Does This Look Like A Good Idea To You?

If not, maybe it's time to reevaluate the domestic political "wisdom" of the India-US nuclear deal, because there's nothing worse than bringing down your government over something that struts and frets its hour upon the stage and then is heard from no more.

In related news, also from Al-Jazeera, rich-country governments fake an environmental treaty--full of sound and fury, and signifies nothing.

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Can you please explain how

Can you please explain how this deal amounts to tying India up militarily and economically?

Have you seen the Bush administration do ANYTHING about of charity thus far? Anything? Or any other government sans massive and immediate disasters (and even those usually come loaded ;)? What do you think a defense/nuclear pact amounts to if not increased closeness?

Doc Anon, can you please

Doc Anon,

can you please explain the benefits of tying yourself militarily and economically...

Can you please explain how this deal amounts to tying India up militarily and economically? Or like commissar Carrot and the clown prince of Calcutta Ashok Mitra, shd India bend and scrape (or better still turn into a doormat) before China, the superpower in the making? Everyone knows that India's commies and its promoters in the press chiefly the assorted hacks at The Hindu (N.Ram and Sid Varadarajan) are Chinese stooges and chamchas. IS that not enough, shd all of India be thrown open to the thugs of Beijing?

Richard,

All the nuclear waste generated by the US can be contained in a pile 1 meter high spanning a football field (100 yds X 50 yds). A spill from a truck carrying chemical waste is unimaginably more dangerous than that from a truck carrying nuclear waste. India surely has sunshine round th eyear. Just find me the real estate where I can park all those photovoltaic panels. And also if you can commission solar power @ 250 MW per year, I am with you.

Nuclear energy = 250,000+

Nuclear energy = 250,000+ years of highly toxic waste. Maximum lifespan of current containment technologies? Nowhere near that long! India is pretty sunny, nah? Photo-voltaics, anyone?

particularly when the chances

particularly when the chances of this actually being signed into law in the u.s. are diminishing, according to articles I've read. Maybe this is wrong - i wouldn't be surprised if it was still viable next year, but it's a horrible, horrible geopolitical move which Congress will pay for at the domestic level by having to deal with early elections.

can you please explain the

can you please explain the benefits of tying yourself militarily and economically to a declining superpower at the cost of bringing the domestic government down? I understand that India will need electricity in the coming years, but honestly, there are not more politically savvy and politically conscious ways to go about doing this?

Manmohan Singh as PM is

Manmohan Singh as PM is obliged to represent the interests of India, and so is W obliged to represent the interests of the US. Wherever there is an overlap, India and the US can choose to work together. Now if the Indian electorate weren't dumb enough to fall for baubles like free TVs (Tamil Nadu), free power (AP), free salaries (Waste Bengal and Kerala), free glamour (as in Bombay provided by dunces like Dutt, Govinda, and Milind Deora) we would appreciate the value of the Indo-US nuclear deal better. Fortunately in some states the electorate has learnt to disregard scraps thrown its way.

I will wait for you to come

I will wait for you to come up with the downside.

Just some possibilities:

1. Could speed up elections which could bring the BJP to power. (so stupid in terms of domestic policy and simulatenously boosts the prospects of Hindutva).
2. Ties India geopolitically more closely to U.S., leading to even greater likelihood of military/economic spillover into India from the gradual (or steep) decline of the U.S.
3. Makes India even more of a target for enemies of the U.S. (like Al Qaeda).
4. Unsafe.
5. Environmentally irresponsible.
6. Reduces policy autonomy, allowing U.S./Bretton Woods more leverage over Indian economic/military policy.
7. Promotes militarism in general.
8. Helps Bush Administration undermine international treaty regime even further.
9. May never even take effect and therefore some of these negatives that occur upon announcement may be for no positive gain.

Personally i don't know enough about this issue except to the extent that it ties India to the U.S. further and lends credibility to the Bush Administration, but I seriously doubt your contention that this will serve the interests of India's poor, who are always enlisted as justification for whatever policies the elites want to put through.

On the other hand, a radical transformation of India's governance would probably be good as long as it doesn't lead to fascism (which is a big "as long as"), so I suppose I should be for this idiotic move.

