Thursday, December 06, 2007

Choosing pseudo-pride over real gains

Seriously, what is wrong with desi politicians? Why do they keep opposing the nuclear deal with the states, something which I personally cannot believe the US govt agreed to pass, given how lopsided it is towards India.

Rather, I should ask -- what is wrong with the Indian public, that their "elected representatives" can freely assume that empty slogans [think "we do not want to be America's b*tch"] can convince the public to oppose a sound deal.

Some weeks ago, I came across this open letter, written by a host of eminent people who have a deep understanding of national defence, urging the politicians to act smartly and not oppose the deal.

Their main thesis:
It has been generally expected ever since our Independence that India’s size, strategic situation, civilisation, not least the talents of its people, were bound to make us one of the most significant influences in the shaping of the modern world. A major obstacle to our full achievement of that position has been the denial of the high technologies, particularly those related to security needs, which have enabled some self-selected powers to forge well ahead of us. We will continue to be denied access to such technologies unless the international community agrees to remove the existing sanctions. In opening the way to such an outcome, what is formally a bilateral agreement between us and the USA is actually the basis for agreement with the international community.
Their main points:
1. This deal does not mean no more tests ever -- as with any deal, we are free to break out of it if we feel that the geopolitical situation has changed, as was clarified by our defense minister today in the debate.
2. Our PM has said that "we cannot agree to fissile-material cut-off unless they allow for our security concerns." This means that this deal does NOT stop India from having its own credible minimum nuclear deterrent.
3. Finally, to counter the argument made by the left and BJP alike ["this deal makes us subservient to America"], the authors say:
Without entering into the rights and wrongs of this view, we would draw attention to an objective fact: international relationships are shaped by strength, the stronger you are the greater your freedom of action. We believe India is more vulnerable to foreign pressures without this agreement than we would be by increasing our strength through an intelligent use of it to put through various development programmes which currently falter. To revert to our initial point, this agreement should be viewed as an instrument for making us that stronger power, confident of itself and of the respect of others, that counts more and more in the world, and can do more for its people.

Why am I posting about this today? because the recent debates in the parliament and the walk out today. I think the BJP and Left parties did not read the above open letter.

I personally agree with the defense minister when he said, as the walkout was happening, "They have no reason. They have no case.".

But seriously, what is the public thinking? Is pseudo-pride valued more than real progress?!

flabbergasted, and outraged,
P.S. I would appreciate comments [pro as well as con] from my dear readers on this topic. What do you think? Am I missing something here?


  1. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Nice analysis. I myself didnt knew anything about this nuclear deal. It has been so much publicised but what exactly it is and what people are against I cud never understand and never really bothered to go thru the series of news which has been there in recent past. But after reading this blog I think nuclear deal is in favour of India and we should go for it and the politicians are just not going for it because of people's ignorance who dont really know what it is about....

  2. Animesh whole point is this Nuclear deal worth. Politics in India is just oppose but this is own personal view against deal.
    The nuclear deal assumes that nuclear energy is an economic and safe way for producing electricity for India. Nuclear energy has failed in India and offers no solution for the future. After 60 years of public funding Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) produces less than 3% of India’s electricity. For comparison, in less than a decade and without state support, wind energy now accounts for about 5% of India’s electricity capacity. To escape its failures, the DAE plans to import large nuclear power plants and fuel. The US, France, Russia and Japan hope to profit from this. This pursuit of nuclear energy comes despite that fact that the cost of producing nuclear electricity in India is higher than non-nuclear alternatives and each reactor adds to the risk of a serious nuclear accident and worsens the problem of radioactive nuclear waste. The DAE’s budget is ten times more than the budget for development of renewable energy technologies. India must reverse its priorities and invest more in wind, solar, biomass and micro hydel energy resources. Real energy challenge facing India is to meet the needs of the majority of Indians who still live in its villages. India needs an energy policy that works with the rural poor to develop and provide the small-scale, local, sustainable and affordable energy systems that they need. Renewable energy resources are better suited to fulfill this need. There are many safety reasons for opposing the deal.
    One more things Nuclear Reactor for plants like these will be situated in some remote places, so radiation from plants will effect some villagers or adivasi not a person in city, who hardly come in picture when our politician design plan for development of India, we have seen these problems in Jadugoda, see this link for detail
    In my opinion we should not sign this deal, its not going to solve by large extent plus make as a puppet in hand of US, my 2 cent

  3. @anon: Thanks for your comment. I strongly encourage you to read more on this issue, as information is the only weapon we have :-).

    @abhishek: You make a very valid point, and this is indeed something I missed in my article. So here goes:

    I am not _for_ or _against_ the deal, rather, I am pissed off due to the non-logical counter-arguments put up by the politicians. I completely agree that Nuclear energy has its costs, and indeed your point about wind energy is very valid. I only wish debates in parliament were about this, rather than empty slogans.

    On the "America's puppet" angle, I respectfully disagree, and refer you to the last quote in my post from the letter :) ["the stronger you are the greater your freedom of action"].

  4. I believe Abhishek has a very valid point here. Also, my wife, who is a self-confessed and practicing environmentalist, tells me that Nuclear Energy is the most unclean of the fuels today and the world is already grappling with its by-products' dumping procedure.

    Most of the developed countries use developing countries like India to dump their wastes already and relying more on Nuclear fuel in the coming decades will snowball into a major problem of another kind.

    Also, after the recent 'waking-up' to Global Warming, it makes little sense to invest so much in a modestly efficient fuel like Nuclear energy and ignore the cleaner alternatives like Wind and Solar energy (both found in abundance in India.)

    As for feeling like 'America's puppet', well, I won't say that's a completely wrong way of looking at it. I mean, if the government is going ahead even after so many basic flaws in the plan, it must be having some other 'back-room deals' to help itself. Reverse logic!

  5. Thanks for your comment (Varun) Grover [and bhabhiji?].

    I agree, and disagree.
    Agree to the perils of nuclear energy, but disagree to what you have called "reverse logic".

    "I mean, if the government is going ahead even after so many basic flaws in the plan, it must be having some other 'back-room deals' to help itself."

    _So many_ basic flaws? The only flaw I see it the fact that nuclear energy is not a good thing. I don't see any other. Am I counting wrong here? And as far as back-room deals are concerned, those are possible in any deal by any govt :-).

  6. There are MANY, my dear. Read these two analyses by Arun Shourie, recently published in the Indian Express.

    Part 1:


    You can say that Shourie is a bit biased here, owing to his BJP background, but then, he is a journalist too...and he comes fully prepared.

    And bad news from India - Modi has won.