National and International Issues

Assessing Parameters of India's Nuclear Behavior

Although the international system is overwhelmingly anarchic on realists’ guided patterns, yet international politics is being conducted within the framework of set of rules, norms, and principles that create a sense of responsibility at the state level. At the international level, being seen as a responsible actor, states display ‘reasonable’ behavior and adhere to widely-held norms in order to preserve their national interests. At the domestic level, states demonstrate a level of responsibility internally through system of governments to develop legitimacy and connectivity with their communities and masses.  
Similarly, nuclear behavior or nuclear responsibility is a characteristic of states that accomplishes norms of legitimate nuclear behavior, and whose adherence of those norms is acknowledged by others. Norms and practices of nuclear responsibility are not fully enshrined in the international law but are inter-subjectively determined, and the recognition of a state as a responsible nuclear actor occurs through a process of political contestation. The contention is that these norms or practices are somehow formalized through the international institutions/regimes. These institutions were created to serve the interests of global collective security through cooperation by preventing wars and safeguarding shared peace. For this purpose, states require to fulfill domestic and international obligations, and adhere to normative practices. Against this backdrop, the contention is that states are clearly not homogenous entities, therefore, their behaviors vary in terms of their hierarchy/structure, profile, history, culture and ideology. Thus, it is necessary that we first understand a state’s broader political behavior in order to evaluate its nuclear behavior as the second pattern that subordinates the former.
States’ Patterns of Requisite Political Behavior
It is essential to understand whose responsibilities are in question, and for what they are responsible. Can we find universal patterns of activity, or universal rules that explain how a state behaves? Quick answer is yes! In social sciences, theories are considered scientific tools and statements about cause and effects to understand such phenomenon.  In social sciences, we can’t run experiments since we are dealing with subjectivity or relationship between political and social entities. Thus we use historical data to test these theories in order to evaluate states’ behavior. A basic question then arises on how do we examine states’ behavior. There are several levels of analysis through which we evaluate states’ behavior. 
System Level Analysis. At the system level, we evaluate states’ behavior not domestically but at the international level. For some theorists, change in the international system leads to cause change in the states’ behavior domestically while for others internal behavior of a state leads to alter broader regional or global dynamics. In both cases, realism guides us that states always seek to increase their power and decrease the power of their adversaries. Power seeker states are usually greedy, aggressive, and/or revisionist. Further, argument resonates that states behave well when they believe that they cannot win war and power is equally distributed. Given that, a real hegemonic power is the one that has more economic and military clout as compared to other states and can produce economic stability which is seen as a collective/public good in the international system and all the surrounding states benefit from it regardless of whether or not they contribute to it.  
Furthermore, liberals who promote cooperation over rivalry also add value to this equation. They channelize the role of institutions that can influence the behavior of states by spreading values for rules based behavior. Second dimension of liberals’ argument is that democracies are inherently peaceful states which do not go to war easily and they appear to be non-violent. Political leaders in a democracy derive their power from a public electorate, thus it is not only in the public’s interest but also in the leader’s own interest that they practice restraint in aggressive policy formulation which might lead towards conflict and war. These set of arguments help us understand states’ behavior more narrowly.
State Level Analysis. At this level, we examine the foreign policy behavior of states. States’ behavior differs in terms of their hierarchy such as weak and/or strong states, or their strategic culture. States’ ideational factors and their strategic culture usually guides the investigator to understand how states’ domestic patterns influence their foreign policy behavior. 
Individual Level Analysis. This particular level helps us to assess the role of personalities and individuals who are involved in decision making processes.  The role of leaders and personalities, their character and belief systems lead to determine their ability to make decisions under certain conditions. 
States’ Patterns of Requisite Nuclear Behavior 
There are three patterns to assess states’ nuclear behavior. A responsible nuclear weapons state adopts all the possible means, channels and mechanisms to stabilize deterrence in order to avoid war.
Robust Deterrence Regime to Avoid Wars. This parameter helps us to understand the compulsions of a state to develop nuclear weapons on the following patterns: a) States adopt a transparent deterrence regime when they have purpose no other than security;  b) states adopt doctrinal strategies that aim at stabilizing deterrence and avoidance of wars; c) states prefer defensive postures over offensive ones; d) states keep all the communication channels open with their adversaries in war and peace times with the aim to avoid accidents or risks of wars; and e) states promote genuine negotiations to resolve conflicts and instutionalize arms control mechanisms to avoid arms race.
Adherence of Non-proliferation Norms. As per this pattern, states: a) join global regimes and commit to promote non-proliferation (vertically and horizontally); b) preserve right to secure peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, under the transparent oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) safeguard systems; c) avoid misuse of nuclear material in disregard of global norms; and d) institute a stringent national security culture and mechanism to promote nuclear safety and security. 
Genuine Efforts to Promote Disarmament. States do not merely pay lip-service to the world community but take practical steps to declare the regions as nuclear-weapons-free zones, promote reduction of military budgets, and reduction of armed forces. They do not weaponize space or seas. They also adopt collateral procedures, confidence-building measures, and effective verification methods leading to general and complete disarmament. 
Assessment of India’s Political and Nuclear Behavior
