(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 27 , 2008
A Statement On The Nuclear Deal
We the undersigned are disturbed by the manner in which the government of India is rushing ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal, even though during the only discussion on it in the Lok Sabha to date, a majority of MPs was clearly against it. The confidence vote on July 22 cannot for obvious reasons, be construed as a vote on the deal; and the prime minister’s statement about the deal being brought to the Lok Sabha before being clinched means very little, as he would in effect be presenting a fait accompli. Thus a major decision affecting the country’s future energy and foreign policies, is being pushed through despite enjoying only minority support, evidently in order to meet the US president’s time-frame. The mendacity that has marked this decision also adds to our fears.
To be sure, meeting the country’s energy needs is of paramount importance. But what role nuclear energy will play in this has never been discussed, even within the government, let alone in public. Nuclear power scarcely figures in the Approach Paper for the Eleventh Five Year Plan; no cost-benefit analysis of nuclear power has ever been made; and even its economic costs (leaving aside safety issues) have never been properly evaluated because of the range of implicit subsidies it enjoys. While not all of us may be opposed to nuclear power per se, we believe that the optimal energy-mix for the country in the coming years must be based on careful calculations. Since such calculations have never been made, the government’s attempt to justify the deal through general references to our energy needs and to the current high oil prices, appears to be patently disingenuous. Indeed, even by its own claims in support of the deal, nuclear power will meet no more than 8 per cent of our total needs in 20 years’ time.
Even if nuclear energy is to be given high priority, the precise role of imported technology in this sector needs careful examination. Indian nuclear scientists and engineers have painstakingly built up an indigenous nuclear industry over the years. Their effort must not be negated, and our self-reliance undermined, through a deal that, by emphasising imported technology, makes the country vulnerable in the long run.
The country today is facing a rate of price inflation that is unprecedented in recent years. This inflation, superimposed on a prior collapse of rural incomes, of which the tragic suicides of peasants and village artisans in several states are but one manifestation, is causing great distress to the people. But while the government urges the nation to have patience with regard to inflation, it rushes impatiently to sign a nuclear deal. Keeping faith with president Bush obviously has greater priority for it than keeping faith with the people of the country.
We appeal to our esteemed parliamentarians to exert pressure on the government not to rush headlong into this deal. Let there be a wider and more honest debate on all relevant issues, so that the people can properly decide what is good for the country and its future.
Dr. Ashok Mitra,
Former Member, Rajya Sabha, Mr. S.P.Shukla, Former Member, Planning Commission,
E.A.S.Sarma, Former Union Power Secretary, Former Adviser
(Energy), Planning Commission, Former Chairman, Nuclear Power
Pricing Committee, DAE, Ms. Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan, Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Institute for Development Studies,
Kolkata, Professor Utsa Patnaik, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Professor N.Krishnaji, Formerly of Centre For Development Studies, Trivandrum, Dr. A.D. Damodaran. Former Director, National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, and also formerly Nuclear Fuel Complex, Dept. Atomic Energy, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Professor Nasir Tyabji, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, Professor C.P.Chandrasekhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Professor Sushil Khanna, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, Professor Prabhat Patnaik, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Parthapratim Pal, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, Dr. Mritiunjoy Mohanty, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, Professor V. K. Ramachandran, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, Professor Madhura Swaminathan, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, Professor Rahul Roy, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, Professor Mohan Rao, Jawaharlar Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Professor Kamal Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Professor Anuradha Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Praveen Jha, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Vikas Rawal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Himanshu, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Professor T. Jayaraman, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Dr. R. Ramakumar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Professor Shakti Kak, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, Professor Venkatesh Athreya, M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, Dr. Tanmoy Bhattacharya, Department of Linguistics, Delhi University, Dr. Hany Babu, Department of English, Delhi University, Dr. Archana Prasad, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, Mr. Dinesh Abrol, NISTADS, New Delhi, Mr. D.Raghunandan, Centre of Technology and Development, Dr. Satyajit Rath, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, Dr. Vineeta Bal, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi