The Nuclear Deal and the Desperation

So now we do not even need a President of a country to tell us what to do. We can take instructions as happily from a junior official, be it Burns or Boucher, as they come here cracking the whip and we to the last man in the government stand happily in line, hands raised in servile salute as we shout in orchestrated chorus, “we want the nuclear deal, yes we want the nuclear deal.” We plug our ears, and continue the chant that we hope will take us to fame, individually if not collectively, even as Parliament shouts at the top of its voice that the nuclear deal is against the interests of the country, and the nation is against it.

Now the ministry of external affairs does not announce the travel schedule of its minister Pranab Mukherjee. The announcement first comes from Washington, in this case Burns, who lets us know that our minister will be visiting the US soon. Congress spokespersons give briefings insisting they want the nuclear deal, the AICC is buzzing with talk of a mid term poll and the nuclear deal. The Prime Ministers Office is back in business with its one point agenda —everything else is incidental—for the nuclear deal. So that leads us again to the two questions: why does Prime Minister Manmohan Singh so desperate for the nuclear deal, we know why Bush wants it, but why does he? And two, has the nation now ceased to matter that its voice reflected through Parliament over and over again is not being heard by the government that prefers to become non accountable on an issue of immense strategic import?

The Prime Minister wants the deal for three basic reasons. One, after a life spent in pleasing political masters, first as a bureaucrat, then as a minister, he has finally come into his own. Yes, of course Congress president Sonia Gandhi is the woman behind the throne, but then he is the recognized head of government and that is an opportunity he knows he will not get again. Not even if the Congress returns to power, as there are too many claimants including of course the dynastic heir. He thus, wants to go down in history (even if its US history) as the man who did something big: converted India irreversibly into a strategic ally of the US and changed her course from non alignment to total and complete alignment with the one nation of his unipolar world. Two, his basic constituency of the middle class and the corporates wants the nuclear deal not because it knows what that is, but because it will open new business with the US and that is something the mall-shoppers of India’s consumer society are keen to strengthen. A

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Seema Mustafa

In a journalistic career of about 30 years she has worked with The Asian Age, The Telegraph, The Indian Express and The Pioneer. She has also fought Lok Sabha elections twice from Domariaganj seat in UP.

15 thoughts on “The Nuclear Deal and the Desperation”

  1. It is indeed verey disturbing that the new management of Asian Age has taken such a harsh action against such illustrious journalists as MJ Akbar and Seema Mustafa. Ofcourse it is a pleasure to read Seema’s above quality column in IM.

  2. Totally biased and one sided views expressed by the author. Does getting access to nuclear technology imply servitude by default.
    And what an attempt to correlate American imperialism with Muslims of India. Should India and Indians eye their benefit or keep gloating over how Americans are supposedly repressing Muslims in other parts of the world and hence keep maintaining a distance from US and Israel.
    One more thing. Whats wrong in being a strategic ally of the US? Being surrounded by China and Pakistan, it helps to have the biggest power of the world on your side as long as you don’t compromise upon your national interest. What is so sacrosanct about Non Alignment except for it being old fashioned Nehruvian-Leftist jingoism.
    Tying up with democratic USA is much better than trying to ally with nations like Iran, Pakistan, China or Russia all of which are governed by kings and Shahs and not people. Why doesnt the author tell tale the Russian incompetence in bringing us the Gorshov.
    And the left’s idea of embracing a condescending, hostile, unreliable and hostile China is amusing to say the least.

  3. Seema, Nothing is desperation in diplomatic circles. Even this article has some degree of desperation.

    Anyways Can I ask you regarding this statement:-

    ”The price rise, inflation, farmers unrest, non governance, Israel, West Asia, Iran all rolled into one is a potent mixture for regime change, of course not through shock and awe but peacefully through the ballot”

    How come price rise got mixed with Iran?

    Also, why should we not have the nuclear deal? Any reasons?

  4. On Contrary, I will vote for Congress if they show some Spine and sign the nuclear deal. Without knowing what is wrong in it we can not label it as Anti Indian in any sense. Seema, don’t judge by what people support or do not support the nuclear deal. In the long run this deal will provide electricity which is a high demand in any indian city, vilage or industry. We need to think what’s best for our own home and this deal has a huge potential for India.

  5. India having a nuclear treaty with US to obtain nuclear power technology is not bad per se. But if that involves making India give up its friendly relations with neighouring countries, some of whom are life long very benefecial to India (eg Iran supplying a huge amount of India’s oil/gas needs for its industrialization, giving Indian companies many lucrative contracts, not siding with Muslim Pakistan on Kashmir dispute etc) , then it infringes on India’s national interests. Why should US ask India to be friendly with Saudi Arabia and UAE, but isolate Iran? Why should India not cultivate friendly relations with most countries in its neighourhood?

