Sunday, May 29, 2011

How scandals affects India's image - Results from 'Indo-German Chamber of Commerce' Survey

We are still engaged in the circular controversies of corruptions and other scandals. Circular because, after moving forward for many days these cases will eventually go all the way back to square one. Majority of these cases are not reaching to any logical conclusion, but will show some sparks just before and after the elections.

For Indians it slowly but steadily become a regular event, something they are forced to take with breakfast. But in the days of Globalization, when news is circulating more faster than that of blood in human body, it is important to know how others are evaluating us? How Foreign Investors, Institutional Funds and other foreign government officials are considering/ reconsidering their investment options in India.Will they be ready to invest more in India (even if they, like their clients have the tendency of read news papers) or go for a better destination? Will they be ready to take the risk of investing in long term high risk projects? (like oil exploration, where policies as stables as international oil prices!!!) In fact for the last NELP auction major western oil explorers like Shell, Cheveron, BP, Exxon didn't even bother to turn up.

It is to be noted that, many resources in India are available in outside as well. We don't have huge petroleum reserves or any other highly exclusive (Which are not available in any other country) metals/minerals that are very much in demand. Even now many of the foreign FDI coming to India are revolving around these mineral deposits (depending heavily on the export of minerals is not a healthy trend). If consultancies are degrading the ratings of economic environment in India, it will not take much time for the prospective investors to move to other country.

There is no doubt that India can't remain as a favorite destination for cheap manufacturing in long run. Continuous wage rise - which is essential for the upward mobility in a society - will effectively remove the tag of cheap labor. We will be replaced - at least partially - by the other low cost manufacturing countries from South Asia, South East Asia, Mexico, African countries etc. This will force us to move rapidly in the manufacturing sector - from the status of a primitive manufacturer to that of a value added one. But the important question of the time is, will the political establishment will be able to move that much fast to ensure our position in the industrial world? or will they be paralyzed by the continuous sage of Corruption/ Caste/ Religious politics etc? Will the political establishment will be able to provide high quality infrastructure to the investors (of course keeping an eye on environment)?

It is in this situation we have to read the results of recent survey "IGCC (Indo-German Chamber of Commerce) Business Monitor 2011". This will not only give us an overview of how others are evaluating us, but where we are standing? Overall the survey highlighted the positive strengths of the economy and long term prospectus. As of now - even after the numerous scams and scandals - business is still optimistic about the future and ready to invest in India. But the disturbing question is how long? Will they have the same interest if the situation remains the same? 

The last three key findings in the survey is important not only politicians and policy makers but also for the common people. This is important to sustain (and improve) the growth, if we really want to offer a competition to China. Apart from the highly vocal and chest beating declarations we are not anywhere near to China in manufacturing.

This representative survey conducted by the Indo - German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) among 175 German companies in India. According to the result, scandals are yet to affect the investment decisions, but the point is  - if we are not ready to control it, if we are not able to stop it and the answer for this 'if' is really important for 1.2bn people and for the future generations. Below mentioned are the last three key findings of the survey (copied as it is), which deals corruption and governance deficit.

1. Scams and policy drift hurt India’s image

Since last year, a significant rise in reported corruption scandals has attracted international attention to a perceived governance deficit in India. But while scams and cronyism ranging from Commonwealth Games to 2G Telecom Licenses may have damaged India’s international image, investor sentiment has hardly been dented.

An overwhelming majority (85%) of surveyed managers feel that recent revelations of massive corruption have sullied India’s international image in one way or the other. About one third (30%) judges the resulting reputation damage as high and 40% see it as medium. 15% each see low or no meaningful reputation damage.

An equally high number of investors (86%) deplore the effects of a deteriorating policy framework on India’s reputation as an investment destination. Asked if political deadlock, lack of reforms or regulatory uncertainty have hurt India’s image, 17% answer that “high damage” had been done. 47% note “medium damage” and 22% “low damage”. For a mere 14% the policy environment did not have any negative effects on India’s international image.

