ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Nation's Shame

Notwithstanding the protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the left parties and assorted groups of nuclear scientists and self-appointed strategic affairs specialists, the Indo-US nuclear agreement is now a done deal. Parliament will, of course, see a heated discussion on prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on how the 123 Agreement that the two countries have negotiated conforms to the assurances he gave the two houses in August 2006.

Notwithstanding the protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the left parties and assorted groups of nuclear scientists and self-appointed strategic affairs specialists, the Indo-US nuclear agreement is now a done deal. Parliament will, of course, see a heated discussion on prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on how the 123 Agreement that the two countries have negotiated conforms to the assurances he gave the two houses in August 2006. We cannot expect the people’s representatives to even this time ask the two all-important questions which have never figured in the high voltage political and media debate over the past two years: Should India be pursuing nuclear power and aiming to establish 20,000 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity by 2020? And should we be concerned about the right to assemble nuclear weapons for a so-called “minimum deterrent”?

This journal has consistently argued that India should not be chasing the chimera of a Kamadhenu of nuclear energy and that the Indo-US deal is therefore not one that we should be engaged in. Similarly, to examine the bilateral agreement through the magnifying lens of whether or not it will hinder our “strategic weapons programme” is to buy into the dangerous illusion of security with a stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Yet, an enthusiasm for nuclear power and the need at all costs to build a nuclear arsenal have both informed the domestic debate in the country. The left is right in arguing that the deal is part of a larger web of relationships – military, economic and political – which the US is drawing India into and that it should therefore be rejected for the dependency this engagement with the imperial power will create. However, this position of the left will not convince anybody, for until now it has formulated its arguments largely on the lines put out by the domestic nuclear lobby which has carried out a high-pitched campaign that the pact with the US will, in particular, place constraints on India’s nuclear weapons programme. So to now turn the emphasis on the larger relationship between the US and India will not cut ice with anybody.

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