The problem is not commercial

The problem is not commercial interests, it is political interests in concert with an electorate that can be had for trifles. It is not commercial interests that prevent the construction of a sanitation infrastructure in Bombay, or highways in Bihar, or a cleanup of the Cooum and Buckingham Canal in Madras. We have a corrupt political class and an ignorant electorate that couldn’t care less. Any infrastructure project that involves large areas of land across state boundaries (building a supply chain too is the same problem) runs the risk of running into political interests.

And you are arguing that managing environmental consequences of nuclear energy is no problem?

Mantavara - You suggest that there will be plenty of time to develop better methods for containing the radioactivity in the future. Perhaps? But who knows, right?
I may be conflating the issues, but an increase in dependence on nuclear energy would seem to mean an increase in availability of nuclear weaponry. At worst, of the mega bomb variety, at best of the very, very horrible depleted uranium kind. It isn't hard to get depressed dreaming up scenarios where we as a species wipe ourselves out but leave a nasty little, "I was here" memorial in the form of a football field or two worth of uncontained radioactive memories.
Your argument that nuclear energy is the only solution that can help India's poor millions transcend their plight might convince me that it was worth the risks, if I was more confident that economic growth was actually the panacea for India's social woes that you suggest it is.
What are the realities for the poorest classes in those states of India where economic growth has been so frenetic in the last decades? Has there been significant change for the lower classes? Seems to me like there are few millions at the top who are enjoying the growth.
If India is really going to develop into a "global power" in the 21st century, it isn't going to work using 20th century models of development. Something profoundly creative is required at this moment of history, methinks.

Finally, on the ethics of a nuclear economy - most of the uranium deposits in the world sit under land that belongs to indigenous peoples or dispossessed indigenous peoples. Resolve that!

Das and Richard, who knew

Das and Richard, who knew that you would find a soulmate in T. Boone Pickens? Read this opinion piece in the WSJ,

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121556087828237463.html?mod=fpa_mostpop

My Plan to Escape the Grip of Foreign Oil
By T. BOONE PICKENS
July 9, 2008; Page A15

Also check out Kalam's I-Day eve address of 2005 in which he lays out a vision for energy independence. No one bothered about it then - the oil types didn't care because we had "cheap" oil and the Bidwais didn't because he described an energy plan to help Indians prosper - and that's a bad thing right?

In everything we do India needs to be thinking v.v.big and mega. As I have said earlier on these columns, 9% GDP growth means almost nothing for India. Unless we have something like a staggering 20% millions will see nothing but poverty. Right now apart from nuclear energy no other means is in a position to begin adding at least 1000 MW online per year - may be coal bu do we want it? Solar can add that kind of capacity but in 5 years, I doubt it. In 15 may be, and yes we must work on it right away. A few countries here and there in Europe have thought long term and invested wisely. Think France (>80% from nuclear), Denmark (>20% from wind), Norway etc. Others although self-sufficient have applied true market costs - Canada, UK, Norway etc., - to oil. The US has done neither, and which is why all that talk about alternative energy technologies sounds like a pie in the sky. If hte US had done the investing about 20 years back things may have been different. In India think of 20 years ago - Rajiv Gandhi - was there any sense of urgency? Think of our dinosaurs and living fossils - the commies. They have ruled Waste Bengal for >30 years. Have you seen any radical energy policy? Zilch.

Das, You should really read

Das,

You should really read and then re-read your sources. The total quantity of civilian and military generated nuclear waste currently in the US is of the order of 60,000 tonnes. I am right on the surface area it occupies, only we need to pile it 3 meters high not one meter. By the year 2035 it is expected to double. Nuclear fuel is denser than fossil fuels by orders of magnitude, and definitely not a benign substance. Which is why the storage problem with nuclear fuel or waste is containment - and not about finding space. Waste or fuel isn't transported in barrels or carbuoys. All radioactive material isn't the same. Radiation from some isotopes can be contained simply but the substance itself has a very long half life. In the case of some others it is the opposite.

I don't think the effects from a chemical spill last longer than that from a radioactive spill, because no such generic comparisons can be made. A shipment of secure canisters of radioactive waste or fuel (carried around as a matter of routine in several parts of the world) even if in an accident will very rarely leak material. It is possible to construct a high impact virtually unbreakable canister - because it worth spending that sort of money on a very dense and valuable substance. Whereas in the case of a bulk shipment of benzene, or methyl acetoacetate, it is not worth the cost to spend that much of money on building a such a canister. I know that you are passionate about your arguments, but credit the other side with some intelligence. No one apart from ultra-morons such Steve Milloy and John Stossel (not even dunces at Cato or Heritage) is about to argue that radioactive material is less dangerous than a toxic chemical (although Steve Milloy would have you believe that no chemical is toxic). It is possible to contain radioactive material and store it long enough till a better solution can be found.

