Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dr. Subroto Roy's article on "INDO-US NUCLEAR DEAL"

Our readers may find this piece interesting:

To Clarity from Confusion on Indo-US Nuclear Deal
July 14, 2008 — drsubrotoroy
Need for ClarityA poorly drafted treaty driven by business motives is a recipe for international misunderstanding
First published in The Sunday Statesman, August 19 2007, Editorial Page Special Article, www.thestatesman.net
By SUBROTO ROY
Confusion prevails over the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Businessmen, bureaucrats, politicians, diplomats, scientists and now the public at large have all joined in the cacophony in the last two years. On Wednesday August 15, America’s foreign ministry made the clearest most unequivocal statement possible as to the official American Government interpretation of the Indo-US nuclear deal: “The proposed 123 agreement has provisions in it that in an event of a nuclear test by India, then all nuclear co-operation is terminated, as well as there is provision for return of all materials, including reprocessed material covered by the agreement” (Sean McCormack). Yet our Prime Minister had told Parliament two days earlier: “The agreement does not in any way affect India’s right to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary”. What is going on? Our politics are in uproar, and it has been suggested in these pages that the country go to a General Election to allow the people to speak on the matter. Clearly, we need some clarity.
Let us start at the beginning. How did it all originate? The private US nuclear industry prevailed upon India’s government bureaucrats and businessmen over several years that nuclear power is the way forward to solving India’s “infrastructure” problems. They would sell us, in words of the Manmohan-Montek Planning Commission’s energy adviser, “six to eight lightwater reactors” (especially as they may not be able to sell these anywhere else). Our usual prominent self-seeking retired bureaucrats started their waffling about the importance of “infrastructure”.
Then Manmohan Singh felt his foreign travels as PM could be hardly complete without a fife-and-drum visit to the White House. But before he could do so, Dabhol would have to be cleared up since American business in India was on a self-moratorium until GE and Bechtel were paid settlements of some $140-160 million each by the Governments of India and Maharashtra. GE’s CEO for India kindly said afterwards “India is an important country to GE’s global growth. We look forward to working with our partners, customers, and State and Central Governments in helping India continue to develop into a leading world economy”.
Also, before Manmohan’s USA trip, the Confederation of Indian Industry registered as an official Washington lobbyist and spent half a million dollars lobbying American politicians for the deal. (”Why?” would be a good question.)
So Dr Singh was able to make his White House visit, accompanied by US business lobbies saying the nuclear deal can generate $100 billion worth of new American business in India’s energy-sector alone. It is only when business has lubricated politics in America that so much agreement about the India-deal could arise. The “bottom-line” is that six to eight reactors must be sold to India, whatever politics and diplomacy it takes.
Now Dr Singh is not a PM who is a Member of the Lower House of Parliament commanding its confidence. He says his Government constitutes the Executive and can sign treaties on India’s behalf. This is unwise. If he signs a treaty and then the Congress Party loses the next General Election, a new Executive Government can use his same words to rescind the same treaty. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. One reason we are so confused is that India has not signed very many bilateral treaties, and there is barely a noted specialist in international law anywhere in the country. Dr Singh’s original mentor, PN Haksar, had gone about getting a treaty signed with the USSR back in 1971 which tided us over a war, though the USSR itself collapsed before that treaty ended.
Signing a treaty is much more than signing an international MOU. It requires a national consensus or a least a wide and deep understanding on the part of the public and the political class as to what necessitates the treaty. That plainly does not exist at present. Most people in India do not even know how nuclear power is generated, nor how small and insignificant nuclear power has been in India.
Natural uranium is 99.3 per cent of the U-238 isotope and 0.7 per cent the radioactive U-235 isotope. Nuclear power generation requires “enriched uranium” or “yellow cake” to be created in which U-235 has been increased from 0.7 per cent to 4 to 5 percent. (Nuclear bombs require “highly enriched” uranium with more than 90 per cent of U-235.) Yellow cake is broken into small pieces, put in metal rods placed in bundles, which are then bombarded by neutrons causing fission. In a reactor, the energy released turns water into steam, which moves turbines generating electricity. While there is no carbon dioxide “waste” as in burning fossil fuels, the “spent” rods of nuclear fuel and other products constitute grave radioactive waste, almost impossible to dispose of.
India’s 14 “civilian” nuclear reactors presently produce less than 4% of our total power. 70% of our power arises from burning fossil fuels, mainly coal. Much of the rest arises from hydro. We have vast hydroelectric potential in the North and Northeast but it would take a lot of serious political, administrative and civil engineering effort to organise all that, and there would not be any nice visits to Washington or Paris involved for politicians and bureaucrats.
Simple arithmetic says that even if all our principal energy sources stayed constant and only our tiny nuclear power sector grew by 100%, that would still hardly increase by very much our energy output overall. Placing a couple of expensive modern lightwater reactors around Delhi, a couple around Mumbai and a few other metros will, however, butter already buttered bread quite nicely and keep all those lifts and ACs running.
The agreed text of the “treaty” looks, from a legal standpoint, quite sloppily and hurriedly written ~ almost as if each side has cut and paste its own preferred terms in different places with a nod to the other side. For example, there is mention of “WMD” initially which is repeated as “weapons of mass destruction” just a little later. There is solemn mention of the “Government of India” and “Government of the United States of America” as the “Parties”, but this suddenly becomes merely “United States” and “India” in the middle and then reverts again to the formal usage.
Through the sloppiness comes scope for different interpretations. The Americans have said: try not to test, you don’t need to, we don’t test any more, and you have to know that if you do test, this deal is over, in fact it gets reversed. We have said, okay, we won’t test, and if we do test we know it is over with you but that does not mean it is over with others. Given such sloppy diplomacy and treaty-making, the scope for mutual misunderstanding, even war, remains immense long after all the public Indian moneys have found their way into private pockets worldwide. Will a future President Jeb Bush or Chelsea Clinton send F-22 bombers to bomb India’s nuclear facilities because India has carried out a test yet declined to return American equipment? Riding a tiger is not something generally to be recommended.
The answer to our present conundrum must be patience and the fullest transparency. What is the rush? If it is good or bad for us to buy six or eight new American reactors now, it will remain good or bad to do so a year or two from now after everyone has had a thorough think about everything that is involved. What the Manmohan-Montek Planning Commission needed to do first of all was a thorough cost-benefit analysis of India’s energy requirements but such elementary professionalism has been sorely lacking among our economists for decades. (emphases ours)
(The author is Contributing Editor, The Statesman)