A Power Seeking and a Revisionist Actor. From the outset, Indian National Congress, under the leadership and guidance of Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, which had Hindu majority membership, envisioned the political vision of ‘Greater India’ based on slogans of secularism and liberal democracy. Presumably inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s liberalism, India aspired to build its soft image globally through institutionalization of democratic structure. In parallel, ‘the Greater India Vision’ means that India ‘would play a greater-power role in the world affairs commensurate with its size and power potential.’ Cumulative Gandhian and Nehruvian philosophy, ‘Greater India,’ is a concept that derives its power from Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Mahabharata philosophy which is rooted in power based Machiavellian realist school. The manifestation and latent presence of Kautilyan strategic thought cannot be discounted in Indian policy. India seeks power globally and demonstrates aggression and revisionist behavior regionally by promoting war, violating human rights and exploiting peace. India’s ambitions for its rise and strength to expansionist and hegemonic designs in the region are based on realism-guided, ‘offensive political patterns.’ India does not care about regional economic growth, regional stability and prosperity. It is a selfish state actor that only maximizes its own relative gains at the expense of regional peace. 
Escaping Institutional Cooperation. One; in 1948, India took Kashmir dispute to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and agreed to conduct a plebiscite on Kashmir in order to address the issue according to the wishes of the people of Kashmir. Nevertheless, India did not allow this plebiscite to be held thus bypassing global institutional obligations and norms. Two; the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) is a profoundly important international agreement that provides an essential cooperative framework for India and Pakistan for effective water management to meet human needs and achieve development goals. India continues to violate the IWT. Three; for many years, India remained a critic of international order embodied in the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), challenging it from outside while developing nuclear devices and keeping the nuclear option open until its second nuclear tests in 1998. India rejected offers for establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zone in South Asia, later India rejected Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and remained silent on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) and went for overt nuclearization in 1998. Under the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver, granted by the U.S. based on latter’s strategic interests in Asia, India continues to violate the nuclear non-proliferation norms underpinned by the NPT and the IAEA’s safeguards rules. 
Internal Factors Shaping India’s Behavior. Historically driven radical concepts, like Akhand Bharat and Hindutva, populated with anti-Pakistan sentiments, have been extensively used by the political parties and religious extremists in India – apparently to remain relevant in their respective spheres of domestic influence and power. Hindu fundamentalists continue to generate extreme anti-Pakistan drive which intensified rivalry. The postulates of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). To cover his electoral mileage, Narendra Modi even pulled the region to the brink of war in the wake of Pulwama crisis.  Currently, PM Modi’s foreign policy agenda is based on hedging policy against China. Modi remained focused on bolstering India’s security with the aims that go beyond Pakistan and China, thus pressurizing Pakistan through disengagement, and leveraging India’s ‘soft power’ in the West and the developing world to increase New Delhi’s global standing and influence.
Another case in point is Kashmir. For example, based on the RSS guided, illiberal, revisionist and Hindu supremacist mind-set, the BJP has unilaterally terminated autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir thereby turning the status of the state into federal territory against the will of the local people. Through display of such behavior, Indian personalities have led to challenge the legitimacy and efficacy of the global institutions such as the UNSC and global rules-based order and globally held-liberal democratic norms. BJP has revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution that was grounded on liberal democratic norms in respect of the UN resolutions on Kashmir that states “the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.” BJP has unilaterally revoked Article 370; locked down the valley; deployed 700,000 troops there; imposed a communications blackout; suspended locals’ access to basic necessities; continues to dehumanize the local Kashmiris through forced disappearances, arresting journalists, human rights activists and policy figures, and by conducting night raids, rapes and killings. India has set new policy patterns, domestically and internationally, by displaying its fascist and revisionist behavior in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir continue to resist India in order to determine their own destiny under the global institutional rules and international law.
Adopting War-fighting Doctrines. India in the first place misled the world with the doctrinal policies through adoption of nuclear ‘No First Use’ (NFU), slogan of minimum deterrence and policy of massive retaliation to maximize normative gains in the global community. India always calibrated a policy of war-fighting under the nuclear overhang since the calibration of its Cold Start Doctrine. India has taken a doctrinal shift from NFU to preemptive ‘First Use’ counterforce, war-fighting posture. These changing strategic postures mean destabilizing the regional-centric deterrence by aggravating the atmosphere of mistrust and promoting arms race, legitimizing further production of nuclear stockpile in India and increased production of multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs), ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems, short-range missiles and warheads. 
In a nutshell, India’s aggressive and provocative behavior means no respect for the international institutions, increased arms race and high probability of wars in the region, no confidence-building measures (CBMs) and/or arms control mechanisms, disrespect for minorities and human rights violations, exploitation of regional peace and hampered regional socio-economic growth and prosperity. How much India qualifies to achieve a greater power state status is obvious from its narrow, religiously extremist and politically fascist policies. Never!


The writer is a PhD in International Security and Nuclear Non-Proliferation from University of Leicester, UK and is on the faculty of NDU, Islamabad. 
E-mail: [email protected],
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