2. Investor sentiment and investment decisions still unaffected

Significantly, the negative image effects of a weak policy framework, cronyism, scams and corruption have not yet started to cloud manager’s overall assessment of India as an investment destination. The impact on actual investment decisions remains minimal: Only 7% of all respondents either have reduced or deferred investments due to these factors already or consider doing so. 93% do not consider reducing or deferring planned investments for these reasons. So far, perceived policy and governance deficits have a more subtle effect: Over a third of all respondents (37%) indicate they are currently re-assessing India’s investment risks due to these factors. This could mean that future investment decisions may be scrutinized more carefully if India does not manage to tackle these issues.

3. Infrastructure bottlenecks and corruption top investor concerns

Asked to highlight one single area where they see the greatest scope for improvement in India’s investment climate, managers indicate a clear favorite: 31 percent name infrastructure as the most important area where India should improve. Reducing corruption (19%) and taming bureaucracy (15%) are seen as the other two most significant ways to further improve India’s investment climate and to attract even more FDI from Germany. In the minds of German investors, these three top concerns dwarf all others, including FDI liberalization, tax reform, tariff & non-tariff trading barriers, regulatory issues, inflation and the quality of the education system . 4% named FDI liberalization; 6% tax reform;  9% import facilitation (tariff and non-tariff); 3% regulatory regime; 5% inflation; 5% education & skills development; 3% other factors.

It will be good for the policy makers to go back to the drawing tables, take a look at these type of surveys and decide what to do to improve the situation. In the long term tags like corruption free, efficient governance, fair competition, rule of the law, social equality will ensure the long term growth than engaged in never ending debates of majority/minority politics, corruption/favoritism etc. After all 'Action speaks louder than words'


Beyond the murky waters of religious division - An example from Narayana Hrudayalaya

After one and half months late finally I decided to go to Narayana Hrudayalaya (In fact to Narayana Nethralaya, which is in the same compound - Hosur Road campus). I took the first BMTC bus I saw and and reached the hospital. It didn't take much time to finish the checkup, by noon I was on my way back.

Curiously watching people from different states walking in and out of hospital, I reached the gate. Suddenly I noticed the small concrete building standing on the left side of the path - in to which some people are going in and some others are coming out.

I slowly approached the building, it turned out to be a multi-religious temple. This circular shaped building has four doors, each leads to a different room. First one I saw was a Hindu temple, some people are praying there, the next one was for Christians, a person - in patients dress - was standing there on his knee and praying with full concentration, I continued my walking and reached the entrance of third one - this room is for Muslims, two elderly women - looks like relative of a patient was praying there, next room was for Sikhs.

These type of temple complexes are not so rare in Indian hospitals (outside it is very rare). Some went even further and used to keep a religious book in every room. The noticeable point here is, I am yet to saw any one in these premises criticising the length, breadth, height of the prayer room or presence of people from other religions/communities. In fact they don't have time for that things, when some of their close relatives are admitted in the hospital. If one of your beloved is in operation theatre, what will you do? pray for his/her life or criticising others for being in a different caste/religion/minority/majority?

Nothing in the world limits these type of healthy outlook to the four walls of hospitals. As far as my experience goes, when some of the relatives are admitted in hospital, people are more focused on the praying part of their religion.

Couldn't we encourage this practice when we dealing with other sensitive religious issues? Can't we limit the religious belief to personal level and free it from the individuals political beliefs? Can't the politicians create a development vote bank instead of caste/religious vote bank?

The recent trends of looking into policies, elections etc through religious prism and assessing it on the basis of how it will affect the minority/majority religions, caste groups etc is not an evidence of improvement. In the mad rush of satisfying various religious/caste/majority/minority pressure groups aren't we forgetting the individuals who is standing alone and praying for his/her beloved one's recovery in the temple complexes like the one in Narayana Hrudayalaya?


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Children of the Revolution - Flower Revolutions, Middle East and Beyond

Analysts are arguing about the ability of Flower Revolutions to change the thought process and political framework of North Africa and Arab heartland. Many of the analysis are concentrating on the future power equations in the area, how many autocratic regimes will be able to survive the uprising? How many people got killed and how many are yet to die? Will US, EU, UK, France etc will help them in attaining democracy? will these revolutions will slip in to the hands of extremists? who will be ultimate benefactors of the revolution, how it will affect the oil industry etc.