Das,

The only problem for such innovative technologies the government needs to have the vision, foresight and the will to invest in the future of its population. Unfortunately, there are way too many commercial interests which stop governments from seeking such technologies and it will take a while before people realize their folly.

The problem is not commercial interests, it is political interests in concert with an electorate that can be had for trifles. It is not commercial interests that prevent the construction of a sanitation infrastructure in Bombay, or highways in Bihar, or a cleanup of the Cooum and Buckingham Canal in Madras. We have a corrupt political class and an ignorant electorate that couldn't care less. Any infrastructure project that involves large areas of land across state boundaries (building a supply chain too is the same problem) runs the risk of running into political interests. For the politician it is a simple cost-benefit equation. Spend Rs.100 crores wisely and build long term assets or throw around a crore here and a crore there and cater to the lowest common denominator like a Lalloo or a Karunanidhi. In such a twisted reality, the only projects that will work are elite envisioned and implemented projects, whoise benefits will ultimately trickle down. Take organised retail for instance. It will eliminate the middle men, put the farmer directly in touch with the retailer, help him sell almost all his produce, help him sell throughout the year because there is going to be a cold chain available, provide good service jobs. But then it will mean less opportunities for bribe taking for the politician, when so many branches of the economy come to light and taxes begin to be paid. A Subhiksha or a reliance Retail pay sales tax, pay a decent wage to their employees. But a kirana wala or an Annachi Kadaiakaran pays no sales tax and exploits his workers. In the case of the former the politician has no source of black money, cannot force the business to employ his supplicants (a source of patronage) and loses influence. In the case of the latter the politician maintains his influence. So if you wonder why Ramadoss or Vaiko would rather have a smoke belching thermal power plant in Tuticorin (because it would be run by TNEB) and not a clean nuclear power plant (because it would be run by hte Central Government DAE) you know why. In the circumstances nothing that is worthwhile will ever be implemented because it will free the voting public from the chokehold of the politician.

Doc Anon,

Have you seen the Bush administration do ANYTHING about of charity thus far? Anything? Or any other government sans massive and immediate disasters (and even those usually come loaded ;)? What do you think a defense/nuclear pact amounts to if not increased closeness?

Which world do you live in? Do you seriously think that any country does by any other country out of charity? Love? Affection? Maybe India does like when Nehru gave away Aksai Chin, the Cocos Islands, and Tibet to China and a lot of J&K to Pakistan. But that is the exception and a stupid one not worth following. Militarily India stands to gain. Our forces get to train and hone their skills with a very well run military, imbibe new doctrine. How can anyone be against that unless - like the Chinese stooges CPI(M) - that person doesn't want the Indian armed forces to be a well equipped, trained, and feared military. And what is wrong in being a counterweight to China? India stands to gain from that too. China will be less inclined to meddle in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, and its Ambassador will think twice before he claims another swathe of land for his country in a press conference. And yes we won't have to suffer the humiliation of turning New Delhi into a Chinese garrison so that some rich kids from the Chinese Commie party can strut around with banners that scream "Down with the Da-Lie Lama". I will wait for you to come up with the downside. Also Prachanda and his fellow thugs in Kathmandu will be more careful before talking trash, when they know that China is not inclined to poke its nose into the subcontinent.

Thank you Das, for relieving

Thank you Das, for relieving me of the tiresome task of choking on my own indignation. I am no engineer, but my understanding is that there is no problem generating enough power with current solar technology, but that storage is the problem. A nuclear or coal fired plant can produce on demand and feed into a grid whereas solar works when the sun shines. Batteries to operate a grid aren\'t really sustainable.
So, the solution, as Das suggests is to diversify and decentralize power production, using it close to the site of its production. Such a strategy also limits the powers of corporations and governments over local people.

All the nuclear waste

All the nuclear waste generated by the US can be contained in a pile 1 meter high spanning a football field (100 yds X 50 yds). A spill from a truck carrying chemical waste is unimaginably more dangerous than that from a truck carrying nuclear waste. India surely has sunshine round th eyear. Just find me the real estate where I can park all those photovoltaic panels. And also if you can commission solar power @ 250 MW per year, I am with you.