And to this I posted my comment thus:

Dated 22 July 2008 at 7-40 AM:

I liked the article very much. It is quite clear and especially exposes the greedy economic interests behind pushing through the Indo-US nuclear deal. But Dr. Subroto Roy should also have dealt with prohibitive costs of nuclear plants, non-installation of a single nuclear plant in America since the last three decades, and the potential more devastating hazards of nuclear energy compared to other forms of energy etc. He should also have exposed the hypocrisy of Indian rulers who chant 'ahimsa' but build the most detested and most horrible nuclear weapons and all (including the present left) insist on the 'right to build nuclear weapons' i.e. 'right to proliferate'! My own opinion is India should denounce nuclear weapons once and for all, start a process of nuclear de-weaponization and demand that Non-Proliferation Treay be amended to include the newly become nuclear-weapon states as what they are : 'nuclear weapon states' with all the advantages and liabilities that entail that status. It is simply ridiculous for one to admit a patently nuclear weapon state under the category of non-nuclear weapon state. India should enter into accords with IAEA and join NPT, enter into all disarmament treaties like CTBT, etc. but in its real status i.e. of a Nuclear Weapon State. Then India should continue its nuclear (unilateral) moratorium and make it 'absolute' (in legal terms). It is simply horrendous to suggest India should go on with all tests simply because China or America has done so - build a hydrogen bomb, then go for a 50 megatonner or 100 megatonner etc., etc. If necessary let us do more nuclear research and simulate any tests necessary on computers improving our knowledge power i.e. build virtual weapons only to tackle emergencies and be prepared for any armageddon as a defending State and that only for defence (if that has any meaning at all in a nuclear armageddon). Here I differ with the present Left, which is almost sailing with the BJP Right in jingoism in the name of State Sovereignty. India should forego a part of its sovereignty in the general interests of human kind just as more than 189 States which signed the NPT, hundreds of others which signed all disarmament treaties have done - but that on the basis of recognition of its real status as a nuclear power state and not on the basis of any ludicrous 'legal fictions' placing it in the category of non-nuclear states.
I am an advocate and editor of LAW ANIMATED WORLD, a world law fortnightly, published from Hyderabad, India. Please visit our weblog: http://lawanimatedworld.blogspot.com/ to know more about us. Also I request permission from you (Dr. Subroto Roy) to reproduce this article and any other articles on your website, with of course due courtesy paid to you [I will print: coutesy: Dr. Subroto Roy at http://independentindian.com/.] I will appreciate an early positive reply from you. With regards, I. MALLIKARJUNA SHARMA, Advocate and Editor, Law Animated World, 6-3-1243/156, M.S. Makta, Hyderabad - 500 082.

