Cyber Coolie

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Left disrupts Parliament… and “The Hindu” salutes…

Posted by chakrabarti on August 23, 2007

A few days ago, The left-leaning “Hindu” newspaper endorsed the draft 123 nuclear agreement between the US and India on resuming nuclear fuel supplies, albeit with caveats. That, apparently, was before a signal came down from the offices of the comrade, to put a lid on the editorial page’s independence, and fall in line with the comrades. Since then, the editorials have been a case study in running down Manmohan Singh along with the Indian diplomatic and scientific establishment who were chiefly responsible for arriving at the terms of agreement following tortuous negotiations.

Today comes a similar argument backing the disruption of Parliament on account of Ambassador Ronen Sen’s insensitive remarks. And what was Sen’s crime on this occasion? A “headless chickens” remark that he has later clarified to be meant to be directed at mediapersons rather than politicians. But the opposition will have none of it, of course. They have found an excuse to create a ruckus and embarass a government they claim to support, and they aren’t about to let it go, taxpayer money be damned. So desperate are these guys to stop the deal, one has to ask, what’s actually in the 123 agreement which will caused such an uproar among the govt’s supposed allies?

The plain and simple answer is: nothing, really. The treaty does not cap India’s nuclear programme, nor attempt to roll it back. Of course, it does stipulate that none of the nuclear fuel that would be provided by the US, should be used as fissile material to produce nuclear weapons. A reasonable restriction in accordance with international non-proliferation treaty, one reached even in a similar deal between India and Russia.  These facts have been openly acknowledged by bona-fide left-wing columnists and journalists in publication like Hindu and Frontline.

But all that was before the CPM decided to stop “operationalizing” 123 at all costs. One has to ask, why all this mayhem and talk of withdrawing support at this moment, when such a prescription is certain political suicide for many UPA constituents, and things look so rosy for the Communist parties either?

Full disclosure: some of the provisions in the Hyde Act, which includes attempting to press-gang India into supporting an escalation of tension and eventual military action  against Iran, are unpalatable to many sensible Indians. Not to mention the annual certifications any future US presidents would have to provide certifying India to be in good standing of being a “responsible” non-proliferator. The parallels of such certifications that America had to provide for Pakistan throughout the 80s (and which were denied right after the Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan) are an instructive case study.  But those are domestic US laws, scripted on the whims and fancies of senators and congressmen, not to forget the role of non-proliferation ayatollahs. The only influence India had at that stage was thru lobbies such as USINPAC.

But despite its drawbacks, the bottomline is that India gets to keep its nuclear weapons program outside IAEA supervision, while getting fuel supply and help in setting up reactors. Yes, there would be a political price to pay for any future tests were India to conduct any, but that is something different Indian governments have had to deal with in the mid-70s and the late-90s, something which hardly had a telling effect on our population. Plus, the US itself has acknowledged that it cannot prevent India from sourcing uranium from other nations if it decides to get up and leave at any point.

All this has been achieved through the painstaking efforts of officials such as Ronen Sen, something made clear by Arundhati Ghose in the Indian Express today. Don’t tell that to the Hindu of course, whose excellent coverage of social issues is obscured by kowtowing to a particular political group throwing around old shibboleths.

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