Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Go on, save the deal June 1, 2008

Lal Krishan Advani is a lucky man. Fortune has given him the chance of a lifetime. He can save the historic Indo-US nuclear accord and grow in stature from a politician to a statesman. Less than four weeks remain, after which the treaty will die. The Left has no room for manoeuvre, but the BJP does. If Advani seizes the day and persuades his BJP colleagues, he will go into history as the “white knight” that saved India’s energy and security future. He would also take a giant step to fill the large shoes of his predecessor, and become more worthy in the eyes of NDA’s coalition partners.

A hundred years from now history books will recount that when oil was ruling at $135 a barrel, India’s leaders were complacent. They argued that since 65% of India’s power needs are met by coal and only 3% by nuclear energy, why does India need a nuclear treaty? Oil did run out in the 21st century, but the nuclear deal rescued India. Initially, it freed the country from 35 years of nuclear apartheid, allowing it to import uranium, which helped to lift the performance of its 17 reactors from 50% to 95%. After the treaty, India’s energy needs were increasingly powered by nuclear energy while other countries scrambled for the last few barrels of oil.

History will describe how China rose in the second quarter of 21st century to dominate the world. Some Asian nations became its satellites, including its closest ally, Pakistan, to which it supplied vast quantities of arms. India was able to hold its own thanks to the treaty, which paved the way for closer ties with the Western democracies. The West stood by India during its times of trouble and eventually India went on to balance power in Asia and the world.

History will narrate that the nuclear treaty never compromised India’s right to Pokharan III. China and France did nuclear tests in 2020, which ended the CTBT regime. India was by then the world’s third largest economy, and it followed up with its own test. The Democrats in America, instead of throwing the CTBT at India, were relieved to see India balance Chinese power in Asia.

History will report that during the 2009 election campaign Advani confidently took credit for having saved India’s future from a traitorous Left and an indifferent Congress. During his campaign, Advani claimed that in saving the accord he had merely completed a process that Vajpayee had begun with Pokharan II; Jaswant Singh had followed up in his dialogues with Strobe Talbott and Brajesh Mishra with Condoleeza Rice. Manmohan Singh had crowned this effort, he said, showing great wisdom in signing the accord with Bush. He claimed that BJP’s pressure forced crucial changes in the final treaty in India’s favour. Advani told voters that when the UPA let its own Prime Minister down, BJP had to rescue the nation’s honour and energy future.

This history will also have a coda. When he was trying to persuade his BJP colleagues in June 2008, Advani quoted from Arrian’s account of Alexander the Great. As the Greeks were crossing the Jhelum in narrow boats on a stormy, monsoon night in 326 BC, just before their famous battle with Raja Puru, Alexander told his generals, “Don’t be afraid my friends, your grandchildren will sing your praises and remember your glory.” Hearing this, the BJP leadership broke into applause. They had finally found a statesman to lead them to victory at the next elections. Rescuing the nuclear treaty became the turning point in the career of Lal Krishna Advani.


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apkarthick said...

It a piece of work to be shown to L.K. Advani to motivate him to take a broader and statesman point of view about the nuclear deal. But unfortunately i think he is in tough position to do a 'U' turn on the deal. Manmohan singh who has erred by misplacing his trust in the Left, seems to have left out the BJP to the stands. That shortsightedness has resulted in complications. Had congress realized the importance of BJP position on a national security topic such as Nuclear Deal and opened a back channel communication, this unique opportunity could have been seized together by both BJP and Congress. Unfortunately the Greediness of the Congress to keep BJP out of the deal and take sole credit landed the deal in trouble. This puts BJP in a precarious situation in supporting the nuclear deal and they will keep out of it.

The most disappointing aspect is that a deal of strategic importance is being pushed through the parliament by the congress using devious means of unholy tie-ups with smaller constituents which have no say or understanding of the national strategic requirements. This seriously impeded the arguments in favor of the deal. Now the deal more or less looks like a headache to a common man who has to sweat out more due to inflation.

squarecut.atul said...

There is one thing that I am not able to understand, and no one mentions it.As it is, we are talking of nuclear energy being our saviour.Nuclear energy may help us generating more electricity. But how will nuclear energy enable us to run our road vehicles ?

Rishi Aggarwaal said...

Dear Mr. Das, While I have been supportive of signing the nuclear agreement in the sense that I have been completely fed up with the mindless arguements put forth by the Left and the way in which they completely subsumed other developmental topics to just this one, I am also not so particularly convinced of the nuclear option.

We will somewhere have to look at the whole economic growth theory from the Limits of Growth perspective. If we were to try to get every body the same lifestyle as enjoyed by the top 100 million and look into energy needs and especially nuclear energy then from that perspective you will also have to give soem answers to the rising mountain of nuclear waste we are going to see.

As I see you are into the mainstream economic machinery which will only talk of how people can be made to consume more and more, without coming from the ethical, philosophical or spiritual perspective from which most people prounding sustainable development come from.

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