Please check your facts about "storage" of nuclear waste. Please read this and other related material on disposal of nuclear waste

http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5351

We still haven't found a solution to solving the problem of disposing off nuclear waste. Your comparison of a chemical spill with nuclear spill is simply ignorant. First of all, what chemicals are you talking about? Secondly, if you think the effects from chemical spills last longer than radioactive pollution, you need to re-read your chemistry books from high school. Sorry to sound harsh but that's plain ignorant.

I personally think India can achieve energy efficiency through sustainable means using sun, wind, etc in stead of indulging into nuclear technology which is

1) Dangerous and 2) Super-expensive.

It is estimated that if the US promotes installation of photo-voltaic cells all across their South-west and its west coast, it will produce enough energy to support the entire nation. India has enough sunshine and wind to be able to support much of its energy requirements.

The only problem for such innovative technologies the government needs to have the vision, foresight and the will to invest in the future of its population. Unfortunately, there are way too many commercial interests which stop governments from seeking such technologies and it will take a while before people realize their folly.

and

and heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere weeeeee gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo..........

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-india-coalition.html

1. Elections have to be held

1. Elections have to be held by May 2009 in any case. BTW, the BJP still says it opposes the deal.
2. India and the US have been conducting joint military exercises for years now. Yes, there will be greater economic ties too, but it's already happening. Not a bad thing. Insert debate on globalization yadda yadda yadda...
3. "More" of a target? How many more statements do you want from Al-Qaeda anyway? You really think no nuclear deal means Al-Qaeda will play nice with India? Please.
4. India has nuclear tech already. What's unsafe is how they handle the material. That's India's responsibility, no? Think it's not a problem already? See Jadugoda's uranium mines.
5. See #4.
6. The old sovereignty argument. Will it never die? Manvantara is right about Chinese influence in India, by the way. Why doesn't that bother you?
7. It does?
8. Obama just came out in support of the deal...(maybe the non-pro treaty needs a re-look anyway, I dunno, but this point also undermines your cries about influential UN/Bretton Woods institutions which are based on treaties, and with all the hoops that have to be jumped (IAEA, NSG, etc), it appears to me that multilateral diplomacy is faring fairly well.
9. If your yardstick/priority is helping India's poor, noble as it is, then I suspect most deals, treaties, works are going to be less than successful.
If I can add a #10 -- although it's a US-India deal, don't think for a sec there aren't plenty of others (France, Russia) eager to capitalize on India's energy needs, and this deal in particular.

Can someone please tell me

Can someone please tell me why this deal is good for the US?

Can someone please tell me

Can someone please tell me why this deal is good for the US?

For people or the elite? For the elite, it solidifies their encirclement of China (U.S.-India-Japan) as well as their encirclement of the Middle East (U.S.-Israel-India). For ordinary people...I don't really see it as relevant except insofar as it's another step towards WWIII.

I nicked that from Vijay

I nicked that from Vijay Prashad on Asia Pacific Forum, btw - just to give credit where credit's due :)

Richard, Containing

Richard,

Containing radioactivity - I mean this in the context of current containment technology. There is no breakproof barrier, you can only reduce the risk of a breached canister, and that comes by studying the science as deeply as you can. Here's a link http://preview.tinyurl.com/6cvxna, to the work being done by a graduate student at Cace Western on containment vessels for nuclear waste. In containing them we hope that we have enough time to find better ways. This is a v.active area of engineering research.

Nuclear energy ---> Nuclear weapons - This is true to some extent. But the genie got out of the bottle decades ago. And for India it must worry about China an ultra weaponised state with global hegemonic ambitions that is the only state in the world that can count on the unqualified support of a foreign political party (CPI(M)) and an allegedly "respectable" mainstream foreign newspaper - The South India China Post aka The Hindu. Unsaid of course is the danger of an unstable neighbourhood, Pakistan and possibly Bangladesh - that is now exploring civilian nuclear cooperation with China - a country with v.poor capability in nuclear power generation. It is depressing and as Gen.Padmanabhan said in 2001 December, nuclear weapons are not for warfighting, they are for deterrence. No responsible warrior today wants to use them. But then as Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi said if China has hostile intentions wrt India "We as warriors cannot gauge intentions - they can change at any time. What we must study are capabilities and remain prepared to face them always." That's straight out of Chanakya's Arthashastra.

