in handy. Though it got a one-time NSG waiver in 2008, the country needs constant access to global markets and a stable trading framework

3. It helps domestic firms

A place on the nuclear trading table will help Indian companies such as the Walchandnar Industries Limited (WIL) and L&T to expand business. India has a robust indigenous nuclear industry that worked mostly in isolation as international sanctions were slapped every time a nuclear test was conducted. An NSG membership will make these companies comply with international norms and make it easier for them to ply their trade abroad.

4. Make in India

New Delhi and Moscow have announced a plan to build reactors in India to sell them to other countries, a move expected to give a push to the Modi government’s Make in India initiative. It will not only generate jobs but also help in technology development. As an NSG member, India will be better placed to implement the initiative.

5. End of the nuclear winter

One of the objectives of the 2008 nuclear deal was that the US would help India get into export-control regimes such as the NSG, the MTCR (missile technology control regime), Australia Group and Wassenar Arrangement. As a member of these groupings, India will have access to defence, space and nuclear technologies. The MTCR is done, of the remaining, the NSG is most crucial. Admission to the MTCR will open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology and surveillance drones such as Predator.

Read | India’s NSG bid: Too much diplomacy, too little action

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