Phew! Finally…

Last week saw an Indian govt. finally taking a risk in the national interest, instead of ’self’ interest.
There was no need for this govt. to take the risk of facing a trust vote (most people who accuse it of having bought votes miss this point). If PM’s sole aim was to survive another 6 months, then MM singh could’ve done it with the help of lefties. However, he chose otherwise. Yes, it is sad that there probably was some political and economic trade, but that’s the nature of politics in India. To do something in national interest, perhaps you need to buy votes.

Two things have brought things to such a pass.

1. Anti-defection Law : I believe this is a patently un-democratic law. It is true that there was huge amount of defection before this law was brought in, and there was no saying when the govts could fall. But, this cure was worse than the illness. Instead of figuring how to make a more solid changes in democratic build-up of our institutions, they weakened it by giving monopoly decision making powers to the Party chiefs. If a whip is issued, MLAs or MPs don’t have a choice but to follow. If so, then why have them at all? You might as well have a electoral votes like in US presidential system and which ever party had whatever percentage votes, gets to exercise its share in decision making process!! Certainly our system wasn’t built to be this way.

Imagine a situation: A party from UP, gets 55 of the 80 seats in UP and another 50 from rest of the country and is supported by Leftists and a party that won some 40 seats in bihar. They gain the support of couple of other regional parties (A typical third front), and form a govt. And this UP party takes a decision to divert 60-70% of budgetary allocation to these 3-4 states, and the rest is split between other states. It issues a whip to its party members (a majority of whom are from UP), though almost half from other states! Even though they believe this is wrong, they can’t vote against it!!!

I believe if Nuclear agreement was put to vote and no whips were issued, then the parliament would’ve voted for it. But, it never had a chance once politics of it all entered the scene.
2. Poor understanding of Energy equation: The arguments I kept hearing against Nuclear agreement was that it won’t even give us 10% of our energy needs in next 20 years. I feel this to be a misreading of how we need to approach the energy and other environmental equations.

We do not pursue Nuclear Energy for eliminating our energy problems magically! We need to pursue it because it is part of a matrix of solutions to the future energy needs of mankind, and we can’t be left behind. Besides, Nuclear energy is a reality as versus other alternatives like Wind, Solar, which perhaps will take 30-50 years to mature. Before which we have other problems to address.

For example : Fresh water. India is surrounded by sea, and receives copious rains, but more than 3/4th of the rain water goes back to sea as there aren’t good storage mechanisms. The remaining 1/4th water is fulfilling our current needs inadequately. The challenges in storing the rain waters are manifold. Big dams aren’t environmentally friendly, neither are they feasible in the face of agitation by losers of land. Rain water harvesting is feasible only to a certain extent. In coming decades, Sea water desalination will become the in-thing. And to do this, we need to use non-fossil fuels, to be economically friendly. Here is a blog that shows how BARC is using waste heat in Nuclear plants to do desalination of water, and producing enough water for 45,000 people at Kalpakam. This fresh water is a byproduct!!!

There is also a need for India to be at the forefront of any energy technology of the future. And nuclear energy can’t be left behind. So, the argument for/against nuclear agreement never made sense. The chances of we needing nuclear energy far outweighs the chances of we needing to bomb a country! In case we only focus on our needs to have capability to bomb another country out of existence, I think we will only have a capability that we will never be able to use, as using it will mean utter destruction of everything we’d build till that point!
So, wanting to be a Nuclear weapon state as per NPT definition (and no less) may feed our pride, not our needs.
As we say in Kannada “Hottege Hittilladiddaru, juttige Mallige” – loosely translates to “Even if one doesn’t have food for the stomach, he wishes to dress up well and decorate himself with flowers”.