Blockbuster headlines toast India’s nuclear re-birth

September 7th, 2008 - 3:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) India’s rebirth as an atomic power, armed with a unique NSG passport to carry on global nuclear trade, was feted with celebratory headlines in leading Indian newspapers - save for some dissenting voices that saw in it a “sell out” of the country’s strategic interests. The Hindustan Times dispensed with its usual masthead to flag the path-breaking waiver by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group Saturday. “Nuclear Dawn”, said the HT’s blockbuster headline with a sub-headline: “How 34 years of isolation ended in 26 hours.”

In tones reminiscent of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Tryst with Destiny speech, a front-page article in the daily quotes Arundhati Ghosh, the Indian diplomat who led the battle against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as saying: “This is like a liberation.”

The Times of India toasted the NSG deal in bold ringing headlines: ‘India N-abled.’ Conjuring up the tense suspense-filled moments in Vienna that culminated in the NSG waiver Saturday afternoon, the TOI’s front-page story talks about how “India enters nuclear club after high-voltage diplomacy thwarts a last-minute Chinese shocker to block consensus at NSG.”

The Indian Express, the Indian daily that has relentlessly championed the nuclear deal and often sounded like a nuclear evangelist, was predictably euphoric. Capturing the historic moment that enables India to resume trade in nuclear technology and fuel with the world and allow it access to cutting-edge technologies, the Express headline says: “New (Nuclear) World Order Made for India.”

Writing in the Express, C. Raja Mohan, well-known strategic expert known for his vigorous advocacy for the deal, saw the NSG waiver as not only a passport to global nuclear trade but as evidence of India’s “rising power” status in the world. “In lifting the three-and-a-half decade-old nuclear blockade against India, the international community has come to terms with a rising India and its geopolitical consequences for the global order in the 21st century,” said Raja Mohan.

The Asian Age, the daily that was once known for its hostility to the nuclear deal but has softened in the last few months, came with a relatively tame headline, “Sweet Deal in Vienna”.

Recognizing historic and political significance of the NSG waiver, The Hindu, that played the sceptic right till the end, however, acknowledged that the waiver “showed the extent to which the world, and India, have changed in the past 16 years”.

Not that everyone was singing praises of the NSG deal and the way it was touted by some as the triumph of Indian diplomacy. There were naysayers, too. The Pioneer, a newspaper known for its right-wing leanings, had a banner headline: ‘SELLOUT!’. The front-page article in the daily contends that the NSG waiver “invites it (India) into the global nuclear market, but at a huge cost - its nuclear sovereignty.”

This grim prognosis reflected anxieties of a section of the political establishment in India, most notably the BJP, the Left parties, who fear that the nuclear deal may end up depriving India of its strategic autonomy.

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