India and the U.S. Reach Deal on Nuclear Technology
In March 2006, President Bush and Prime Minister Singh agreed to a controversial civil nuclear power deal that permitted the sale of nuclear technology to India despite the fact that India has never signed the international Nuclear Nonproliferation agreement. Since 1998, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on India for undertaking nuclear tests. Critics of the deal contend that allowing India to circumvent the international treaty will make it more difficult to negotiate with Iran and North Korea and their nuclear ambitions. In September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, comprised of representatives from 45 countries, voted in favor of the deal, bringing it a step away from implementation. The U.S. Congress approved the deal in Oct. 2008; it was the last hurdle for the implementation of the controversial agreement. India's Bharatiya Janata Party, which opposes the deal, called it a "nonproliferation trap." The deal could be scrapped if India uses the fuel for its weapons program.
Pratibha Patil, of the governing Congress party, was elected president in July 2007, becoming the country's first woman to hold the post. She defeated Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Prime Minister Singh survived a confidence vote in July 2008, taking 275 votes to the opposition's 256. Eleven members of Parliament abstained. He had lost the support of Communist parties as he sought to seal the deal that has the U.S. providing India with nuclear technology and fuel for civilian purposes.
Squirmishing along Kashmir's Line of Control broke out over the summer of 2008, after more than four years of relative calm. The problems arose after authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir transferred 99 acres of land to a trust that runs a Hindu shrine, called Amarnath. Muslims launched a series of protests. The government rescinded the order, which outraged Hindus. About 40 people were killed in the protests and counterdemonstrations, which involved several hundred thousand people. Despite the hostilities, a trade route between India and Pakistan across the line of control opened in October for the first time in 60 years.