Holdover Foreign Policy

Earlier in the year, the Pakistani columnist Ayaz Amir voiced the futility, apropos prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to get imaginative policies out of the advisers around him, of churning butter from water. A similar problem may be affecting prime minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy. Certainly, there is new direction to policy, such as in pacifying neighbours (Pakistan, Sri Lanka) and, importantly, in departing from the calcified thinking of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) that divorces diplomacy from military power. An example of the latter is the move to establish a forward Indian presence in the surrounding ocean, to begin with in the Agaléga Islands of Mauritius and in Seychelles, something long advocated by this analyst.

These innovations happened because Modi has relied mainly on his instincts. The PM’s setting himself up as the fount of all policy ideas explains the wariness of his cowed cabinet colleagues who refuse to take initiative for fear of falling afoul of his views. The PM thus saddled with too many policy areas to manage is unable to do justice to any of them, whence the many missteps by the BJP government.But such a system depends principally on the quality of the PM’s advisers and, even more, on the quality of advice rendered. So far there’s no evidence of any “brain trust” of realpolitik-minded outside specialists in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) ideologically in sync with the BJP. Indeed, there isn’t even a hint of existing structures being utilised in a meaningful way with many statutory bodies, such as the National Security Advisory Board manned by Manmohan Singh’s nominees, for instance, remaining un-reconstituted and high-flying economic advisers appointed with much fanfare feeling ignored.

The trouble is this is not a self-sustaining system of policymaking. The last time such a system prevailed was in Jawaharlal Nehru’s halcyon decade of the Fifties when the MEA acted on the premise, candidly recalled by former foreign secretary Jagat Mehta, that “Panditji knows best”. That episode ended in the Chinese Premier Zhouenlai politically eclipsing Nehru at the First Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung in 1955 and, seven years later, in China militarily humiliating India.

The era of one-man bands in the policy arena is long since gone. Except the prime ministers who succeeded Nehru went the other way, leaving any issue even remotely pertaining to foreign countries for the MEA to tackle immeasurably expanding its operational space. In the new millennium, the Westphalian order of sovereign states has grown more complex. Endemic intra-state turmoil and instability, permeable borders, technological advances, active social networks, and proliferation of non-state actors have upset the systemic certainties of the latter half of the 21st century. Specialist knowledge, technical acumen, and domain expertise are now the bread and butter of foreign policymaking. Absent such strengths in the MEA peopled by generalists and Modi’s unwillingness to trust in non-careerist policy counsellors, Indian foreign and military policies have tended naturally to stick to old policy lines justified in terms of continuity. Thus, the PM’s desire for close relations with the United States, for instance, was translated by MEA honchos into the nuclear “breakthrough” justified by tracing its origins to the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership obtained by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime.

The bureaucrats in the MEA, as in the rest of government, can at best implement policies. But they are happy to expropriate the policymaking role if allowed to do so. The result is a dearth of strategically agile national security policy options for the PM to ponder. While Modi from time to time calls in outside experts for consultation, these are episodic events, not everyday fare. It has left MEA officials free to insinuate themselves into the policymaking space the PM had carved out as his own by keeling over on the side it believes Modi is inclined.

This was evident in why no dialogue was initiated with Pakistan before Barack Obama advised this course of action, thereby according the US the go-between role it craves. It projected the impression of an India bending to Washington’s will, an image reinforced by the nuclear understanding, perhaps motivated by “professional” advice to Modi that a bad deal is better than no deal. It has confounded an already awful situation. It is doubtful whether Modi was advised about the negatives of this agreement, considering that the very persons and bureaucratic interests responsible for the 2008 nuclear deal, which achieved for the US its goal of “capping and freezing” India’s nuclear weapons capability—science and technology adviser to the PM, Dr R Chidambaram, the MEA, and Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd., also gunned for this nuclear compromise that violates Indian law—the Civilian Nuclear Damage Liability Act 2010. Assuming it withstands legal scrutiny, the disastrous consequences—the indigenous nuclear industry going into a tailspin, the burial of the 3-stage Bhabha Plan for energy independence based on Indian thorium reserves, and the commensurate revival and enrichment of the American, French and Russian nuclear industries—seem to be no one’s concerns, nor the fact that the promise of “63,000MW by 2032” is so much hot air.

