Deal or no deal?

By | November 1, 2007

It has been a long time since the Indo-US nuclear deal is doing backflips on both ends of the world, and it appears that it could possibly end out as a damp squib. Much credit must go to the communist lobby in India. Communism is now dead in the country that gave birth to it, and China has adopted a more liberal form of communism so that it doesn’t get left behind in a fast growing world. The acceptance of globalization in China is a big indicator of the declining world belief of communism.

But the Indian communist parties, namely CPI and CPI(M) are still hanging on to the old and decadent past. These parties have no or very little foothold in any Indian state except for West Bengal and Kerala. Mostly, the issues raised by these left parties at national level has been related to Providend fund rate reductions, and some other rants about reducing foreign investment and to put a stop to the rapid globalization driving the Indian economy forward.

And now, the left parties have the best political issue in years. The Indo US nuclear deal. A deal that will give India access to larger reserves of nuclear fuel from the Nuclear Supplier’s Group & a very strategic alliance with the US. Above all, this deal will force India to open up its nuclear reactors to inspection by IAEA. Some, including the left parties, have taken this clause as a violation of India’s sovereignty. I do not think so. As a country, India has a very pathetic record of industrial safety. Even after the horrific gas leakage in Bhopal back in 1984, safety standards in industries are quite questionable.

With nuclear energy, more so. The Chernobyl disaster exposed the horrors of a nuclear plant going wrong to the world. India cannot afford to have one. Inspections of its nuclear facilities by IAEA will ensure that the government makes the safety standards at those plants even more stringent.

In addition to all this, energy is a costly resource. Crude oil prices are hovering around $95 a barrel, prices of other non-renewable energy sources like coal are already very high and resources depleting. Nuclear energy is definitely the way forward for India to resolve its ever growing power crisis. But if the left parties have their way, power cuts are going to be an integral part of the Indian lifestyle.

The only reason why the Indian government is in a mess over this deal is that the left parties hold the key to the government. Without their support in the Parliament, the existing government would fall short of majority and fall. And as all political games go, its always about being in power at the end of the day. So the government is playing ping pong to salvage a very hard fought and negotiated deal with the US.

What if this deal doesn’t come through? India will look like a fool in front of the international community. A country that cannot commit a deal that it initiated itself. There were worries about the US congress rejecting this deal, but it did not, and the deal went through. The left parties will end up doing nothing but sabotaging a big chunk of India’s international reputation, and gloat about it.

The key to this secret is held by the outspoken left leader, Mr. Karat. And time and again he has been unrelenting in his opposition of the nuclear deal. Several threats have been issued by the left parties to pull out of the government, that will cause it to collapse and plunge the country into a mid-term election. At this point in time, India cannot afford one of these. With the economy growing at a quick pace, political stability is unnecessary.

Who would blink first? Would it be Manmohan Singh, by retreating on the nuclear deal, or Prakash Karat, by giving the government some breathing space on this deal? Time would tell whether the great Indian democracy is in for another round of electoral fist cuffs.

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