Jury still out on Indo-U.S. “unclear” deal

June 24, 2008

US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …You could be forgiven for thinking that the civilian nuclear deal with the United States is all about whether India holds early elections or not.

Every newspaper is speculating if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has staked his personal reputation on the deal, will resign to disassociate himself from an administration that failed to save a pact keenly watched by the world.

But are these the arguments India should be debating in the short-term or should we be discussing the real benefits and drawbacks of the deal?

The communists oppose the deal, in large part because they see it as a front for Washington’s strategic bulwark against a rising China and increasingly unstable Pakistan.

Besides, they say there are many holes in the deal that Washington will use to manipulate India’s foreign and strategic programmes, and that nuclear energy is not a solution to the shortage of electricity in the country or rising oil prices.

Why? Because nuclear energy can not meet India’s huge oil consumption in the transport sector, is expensive to produce and will expose India to manipulations by a small international cartel of uranium suppliers.

But most Indians feel, if straw polls by newspaper and television channels are to be believed the nuclear deal is good for India: The agreement is meant to provide India with the means to produce clean energy — a key constraint to economic growth. And the rise in crude prices underlines need for diversified sources of energy (even if nuclear will take ages to fill the gap).

Internationally, the accord represents a long overdue acceptance of India as a responsible nuclear power.

From the pro-deal camp here are a few points to ponder:

* Even if relations sour with the United States, India can turn to France, Russia, Australia or other uranium producers for supplies, courtesy the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group which is independent of the deal with Washington?

* Why should India not use the deal to get a waiver from NSG and the opportunity to clear its name as a nuclear pariah state?

If the deal falls through, it is unlikely Washington — or any other nuclear nation — will broach the idea of selling nuclear fuel to India anytime soon.

But will that outcome make India more dependent on outside sources for energy, and weaken its own economic prospects against the growing clout of China?

This is the kind of debate that India would benefit from. Focusing on elections may only reap short term political benefits.


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only media is hyping on the election issue. people, by n large, r illiterate on the merits of n.power or of the hassles of closing down/disposal…chernobil et al.even elections,whenever, will be fought on d issue of fiscal management/price rise, surely not on n.deal issue.

Posted by Debasis Chakrabarti | Report as abusive

You could be forgiven for thinking that the civilian nuclear deal with the United States is all about whether India holds early elections are not.

Replace “are” with “or”.

Someone Needs to Learn Grammar.

Posted by rog | Report as abusive

The argument that the deal will do nothing for the transportation sector is bogus. The deal is not about doing something right away, but about setting up the infrastructure for a sustainable and clean energy option for India’s transportation and power sectors decades, and indeed centuries into the future. In the relatively near future, a transportation sector powered by nuclear generated electricity – whether public (as trams, trains, or hydrogen-hybrid buses) – or automobiles (battery operated, and charged nightly by nuclear electricity) is very much possible. In the interim, nuclear electricity or heat can be used for creating cleaner burning coal-based liquid fuels. In the far future, hydrogen-powered vehicles could become available. The hydrogen required can also be produced by nuclear electricity or heat.

Currently, India’s existing reactors are running at less than 50% of their capacity because for want of natural uranium fuel, which India’s existing mines will not be able to supply, even in the most optimistic scenarios, for a few years yet. Without this uranium, the reactors can produce neither the electricity they are designed to, nor the plutonium that the next stage of the nuclear programme requires, thus endangering the performance of the future breeder reactors as well.

It is painful to see that the deal is slipping away from India, all because the Congress (and its allies) do not wish to shorten their term of office even by a few months. Elections called today can be held as late as 3rd week of December 2008. But elections must be held by next June anyway. So these politicians in power are unwilling even to take the risk that their terms in office would be shortened by six months.

Posted by chachaji | Report as abusive

Rog, thanks for catching that. The typo’s been fixed.

Posted by krittivas | Report as abusive

the left parties and other opposed to the deal should look at the greater benefits of the deal the cleaner energy the country desperately needs…. and the government on its part should cap the many holes in the deal ..

