Monday, July 21, 2008

Open Mike 22: Indo-US Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, aka "the deal"

[posting from Murali's message on the groups]

Folks, we will have our next open mike session tomorrow, please try to make it.

Thursday Open Mike 22 (now on Tuesday)
Topic: Indo-US Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, aka "the deal"
July 22, 2008 [Tuesday]
@ 8PM in Gaurav's House.
1781 Spyglass Drive, #244
Austin TX 78746

This topic seems particularly appropriate now, with Manmohan Singh deciding that he is the PM of this one issue instead of the country and the myriad difficulties facing poor Indians, and with widespread opposition to the proposed "deal" based on a variety of reasons including ideology, patriotism, tactics (the way it is being concluded) and pure opportunism.

The issue has come to a head now with the Parliament debating the various arguments around nuclear cooperation with US and other countries as laid out by the agreement draft and the government has asked for a confidence motion (failing which, the government falls and new elections happen).

Some links below.

[1] Introduction and details about "the deal"

The Indo-US nuclear deal is the name commonly attributed to a bilateral pact between the United States of America and the Republic of India under which the United States will provide India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel in exchange for IAEA-safeguards on India's civilian nuclear reactors.

An overview:

The 123 Agreement:

Draft version of India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement:

An archive of news, opinions, discussions and interviews:

[2] The trust vote in Parliament (voting is expected today so should be interesting to discuss this part as well)

A breathless archive of information, conjecture, gossip and astrology

[3] How democratic is India really?

(a) Various reports in the previous link suggest that different bribes were offered to and accepted by the MPs.

(b) Regardless of the corruption, does the Parliament's opinion or trust vote actually matter for the deal?

On July 20, 2005 -- that is, two days after Prime Minister Singh and US President George Bush issued a joint statement about the Indo-US nuclear deal -- Dr Singh addressed a press conference in Washington before returning to India. Smita Prakash of Asian News International asked him a pointed and prescient question: 'Mr Prime Minister, do you see any resistance coming forward from your allies and the opposition in putting the new India-US policy to practice? And will you seek a parliamentary consensus or approval to the new direction you seem to be taking in foreign policy?'

Dr Singh's reply was categorical, and befitting the prime minister of the world's largest democracy. 'Well, the Parliament in our country is sovereign,' he said. 'It goes without saying that we can move forward only on the basis of a broad national consensus.'

But look at the downhill road Dr Singh has traversed from then to July 20, 2008. Today is there a 'broad national consensus' in India in support of the Indo-US nuclear deal? No sane person can give an affirmative answer. And yet the PM has chosen to 'move forward' on the nuclear deal.

To know how far, indeed, he has moved forward by flouting his own assurance of adhering to the 'broad national consensus', it is instructive to refer to a front-page report by Radhika Ramaseshan in The Telegraph, Kolkata, on July 16. Titled 'Sink or survive, deal done', and quoting 'a highly placed official', the report said: 'The deal is 'done', whether the UPA survives the trust vote or not. The safeguards agreement, to be put before nuclear watchdog IAEA's board of governors at a special August 1 meeting, would stay on course, unaffected by politics back home...

(c) One-issue PM

(d) "Amend constitution to enable public debate" by Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy and Sandeep Pandey

[4] Nuclear power: does India need it?

(a) "if we do not do it now, history will not forgive us"

(b) Environmental concerns

(c) Economics of nuclear power plants


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