Doing Business With Bush

India is rapidly growing and needs loads of energy soon to fuel that growth. We cannot (and should not) depend on the unstable Middle-East for our oil, not just because they are repressive and thus unstable regimes but also because of the spiraling cost and long-term environmental problems. Wind, solar and tidal energies are still at a nascent stage and need more time before they can be widespread. And there is stiff resistance in India to large scale hydro electric plants. So the only reliable alternative left is nuclear power. The Indian nuclear establishment for all its talent of working under adverse conditions is still using unstable cold-war era technologies. Added to this is the fact that India has very low reserves of Uranium. We do have huge reserves of Thorium but lack the technology to use it as a nuclear fuel as of yet. So we urgently need access to safe and reliable nuclear technologies and fuel. And who controls this? The US (and other Western powers) of course. So if not today tomorrow we would need this deal. And that I think is the raison d’etre for this agreement. Remember, this deal was asked for by the Indians and not the Americans.

Now with this little setting of context out of the way let us come to Mr. Bush. I do not like him and I think he is perhaps the worst US president in history. He is a war mongerer and I seriously think he is in the pocket of big business. But I do give him certain credit. He has had the courage to change decades of anti-India policies by the US. I know he is not doing this out of love for India, he is doing it from a purely strategic and business point of view but he did something which even Clinton was not willing to do.

So it is a purely pragmatic decision on India’s part to deal with him. When we can directly deal with war mongerers and repressive dictators like Musharraf of Pakistan and Wen Jiabao of China what is wrong in dealing with Bush? Musharraf is even worse than Bush I think. He was directly responsible for the killing of hundreds of Indian soldiers during the Kargil episode and indirectly responsible for the thousands of deaths due to terrorism in Kashmir and beyond. For god’s sake, he blatantly ignores terrorists acting from his own soil! And I doubt if even you will support a totalitarian state like China and the immense human rights abuses it’s ruling government has been party to. So why didn’t anyone (apart from perhaps the far right parties) protest their visit to India? Why didn’t the Left come out in full force and protest the Chinese leadership’s visit sometime back or Musharraf’s continuing support for terrorism? Do you really believe that the Indian left cares for the issues on hand? They are making such a noise only because they have elections coming up in key states where they hold power or have influence. So I don’t see anything really wrong in India doing business with Bush.

Finally, that brings us to the question, what is it that the Indian left wants? Do they even have a vision for India’s future or does it change every time they taste power? Do they want to turn India into a totalitarian communist regime like China? I mean these were the very people who apparently opposed nuclear weapons of any kind when India embarked on a such a program first. Now, it is hilarious to see them getting concerned for the military nuclear program!

Even though my politics lie left of center I’ve never been in favor of the Indian Left parties. They have never done anything that has benefited the poor and have only bothered themselves about staying in power as long as possible.

Let not the above words give you the impression that I support nuclear weapons. Far from it, I wish they had never been invented in the first place. But they exist and will continue to do so. I was disappointed to see India soften its long held stand for the complete eradication of nuclear weapons in the world. However, that is a also a shift based on current reality. India is surrounded by hostile and unstable regimes. From Pakistan to Burma, from China to Bangladesh, we have neighbors who refuse to see reason and are willing to continue on the path of violence and/or brutal suppression of human rights. So we do need a credible deterrent, something that will make them think twice before threatening our national and territorial integrity. In spite of this obvious security fear, India is perhaps the only nuclear power in the world who has imposed on herself a no first-strike policy. Did any of the other other nuclear powers follow India’s example? The answer is a resounding no. And this is where India’s need for nuclear weapons comes from.

(A post that was in response to Tushar’s argument that Bush is a war criminal and therefore it was an insult for him to offer respects at Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi and that India should not do business with him.)