But one of the crucial point we often left out in these discussions is about the effect of this civil war like situation in children? How these lost years will affect there education? How many of them are already dead/crippled? How many are awaiting that fate? After all cluster bombs, shells, grenades etc can't differentiate between a small kid and an adult.

Here is a photo essay, which sheds some lights on this issue - "It's Their Country, Too"


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara...

Patriotic songs represent nation’s spirit for independence, unity and integrity. 'Kadam kadam..', 'Saare jahan se acha..' etc always aroused the feeling of patriotism, brotherhood, unity and integrity in the minds of millions of Indians.

I don't remember when I first heared the lines 'Mile sur...', but from the first time itself I liked the song. According to the story, it took 18 attempts for the writer (then an Account Manager) Piyush Pandey to get it correct. The concept was developed by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad, in 1988 and promoted by DoorDarshan (yes, our good old government run national broadcaster) and Information Ministry.  This magnificent piece in 'Raga Bharavi' raga, was composed by Ashok Patki, co-composed and arranged by Louis Banks. The project was conceived and directed by Suresh Mullick.

Another interesting fact about this song is the usage of various languages and music. This song made use of - all 14 languages (Hindi, Kashmiri, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Bangla, Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati and Marathi), then (1988) present in the eighth schedule of the constitution. ‘Mile Sur...’ was first telecasted in ‘DoorDarshan’ after Prime Ministers speech during 1988th Independence Day celebrations.

[hi] milē sur merā tumhārā, tō sur banē hamārā
sur kī nadiyān̐ har diśā sē, bahte sāgar men̐ milē
bādalōn̐ kā rūp lēkar, barse halkē halkē
milē sur merā tumhārā, tō sur banē hamārā
milē sur merā tumhārā
[ks] Chaain taraz tai myain taraz, ik watt baniye saayen taraz
[pa] tērā sur milē mērē sur dē nāl, milkē baṇē ikk navān̐ sur tāl
[hi] milē sur merā tumhārā, tō sur banē hamārā
[sn] mun̐hin̐jō sur tun̐hin̐jē sān̐ piyārā milē jad̤ahin̐, gīt asān̐jō madhur tarānō baṇē tad̤ahin̐
[ur] sur ka darya bahte sagar men mile
[pa] bādalān̐ dā rūp laikē, barsan haulē haulē
[ta] Isaindhal namm iruvarin suramum namadhakum
Dhisai veru aanalum aazi ser aarugal Mugilai
mazaiyai pozivadu pol isai
Nam isai
[kn] nanna dhvanige ninna dhvaniya, sēridante namma dhvaniya
[te] nā svaramu nī svaramu sangamamayi, mana svaranḡa avatarincē
[ml] eṉṯe svaravum niṅṅkaḷoṭe svaravum, ottucērnnu namoṭe svaramāy
[bn] tōmār śūr mōdēr śūr, sriṣṭi kōruk ōikōśūr
[as] sriṣṭi hauk aikyatān
[or] tuma āmara svarara miḷana, sriṣṭi kari chālu ekā tāna
[gu] maḷē sur jō tārō mārō, banē āpṇō sur nirāḷō
[mr] mājhyā tumchyā juḷtā tārā, madhur surānchyā barastī dhārā
[hi] sur kī nadiyān̐ har diśā sē, bahte sāgar men̐ milē
bādalōn̐ kā rūp lēkar, barse halkē halkē
milē sur merā tumhārā, tō sur banē hamārā

Courtesy for lyrics: Wikipedia

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Will the filtering of information flow make the country stable?

What is the importance of information in a democratic society? Thomas Jefferson summed up the answer in a single line – “Information is the currency of democracy”. Yes this is the currency which helps the democracy to prosper. It is the knowledge about the rulers and their policies, which help us to decide, whether we have to give them one more chance? It is as important to the society as the currency is to the economy, what will happen if we don’t know about the corrupt and destructive practices of the administration? Will we be able to select the right choice?

