South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Book: Indian Lobbying and its Influence in US Decision Making: Post-Cold War
Author: Ashok Sharma
Publisher: Sage
Price: Rs. 895

Lobbying is a reality of modern world. Lobbying does take place from micro to macro level. Lobbying is done by various interest groups to influence law makers, policy makers. More and more interest groups lobby in the US as it has emerged as the supreme power. With the collapse USSR, US remained the only super power though China cannot be discounted. US is influencing global politics and so naturally various groups including nations wants to influence US policies to their benefit. India and Indians are also active in influencing US policies through lobbying.

The recent book Indian Lobbying and its Influence in US Decision Making: Post-Cold War by Ashok Sharma is a valuable addition on the debate. The book throws light on the history of lobbying in US. The author says lobbying is an intrinsic part of American life. The Jewish lobby is considered to be the most powerful pressure groups. They often lobby on behalf of Israel. Jews population is 2.7 per cent of the US population. Indian lobbying is also yielding results. The Indian lobbying is of recent origin. The Indian-Americans and Indian government is playing an active role in influencing US’s foreign and economic policies. Indians became more active in US after the end of cold-war. Earlier, India was much engaged with USSR.

During 1980s, only 5 per cent of American legislators were interested in India. But, the scenario is different now. Be Democratic Party or Republican Party, US now cannot afford to neglect India. US need India even for their compulsions. Indian community in US was initially not much politically active. In comparison, people from other countries were much active. They were raising their voices. Indian-Americans became active in the 1980s and more pro-active in the early 1990s with the opening of Indian economy. The political activism of Indian-Americans resulted in the formation of Indian Caucus in the US Congress in 1993 and in the US Senate in 2004. The Indian Diaspora became more and more influential during these periods because of rise in their socio-economic conditions. Similarly, Indian government also decided to hire US lobbying firms to make their voice heard. Lobbying of Pakistan to influence US foreign policy also prompted Indian government and Indian Diaspora to play more pro-active role. India and Pakistan are actively lobbying with US law makers to influence US’s foreign policy on South Asia. Indian lobbyist played an important role especially in aftermath of nuclear testing of May 1998 and Kargil war of 1999. It was not easy as sentiment in US and other European countries was against nuclear testing. India was clearly opposed to Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Then Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee wrote to then US President Bill Clinton on May 12 1998 saying “deteriorating security and nuclear environment” (with oblique references to China and Pakistan) as the impetus for India’s conducting the nuclear tests.  Even in such an atmosphere, India and US came much closer.  On May 13 President Clinton announced imposing of economic and military sanctions mandated by Section 102 of the Arms Export Controls Act. US imposed the same sanctions to Pakistan on May 30. Democrats in US are always more concerned about nuclear proliferation. Statements of former President Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, helped India gets support of Democrats and Republicans.

Pakistan’s armed incursion in the Kargil in 1999 helped India in a big way. US lifted most of the remaining sanctions. Indian lobbyist and government were visibly active. It is believed that Clinton and Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif’s agreement, which put an end to the conflict, was the result of Indian lobbyists. The Washington Post reported that this pro-India tilt in Washington was made possible in no small measure because of the political activism and the lobbying efforts of Indian-Americans.

The lobbying by Indian-American community is yielding results. India has become a close strategic ally of US. There are strategic experts who believe India has become junior partner of US and it is against India’s policy of Non-aligned. In the process, India’s relation with Israel has also become strong. Diplomatic ties with Israel were established in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was the PM. Since then the relations between two countries are growing.  The Israeli lobby also helped India in influencing the US.

Being a close ally should not mean India should abandon Non-aligned Movement (NAM). India needs to give confidence to the aspiring nations by rejuvenating NAM. The book authored by Ashok Sharma truly gives fascinating details of Indians lobbying in US.

By: Jatin Desai 


Updated On: 02.05.2017