4 responses to “Doing Business With Bush”

  1. Tushar says:

    Firstly I disagree with you about Nuclear energy being the only alternative to fuel India’s growing energy needs;

    1. If you look at the share of Nuclear energy to the total energy requirements since its inception 30 years ago, its always averaged 5 % despite the dept of atomic energy’s wild claims of providing 20 – 25 %. India’s total installed capacity now is around 120000 MW out of which nuke energy contributes maybe 2500 MW. In the next 15-20 years this is expcted to rise to 350000 MW. Now its anybody’s guess how much more nuclear energy can provide, despite now the NSG being free to supply to India.

    2. The deal has yet to be ratified by the US cogress. Given Bush’s low political capital back home, it will be interesting to see if the bill actually makes it theu congress , given that large sections of the media and politicians there are opposed to the one off exception to India.

    3. India’s civilian and nuclear facilities have been intertwined right from the beginning. Seperation will entail massive costs. Thats why the seperation deal is going to end nly in 2014. In any case its been calculated that per MW installed capacity of nclear power will cost rs 7 crore while the equivalent of hydroelectric or thermal is 3-4 crore.

    4. The civil nuclear deal has worked to India’s advantage. But why? why did the US agree to leave FBRs and 35 % of other facilities out of safeguards? They obviously do not see this as a one off deal. There will be a price to pay in the future for american ‘magnanimity’. When Indian troops are sought to be used as cannon fodder for ‘spreading democracy’ then the shit hits the fan.

    5. India had a golden opportunity to form an asian gas grid by linking Iran, Pakistan, India and china thru pipelines to ship iranina natural gas. THIS would have been one answer to India’s energy security. It would also have given a chance for the nations to interact with each other on a commercial basis.

    6. The deal was not asked by the Indians. It was Condi Rice who first proposed it when India was seen to be getting too close to Iran on the natural gas pipeline. This government has been too eager to enter into an american bear hug. Mani Shankar iyer,, one of the best performing ministers was relieved of his charge coz he was seen to be pursuing interests inimical to the US, but maybe they were good for India.

    Rail against the left, but also see what the right is doing. The middle class in this country, right wing in its leanings, is so pro US that they cant see the wood for the tree’s. India is one of the few countries that actually likes Bush and America. Slaves we were and slaves we will remain.

    In any case, if some one protests against something what is wrong in it. Protest is an expression of dissent. Remember, dissent is natural, consent is manufactured. If I do not like Bush (and there are a lot of reasons not to like Bush) why is it that I cannot protest his visit to India.

    Why is the protest against Bush taken as an anti-nuclear deal stance?

    Apart from the left and muslim organisations, no one else bothered to show up for the protests. Have we become so self absorbed in our lives, or fallen so much in love with uncle sam, that we do not see it fit to protest the visit of a man who should be declared a war criminal?

    Wen Jia Bao, Saddam Hussain, Milosevic and others you mentioned are no friends of mine. I don’t know them nor do I wish to. And I certainly have no love lost for them. But Wen Jia Bao’s actions do not affect the world the way Bush’s do.

    And why cite these leaders for your point about human rights abuses. Go to Kalinga Nagar where the government shot dead 12 tribals for protesting their eviction.

    Go to Gujarat where they raped and killed men, women and children

    Go to Andhra where they routinely kill naxal ‘terrorists’ in ‘encounters’

    Go to Gurgaon where they beat up factory workers for protesting.

    The list goes on…..

  2. Anil says:

    1. First, I still stand by my point that nuclear energy is the only ‘credible’ alternative we have. Thermal is too inefficient (our coal is of poor quality) and polluting. Hydro projects cause massive hardships, people displaced, land submerged and not to speak of the environmental hazard. And I’m sure once this deal is ratified and we start getting nuclear fuel the share of the nuclear power will drastically go up. Don’t forget that nuclear power forms a major chunk of the power produced by industrialized economies. Also, we have the largest reserves of thorium in the world, so if and when our scientists can use thorium to produce nuclear power there will be no looking back. So even if thermal and hydro seem cheaper on the short term the long term costs and problems are not worth it.

