After the collapse of the USSR, America had expected India’s position to be at her mercy and everybody thought America could get away with anything. However, India has stood up to the USA on three major issues: NPT, patent laws and the rocket technology transfer deal.
India not only refused to bow to American pressure to sign the NPT but also rejected the US-backed Pakistan proposal for a nuclear-free zone in Asia. Then came the issue of patent laws. The US pressured, cajoled and threatened India to sign on the dotted line. India was put on the Super 301 list. But still, the US got nowhere. It only turned Indian public opinion against itself and hardened the resolve of India’s elected representatives and government not to kowtow to the US. It is unlikely that the Indian patent laws will be altered in the near future to satisfy the Americans.
The US sanctions against ISRO on the issue of transfer of rocket engine technology from Glavkosmos have also backfired. The sanctions have resulted neither in Glavkosmos backing out of the deal, nor in crippling ISRO. Instead, with the successful launching of the ASLV and INSAT 2-A, ISRO has proved a point to the US.
Before the sanctions, the US companies contributed 50 per cent of the ISRO import of components and the French only 10 per cent. But now, with Thomson-CSF and Marta of France offering all the components previously supplied by the US, there is a reversal of roles.
In the end, more than India, it will be the US who will be the biggest loser, both politically and financially.
(This appeared in the Letters to the Editor section of Week magazine, 26 July, 1991)