From ancient time onwards, information is considered as one of the most important component of governance. There are a lot of stories, about Kings and emperors walking around the cities and villages, in disguise, to know the living conditions and opinions of common people. Arthashastra made it more methodical. It gave a lot of importance for the creation and maintenance of spy networks - not only to gather information about enemy's activities, but to know the opinion of common people also. In those days countries were not democratic and gathering information helped the rulers to make the administration more efficient, and those who resist it invariable went to the black wells of history.

Just take a look at the history of civilizations, instead of reinventing the wheel, earlier civilizations tried to accept and assimilate different philosophies and technologies from their counterparts across the world. In those days trade and cultural exchanges provided a good platform for exchange. This unrestricted motion of ideas bring paper from China to other countries; number system from India to Europe through Arabian traders; progress in chemistry made by Arabian scholars reached other parts of the world etc. If I can state this in another way - globalization was there (more effective?) in the ancient days!!!

Information flow in modern day world

In these days, instead of making the world more open to ideas, are we walking towards a closed one? Instead of learning from each other, are we strengthening Huntington's fault lines and living in the cocoons created by our own hesitation to think and understand other's opinions?

In almost all autocratic (or similar administrations) information flow is severely restricted. There will always be some laws, linked to national security, to limit the flow of information. Even the slightest criticism may be termed as a threat to national security!!! This selective flow often leads to the distortion of public opinion and force people (in the closed world) to swallow administration's view. In such a situation, even a person/administration with a limited influence will be able to manipulate the public opinion to satisfy their wishes.

How the restriction of flow affects nations

US and War on Terror:

Just take the case of USA, US government is working with various governments across the world to achieve their targets. This collaboration is often friendly and creates mutual benefit. But US is failing to create the same the connectivity with common people in these countries. Just take the case of ‘War on terror’, US made a strong case for a global war against terrorism and spend more than once decade and a trillion dollar. But did they able to sell it to the common people of Asia (where they launched two full scale wars and several commando/surgical strike operations in other countries)? Forget about Asia did they able to sell the war in Europe, which remained as their ally for a long time? Moreover did they able to sell the war to their own people?

Now, when they killed the most important target in a commando operation in Pakistan, it was not perceived as such in Islamic world. Why? Is it only because of the mutual distrust between US and Islamic world? Well this may not be the case, US argued well in the international circles, but did they able to penetrate put forward their case deep in to these countries?

A case from East Asia:

Consider the case of North Korea, how many North Koreans know about the South Korea’s perspective of North-South relations? How many of them have the information/experience of life in democratic countries? If they know about democracy and political liberty, will they make efforts to go for it?

India and Pakistan:

How Anti-India feelings become a sellable commodity in Pakistan? It is true that we had fought many wars with Pakistan. When facing the eventuality of war, nationalistic feelings will be high among people they will ready to march behind the administration. But how this distrust sustained for such a long time? No one is hardwired to distrust others, then why? Did they able to analysis and understand the situation from India’s point of view? Did the common people in Pakistan ever have the information and analysis regarding to the numerous terror attacks in India, which killed thousands of common people, from India’s point of view? Of course these are not the attacks by freedom fighters as many in Pakistan would like to interpret.

More than that how far India was able to sell its point of view to the common people across th border? If we are not able to put forward our case deep in to Pakistan, conspiracy theorists will create their own interpretations for every event.

An African story - Nigeria:

Consider the case of Nigeria, when the explosion in deep water horizon was in the front pages for a long time, another country in the resource rich Africa was facing the same issue. In this case spills become part of their life; there was not enough press coverage for that and slowly and inevitably it ends up an everyday event. Will it be the same case if it happened in Europe or US, where information flows very fast?

Flower revolutions of North Africa and Middle East:

Now look at the case of flower revolutions in North African countries and Middle East, these countries are experiencing the chain flower revolutions started in Tunisia. There were revolutions before also, but this time the characteristics are different. Even if it reached almost all Arab and neighboring countries, there is no sign of such a revolution in democratic Turkey and even in Palestine areas. These revolutions armed with the information on what happening in the outside world and focused on democracy is essentially an outcome of connectivity with a global information highway. This is one of the reasons why many autocratic countries are so paranoid about Internet and add all type of online filtering. Do you think such a revolution will happen in Afghanistan, where most parts don’t have access to information, against Taliban?

