V. R. Krishna Iyer
There are shining victories to be won in the cause of peace and social justice. We shall reach the new freedom by not submitting to economic slavery… forward with the people.
— From an editorial in Daily Mirror in 1945, as reproduced in Hidden Agendas, by John Pilger; Vintage, Great Britain, 1998.
The unity and integrity of India are tending to dwindle amid the divisive polemics over the ongoing dubious nuclear politics. But the real issue is not the import of enriched uranium, nuclear plant equipment or technology from the U.S.: it goes deeper. The issue involves U.S. suzerainty over India’s national economy and foreign policy, although the countrywide debate is currently centred on the nuclear deal. American nuclear big business is keen to make India its meg a-market, using for the purpose a willing and weak Prime Minister.
The grave implications of this business are profound, as is obvious from Dr. Manmohan Singh’s defiant do-or-die determination demanding a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha. He is staking his government’s very survival on the energy deal. Whoever wins the vote in the House, the nation has lost its solidarity, integrity and fraternity. George Bush’s stubborn hegemonistic strategy promoting U.S big business investment has become India’s national policy, facilitated by the Sonia-Manmohan commitment. This is virtually a reversal of the Nehru-Indira socialistic non-alignment stance and the principles of Panch Sheel. This basic battle is at the raging core of the controversy. The hideous hidden agenda could spell the de facto defeat of the Indian people’s historic tryst with destiny, the betrayal of India’s constitutional vision and mission.
We should not miss the real nature of the ideological war involved in this naively simplistic treaty dispute. Let us not be beguiled by the nuclear alibi. Are we a sovereign nation, or a mere satellite? Who decides our import-investment policies, the direction of swadeshi agriculture and native industrial development? Are we a ‘banana republic’ of sorts? The Sonia-Manmohanomic party is neither Indian nor national: the Congress has formally become the brand name of a political business corporation. We have politicking operators with no democratic swaraj ideology or crimson nationalism. Communal concatenation and power-crazy cliques are the shopping complexes in the Indian power bazaar. Mr. Bush browbeats or buys these political engineers as his proxies. The Constitution is now rendered irrelevant by logomachy.
Parties barter seats and votes and try to make Parliament an enterprise with commercial stakes. The media report of seats and deals for high prices, and micro-parties and independents as being available commodities. The Supreme Court’s stultifying jurisprudence on parliamentary bribery being immune to judicial discovery has made ‘horse trading’ a less risky operation than democratic decency would have tolerated. Appalling judicialese sometimes incinerates finer values, lets opportune alliances going and allows corruption inside the hallowed House.
My entreaty is to preserve undiminished the dynamics, dimensions and dialectical realities of our democracy without the authoritarian patronage and commanding directives of a big power beyond the Atlantic. Do not ‘nuclearise’ our freedom. We need no U.S. nuclear imports to attain energy swaraj. We have uranium of our own yet to be mined. We have large thorium resources. We have enough alternative resources and technology. But where is the will to tell Mr. Bush that we do not need him? We shall not surrender our freedom in disgrace. Parliamentary votes are not private commodities. Bondage to Mr. Bush and U.S. big business is nothing but colonialism.
At the recent meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Manmohan Singh, where the staggering mutual admiration was evident, it was stated in a spirit of (tragic) triumph that in the field of space, defence, educational exchanges and other strategic areas Indo-American “cooperation” has attained a new high status — which is but a euphemism for acquiescence by India in American domination.
The common Indian masses are totally innocent of this vicarious but unveracious appreciation by some people of the hated Mr. Bush. Mr. Manmohan Singh never consulted Indians by means of a referendum or a House debate, and the fake tribute paid to the Prime Minister by a lame-duck President is of little consequence.
To be fair to Dr. Manmohan Singh, I hold him as being personally simple, clean, gentle, non-communal and capable. What scandalises me as a puzzle, a riddle and pro-Yankee obscurantism, is his forsaking of the Indian have-nots. He is gravely neglecting his socialist, constitutional oath-bound commitment to liberate the poor and implement poverty economics and going for globalisation and privatisation, which are liberal with imports and investments. This drive is also marked by a Bush-friendly foreign policy and defence strategy and an extravagant addiction to American nuclear import dependence.
