123 Trilogy: Part 3

My recent two posts on the Indo-US Nuclear deal have been revised and expand­ed on The Great Indi­an Mutiny, as part of a Tril­o­gy. It would be a good idea to read the first two parts before this one. Please see: 123 Tril­o­gy: Part 1, and 123 Tril­o­gy: Part 2.

We have exam­ined the Indo-US deal in the polit­i­cal con­text in Part 1. We then stud­ied it in a social con­text in Part 2. In this con­clud­ing Part 3, let us eval­u­ate pos­si­ble out­comes of the present imbroglio, by doing a SWOT analy­sis. The bound­aries of this SWOT analy­sis are con­strained by the Indi­an polit­i­cal scene — we will not con­sid­er events with­in the US, or IAEA/NSG, or exam­ine oth­er non-polit­i­cal aspects of the agree­ment.

Strengths

What rea­soned argu­ments can be used to silence the oppo­si­tion?

Oppo­si­tion 1: The deal will not fur­ther Left’s strate­gic inter­ests (includ­ing clos­er coop­er­a­tion with com­mu­nist coun­tries), but instead will advance clos­er coop­er­a­tion with the US and sur­ren­der our sov­er­eign­ty to the impe­ri­al­ist US. Fur­ther, this will be deemed to have hap­pened with­out the Left being tak­en into con­fi­dence or it being giv­en a chance to make their con­cerns mat­ter.

Response: Not entire­ly true. In fact, the oppo­site may become true. India may end up doing the most busi­ness with Rus­sia, pos­si­bly some with the French, and none with the US. Why? Because no US sup­pli­er will sell any­thing to India until we pass a Lia­bil­i­ty Pro­tec­tion Law. Since the Left’s sup­port will be required to pass any law in the present Gov­ern­ment, it can vir­tu­al­ly stop any busi­ness and coop­er­a­tion with the US by vot­ing against it. Such a law would not mat­ter for Rus­sia, because Russ­ian com­pa­nies are backed by gov­ern­ment guar­an­tees and are immune to lia­bil­i­ty law­suits.manmo-sonia-newsss

Oppo­si­tion 2: The Hyde Act has var­i­ous restric­tive claus­es against India and under­mines India’s sov­er­eign­ty.

Response: We can­not do any­thing about the laws passed by anoth­er coun­try, and we are not bound by those laws. What we can do some­thing about and what we are bound by is the agree­ment or treaty that we enter into. India has signed the 123 agree­ment, not the Hyde Act. In cas­es of con­flict, there are dis­putes over whether the 1954 US Atom­ic Ener­gy Act and the Hyde Act will super­sede the 123 Agree­ment or the oth­er way around. There is no unan­i­mous clear answer.

How­ev­er, what real­ly mat­ters is that the US law does not mat­ter much. In most cas­es, it is the diplo­mat­ic rela­tion­ship that mat­ters. The US is known to have bypassed and vio­lat­ed its own laws when required.

Oppo­si­tion 3: All inter­na­tion­al treaties and agree­ments should be approved by Par­lia­ment before being signed by the Indi­an gov­ern­ment.

Response: Good and valid point. We can take up this issue in Par­lia­ment and debate it. The cur­rent 123 agree­ment how­ev­er, is the log­i­cal out­come of a strate­gic ini­tia­tive by the pre­vi­ous oppo­si­tion gov­ern­ment (which was also pre­pared to sign the CTBT). It is there­fore not a par­ti­san agree­ment, but in har­mo­ny with the nation’s strate­gic inter­ests as believed by the oppo­si­tion as well.

Oppo­si­tion 4: Nuclear ener­gy is more expen­sive than oth­er sources of ener­gy like ther­mal, hydro, etc. Fur­ther, it will not meet a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of our ener­gy require­ments.

Response: Yes, but this is a nar­row and myopic view. We need to explore all sources of ener­gy, peri­od.

Oppo­si­tion 5: The 123 agree­ment does not allow India to con­duct nuclear tests. If we con­duct a nuclear test, our fuel sup­plies will be dis­con­tin­ued.

Response: The 123 agree­ment does not say any­thing about nuclear test­ing by India. If India feels nuclear test­ing is nec­es­sary, it retains its sov­er­eign right to do so. But you can­not have your cake and eat it too. The sce­nario will not be dif­fer­ent than it was before the 123 agree­ment. Rather, even if our sup­plies are cut­off by the US in the event of a nuclear test, the US has com­mit­ted itself to help find oth­er nations to restore our sup­ply!

Oppo­si­tion 6: The cur­rent Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent may be sat­is­fied by the report­ing require­ments and con­tin­ue to uphold the 123 agree­ment. What is the guar­an­tee that future Amer­i­can Pres­i­dents will do the same?

Response: There is no, and can be no guar­an­tee. If the US were to call off the deal for what­ev­er rea­sons, the worst case sce­nario is that we would be back into nuclear apartheid — as is the state today. (There are sev­er­al oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties bet­ter than the worst case, even if the US were to back off in the future).

Also, con­verse­ly, if India at any point in the future, deems the 123 agree­ment as detri­men­tal to its inter­ests, we can ter­mi­nate the deal with a 1-year notice. It is not bind­ing upon sub­se­quent Indi­an gov­ern­ments either.

Weaknesses

There is not much pub­lic aware­ness in India about the Indo-US nuclear deal. In the event of ear­ly elec­tions, the nuclear deal is not like­ly to be a poll issue at all. This leaves the pas­sage of the nuclear deal vul­ner­a­ble to exter­nal fac­tors that can influ­ence elec­tions, like ter­ror­ist strikes, orga­nized protests against retail chains, and so on.

The Left is not open to rea­soned debate because of ide­o­log­i­cal com­pul­sions. The strengths list­ed above are prob­a­bly, most­ly impo­tent. Also, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of the Left com­pro­mis­ing its stand appear remote.

Opportunities

This is one oppor­tu­ni­ty for India to get rid of the Left. Two sep­a­rate opin­ion polls have showed them get­ting much low­er num­ber of seats if fresh elec­tions were held. This is not an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the deal per se, but cer­tain­ly opens up lots of oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties!

Threats

The obvi­ous threat is that the gov­ern­ment will buy time and freeze any progress on the deal. This will lead to a dead­lock and the Left would have achieved their sta­tist ambi­tions. There will be an inor­di­nate delay on any progress towards oper­a­tional­iz­ing the deal and India will have suc­cumbed to the arm-twist­ing tac­tics of the Left.

leftcongress The oth­er thr
eat is that the Left can with­draw sup­port and bring down the UPA gov­ern­ment. If that hap­pens, there will be no progress on the agree­ment. Even though two inde­pen­dent polls sug­gest that the Left will lose sig­nif­i­cant­ly if elec­tions were held, they’re quite capa­ble of com­mit­ting sui­cide with their myopic ide­o­log­i­cal glass­es blur­ring all clar­i­ty. Anoth­er threat is that the Con­gress, sens­ing that it can get a much larg­er num­ber of seats in a fresh elec­tion, will itself dis­solve the Lok Sab­ha.

Summary

At this time of writ­ing, the above SWOT analy­sis shows that, under the present polit­i­cal cir­cum­stances, it is dif­fi­cult for the Indi­an gov­ern­ment to oper­a­tional­ize the 123 agree­ment. Our politi­cians are infa­mous­ly irra­tional, and we can nev­er tell what will hap­pen. But it will be a mat­ter of nation­al shame for all of us, if India as a nation doesn’t live up to its promis­es. We are going to sim­ply talk the talk and let oth­ers walk all over us.

Pho­to Cred­it: Zee News, NDTV

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  • Aybuk: thanks for vis­it­ing! I was unable to com­ment on your post in detail on your blog, as it says that com­ments are dis­abled by a blog admin­is­tra­tor.

    There are many things you say that I agree with, but also sev­er­al that I dis­agree with. Your idea is a noble one. It may be termed as a ‘real-time democ­ra­cy’. But I think we’re tech­no­log­i­cal­ly as well as social­ly far behind before we can real­is­ti­cal­ly think of it. Today, to get a sin­gle vote from each cit­i­zen in the nation­wide Lok Sab­ha polls is such a mam­moth exer­cise fraught with so many chal­lenges, that to even con­sid­er par­tic­i­pa­to­ry gov­ern­ment where cit­i­zens vote for each leg­isla­tive bill is, IMHO, naive and too far-fetched.

    I am also not sure if this kind of egal­i­tar­i­an­ism can work for a coun­try where a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion is illit­er­ate, below the pover­ty line, and has no aware­ness or edu­ca­tion about what most of the leg­isla­tive bills mean.

  • Aybuk: thanks for vis­it­ing! I was unable to com­ment on your post in detail on your blog, as it says that com­ments are dis­abled by a blog admin­is­tra­tor.

    There are many things you say that I agree with, but also sev­er­al that I dis­agree with. Your idea is a noble one. It may be termed as a ‘real-time democ­ra­cy’. But I think we’re tech­no­log­i­cal­ly as well as social­ly far behind before we can real­is­ti­cal­ly think of it. Today, to get a sin­gle vote from each cit­i­zen in the nation­wide Lok Sab­ha polls is such a mam­moth exer­cise fraught with so many chal­lenges, that to even con­sid­er par­tic­i­pa­to­ry gov­ern­ment where cit­i­zens vote for each leg­isla­tive bill is, IMHO, naive and too far-fetched.

    I am also not sure if this kind of egal­i­tar­i­an­ism can work for a coun­try where a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion is illit­er­ate, below the pover­ty line, and has no aware­ness or edu­ca­tion about what most of the leg­isla­tive bills mean.

  • Being 10000 miles away, and 20 years removed, I can­not relate to all this that much, but isnt it more a “ide­o­log­i­cal stance” — i.e. any align­ment with US is bad, bad and bad? So any amount of log­i­cal expla­na­tions would fall on deaf ears? Is the main oppo­si­tion only from the Left or are there oth­ers with dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives?

  • I am not say­ing it will be easy. But does wait­ing for the peo­ple to improve may nev­er work. All of us wants India to have wide road­ways and clear lakes as in US or some oth­er for­eign coun­try. But the truth is that we would always be stuck with nar­row roads and traf­fic blocks. The prob­lem is that we don’t have as much land area per per­son to splurge. In the same way, there are cer­tain things Indi­an, that will always remain. There will be pover­ty and there will always be drunk­ards. We may reduce the amount of bribe, but still it will be there. Hon­est politi­cians will be a dream. We have around 100 mil­lion mobile phone users, and if at least half of them are able to voice their opin­ion then that would be a start. I men­tioned par­tic­i­pa­to­ry gov­ern­ment, but that is a dream, I was talk­ing about peo­ple voic­ing their opin­ion through the lat­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems avail­able so that the elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives know what peo­ple want and then vote based on that.
    Wait­ing for politi­cians to take the nation for­ward, while I do my job and sit back, is not some­thing I am will­ing to do. I believe each and every per­son are respon­si­ble for the future of the nation. Instead of just elect­ing a per­son and ask­ing him to do the best he can, isn’t it bet­ter if we keep telling him if he is going to make a mis­take?

    Btw, the com­ment sys­tem is work­ing. I mod­er­ate the com­ment due to spam.

  • Very true about the lia­bil­i­ty pro­tec­tion law. In fact I was plan­ning to write a post on that, but this post explains more about the whole sce­nario. Even the govt has clar­i­fied that the after the oper­a­tional­i­sa­tion of this deal, the first del­e­ga­tion will go to Rus­sia and then to oth­er coun­tries. We will make new friends and retain old ones as well. As far as los­ing our sover­ieg­ni­ty is con­cerned, its not true. We have the right to con­duct nuke tests if deemed nec­es­sary and they have the right to with­draw sup­ply. Makes sense. By the way the Left has already lost its sover­ieg­ni­ty to Chi­na, what is it com­plain­ing about now?

  • Arun: Yes and yes to your first two ques­tions — as I’ve already stat­ed in my post. And yes, the main oppo­si­tion is from the Left because they’re part of the gov­ern­ment and can bring it down. The BJP is cur­rent­ly flip-flop­ping, but in my opin­ion they will not oppose oper­a­tional­iz­ing the agree­ment because large chunks of their con­stituen­cies sup­port a clos­er part­ner­ship with the US.

    Aybuk: politi­cians already are aware of SMS polls, media opin­ion (print and tv), and the voice of the pub­lic. Telling them (by what­ev­er means) what each per­son thinks is not going to make a dif­fer­ence to them! I admire your enthu­si­asm but you need to look at ground real­i­ty.

    Oemar: //Left has already lost its sover­ieg­ni­ty to Chi­na, what is it com­plain­ing about now?// Ha ha ha!!! 🙂
    I wish I could’ve come up with that line for my post!

    Pow­erkis: As I com­ment­ed on your blog, I’m deeply hon­ored and am grate­ful. Thanks!

  • //In cas­es of con­flict, there are dis­putes over whether the 1954 US Atom­ic Ener­gy Act and the Hyde Act will super­sede the 123 Agree­ment or the oth­er way around. There is no unan­i­mous clear answer.//

    I’m not an author­i­ty on the law, so I might be wrong about this, Mahen­dra, but my strong rec­ol­lec­tion is that in the U.S., the Supreme Court typ­i­cal­ly rules that treaties super­sede domes­tic laws.

  • Paul: that is what many ‘experts’ are say­ing here too, but there’s no real con­sen­sus on the mat­ter. Thanks for the insight that it is actu­al­ly the US Supreme Court that decides this. One of our edu­cat­ed and appar­ent­ly knowl­edge­able Con­gress politi­cian is say­ing the same thing, and it is his arti­cle that I’ve linked to. Thanks again for your opin­ion!