    2. No it is you who is confusing the wood from the trees. I don’t understand why you think we will become slaves of the US by signing this deal. Did we become slaves of the Soviets when Indira Gandhi signed the 20 year friendship treaty (many said we would)? So why didn’t anyone come out and protest that deal? That was an even more strategic agreement compared to the present one with America. I might seem idealistic or naive but I do not think Manmohan Singh is going to let the Americans dictate policy to us.

    3. No, it is India which asked for the deal. We had been pushing that for years. The Americans said as much. Bush and Rice only agreed to accept it now. Yes, of course, it will be a quid pro quo. Nation states do not agree to such things without expecting to get something in return. I hope that we do no give away too much.

    4. To put it simply I do not trust Iran (or Pakistan for that matter). I cannot trust a nation when it’s elected head of state calls for wiping another sovereign nation (Israel) off the map or dismissing the holocaust as a Zionist conspiracy. A country which seeks to do that should be rightly criticized and sanctioned. Pakistan has always stuck by its policy of trying to pull down India by destabilizing it, inciting communal tension etc. etc. As long as it continues this policy of trying to break up and destabilize India there is no point in trusting what the military dictator Musharraf spouts.

    5. If you read what I said a little more carefully you will notice that I never criticized your right to protest. That is the beauty of democracy. Protest as much as you want. What I was criticizing was the blatant hypocricy of the Left. Their protests were more of a political tool to gain more votes from the muslims and in the states going to polls rather than a genuine stand on this. Coming to the Muslims, I’ve a big axe to grind against their blatant hypocrisy as well. But I’ll save that for another day.

    6. Do not criticze the Indian middle class blindly. Look at the middle class in any country, they are essentially the same. All they want is stability, a roof over their head and food to eat. Is it wrong to expect or work for that? The US has been good to middle class Indians. Almost every such family has someone over there and they have done well for themselves. They send money back and have improved the financial state of their families. So no wonder the majority of Indians have a favorable view of America. All said and done the US is one of the few countries where talent is still recognised and feted without creating too many hurdles such as caste, creed or race.

    7. So if China continues the genocide in Tibet it has to be ignored because as you said their ‘actions do not affect the world the way Bush’s do’? Did you even think about what you said? So if a country invades another country, implements a master plan to destroy their culture and in the process murders I don’t know how many thousands, it is not worth protesting about? Isn’t that what the US is doing in Iraq? So why didnt any of the people who came out to protest Bush’s visit also take out a rally to protest what China is doing in Tibet or Pakistan is doing in Balochistan, or what the Burmese junta is doing, or what the North Korean dictator is doing in his country? Is it because it is more fashionable for the so called Indian Left intelligentsia to bad mouth Bush and the US? No, before you accuse me, I do not like Bush and ‘hate’ his knee-jerk foreign poliy. All I’m saying is be consistent in what you are protesting. Just because the US is the sole super power and an easy target to rail against does not mean we push the many other tragedies unfolding elsewhere right under our noses.

    8. Yes, there are immense human rights abuses going on in India itself. And that is exactly the point I’m making. Why not protest these very obvious wrongs which are happening in our society first before protesting what Bush is doing in another part of the world? As an old Telugu saying goes let us set our house right first before trying to clean another one’s house.

  3. Tushar says:

    In response to Anil’s response

    1. Nuclear energy is not the only ‘credible’ source of energy. There are tremendous reserves of gas and oil in regions around India, the the west, to the north and the east. That’s the whole point of the Asian energy grid, to lock the Asian countries together in an energy grid that gives them more incentives to cooperate rather than confront each other.
    You say, “And I’m sure once this deal is ratified”. How do you know this deal is going to be ratified? A bill has been introduced in congress, but it remains to be seen if it goes through. Going by the hysteria in the western media and Bush’s low political capital I wouldn’t be surprised if the bill is killed (pun unintended) in congress.
    Nuclear power IS NOT the major chunk of power in industrialized countries as you allege. The per centage share in the US (the largest supplier of commercial nuclear energy) is 20.