And if the necessary permission is given by Dr. Roy, we will certainly reproduce this piece in the coming issue of our journal. - I.M. Sharma.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Editorial: G-8 x 123 = 000, in the LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 15 July 2008 issue

G-8 x 123 = 000



Some of the world’s most developed States annually meet as the G-8 group to discuss the international situation and mould their contributions and actions accordingly. Of late they are also inviting other major emerging economies like China, India, Brazil etc. as observers and accordingly our Prime Minister has also gone to its recent summit in Japan. Exactly for what purpose he went, and what decisions beneficial to our country he managed to obtain there we do not know but it is said it was mainly to make the 123 deal with America palatable to all the major economies in the world that he went there. He saw and returned but it is doubtful if he conquered anything. The summit itself seems to have drawn a big cipher since no worthwhile practical measures were suggested or taken to curb the growing worldwide inflation, especially the abnormal rises in oil and food prices, and to alleviate the acute sufferings of the poor and deprived people the world over. The G-8 no doubt wanted civilian nuclear cooperation with India but that subject to the safeguards and terms and conditions of the International Atomic Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group and for the ends of nuclear non-proliferation. Meanwhile at home the politico-economic crisis is deepening with the Right and the Left both stoutly opposing the 123 nuclear deal, stressing the need to safeguard our own sovereign interests by avoiding any junior partnership with America. Both are angry and working feverishly to topple the Government. Even if Man manages by hook or crook to wriggle out of the predicament, one wonders whether it would be in the best interests of the country to go through a deal that is strongly opposed by about half the population at the least. All this may work out only to the above strange equation, undermining our socio-politico-economical interests in the end.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

'ATTACK ON PRESS FREEDOM' - Editorial of 30 June 2008 issue of LAW

ATTACK ON PRESS FREEDOM



with a special law abused for aiding and abetting fundamental rights’ violations – the scenario is somewhat reminiscent of the Emergency days, but all this just a few days back. Even if the journalists accused of a newspaper were really involved in insulting a scheduled caste leader by way of burning his effigy after slippering it, by-the-way which mode of condemnation has become very common in socio-political agitations, it is well known that it was only a protest against the preceding attacks against and destruction of property of that newspaper offices committed by that leader’s followers, if not under his instructions, at any rate with his open support. As such the investigating officers, even if a complaint was made under a special law meant for the protection of the scheduled castes and tribes, ought to have known that such protest, though might appear somewhat excessive, does not fall under the scheme and terms of that Act. They ought to also have taken note of the interest of press freedom which could be jeopardized by any hasty action on their part. In any case they should have acted coolly but not in an overzealous and arbitrary manner as they did. There was absolutely no need or reason for them to barge into the press premises in night time and arrest the journalists, and the editor late in the night, when they could have just informed the Court and caused issuance of a summons or warrant for their appearance in connection with the complaint case. But it seems the concerned police authorities acted more per the dictates of their political masters and staged an unseemly drama of midnight arrest of the editor of a largely circulated Telugu daily. Perhaps the ruling party thus wanted to push other more sensational and to-them-detrimental political developments of the day to the sidelights by enacting this high drama but such course bodes ill for the cause of social peace and liberty so much desired in the present tumultuous circumstances §§§

Saturday, July 5, 2008

WE ARE BETRAYED

For information: We got this message to the journal's editor:
WE ARE BETRAYED
The last 3 generations of American's have been driven to war under the pretense of spreading freedom and democracy; but the words that fall from the mouths of our politicians that lead us to war, are seldom reflected in our actions and end results. Here is a transcript from a discussion between President Johnson and Greek Ambassador, Alexander Matsas, on June 1964 following Ambassador Matsas's refusal to agree to the US Acheson plan for the partition and 'double enosis' of Cyprus"Then listen to me Mr Ambassador. Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant, Cyprus is a flea, Greece is a flea. If these two feckless fleas continue itching the elephant they may get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good… We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks Mr Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and the constitution, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last very long.'"Three years later in Greece…1967: A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before their elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the "reign of the colonels" - backed by the CIA - usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents; honoring President Johnson's threats to Greece.It is important to remember that President Johnson kept the United States in Vietnam from 1963-1969. It is obvious from his words to the Greek Ambassador Alexander Matsas that Johnson had no regard for the democracy or rights of other nations yet used the rhetoric to justify military funding and the deaths of close to 50,000 Americans and over 300,000 Vietnamese. The idea that we entered the war in Vietnam under the pretense of fighting communism and bringing Democracy and freedom to the Vietnamese is hypocritical to say the least when you consider it was at a time when black people in America were still fighting for their own civil rights and freedoms yet were drafted to fight and die for the freedoms of others in foreign lands.At this moment, we the United States of America have military occupation in 130 out of 190 countries across the world. These occupations have been supported by we the people under the guise of spreading peace, but few will argue the statement that is sent to the civilians and the governments of these occupied countries as they quickly realize that the presence of a foreign military sends a clear message that they better comply with US because we are already in their backyard. I am writing this to you to appeal to your common sense, humanity and pride as an American. Ignoring a problem never results in a solution; the culmination of our collective ignorance and denial is today reflected in the state of our union and our struggling economy. The work ethic that founded this great country has been replaced with complacency and denial. We are beyond the point of repair and we are all left with a difficult decision; Do we carry on with business usual and drown with our sinking ship or do face the truth of what we have allowed our country to become, and demonstrate to the rest of the world that our government has been representing their personal interests above that of its people. A government should fear its people for we have the power to replace them. If we do not stand up to our government the rest of the world will view our lack of action as complicity and agreement; and as our dollar collapses and we can no longer afford to maintain our military intimidation, we will be judged based upon our actions against the world and our inaction as American citizens to stop it. "The first duty of society is to give each of its members the possibility of fulfilling his destiny. When it becomes incapable of performing this duty it must be transformed." ~Alexis CarrelThe time for words has come and passed; the only course of action is to educate ourselves so that we can collectively make a peaceful stand and demand immediate changes starting with Congress stepping down which would allow the military to stand down gracefully. Change increases the odds of success, and to think that changing a figure head in the coming elections will change our course and replace what has been eroded is na├»ve and detrimental to our futures. We have spent significant time to create just3ants.com which provides extensive research and timelines of pivotal historic events and the people that benefited from what resulted. Money and assets can be lost, but knowledge can never be taken from you. Sincerely, Adam L TuckerJust3ants.com

