US non-proliferation pressures and Indian sensitivities In the perception of India’s elite, the USA epitomized the vanguard of the discriminatory nuclear world order well before it emerged as the sole superpower in the 1990s. When referring to the ‘West’ as the oppressor of poor and developing, or for that matter, ‘nuclear have-nots’, India’s elite actually meant the USA. Similarly, when blaming ‘Western media’ for imbalanced coverage of Indian events, opinion leaders quoted American newspapers. The reasons for this strong focus on America and wide indifference to other Western countries, the Soviet Union/Russia, or even China, were diverse. First, the American government traditionally pushed forward its non-proliferation objectives more explicitly and directly than, say, the EU. Second, the USA was perceived to be the direct successor of colonialist Europe and had allegedly adopted the concomitant discriminatory attitudes. This perception was strengthened by the ‘Enterprise’ incident during the Bangladesh War. Third, thanks to the English language, the American media was directly accessible to India’s elite. Fourth, America’s policy towards South Asia carried several inconsistencies, particularly its vacillation between military assistance and military sanctions with regard to Pakistan,1 thus giving the impression that South Asia was little more than a playing field for global US power politics. Finally, the USA, as the perceived leader of the exclusive club to which India so passionately sought admission, represented a compelling archetype for the Indian elite to apply to their own country. This dimension of India’s relationship with the USA explains not only the impassioned commentary it generated, but also the unusual mix of disgust and admiration it contained.