    2. You say we won’t become slaves to the US. Let me cite some concrete examples:

    Manmohan gave an interview to the Washington Post last July saying he didn’t THINK the india-Iran gas pipeline was feasible, even before the costs had been worked out. Was this to scuttle the deal at the instance of the US?

    Mani Shankar Iyer, the most competent and able minister, was shifted out of oil and Petroleum ministry. Why? Was it because he was trying to secure India’s energy interests and vigourously pursuing policies uncomfortable for the US?

    His government votes against Iran twice in a row at the IAEA. Abstaining would have been a better option. Was this done at the behest of the US? Will the US now tell us how and which way to vote?

    3. India did not ask for the deal. India had always consistently refused to sign the NPT because it was discriminatory. The Bush administration offered the civil nuclear deal to INdia as a way to counter the Iran gas pipeline deal. With the current deal in place, the US has pretty much blown the NPT to pieces because it wants to make an exception for India. What’s to stop other nation’s to pursue their own nuclear agenda’s citing the ‘exception’ made for one country? “I hope that we do no give away too much”. You hope. International diplomacy (and certainly dealings with the US) is not based on hope.

    4. “I cannot trust a nation when it’s elected head of state calls for wiping another sovereign nation (Israel) off the map.” Does your logic extend to America, coz that’s pretty much what it’s done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras, Palestine, Chile, Argentina, Cuba, Iran(?), Syria(?)….
    Iam not saying Ahmedinejad’s call for “wiping Israel off the map” is right. It’s atrocious and deserves to be condemned, period.
    As for Musharraf, granted that India should be wary of dealing with him, but he is the best bet for resolving the indo-pak dispute simply because he is a military man.

    5. Allright, given that the left might be using the protests as a political tool etc etc. I don’t subscribe to all that the left says, I am not a card carrying member of the left and am highly critical of the left. I don’t speak for the left.
    But, WHY is my stand equated with the left??? I am a free thinker who forms his opinion independent of the left. Why are you launching into a rant against the left? Stick to the point and ask these questions to a party member.
    By the same token, should I equate your stand to the right and call you a BJP or RSS member?
    Coming to muslim’s, What is your gripe against them? We can start a separate thread on that.

    6. There are a number of assumptions you make over here:

    “Look at the middle class in any country, they are essentially the same.”
    They are not. The middle class in latin america is actively involved in political activism.

    “The US has been good to middle class Indians. ”
    The US does not care about middle class indians. They went there for a specific role and made it good.

    “Almost every such family has someone over there”
    Precisely, every SUCH family. These people form about 20-25 % of India’s population…which brings me to the next point

    “So no wonder the majority of Indians have a favorable view of America.”
    Major assumption, typical of middle class INdians. How do you know? Have you done a poll of the majority of Indian’s? Are yo going by Outlook and India Today polls? In which case forget it. A poll of 1000 Indians inDelhi and Bombay does not mean the majority if Indians.

    7. “So if a country invades another country, implements a master plan to destroy their culture and in the process murders I don’t know how many thousands, it is not worth protesting about?” Isn’t this exactly what the US has done in god knows how many countries.
    Again you wilfully miss the point. I don’t support what China doen in Tibet, but why ask me about the ‘people’ who didn’t come out and protest, do I speak for them? If the communist parties blindly accept what China does then its their loss. I support the free Tibet cause and I’ve been to ‘Free Tibet’ rallies.

    8. Do you know how many organisations and poeple are protesting the abuses in INdia? A lot. Does that mean we don’t protest abuses that happen elsewhere? By that logic, why even protest against what is happening in Pakistan, North Korea, Tibet or Burma…because as the Telugu saying goes, “let us set our house right first before trying to clean another one’s house.”