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Editorial: 'DAMMING THE GANGES' in 15 June 2008 issue of LAW


Gangotri Glacier Prof. G.D. Agarwal Gangotri in September
DAMMING THE GANGES
could be quite dangerous to the fragile ecosystems of the Himalayan region with calamitous consequences for the people in the Indo-Gangetic plain. No doubt there may be some immediate benefits like cheap hydro-electric power and irrigation facilities to hitherto unreachable areas but the cons unfortunately outweigh the pros in this regard. There was stout opposition to and intense agitation against the construction of the Tehri Dam earlier with the controversy even carried to the Supreme Court through PILs when finally that Court took the regretful decision to give it a green signal and put the matters to rest for the timebeing. But it seems the governments at the helm are not satisfied with the damage already inflicted but want to dam the river near its very origin – Gangotri. Prof. G.D. Agarwal, former Dean, IIT Kanpur, has taken lead now for a spirited fight against this move and has begun his protest fast-unto-death from 13 June. His reasoning is that the damming would lead to the drying up of the lower reaches of Gangaji, which offends not only the sentiments of crores of Hindus who worship the river as a mother goddess but also starts a process of desertification of considerable portions of the Gangetic plain in the near future. The vast water reservoirs created by such damming are hotbeds for tectonic quakes. The entire Himalayan region is a relatively recent geographical formation in creational timescale and it could not endure such human tampering for long. Already in this journal we had earlier discussed the pros and cons of big dams and the enlightening report of the World Dams Commission and all wisdom dictates restraint in this matter. Let the Governments not rush through such potentially disastrous dams but concentrate on less risky medium and minor irrigation works and development of alternative energy sources §§§


Editorial "Damming The Ganges" of 15 June 2008 issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD

DAMMING THE GANGES
could be quite dangerous to the fragile ecosystems of the Himalayan region with calamitous consequences for the people in the Indo-Gangetic plain. No doubt there may be some immediate benefits like cheap hydro-electric power and irrigation facilities to hitherto unreachable areas but the cons unfortunately outweigh the pros in this regard. There was stout opposition to and intense agitation against the construction of the Tehri Dam earlier with the controversy even carried to the Supreme Court through PILs when finally that Court took the regretful decision to give it a green signal and put the matters to rest for the timebeing. But it seems the governments at the helm are not satisfied with the damage already inflicted but want to dam the river near its very origin – Gangotri. Prof. G.D. Agarwal, former Dean, IIT Kanpur, has taken lead now for a spirited fight against this move and has begun his protest fast-unto-death from 13 June. His reasoning is that the damming would lead to the drying up of the lower reaches of Gangaji, which offends not only the sentiments of crores of Hindus who worship the river as a mother goddess but also starts a process of desertification of considerable portions of the Gangetic plain in the near future. The vast water reservoirs created by such damming are hotbeds for tectonic quakes. The entire Himalayan region is a relatively recent geographical formation in creational timescale and it could not endure such human tampering for long. Already in this journal we had earlier discussed the pros and cons of big dams and the enlightening report of the World Dams Commission and all wisdom dictates restraint in this matter. Let the Governments not rush through such potentially disastrous dams but concentrate on less risky medium and minor irrigation works and development of alternative energy sources §§§