Do we require nuclear generation of energy? No. It involves the potential for dangerous radiation, high-cost generation, and the use of delicate technology that could be disastrous. After all, it feeds nuclear bombs in a world that faces instant annihilation with nuclear terrorism under big-power arsenals. Terrorists are everywhere and nuclear pilferage is a grave possibility. Crime against humanity
The diabolic, dreadful immortality of nuclear waste that can cause lethal radiation after two or three decades of use of each nuclear power plant represents the gravest crime against humanity. The proposed deal violates the principles of nuclear non-proliferation. Let us be honest. Anyone who is knowledgeable in nuclear affairs will agree with the irony of the treaty. “It is almost as if the Titanic was going down, and the passengers were watching TV. India’s atomic energy programme has been subjected to a stunning managerial disaster over the past two decades, the results of which are visible now. We have known through the 1990s that India has all the uranium needed to run its nuclear power plants, currently running at half their capacity, wasting Rs. 16,000 crore of taxpayers’ money.” (Neelesh Misra, Hindustan Times, June 30, 2008)
Three great nuclear scientists who have been in high office without blame, Dr. P.K. Iyengar, Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan and Dr. A.N. Prasad, have fiercely opposed U.S. imports for reasons they have spelt out in a signed statement. Sarkari scientists, looking out for personal prospects, will obviously sign away contrary assertions.
The cult of the atom, those who know swear, is the enemy of ecological safety and the good earth where humanity still survives in billions. The high priests of the nuclear religion are specialists in the art of misleading public opinion. Neither Russia nor the U.S. will dare have a nuclear power plant after their bitter experience. Chernobyl (USSR) and Three Mile Island (U.S.) remain sombre warnings to humanity. Most Western nations, save France and Japan, now avoid new nuclear power plants.
But the nuclear barons have the power of unveracious propaganda. The political economy of nuclear electricity is forbidding. A widening agenda of dissent and oppositional strategies are mounting against atomic fission. Leading research-oriented jurists like Ralph Nader regard the menace of the atom as a culture of global destruction. Then why go in for this terrible worldwide thanatos?
Our country has abundant solar energy and the technology is accessible. It is culpable default for the authorities in the States and at the Centre not to explore, exploit and execute projects that run on solar power — which is far less costly and far safer than the nuclear graveyard alternative. We have potential hydel power from rivers that range from the Ganga to the Krishna, and tidal power from the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. We have prodigious wind energy potential. We have thermal power and coal-generated energy. Astonishing is the discovery that we have unused uranium in mega-quantity but not yet mined.
Amid this opulence of energy resources, why beg for or borrow American stuff that has strings attached and involves unfamiliar technology? History will one day record the traitor-tainted guilt of those in state power who, drugged by dollar power, run after Mr. Bush and big business. Their offer is aggressively expensive. Their supplies constitute a big-power gamble. The technology they offer is unfamiliar.
Why is the U.S. itself not building nuclear plants? Every patriot in Parliament must examine the relative implications of swaraj and exotic nuclear raj from the angle of Indian autonomy and alternative energy sources. Why are we boneless satellites? Why is there such indecent haste? What is behind this undignified speedy mendicancy and this mad seppuku instinct? The nuclear deal that Dr. Manmohan Singh is in a hurry to sign is a fatal testimony of subordination, what with the Hyde Act and other prints brought out as proof by Ashok Partharasathi (The Hindu, July 15, 2008).
Parliament has supreme power. Here is my appeal to India’s parliamentarians. Beware. The secret deal constitutes a game against India’s autonomy. It involves a dubious alibi and a hidden agenda. To seek to hitch Bharat’s wagon to the U.S. star at this phase of eclipse for Mr. Bush is but seppuku. The Prime Minister should tell the House the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Otherwise, any confidence vote that he may win will lose its value.