No clear deal   (27 Jun 2008)

Time is running out fast on the possible Indo-US nuclear agreement and the moment to act decisively in favour of the deal is now. At the same time, we stand on verge of losing a rare opportunity to ensure energy security for our country, as the deal is held hostage by a lethal pack of narrow-focused political interests, misgivings about the deal’s repercussions and non-maintainable ideological viewpoints.

Critics of the deal need to realize that the world has changed much since the deal was first announced. International crude oil prices have ridden a strong upwards spiral and are at an all time high. Oil is a diminishing resource anyway and the world is already preparing for it to breach the $200 price level. Inflation is touching record levels and little can be done to check the price rise for most goods, if the cost of energy to the industrial units manufacturing those goods is constantly rising. Nuclear energy could easily become a cheaper and abundant alternative for India’s industrial plants and thereby help curb inflation. Now more than ever, the Indo-US nuclear deal is vital not just to secure our energy security, but also to assure our economic growth.

Fortunately, even the staunch opponents of the deal seem to realize deep within that India’s best national interests will be served by signing this deal. In some ways, the very fact that a deal involving India and the US stands to benefit India more is proving indigestible for some. However, we need to look at the deal as independent of our relations with the US, since it is nobody’s case that signing or otherwise of the deal will improve or spoil our relations with the US. Once this issue is resolved, it becomes doubly imperative to not let our domestic politics come in the way of India’s economic progress.

Rajeev Shukla