Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics & Nuclear Deal

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, ruler of Delhi from 1325 to 1351, is known for changing his capital to Daulatabad from Delhi just because he believed that capital should be at the center of the kingdom. He not only moved government offices to Daulatabad, which was at a distance of 700 kms from Delhi, but also forcibly moved the entire population.  But due to inadequate water supply, the plan failed and the capital had to be shifted back again to Delhi.

The crusade of Manmohan Singh Government for the Indo-US Nuclear deal can lead us to a similar situation.  The modern day Tughlaqs need to be contained before it gets too late. Let us have a look at some of the Tughlaqi logic (lies) given to justify the nuclear deal:

 Myth 1 : Nuclear Energy will provide energy security.

Nothing can be farther from truth. Over dependence on nuclear energy will actually lead to energy insecurity. We will have to import Uranium, technology and reactors from countries like US, Russia, France, Australia etc. We will be dependent on other countries for energy despite the fact that we have coal reserves which can last for more than 100 years.

Myth 2 : Nuclear Energy is one of the cheapest options available.

Again, a false propaganda. The report of the Working Group on Power, which was set up by the Govt to make a case in favour of nuclear energy places the cost at Rs 4 crore per megawatt for coal based projects; Rs 3 crore per megawatt for gas based projects; Rs 4.50 crore to Rs 5 crore per megawatt for run-of-the-river hydro projects; Rs 5.50 crore to Rs 6 crore for storage hydro projects. And for nuclear power projects? Rs 6.50 crore per megawatt. Turns out, nuclear energy is the costliest option !!

Myth 3: Nuclear Energy is one of the cleanest source of energy.

Actually, a minor accident can totally clean the surroundings of a nuclear reactor (pun intended). Chernobyl accident is a perfect example. Besides Nuclear Wastes will remain a constant threat to environment. Nuclear Energy is anything but clean. In US alone there have been 51 Nuclear outages in the last 41 years. In future, Nuclear Energy is expected to increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as high grade Uranium is getting depleted. Even the current nuclear reactors in India and several other parts of world are vulnerable to deterioration of feeder pipes.

Myth 4: Signing the Nuclear Deal would not affect our Nuclear Sovereignty

If sovereignty means independence in taking our own decision then by signing the deal in its current from, we would be severely compromising with it. Once the deal is signed, we would not be free to do any nuclear test under any circumstances if we want fuel supplies for the nuclear reactor to be unhindered. Despite the fact that there are enough provisions in the 123 agreement and Hyde act which allow US to stop all supplies in the event of a nuclear test by India, the Government wants us to believe that US would not exercise this option for the sake of Indo-US relations!!!

Now this fairy tale would have been believable only if in 1978 US had not stopped fuel supplies to Tarapur Nuclear Reactor despite the fact that India had not violated the 123 agreement signed in 1963 !!! US wanted India to sign NPT and hence they changed their domestic law in 1978 which superseded the agreement signed with India in 1963. The 123 agreement signed in 1963 was better for India than the current 123 agreement but still that could not stop US from halting fuel supplies in 1978. This time if they want to stop fuel supplies, they wouldn’t have to amend any law as there are enough provisions in Hyde Act and 123 agreement to do so but still the Govt feels we need not worry as US will not do something like this with India.

This blind infatuation is reminiscent of Nehru’s policy towards China which was guided more by emotions than realpolitik. Looks like after the debacle of Nehru’s Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai in 1962, its time to sing Hindi Yankee Bhai Bhai !!!

Myth 5: If the deal is not signed in George Bush’s tenure, it would not be signed at all.

Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John Mc Cain, the front runners in the US Presidential elections have expressed their support to the Nuclear Deal. They have a different opinion on every other issue like Healthcare, Iraq War, Foreign Relations, Outsourcing etc but on the Nuclear deal there is a rare unanimity. There is no reason to believe that a new US President would not support the deal. Any US President would love this deal in which US has nothing to loose and the deal will actually  benefit the nuclear industry in US.

Even the US Senate had passed the deal with a big majority of 85-12 with huge support from both the Republicans and Democrats. There is no reason to believe that this huge support for the deal in the US Parliament is going to change. If at all the deal is facing any serious opposition, it is from the opposition parties in India. Actually, the deal is in serious trouble if it is not passed in the tenure of the current Indian Govt. and there is a change of guard in the central Govt. as the opposition parties have left no doubt that they are against the deal.

