That the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver means access to technology and reactors is known. Less understood is how breaking into the nuclear club has enhanced India’s great power aspirations.
"This is like a liberation. Globally, the deal frees India to operate and act more on her own," says Arundhati Ghose, the Indian diplomat who led the battle against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
<b1>The speed of India’s nuclear transformation is stunning. India was in the nuclear doghouse after Pokhran II. Today it’s one of six nations that can buy nuclear merchandise and retain a nuclear arsenal.
As Bruce Riedel, Barack Obama’s advisor on South Asia, summarised, "India has moved from nuclear pariah to a member of the club in just 10 years."
One senior Indian diplomat says just the build-up to deal has led to a sea change in Arab and Asian views on India. "No other country in the world could have qualified for such exceptional treatment," says Ashley Wills of Washington lobby firm WilmerHale.
There are many reasons: India’s democracy, its non-proliferation record, its indigenous nuclear programme. But also, says Wills, "because it is widely felt India is on the way to being a great power."
Behind the gains in status is the more hard-nosed issue of technology — the ultimate index of global power. “India has now been admitted into a hexagon of 21st century power,” says C Uday Bhaskar, former director, Institute for Defence and Strategic Analysis.
India’s ability to build tech bridges to the rest of the world is now infinite. It can now "establish technology-embedded partnerships with key players in the international system… and, pave the way to gain a seat at the decision-making tables of key global economic and security institutions,” says Anupam Srivatasava, a nuclear expert at the University of Georgia.
Ashok Mago, one of the Indian-Americans who pushed through the Hyde Act agrees. “India will be able to create partnerships with the US and other NSG nations and expand its sphere of influence."
Almost all find the BJP’s opposition curious. Riedel notes it was Jaswant Singh who had first predicted that India would make the transition from ‘nuclear pariah to nuclear power’ in a decade.