  4. Anil says:

    1. Look I’m not saying that nuclear is the ‘sole’ source, the word I used was reliable not credible. Yes, there are other sources, I do not deny that, but you have to keep in mind that they are fossil fuels. How long do you think they will last? 50 years? 100 years? What after that? But if you take nuclear, as and when our scientists find a cost effective way for using Thorium as the nuclear fuel we could depend on nuclear until some other fuel source is either discovered or invented. Having said that I still support the idea of securing an Asian gas grid. If it is economically and politically feasible then we should go ahead with it. And this precisely what ONGC is doing in Sakhalin, Sudan, Central Asia, Burma and even Bangladesh.

    Did you even wonder how many millions of barrels of oil and how many cubic feet of gas will be saved if nuclear power constitutes 20 percent of the total power produced in a country? And 20 percent is around the same percentage (actual figure is I think 25%) that our nuclear policy makers want in our country for nuclear power to occupy in the total power produced by India. Every million barrels of oil or gas saved is that much foreign exchange saved and more importantly that much pollution reduced by cutting down production of greenhouse gases. I rest my case.

    Yes, the US congress might not give its stamp of approval, on the other hand it might. It took 13 years for the US Congress to ratify an almost similar agreement for China. So if a communist country like China can get a nuclear agreement I don’t think India will find it difficult to get this deal passed.

    2. I don’t know if Manmohan Singh caved in to US pressure and is making statements to scuttle the Iran gas pipeline. Neither do you. Yes, those incidents you mentioned might just not be coincidences and might very well have taken place because of US pressure. But look, at least I know one thing, our nuclear establishment with its reputation for fierce independence would never have agreed to this deal if they were not getting what they wanted. Do you presume to know more than they do? They must surely have done some cost-benefit analysis of this whole deal, no? And that is why we had the head of our atomic agency (if I remember correctly) voicing his concern publicly before the deal was cobbled together. In the end he said he was satisfied that we were not giving away more than we wanted. So if I have to trust somebody I’ll trust him and his analysis.

    Again, I repeat, if India did not lose its independent foreign policy when she signed a 20 year ‘friendship deal’ with the esrtwhile Soviet Union (and the Soviets definitely did not do this out of love for India, they obviously got us to buy their arms, take Russia’s side in many international affairs etc etc) I do not understand all this paranoia about Americans dictating policy in the South block. That is not say we should let down our guard but let us not get carried away too and try and be pragmatic.

    3. Again, please double check your sources. This whole deal was the original brain child of Brajesh Mishra. The Vajpayee govt had originally proposed this to the Americans albeit in a different form. So again it is we who asked for the deal. This way we would not have to sign the discriminatory NPT. That is part of the reason why the Americans did not agree to the deal at that time. It is only with Rice becoming sec state that there has been a slow but strategic shift in American foreign policy vis a vis India. Also, remember that it was the BJP which turned Indian foreign policy on its head. They started pushing India towards a closer r’ship with the US and Israel. The Congress has always been suspicious of the US and did not trust America. So for them to go ahead with this deal says something about how important this deal is. And my hope is based on pragmatism and not on some idealistic wishful thinking.

    4. You just proved my point. Isn’t that why we criticize America and basically the whole reason for this argument? So why is it wrong if India votes against a country whose very head of state calls the holocaust a conspiracy and wants to commit genocide against the people of another country? Do you want to see such an unstable country make nuclear bombs? I don’t hate the Iranians, their’s is a great country with a lot of potential and rich history but I wish they didn’t base their foreign policy on extermination of another race. Also, you have to remember that they are a signatory of the NPT so they have to legally heed the agreement and it will be a clear violation of international law if they start to use enriched uranium to make nuclear bombs.

    Musharraff is first and foremost a military dictator who came to power thru a coup d’etat. Added to that he was the architect of the Kargil episode, he propped up the Taliban regime, his intelligence agencies continue to foment trouble across India and even in other countries like Nepal and Bangladesh. Musharraf is doing a balancing act, on one hand providing safe haven for terrorists and on the other hand making peace overtures and claiming to fight terrorism. If you think that such a person is the best bet for peace then I dont know what to say. Yes, since as of now we do not have a choice, let us be pragmatic and do business with him but let us also not forget what kind of a person he is.