Some other facts to ponder with:

  • US, which is so keen to help India in attaining energy security through Nuclear energy, has not produced a single nuclear reactor in last 30 years !! Now if Nuclear energy is so good why has the US not increased the production of Nuclear Energy despite rising oil prices and a growing energy crisis ? 
  •  Australia, which has 24% of total Uranium reserves of the world, does not have a single Nuclear reactor !! It exports all its uranium to countries producing nuclear energy. Now Australia is not some African country which is being exploited for its Uranium reserves. It is a developed country which will not face the problem of raw material once it decides to make nuclear energy. But still it has no plans yet to do so and recent news suggest it is very keen to sell Uranium to India, once the deal with US goes through and of course we are supposed to be happy and grateful to US and Australia for doing us this favour !!

Why is there a strong approval for the deal in the Indian Middle Class?

Manmohan Singh has compromised on several issues since he has been the Prime Minister of India, for the sake of stability of his Government. It is an open secret that on issues like Reservation, FDI in Retail & Insurance and on many other policies he had to bend under pressure from his allies. The reformist Finance Minister of 1991 has not initiated any new financial reform after he became Prime Minister because of the lack of support from his political master and stiff opposition from his allies. But the only time when we have heard him speaking his mind is on the Nuclear Deal. He once even dared CPI-M to withdraw support on this issue. This I believe is the main reason why there is a general approval for the Nuclear Deal in the Indian Middle Class.

When we see that our PM who has been altering his policies under pressure has taken a firm stand on Nuclear Deal, we feel that the deal should be really very good to India or else why would the PM risk the survival of his Govt? And this is not just the reasoning of common people. Even Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi have accepted that they are not aware of the details of the detail but have full faith in our PM and hence they support the Nuclear Deal. Now it is one thing for common people to believe their leaders blindly but isn’t the fourth estate supposed to be objective ? And this lack of objectivity in the coverage of nuclear deal by the media has given a totally wrong picture to the Indian masses.

We are also told that this deal is very important for Indo-US relations and if the deal fails,  our relations will spoil. Never before in the history of an independent country, a deal was made a cornerstone of bilateral relations. I believe we need to have some confidence in us to believe that we need not be subjugated to such a biased agreement just for “betterment” of ties with a country. It does not really speak well for a rising superpower like India.

Let us not outsource our objectivity to Media and believe something blindly. It is not very difficult to analyze the facts about Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Deal to find the truth. The decission that India takes now will have a huge impact on its Energy Security, Environment, National Security and Sovereignity and any wrong move will not only affect the current generation but our future generations as well.

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The Asian Age – R. I. P.

On 2nd March 2008, India witnessed the death of a fearless Newspaper. M J Akbar was unceremoniously ousted by the Newspaper which he had nurtured for about 13 years. MJ had to pay the price for being on the wrong side of the establishment. The Asian Age was one of the rare voices in Indian media which was not really impressed by the propaganda of the Government on the Nuclear Deal with United States. Through his columns in the paper, MJ had exposed several drawbacks in the deal. The Newspaper was also critical of the Government on several other issues.

Instead of responding to questions raised by him, the Government chose an easy way out and ousted him from the newspaper. Vijay Mallya, owner of the paper and a Member of Parliament, was too happy to oblige his political allies. MJ learnt of his sacking, while he was on his way to his office. He was informed by one of his colleagues on SMS that his name was missing from the masthead of the paper. This incident is reminiscent of the dark days of emergency when the Government used to deal with defiant editors in a similar fashion.

But what is so surprising is that this important event went unnoticed in the mainstream media. None of the major newspapers found this incident worth covering.  This points to a deeper malaise in our media. In the 1980’s, I am told the editor of The Times Of India  was considered to be the second most important person in the country after the Prime Minister. The Fourth Estate was the conscience keeper of the society. Editors like Kuldip Nayyar, Arun Shourie, Prem Shankar Jha commanded respect because of their integrity and fearless attitude towards the Government of the day. Today, how many of us know the names of the editors of The Times Of India or Hindustan Times, the top two newspapers of the country ?

It is because editorial content or editors have little contribution towards the circulation of the Newspapers that Editors have become irrelevant. Today, it is the marketing department and not the editorial board which runs the show in most of the Newspapers. It is a fact that glossy supplements and sensational news determine the circulation of any News paper. How many of us really care about the unbiasness of any News paper? All we care about is the entertainment value, the newspaper has to offer. We are happy to read about the details of Sanjay-Manyata marriage or some new antic of Rakhi Sawant. The owners of these newspapers are aware of this and are too happy to play to the gallery. Why spend time and money researching on an important issue like the growing agrarian crisis in the country when readers are content to read about the latest development in Kareena Kapoor’s  love life ?

A free and responsible media is the watch dog of the society. MJ Akbar’s exit is a wake up call for all those who believe that we deserve a free and better News Media.

 

Reference Articles:

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main38.asp?filename=hub150308goodbye.asp

http://www.dawn.com/2008/03/15/op.htm

http://www.realpolitik.in/2008/March%2008/Seema%20Mustafa.htm