Geopolitical notes from India
M D Nalapat
Friday, March 02, 2012 – On November 6,2011,Delhi’s “Sunday Guardian” had carried a column about the way work on the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu was being sabotaged by clusters of foreigners acting through their Indian dupes. Huge amounts of cash were getting funneled into the locations where the manufactured protests were taking place, all with the intention of seeing that Russia was not given a contract for the setting up of two more reactors at the site. Both French as well as US commercial interests were united in wanting to keep Russia away from the lucrative Indian market for nuclear reactors. They were apprehensive that if a further $9 billion were committed towards purchase of two new reactors at Kudankulam (Stage III and Stage IV), there would be no money left to buy (more expensive) French or US equipment. Besides, both countries were holding back on expanding nuclear cooperation with India, intending to use the developing country’s need for nuclear energy as a lever to force it to abandon its indigenous nuclear program. In particular, the Obama administration has been relentless in its view that advanced nuclear technology belongs only to “civilised” countries, and that India ought to desist from seeking self-sufficiency in the same. As for Nicholas Sarkozy, he has adopted the policy of Tony Blair, abandoning the independent foreign policy of Charles De Gaulle and Jacques Chirac in favour of being a poodle of the US administration. These days, Paris follows the cues tossed to it by Washington, including in the matter of nuclear commerce with India.
The French behind the Kudankulam agitation had harnessed other European interests determined to keep India in a low-energy trap in their plan of sabotaging the commissioning of the completed Kudankulam reactor. Now that China had become such a headache to the European Union by competing with the alliance across a range of manufactures, the intention was to hobble India, so that the other billion-people country in Asia did not emerge as a serious challenger to the EU, especially in the matter of services. Contacts in institutions such as the Reserve Bank, the Home Ministry and the Finance Ministry were used to plant the seeds of policies designed to slow down economic growth. The RBI began a suicidal policy of rate increases in 2006,exactly when Indian corporates were scaring their European competitors by buying up huge entities such as Corus Steel, Arcelor and Land Rover. The Home Ministry began raising objections to capital flow from East Asia and West Asia, thereby blocking those in either location who wanted to shift their investments away from Europe into India. Because of the Home Ministry policies, funds that ought to have come to India either stayed within Europe or left for China. Brazil and other markets. The Finance Ministry put out a welcome mat for exactly the same US and EU financial conglomerates that were responsible for the theft of $4 trillion of investor funds during 2007-09. It helped that several of these entities made sure to employ the relatives of key policymakers in India, giving them huge salaries for little work besides whispering in the ears of their policymaker relatives ways in which policies could get tweaked to favour the financial depredators and speculators who have collectively ruined the international economy.
Even a brief visit to Kudankulam three months ago – or six months after the agitation began that shut down the plant and caused losses of more than $2 million a day in lost power and interest cost – would have been enough to reveal the numerous foreigners who were wandering amongst the agitators, encouraging them with money and advice. However, the Intelligence Bureau was asleep, not because its field operatives were unaware of the situation, but because several of the NGOs involved are reported to have contacts with the higher levels of the Congress Party. It is a known fact that Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son and political heir Rahul have dealt with those involved in several NGOs, including many from abroad, in the process giving them access to agencies of the central government, which of course the Sonia branch of the Nehru family controls. Such privileged access by certain NGOs has led to their being very influential in policy, especially with ministers eager to be close to Rahul Gandhi. Another fact is the way in which these foreign vested interests have persuaded elements of the Christian church to support them. France and Germany being countries with strong Catholic traditions, and the Northern European countries having powerful Protestant links (especially in Denmark), it was easy for nationals of these countries to persuade innocent church groups in the vicinity of the Kudankulam nuclear project to join them in blocking off access to the plant.
However, so powerful were the NGOs involved that nothing was done against them till last week, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh publicly pointed to them as being responsible for the stoppage of India’s largest nuclear power project. By his open admission, the PM has shown great courage, for he must be well aware of the links between the NGOs and the higher levels of his own Congress Party, links that are ensuring that other ministers – such as Home Minister P Chidambaram, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Environment Minister J Natarajan keep silent on the issue, although the first and third are from Tamil Nadu, the state where Kudankulam is located. The powerful linkages of the NGOs will ensure that the guilty escape, as the Home Ministry will not have the courage to prosecute foreigners close to influential politicians. These days,the Home Ministry functions more as an instrument for the protection of the ruling party and its top leadership than it does in its legal role of defender of law and order and national security, so much has it been compromised by politics The NGOs involved in the Kudankulam agitation are joined by others active across India in shutting down projects. A country that has one of the largest deposits of coal in the world is forced to import huge amounts each year, because agitators have blocked output at coalsites. Of course, conveniently for them, coal is a nationalized resource in India, which makes it easy for NGOs with political backing to force the shutdown of state-owned collieries. A similar situation prevails with regard to uranium. Mining has slowed to a trickle because of (well-funded) agitations that have blocked access to uranium mines. The Manmohan Singh government is as helpless to prevent this as it is to stop a handful of NGOs from blocking the flow of power to Tamil Nadu, a state with a growing energy deficit. Apart from a few token actions, the government has done nothing to restart work at Kudankulam or any of the other sites where internationally-inspired protests have led to stoppages. Even in the case of Kudankulam, the NGOs concerned are so influential that media coverage has been overwhelmingly hostile to the government and friendly to the protestors. Television channels in particular have been very critical of the PM, where they ought to congratulate Manmohan Singh on speaking the truth after so long
The use of NGOs to create problems in developing countries is not unique to India. In Egypt, authorities there are under strong pressure from the US and the EU to let go certain NGOs who have been fomenting trouble in that country. Since 9/11 provided a convenient excuse for entering into military and intelligence operations across the globe ( 99% of which have nothing to do with Al Qaeda), NATO has in effect enforced a policy of Zero Accountability for itself. Citizens of NATO countries regard themselves as immune to local laws, as can be seen by the efforts of the Italian authorities to free two NATO navy personnel who are reported to have shot dead two Indian fishermen a couple of weeks ago. Whether in Afghanistan or in Libya or in Iraq, the tens of thousands killed by NATO military action go unmourned, and the military personnel responsible remain unpunished. The UN Human Rights chief, Navy Pillai, has been perfectly house-trained by NATO. She obligingly ignores the many deaths caused by NATO and concentrates only on targets suggested to her by the alliance. Indeed, the entire UN “human rights” and “international crimes” setup has been perfectly house-trained by NATO, ignoring the numerous human rights violations by the alliance, thereby reducing it to a farce.
Every human being is the equal of any other. This is the command of Almighty. Hence an international system that gives immunity to a particular set of people to do what they like against others (of course, for the noblest stated motives) is wrong. India has a right to high technology, and those countries that seek to sabotage this quest are wrong. Those entities that stop projects fro going forward that can reduce the abject poverty of hundreds of millions in the country are wrong. Unfortunately, those that seek to ensure that India will never replicate the Chinese example of being an economic challenger to the NATO powers are so powerful that Kudankulam and dozens of other big projects continue to be stalled, despite the Prime Minister’s warning to the nation about the vested interests behind such sabotage.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.