Posted by Probir Pramanik | Report as abusive

What I can’t understand is this: if the US can decide to breach the NSG rules and admit India to the “club” surely Russia or China can do the same now that America has lifted the taboo? Why not just chuck the “deal” and get supplies from Russia – no strings attached?

Posted by Jack Template | Report as abusive

“we should not forget that it was only few days back that bush blamed the upon india the “global food shortage crisis”.

Posted by arunkumar | Report as abusive

The nuclear deal is more important than Assembly elections, considering that the energy needs of the country deserve more attention than a change in government.

Posted by Trailblazer | Report as abusive

When the inflation is at 11.42%, isnt it a mockery that Manmohan Singh is going after Nuclear Deal, when India wants cooling off prices. Or showing inflation is due to pass thru effect of Oil nuclear deal is being shown as a carrot to hapless faceless common man as an alternative fuel option in the long run. No wonder Kenyes had rightly said ‘ In the long run we are all dead ‘.

And by taking the rogue Mulayum Singh in fold along with power broker Amar Singh which will definitely see the demise of Women Reservation Bill its a dirty face of survival politics yet again

can someone plz elaborate what is so sanctum Sanctorum abt this nuclear deal.

Posted by Rajarshi Basu | Report as abusive

After independence (15 August, 1947) Indian Congress started to look at Russian help for the electricity. India paid too much to Russian engineers to develop electricity in India in the past. Russian engineers cheated Indians. In last 60 years India is still fighting to generate electricity. Now Indian Congress party wants to sign civilian nuclear deal with America. This is the only last choice to hide 60 years failure of the Indian Congress party’s policies.

Posted by A.Y. | Report as abusive

I wish to see what will be the face value of this waiver & exemptions if India go to do a Nuclear test TOMORROW or ANYTIME or If India decides to go ahead with LPG pipeline project with Iran. Legacy Of Americans tell us they will lick as long as one being obedient to them otherwise they will suck. Also, I hope Manmohan singh would be alive that time.

As always, Illiterate (Sorry, I meant to say common man is still don”t know what is this deal, they just know their daily life is MISERABLE because of UNAFFORDABLE COST OF LIVING) and comic goons are on the street celebrating beating drums as if they got independence from Americans!!.

Almost 75% of Indians are still living in utter poverty not because our country didn”t have NSG waiver and Nuclear deal. Now we are forced to believe that India remains the poorest because we didn”t have this deal.They people who are going to prosper by this deal are a group of American businessmen,a section of NRIs acting as middlemen and CROOKED POLITICIANS IN INDIA.That will remain as a truth.

If this deal is all about ending acute power crisis in this country, the people all the way praising this deal should wait and see whether this will end the electricity appetite of this nation and how it is going to elevate the poor people of this country. A country with no specific and strict protocols to stop the simple technical faults, transmission leaks and THEFT in electrical transmission systems yet. A country where disaster management,planning & coordination is a myth even in this 21st Century. Still millions are left out homeless in floods every year. who care about them???? I am wondering what this deal is all about!.

“INDIA IS MY COUNTRY AND I AM PROUD OF BEING AN INDIAN” But that words never matched the deeds in this country by its leaders.It is 21st century and India became worst than certain improvished African countries in many aspects if not all.Look at the the utter poverty,
Illiteracy,uncontrolled population growth,rampant corruption,bribery,beurocracy,violence,d irty politics,
Pseudo-secularism,appeasement politics..WHAT NOT THERE.

Unless and until you correct the fundamentals and basic needs of this country It is just a fantasy dream that India become a superpower.For that we need is a realistic approach..visionary leaders..national integrity and patriotism.

Nuclear deal will not fill the stomach of poor people in this country.It is rubbish and foolishness when someone said Nuclear deal will bring down inflation!!!!.What a pity state of affair!

What kind of leaders our people choose and send to parliament, and the people shall have to pay the price for it. What a pity situation of my country!.People are being treated as idiots by their own leaders. This what is Indian democracy!.

Indians will have to wait for many years and luckly if there is a visionary leader with strong political will and nationalistic agenda, then their dreams can be fullfilled. Otherwise the pockets of polticians are only going to be filled with currencies!



Posted by Renjith Nair | Report as abusive