But bending over backwards to accommodate the US makes little sense at a time when India’s leverage is waxing. Russia, post-Crimean annexation, has rediscovered its mojo, China has grown surer about realising its hegemonic plans, states on the Chinese periphery daily become more anxious, and the US is backsliding, desperately wanting regional heavyweights, like India, to join it in shoring up the status quo. These are circumstances tailor-made to enhance India’s strategic worth as balancer with respect to the US-China, China-littoral/offshore Asian states, and US-Russia tussles.

As a self-confessed Gujarati with an eye for opportunity and profit, it is surprising Modi did not capitalise on this situation to recover lost ground by rejecting the Establishment advice and sidelining the original nuclear deal, and extracting a high cost from Washington for an ambiguous promise of partnering it. So once again India is in the familiar position of supplicant. Modi surely did not want this but it is something he is unwittingly realising by relying primarily on serving and retired civil servants.

[Published in New Indian Express, March 20, 2015, at

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Terminate the Rafale Deal

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha has repeatedly and publicly declared “there’s no Plan B”, that in effect it is Rafale or nothing with respect to the Indian Air Force’s dubious Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) requirement. It merits his dismissal from service, because these words denote gross incompetence, failure to anticipate the unexpected and prepare for it—axiomatic in all military planning and, hence, of leadership. For every plan there is always an alternative plan of action in case things don’t work out as envisaged.

The absence of a fallback scheme is, of course, a ruse by Raha to pressurise the government into acceding to IAF’s wishes for the Rafale, despite defence minister Manohar Parrikar spelling out an alternative—the cost-effective, Nasik-produced Su-30MKI, which won’t require multi-billion dollar investment in another production facility and beats the French combat aircraft by any performance standard.

The prohibitive cost and questionable fighting qualities of the Rafale apart, the unwillingness of the French consortium headed by Dassault to guarantee the aircraft licence manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), and to fully meet transfer of technology (TOT) obligations involving Indian public and private sector entities directly or by way of offsets, too, are factors of serious concern. Source codes, flight control laws, and “black box” technologies, including all aspects of the engine, advanced sensors and avionics are likely to be left out of any TOT agreement or worse, paid for but not delivered, if previous defence deals are any guide. Dassault plans on supplying critical components and technologies for the entire production run of the “Indian-made” Rafale to ensure massive recurring profits, whence its insistence that its novice Indian partner, Reliance Aerospace, be part of the local production cycle. One other aspect is equally worrying. HAL assembling Rafale may face the kind of troubles Mazgaon Dockyard Ltd. is experiencing with the French Scorpene submarine where French vendors are delaying the supply of material and hence delaying induction and raising the direct and indirect costs.

The Price Negotiation Committees (PNCs) instituted by the defence ministry to hammer out contracts with foreign firms are to blame for such flawed transactions. Voluminous contracts are drawn up—the Rafale document reportedly exceeds 1,500 pages—but the use of indistinct language deliberately leaves large enough loopholes for even middling technologies, what to speak of the more sensitive “know why” knowledge, to be legitimately denied even as the suppliers pocket the monies the defence ministry is quick to disburse in full at the start. The PNCs need investigating, particularly for the vast leakage of the national wealth through this route.

A recent visit to HAL facilities by Dassault officials is a pointer to things to come. They complained to the US-based Defense News about the low productivity of HAL workforce and lack of economies of scale to argue that Indian-built Rafales will be costlier. Besides indicating that defence PSUs are not proficient in even the low-end screwdriver technology, the French hinted at further escalation of realistic cost beyond the presently estimated $30-$35 billion!

Flawed contracts drafted by PNCs that do not insist on penalties for time and cost overruns, and on staggered payments to fit delivery schedules, moreover, substantiate the fear repeatedly voiced by this analyst, of manipulation of assembly kits and spares supply, for foreign/economic policy reasons by France to ground the IAF squadrons at any time, is real. Such apprehensions are sought to be doused by Paris claiming that owing to TOT India will achieve “industrial autonomy”. But considering the guaranteed high level of French content in the supposedly “indigenous” Rafales, this is a laughable claim.