Economic growth - poverty: A no-brainer choice for me would be 1000 MW of solar power tomorrow over an equal amount from nuclear or coal even if it cost about 2X. But just try putting up solar panels in Bihar, Jharkhand or Tuticorin. When we can't build even a highway, where are you going to build solar panels? Economic growth isn't a panacea for social woes? OK is it at least a panacea for economic woes. When we have a bumper harvest and people still starve, are you saying that more money in the hands of the people is still no good? 9%/year is nothing. 20%/year would mean something. The reality is there are several families that have climbed out of poverty - rural and urban. It is happening all the time, and it is unmistakable.

Global Power: I am willing to forgo that for 100% sanitation and 100% clean drinking water. Throw in efficient courts and a less corrupt lower bureacracy and you will have my vote. So you want a 21st century model of development? But we are barely into our 2nd decade this century. Whence the model?

Uranium deposits: What is this chestnut about indigenous people? So everyone else is an outsider? What a crock! Where do you draw that line 100 years/2000 years/20000 years. This is such an unempirical classification. Can't the residents be made shareholders and paid economic rents, royalties etc.?

Doc Anon;

1. So you are just playing politics? The Muslim League is an ally of the Congress, so we have Islamicism now right?
2. We can forget history, but we can't forget geography. The Indian Ocean is the cradle of globalisation. China being a land-based power lost out on the the 2nd global economic expansion when its power peaked in 1700. India had everything to gain and colonials found something worth preserving in it and creating a modern state out of an ancient stateless nation. China's regret is not suffering colonialisation but about missing out on the opportunity to be the 18th century Netherlands, the 19th century UK, and the 20th century US. It is a thwarted hegemon. India sits astride the Indian Ocean thanks to plate tectonics and nothing else. That's what Chanakya's Mandala Theory is all about. The state has to run its foreign policy in a certain way because geography demands so. If the US wants to dominate China in the Indian Ocean, wouldn't you like India to have a part of it. C'mon the Indian OCean is our front-lawn and want to do nothing about it? Powers will rise and fall, we can do something about it, maybe we can't. The US is the world's economic/intellectual/military leader. India can't afford to ignore it in the fear of some rise or fall. And don't forget - the US also has a unique geographical position.

3. Al Qaeda - You want India to choose its friends because of what some thug will do to you? So Al Qaeda and other scum decide India's foreign policy?

4. Unsafe. Driving is unsafe. Taking a walk on a busy road is unsafe. Coffee is unsafe. Tea is unsafe.

5. Environmentally irresponsible. OK let's break off ties with China - Beijing is a gas chamber.

6. Reduces policy autonomy military/economic policy: US companies have joined French, Brit, Israeli, Russian companies in bidding for defence deals. US Companies are the first to agree to 50% offsets for joint production of military equipment. Russia is now saying, "How high?", when they hear Van Halen scream "Jump." And what sort of military policy do you want? An aggressive one with hot pursuit into Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan? when is the last time you heard the US government talking about Super 301/Special 301 or anything else? McCain's now leading among Indian Americans, do you know why?

7. Promotes militarism: China is spending 3X of India on its military. What shall we do? Lie back and play dead? We have military imperatives regardless of our ties with the US.

8. Bush Admin: International Treaty regime etc., National interests trump any treaty obligation.

9. May never take effect - negatives may occur on announcement? Right now a gaggle of Islamicist groups not content with India humiliating the Danish PM, the AP Assembly passing a resolution condemning Denmark, the OM announcing that minorities have the 1st claim on national resources, shutting down the Amarnath Yatra, want to call of the nuclear deal because it is "anti-Islamic"? We have enough negatives already.

FSOwalla - Russia and France are v.eager to get a slice of india's nucelar energy pie and they are better placed than the US companies, because Areva and RusAtom are highly integrated and are doing roaring business. india itself has some v. special technology that is going to see some good play in the years to come.

Doc Anon, Did you have to

Doc Anon,

Did you have to refer to Vijay Prashad of all the usual gasbags? But that's a good question all the same. Encircling China or the Middle East is in the interest of Joe and Jane Public. If China can be kept down as a cheap manufacturer and the Middle East can magically return to supplying oil at $30-50/barrel, what's wrong with that?

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