    5. Now, you are behaving like a typical journalist. Where did I equate you with the left? Why are you putting words that I never said or even implied in my mouth? My so called ‘rant’ against the Left was only directed against them, not against you. It is only when you said that apart from the Left and muslims no one else had protested that I gave my reasons for criticisng them. And if you still do not get my point let me state it clearly and repeat what I said before again, I’m not criticising your stand, you have every right to do what you did.

    Please if what I said sounds like a rant then what do these words sound like and I quote “Have we become so self absorbed in our lives, or fallen so much in love with uncle sam, that we do not see it fit to protest the visit of a man who should be declared a war criminal?”

    So do you mean to say that only those people who come out onto the street and protest have a conscience? So if I sit at home I’m to be clubbed into that ‘self-absorbed’ whole is it? I wonder who is missing the point here.

    We will save the fundamentalist religious groups (insert Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews etc here) for another day. That will be a long gripe.

    6. Latin America is a special case. They are leaning to the left because of the utterly inept policies the previous right leaning goverments had followed. They basically bankrupted their respective nations and that is why one sees a consistent movement to the left in Latin America. And it is the same in India, people were not happy with the rightist BJP and went for the centre left socialist policies of the Congress. So don’t you think the middle class had a hand in effecting this change when the elite of the country, from the upper castes to the big businesses wanted and expected BJP to win? Do not dismiss the Indian middle class so contemptuously!

    Yes, the US does not care for Indians living there (although even that is changing as they flex their political muscle) but it earned that postive rating solely because it gave them space to shine be it through their hard work, talent whatever, which even their home country had not given them. So did you wonder why so many of us want to go to the US to study or work? It is because your talent and hard work is recognised there with good money.

    You seem to have a major grudge against middle class India. Why do you hate them so much? FYI this poll was not done by Outlook. This was done by an international agency, PEW research if I remember correctly. I, of course, do not have the demographic numbers that formed the pool for the poll but they did this in some 60 countries. I believe it to the extent that the poll is representative of the popular opinion in a particular country. You are of course free to not believe it. That is your choice.

    But please do not equate my choice with an equally major assumption on your part that this opinion is typical of middle class Indians. So how many people did you sample before you made that statement? Did they form a representative section of middle class India?

    7. Where am I missing the point? Again, you missed the point, I was not criticising your stand. I’m criticising the double standards of the Left and the muslims when they selectively protest one repressive ‘criminal’. My very valid question is if they can protest so loudly against Bush’s visit then why did/do not protest the visit of other repressive ‘criminals’ like Wen Ji Bao or Musharraf and others of that ilk? My point was not about your presence at the protest rally. Let me state it clearly, I support the nuclear deal but do not support Bush or his neo-con foreign policy.

    8. You ended up repeating and proving the very point I was making. I morally support each and every organisation that is involved in the hard and often lost battle to make India a better place. So when we have so many of our fellow citizens being supressed, discriminated, tortured, murdered, victimized etc why not use the limited resources we have at our disposal to concentrate on them first? We can care about the rest of the world when we have at least won half of the battle in our own country. Yes, it is a very selfish POV but I’m unashamed to say that the plight of my fellow country men concerns and affects me more than the plight of similar people in Pakistan or China or North Korea or wherever else. I’m an Indian first and a global citizen next. When we cannot improve the situation of such people in even our own country first how can we change it in some other country?

    (If you are interested read this. The article is not very well written or edited, goes a little overboard and conveniently ignores many of the horrors committed by the Soviet Union but it still reflects some of my views about the contemporary neo-con American foreign policy and the possible reasons for it. And here is another article with a pragmatic approach in looking at India’s role on the world stage. Read it here.)

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