There are operational reasons as well why Rafale will be a liability. The IAF has always been wary of buying foreign aircraft accessible to its Pakistani counterpart. This was a reason for the rejection of F-16s as MMRCA given that they outfit the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) strike squadrons. Now consider this: Dassault is cock-a-hoop about the likely purchase by Qatar of some 66 Rafales. The Qatari Air Force (QAF) has traditionally been run by PAF pilots, with the understanding that these squadrons will switch to PAF use in any conflict with India. So, IAF Rafales will go up against Pakistani-flown Qatari Rafales that potentially will be better equipped and periodically upgraded with more sophisticated sensors, avionics, and weapons that Saudi Arabia will happily finance, as it did the $500 million deal for PAF’s F-16s and Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and missile technologies from China. The Gulf regimes, after all, consider the Pakistan military their palace guard.

And, Rafales cannot be effectively used against China either. Why? Because, firstly, it will not survive sophisticated Chinese air defence; secondly, Dassault won’t allow the indigenous Brahmos supersonic cruise missile to take out targets inside China from standoff range to be integrated with it; and thirdly, because the Rafale is a compromised system for another reason. Pakistan is the prime conduit for Western military, especially aerospace, technologies to China. A Qatari Rafale will be disassembled in Pakistan for Chinese engineers to scrutinise, or wing its way to a Chengdu Aircraft Industry Groupsite for its best features and technologies to be reverse-engineered and incorporated in Chinese combat aircraft, and otherwise permit the Chinese military to familiarise itself with its technical weaknesses and configure appropriate counter-measures and counter-tactics.

Every demerit attends on the Rafale aircraft deal, including its outrageous cost and negligible effects in growing a self-sufficient Indian defence industry. It should be terminated also because of the country’s meagre resources—the capital defence budget of Rs`94,588 crore for 2015-16 remains unchanged from last year, and careful inter se choices will have to be made from among myriad military procurement programmes. In the competition for the defence rupee, the Rafale is eminently expendable. It is time Parrikar told IAF, using the words of former US defence secretary Robert Gates, that “there’s no endless money”. If a Rafale deal is still signed to crown Narendra Modi’s April 10 visit to France, the government will have much to answer for.

[Published in New Indian Express on 6th March, 2015 at http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Terminate-the-Rafale-Deal/2015/03/06/article2699390.ece

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What should defence expenditure priorities be?

Having wasted the first budget opportunity in 2014 after BJP assumed power by staying with what may be called a continuation budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did a better job the second time around. He was particularly realistic in increasing the defence allocations so marginally to Rs 2,46,727 crores (from Rs 2,29,000 crores), i.e., by a mere 7-odd % as to barely take care of inflation. Indeed, going by past patterns — inflation plus 5%-7% is the norm. Indeed, Jaitley, pointedly increased the defence capital budget not at all — staying locked in virtually at last year’s level of Rs 94,588 crores (up by a measly Rs 0.5 crores to round out the figure!). In effect, it leaves little money for the kind of procurements programmes the military has lined up. In this situation there’s a critical necessity for a high-level mechanism to determine the armed forces acquisition priorities inter se, which need I first articulated in my classified report as adviser, defence expenditure, to the 10th Finance Commission in 1995 and have been publicly iterating for the last exactly 20 years, around budget time!! With each service believing it cannot do without every last item on its wish list and always holding out the dire consequences for national security if it is not realized in full, it ends up as an unending farce.

In the circumstances, what exactly should the defence spending inter se priorities be? The principle for service-wise allocation should be urgently to meet the requirements for the China front — (1) light, air transportable, howitzers for mountain use, (2) C3 and data fusion in a nationally networked grid for the army and air force entities — tactically-deployed forward units, brigade and Division HQrs, and theatre commands to plug into, (3) accelerated equipping and positioning of the mountain strike corps for offensive ops on the Tibetan plateau, (4) 192-strong force of light utility helicopters, (5) raising of two additional Brahmos-II land cruise missile regiments, and (6) speedy augmentation of the Su-30MKI force (by ditching the Rafale for once and for all) and its massed deployment for use on the elongated front from Aksai Chin to Arunachal. These priorities to proceed along with the build-up of the nuclear and conventional submarine strength, in the main. But if past is guide, these will not be the priorities and the defence rupee will be squandered.

Posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, civil-military relations, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Navy, Military Acquisitions, Missiles, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, South Asia, Tibet, Weapons | 3 Comments

24 Rafales, seriously?!

Times of India reported from Kolkatta (refer http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-inks-a-deal-for-supply-of-24-Rafale-aircrafts/articleshow/46364875.cms) per info from an MOD source, that a mini-deal for 24 Rafales has been signed with Dassault, described by the reporter as “testing waters…for a full-fledged tie-up”. If true, this is so atrocious a transaction that it will make quite a dent in Defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s reputation for common sense decisions. If Rafale isn’t good to fill the full complement of 126 MMRCA in IAF, 24 of these aircraft in Indian colours aren’t going to be any good either. In fact, this decision verges on the silly considering there are so many question marks hanging on this aircraft as combat aircraft that to buy squadron and half worth almost $2 plus billion makes as much sense as throwing away $30 billion for 126 of them. If the idea is to incentivise the French, get Dassault to take ownership of the planes rolling off HAL lines, the French company will, in fact, think of this toe-wetting by the GoI into the Rafale waters as a hook to pull IAF in (with the connivance of the IAF brass, of course). And this is supposed to be brilliant business strategy?? Conceived by whom — PNC members, MOD, MEA? What will these guys think up next to justify giving away the store? And why has Defence Minister Parrikar approved it and if he has not why has this piece of news not been authoritatively refuted?

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Pakistan soon to commission a DARHT facility

A disturbing but not surprising piece of news was conveyed by a reliable non-Western, non-Indian government source. The Strategic Plans Division, Chaklala, Pakistan Army — that country’s nuclear secretariat responsible for strategic planning, and operational readiness of that country’s nuclear forces, has been preoccupied with building with China’s expert and material help and technical assistance a Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Testing facility. This DARHT installed in the underground nuclear complex at Golra, will soon be commissioned. In the absence of physical testing, the DARHT facility will help the Pakistani nuclear weaponeers improve their weapons designs and refine their yields. DARHT only provides more evidence for what I have always maintained that, unlike India, Pakistan is very serious about nuclear security, takes nothing for granted, and will not risk weapons that may work well on paper but not as well in reality. The DARHT will propel Pakistan past India in the quality of its nuclear arsenal. What to talk of China, Indian nuclear weaponry may not even stand up to Pakistan’s inventory. The fabled China-Pakistan nuclear nexus, in the event, would become well nigh insurmountable.

Meanwhile, the weapons directorate at BARC, Trombay — severely neglected by New Delhi, languishes — unable anymore to attract the best and the brightest from among the talent pool recruited by DAE because there are no technical challenges to overcome, no forward-looking agenda to realize. India, thus keeps sliding strategically on the nuclear military front and, with the Modi-Obama nuclear compromise, in the civilian nuclear energy sphere, as well. And, the most disastrous thing to happen to the country’s nuclear programme — Dr R Chidambaram continues as Science and technology adviser to PM Modi and, like Nero, fiddles as the Indian nuclear energy programme burns.

Posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, disarmament, Geopolitics, India's strategic thinking and policy, nonproliferation, nuclear industry, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, nuclear power, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Pakistan nuclear forces, society, South Asia, Strategic Forces Command, United States, US., Weapons | 5 Comments

Modi’s Action Deficits

The Delhi poll-quake produced an outcome almost everybody in the political firmament, including many within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, it seems, craved for—the crashing of the Narendra Modi juggernaut. It has highlighted the shortfalls in Modi’s nine-month rule encapsulated in the opposition’s jibe that he is “All talk, no action”. Paperless cabinet meetings, ministers staying late in office, civil servants turning up in time for work do not, apparently, constitute the social and economic revolution the people expected. Arvind Kejriwal, in the event, has emerged, remarkably, as the rival the prime minister will be judged against.

