Sometimes the reason for jubilation, even if it is emphatic, is kept under fold lest it angers the nay-sayers. This is perhaps the best way to define the reaction of the Indian government when the landmark nuclear deal was ratified by the both the American Senate and the Congress with an overwhelming majority. Coming a long way from the days when India took pride in being a proponent of an obscure NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) whose efficacy and existence was at best irrelevant for the rest of the world. We for long meandered naively through the dark woods of geo-politics, suffered from a sense of identity crisis and saw many of our compatriots, who were behind us on every front, literally gate-crashing to almost catch up with the First World countries, while we kept languishing. We probably missed every opportunity that made South East Asia what it is today, that made China and South Korea what they are today. And then, by default, we boarded the software bus and started a journey on a new paradigm which metamorphosed literally the way the world identifies us today.
I remember the days when computers were introduced for the first time in government offices. The Left parties were up in arms against this and violent protests started along with malicious propaganda that this was a conspiracy of the West to create a major unemployment problem, and that we were on the verge of becoming subservient to the West once again. Ironically, a decade later, it is this Left which boasts of one of the fastest growing software exports of the country happening from Kolkata. It has changed the very perception of the State, so much so that today even when the CPI(M)’s trade union arm CITU calls a strike in West Bengal, the IT sector is kept outside its ambit, indicating that what the Left protested against a decade ago was not so right, well in their words a ‘historical mistake’.
Similarly, the Left has protested against everything that otherwise had a magical effect on India. They protested against the opening up of insurance and telecom to the private sector and yet today both the sectors are the fastest growing, in terms of the market and employment generation. Just a close look at any of the Left leaders and you would find almost all of them using cellphones of Nokia or Motorola (and not of the State-run ITI Ltd). So when the Left started their do or die descent against the nuclear deal, it was no surprise for me, at least. Good that the US doesn’t claim they were the first one to see the sun in the East.
As far as the BJP is concerned, their frustration can only be understood by the fact that whatever is happening currently is a culmination of seed sown by them in 1998, just after Pokhran, when dialogue started between the then Special Envoy of India, Jaswant Singh, and the Deputy Secretary of State of America, Strobe Talbot. The fruit of which is being reaped by the United Progressive Alliance. The BJP cannot afford that particularly at a time when it is facing a tremendous identity crisis and is pre-occupied with its internal problems.
To bring home the point, this nuclear deal is exclusive to India in the sense that apart from the N5 (Nuclear five) countries, no other country is allowed to continue nuclear activity simultaneously for both military and civilian purposes. While out of the 22 reactors we have, the 14 civilian reactors would be open to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspection, and after the final ratification of the deal the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) led by the US, would supply uranium for them for civilian power generation. While the other eight reactors would be kept outside the ambit of IAEA inspection. And India would not be permitted to siphon any nuclear fuel supplied by NSG for civilian use towards a military purpose. No doubt there are still certain clauses which are needed to be sobered but none of them are reason enough to rescind the deal altogether because this deal is a strong assertion of India’s coming of age as an emerging economic and military power. Moreover, the sheer growth of the Indian and Chinese economy would have a major impact on the price of crude oil in future which in any case is high and can only go northward. Given the fact we are so much dependent on imported oil, (almost 40% of our export revenues go in buying oil) to fuel our economy, to find an alternate source can only better the scenario without jeopardising security.
It is high time the opposing political parties realise, by ratifying this deal, the enormity of trust that the rest of the world has bestowed on us and on our non-proliferation history. We also are aware that we have been behind the rest of the world not because we lacked ability but because the political nay-sayers of this country, who always suffered from ideological bankruptcy, had developed a habit of make a living by just saying ‘NO’ to everything. With so much at stake, this time, let’s not repeat this ‘historical mistake’.
- 24 December 2006 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics