An Essay by a School Student... found it interesting
In the last few months there was a lot of sound and fury on India’s civilian nuclear deal with the US. The debate was so intense that our union government was brought on the brink of collapse. Opposition to the deal from the left parties reduced the government to a minority and the government survived only because it found a new ally in the Samajwadi party. But in all these debates, however, did not throw much light on the details of the deal and the issues involved.
To me, a student of class eleven, I have my own reservations on the way the debate went on within and outside Parliament. I also have my own reservations against the deal.
“Power requirement” is the main reason that people are giving in support of the nuclear deal. In Chennai we have 90 minutes of power-cut everyday; in many parts of Karnataka the power shutdown is for 7 hours; and in rural India many places go without night life because there is no electricity there. It is argued that the Indo-US deal and the setting up of several nuclear power stations thereafter will solve all these issues. But we must know one fact that nuclear energy will contribute less than 10% of India’s electricity and even that can be achieved only in 2020. And hence, the argument that the nuclear deal will bring an end to the power shortage that we now face is without basis.
Friendly relationship with the US?
The uni-polar world that we now live in is different from the Cold War days (when the world was bi-polar), when India had the Soviet Union to protect its strategic interest. As for example, recall the sequence of events in December 1971. During the Indo-Pak war, for the liberation of Bangladesh, the US was prepared to help Pakistan by moving their Seventh Fleet, then stationed at Diego Garcia an island in the Indian Ocean, towards the Indian shores. It was the Soviet Union who helped us by making counter moves. India then had a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union.
But then the world today has changed. The Soviet Union does not exist and the US is the only power according to those who support the deal. But then we must realize that China is emerging as a power not only in the military sense but also in the economic sense. And it is likely that the next cold war, if it happens, could be between the US and China. We must remember that in 1962, China not only attacked us but also captured large part of our land in the North East. It makes better sense to be friendly with China, our own neighbour, rather than having US as a friend afar.
India joining the Big League?
Some argue that the nuclear deal will bring an end to “nuclear apartheid” which will enable the Indian atomic energy industry to do for the Indian economy what Indian information technology has done for the country’s export. In fact Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this much in his speech in Parliament. But, we will simply end up importing the machinery and the enriched fuel rather than going for a sustainable model in the power sector and hence remain dependant on the US for ever.
Is Nuclear Energy Green and Safe?
I would like to start with recalling what happened in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. The accident at the nuclear power plant killed many, maimed many and its adverse impact on the future generation is still unknown.
Another aspect is about the disposal of nuclear waste which no one knows and has thought about until now. The truth is that we do not have technology, today, to dispose the waste. As one research study source by M.V Ramana and Surendra Gadekar says“ in the case of India’s smallest full-scale reprocessing facility at Trombay (Maharashtra), decontamination generated about 300 tones of solid waste: about 60,000 litres of medium-level liquid wastes; and about 13 million litres of low level liquid effluents. This waste can any day lead to radiation which will be harmful for humanity. For these reasons, we can never call nuclear energy green and safe.
With all these, do we have to celebrate the nuclear deal? We, the generation next have the right to ask this question because future belongs to us. Yes, we must agree that our power requirement is a concern. But we have other ways; to harness wind, hydel and solar. And more important than this is to conserve energy! One 88888 movement is not enough. We need more! Recall what Mahatma Gandhi had to say: “mother earth has plenty for our needs but not for our greed”.
Prisoners of Nuclear Dream by M.V.Ramana and C. Ram Manohar Reddy (edited)
Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia by Stephen Philip Cohen (edited)
“Onward to lose of Autonomy”, Editorial, Economic and Political Weekly, July 26, 2008
I would fail in my duty if I would not mention my parents with whom I had long discussions about the issue.