Modi’s achievements to date amount, in substance, to an easy camaraderie with world leaders and exhortations to the people. In contrast, the 49 days of Kejriwal’s first tenure as chief minister had such impact it carried his Aam Aadmi Party to an overwhelming victory in the capital and, the day after the declaration of the poll results, for instant changes—government tankers appeared in water-starved parts of the capital, touts disappeared from the regional transport offices, and bribe-demanding police turned into paragons of propriety. While Modi’s “corruption-free India” remained a slogan, Kejriwal’s campaign motivated the citizens to use mobile telephony to trap wrongdoers, and become the agent of change they desired.

The irony is that as a former chaiwallah who made it to the top on his own, Modi has a better story to tell, but has failed so far to parlay it into policies that encourage and reward personal initiative and individual effort, reduce the profile of the government as employer of the first and last resort, and to embark schemes to grow jobs by growing the economy. Over the months the people found that Modi did not trim government waste, or reconfigure the system, or rectify its ways of doing business with the people, or ramp up the abysmal-quality services it delivered, or devise policies to encourage and incentivise private enterprise, or initiate training schemes to upskill the potential industrial workforce needed for the country’s industry to be at the cutting edge, or facilitate a take-off by the manufacturing sector by putting teeth into his “Make in India” policy, or attract the fabled foreign investment to get trillion dollars worth of infrastructure and connectivity projects going. More disheartening still, pronouncements aside, labour and judicial reforms, like their economic counterpart, have stayed stuck in the political and administrative quagmire.

By way of relief, Modi sought visibility on the international stage where “success” can be gleaned by managing the pomp and attendant pageantry and playing to the delirious non-resident Indian crowds from New York to Sydney. The trouble is the law of diminishing returns kicks in fast. While the occasional international summit and Madison Garden-do is fine, too many foreign jaunts and diplomatic jamborees quickly pall, giving the impression of a democratic leader seeking escape or diversion from his failures on the domestic front.

Problematically, Kejriwal has scored in the areas Modi appears deficient. The AAP supremo did what he promised—improve, even if slightly, the everyday life of the majority—the underclass surviving in miserable slums and shanty towns by ordering cut-rate electricity and water for it. Populist programmes cannot be long sustained because the policy of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is guaranteed ultimately to alienate both but, in the interim, he can coast. Relying on his “brains trust”, Kejriwal has been inventive—like asking the Centre to allot Delhi a coal block as a captive source of energy for thermal power plants in the capital region. He has less in common with the lowliest in the land than does Modi but compensates with the kind of empathy, humility, and ability to connect with the common folk the PM seems unable to match. And, bad optics—the supposedly expensive suit he donned in his session with Barack Obama—hasn’t helped.

The Left liberals comprising the bulk of the country’s media, intelligentsia, and political parties, who have benefited from the quasi-socialist nanny state, see Modi’s failure as rooted in a faulty ideology symbolised by the carryings-on of the Hindu fringe. The miniscule minority forming the more responsible liberal Right in the country, among whom this analyst counts himself, on the other hand, is a frustrated lot. With the government identified by Modi as the mother of most ills afflicting the state and society, he was expected to slash government, rid the system of the careerist civil servant-dominated decision making, redefine the national interest along hard nationalist lines, and shape policies accordingly. Instead, Modi empowered the bureaucrats.

Meanwhile in the policy-making field, too, Kejriwal has taken the lead, appointing domain experts to advise him on innovative solutions and policy options. Other than in the economic field where outside experts have been installed in the NITI Aayog and as advisers, they are conspicuously absent in most of the rest of the Modi government. Thus, the technical ministries at the Centre continue to be run by generalist civil servants, foreign policy by the prime minister’s instincts (which has resulted in inadequate attention paid to neighbours—Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, compounded by ill-thought out actions, such as the nuclear compromise with Obama, in violation of an Act of Parliament, that could make the indigenous nuclear energy programme extinct), and defence is constrained by the limited imagination of external affairs. Judged broadly, the current policies generally seem unchanged from Manmohan Singh’s days which, perhaps, explains the popular disillusionment with Modi.

For Modi to pull things back, which he can do in the remaining four odd years in office, it will require him to return to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s nationalist ideology and the BJP’s root social self-help principles. He will also have to bank on conservative strategists from outside, who helped Atal Bihari Vajpayee chart an expansive national security policy and set India on the great power course, to fill his strategic policies with meaningful content. Without the right intellectual heft and expertise in the Prime Minister’s Office and in government, Modi may end up winging it on his own without taking the country or even himself very far.

[Published in the New Indian Express, February 20, 2015, at http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Modis-Action-Deficits/2015/02/20/article2676686.ece

Posted in Asian geopolitics, Defence Industry, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, Indian democracy, Indian ecobomic situation, indian policy -- Israel, Iran and West Asia, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Iran and West Asia, nuclear industry, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, nuclear power, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, United States, US. | 6 Comments

N-compromise a liability, will kill local reactor programme

The nuclear compromise approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama is as much a financial liability for the Indian people as the 2008 civilian nuclear cooperation deal with the United States is a strategic millstone round the country’s neck, and contravenes the Civilian Nuclear Damage Liability Act 2010. First the Congress Party-led coalition regime and now the Bharatiya Janata Party dispensation at the centre, busily explored every possible avenue to circumvent the 2010 Act. The proposed solution, however, seems only to be a means to get a troublesome issue gumming up the bilateral ties off the table, and induce wary American companies, uncertain about their financial obligations but drawn, like moths to a flame, by the prospects of lucrative sales to risk supplying nuclear reactor technology to India.

The compromise was reached by forcing the Indian liability law into the straitjacket of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, which channels all liability to the operator. Also, an “insurance pool” has been contrived with contributions totaling Rs 1,500 crores from the public sector General Insurance Corporation and other insurance companies and the Indian Exchequer to cover liability obligations. In short, the Modi-Obama solution ensures miniscule compensation in case of nuclear disasters potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of people in densely populated areas and billions of dollars in property damage by dumping all liability into the laps of the Indian taxpayer while zeroing out the financial responsibility of supplier companies selling untested, unproven, and unsafe nuclear reactors. Because no nuclear reactor has been installed in the US since the 1979 Three Mile Island mishap, India will become the testing ground for new American reactor technology and leverage to revive the US nuclear industry.

The 2010 Act, voted with the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in mind, was meant to prevent precisely such outcomes. But it has been undermined by creatively interpreting some of its provisions. Thus, Section 17(b) which talks of the operator’s “right of recourse” in case of “supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects or sub-standard services”, which comprehensively shuts down all escape routes to technology suppliers, is viewed by MEA, as only another “normal element of a contract”. It further clarified that Section 17 renders the right of recourse a function of the operator’s whim in writing contracts with supplier firms and, if by some oversight it is included in the contract, leaves it to the operator to “exercise” it or not! Meaning, the sole Indian operator the public sector Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited can, on its own, decide to absolve foreign companies of any responsibility for supplying flawed reactor designs and technology that could lead to accidents while transferring all liability to the Indian state and taxpayer. Likewise, compensation claims on supplier companies by individuals dissatisfied with the pittance given by the government, are disallowed. Next MEA torpedoed Section 46 of the 2010 Act by impugning India’s sovereign right to legislate measures, including in the future to retroactively affect contracts NPCIL signs with supplier firms voiding the latters’ immunity from liability. This is particularly galling considering India was targeted by US Congress’ retroactive legislation post-1974 nuclear test that stopped fuel supply to Tarapur reactors.

Imported enriched uranium nuclear reactors are the worst possible option from every angle. It will create a nuclear spares and fuel dependency, starve the indigenous natural uranium reactor program and the development of the follow-on breeder and thorium reactors per Bhabha’s three-stage 1955 plan to achieve energy self-sufficiency of funds because the exorbitantly-priced foreign reactors (at $6-$9 billion per 1,000MW plant) will corner all the monies, negate the possibility of exporting Indian-designed reactors to developing countries and earning revenue and, with the promised entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, tighten the nonproliferation noose. Meanwhile, the impossible target of 63,000 MW of nuclear energy by 2032 will, like Manmohan Singh’s “20,000 MW by 2020”, remain a mere slogan.

[Published in the Economic Times, February 10, 2015, at http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/n-compromise-a-liability-will-kill-local-reactor-programme/

Posted in Asian geopolitics, disarmament, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Politics, nonproliferation, nuclear industry, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, nuclear power, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer | 3 Comments