  6. I was glad to note that Seema Mustafa lost her mushy admiration for Mush after he lost the elections.

  7. Sorry for the consecutive comments.

    This article has a clear sectarian bent, the author considers USA untouchable because of its recent problems with Muslims, she wants India to deal with countries which meet the approval of the Muslim community. She raises the bogey of Muslims marching on the streets against this deal.

    I think she is wrong, I do not think the Indian Muslims share her point of view, I see no evidence of consensus in the Muslim community about this deal.

    I won’t be surprised if Ms. Seema Mustafa’s visceral and somewhat irrational hatred for America is being exploited by the communists.

  8. The Nuclear deal must go thorough on its own merit. It should be ratified or rejected by the parliament based on several considerations which include geo-political ones too.

    I found some comments on this article to be in bad taste. Just because a Muslim happens to write an article, does it automatically become ‘biased and sectarian’?

    Many eminent scientists and strategists of India have voiced opposition to the deal based on the Hyde Act. Alliances do not last forever in this world. Every 20 or 30 years alliances weaken and shift. We must have enough room to manoeuvre our country out of uncomfortable positions in the future.

    USA has consistently shown itself as being capricious and unreliable although a veneer of democracy exists in that country.

    Remember what Bush Sr. had to say on America’s follies

    “I will never apologize for the United States of America . I don’t care what the facts are.” – George Bush, Newsweek, August 15, 1989

  9. Kaleem,

    There are no permanent friends or enemies. Iran lent its fighter jets to Pakistan during its previous wars to India and by that action, should have been directly considered our enemy. We should act according to our national interests, and not emotional considerations. We should not act as enemies of Iran, but nothing in the nuclear deal itself forces us to do that. The Hyde Act may have some objectionable features, but it is a domestic law of the US and India is not bound by that law. Even as per US law, international treaties and agreements take precedence over domestic legislation. The concerns have been raised earlier and the PM has addressed them. I trust Manmohan Singh much more than the empty loudmouths from the left like Bardhan etc.

    The nuclear deal has its drawbacks but its biggest benefit is that it will allow India to come out of the straitjacket that two decades of sanctions have imposed. Forget about future energy needs, the currently operating nuclear power stations will start having to cut back on output unless the deal goes through. There isn’t enough Uranium to fuel even these reactors. Also, it will allow the nuclear industry to bloom in India. We don’t need technology from the US – in fact I doubt that there will be much purchase of US nuclear reactors. They have not built any reactors in the US since the 1970s and they are not the lowest cost suppliers today. The French and Japanese and Koreans have much greater recent experience. And the Russians have the lowest cost. But the nuclear deal allows us to be normal players in the nuclear trade around the world.

    The communists have never hesitated to act against India’s core interests, if it suits their ideological and electoral purposes. They have even not hesitated to aid the enemy even at the time of war (the 1962 war with China, for instance). They are also anti-development – they get their votes from the poor and want to sustain it by keeping everybody poor.

    Thus, while there were legitimate concerns about the treaty from the scientists, they met the PM and are convinced that it serves India’s interests on balance. People like M.R. Srinivasan, Homi Sethna (former Chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission) and several other eminent non-political scientists are convinced about the deal, even though they were not earlier. The only opponents as of now are the Communists. And their intentions are not kosher.

  10. Just because a Muslim happens to write an article, does it automatically become ‘biased and sectarian’

    Muslim too can write biased articles, unfortunately.

    Anyway, this article is thin on the details, it seems that the author has made up her mind and she really does not care about the trifling details. Hence the references to totally extraneous issues: farmers unrest, Israel, minorities, anti imperialism etc.

    Arun Shourie, Brahma Chellany etc. have written better articles pointing out problems with the deal. One can at least disagree with those articles. All we have here is rant.

  11. I don’t under stand why she view nuclear deal based on her own community’s angle. Well if she written this article with a heading the “Muslims view on nuclear deal” then it has some merit on it.
    But I consider this article totally biased. How do you link Israel with price rise? Even a few percentages of people not worried about problems related to Israel. Yes, what is happening in West Asia is an issue for the govt but not for common man. People are more worried about problems affecting them here in India.

  12. The search for Truth seems to seek many directions
    Communists : They hate instructions coming from the US. They want instructions from Beijing after the USSR stopped giving them. Fortunately no one apart from they cares about those instructions.
    Islamists : They want instructions coming from the middle east. Fortunately most of their fellow muslims in India don’t care.
    Hindutva-vadis : Don’t really have much clue. Their erstwhile “leader” now focuses more on Biharis and UP-ites. They need a new “messenger”.
    Naxalities : Any one above the poverty line is an enemy.
    Congress : The surviving Gandhis have neither the wisdom nor the energy to provide much direction.
    BJP: Cannot decide how to interpret Lord Ram’s instructions. His message of justness and righteousness do not align with much of their street antics. So they talk of the the “Setu”.

    Fortunately India is a democracy where none of these “freaks” matter. The law of averages has its own “common minimum programme” – the search for a better life. While these “people” fight on bizarre non-issues, we will continue to march on.

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