Results of disconnect

This disconnect will force the countries to reinvent the wheel, spending millions (if not billions) of dollars in research and development, when the technology is already available. This is what happened when many countries imposed sanctions on India, especially the US sanctions on the transfer of cryogenic technology to India started early in the nineties. This not only created delays in space program but only results in spending of many valuable dollars, which may otherwise will go to some other program.

Consider the case of Malaria, this disease still remain as deadly to humans. According to WHO’s 2010 world malaria report, each year there are 225mn cases of malaria killing around 7,81,000 people. Irony of the fact is that, this not an incurable decease, vaccines and methodologies to prevent this disease are available in market, still this disease is reason for the 2.23% of total deaths!!! Will this be the situation if people know more about this disease? If they know about the vaccines wont they force their government to act on the issue? If international donors, realized the gravity of the crisis will it go on unchecked for these many years?

Problem of disconnect between common man and a valid information source is very dangerous for national security as well as global peace. This will help the autocratic rulers to manipulate public opinion according to their wishes, if nothing works they will be able to create an ultra nationalistic/ultra religious fever among people, and march all of them behind him/her. It may not be that much difficult to create an imaginary enemy and prepare people to fight against it.


It is important for the democratic governments to spread the values for which they are standing. They don’t have to forcefully ensure democracy in all countries, which is not a viable option anyway. But authorities should invest more on their diplomatic missions abroad and news agencies on home to provide information and ensure the quality of it. But freedom comes with responsibility, as information is a double edged sword; giving freedom to publishing houses doesn’t mean giving them the permission to glorify the people or organization they like and demonize the entities they don’t like. Regulators have to make sure that paid news (and the events related to newspapers described in Radia tapes) is no longer in circulation – this should come under advertisements not news.

As an independent body, UN can open some of the closed channels to some extent. We can't expect more that as most of closed world are part of UN itself. And matters related to press freedom can be interpreted differently in different parts of the world.

If governments are ready to allocate money to Foreign/State Department, with the same eagerness of funding Department of Defence, they may not have to face some of their current problems. If nations are unable to maintain a proper (proper doesn't mean 'only' the data favorable to government) flow of information to the common people, they will not be able to understand the gravity of various issues considering alternate opinions. To analysis the pros and cons and to reach a proper conclusion you need to have full access to global information highway.  Let’s hope that, we will be able to establish this proper flow and connect all parts of the world to global information highway.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Before you throw stones : Some thoughts on corruption

It's a human tendency to find someone to blame, after all we don't want to blame our self for our problems, no matter whether it is in professional or personal life. We will be happy if we find our prey, so that we can demonize him/her for all the problems - existing or going to exist!!!

What about us?

This tendency is not limited to a particular region or time; we are doing this knowingly or unknowingly in our day-to-day life. We are ready to buy pirated CDs from shops but when we see a policeman going to the same shop, every evening, to collect his cut, we are unable to digest it. You are ready bribe traffic police, to escape from a bigger penalty; but when you see the same guy asking money from lorry drivers (who are using the same highway built by spending our tax money) we can't digest it.

In the same way, we don’t have any problem in showing less income in ration cards, IT returns etc; but when we saw someone else is also doing the same, although for a much larger amount, we are crying for their heads!!! We are always concerned with child labour, but seeing under aged kids working in construction sites and sleeping in the streets may not raise anything more than an inaudible "Oh no!!!". If the same photo is coming in next day’s news paper, then we are unable to control our anger over government's attitude towards child rights.

We don't have any problem in dropping the domestic waste in the public places, during our so called morning walk (or night walk), but when we saw a meat seller doing the same, adrenaline surge will push us to the extremes.

Corruption in Politics:

Well, we have a common scapegoat for everything - a species called politicians!!! People will go to the same person to get a support letter for his kid's admission to some prestigious school, or to place his family under the poverty line. But when the same person is doing the same favour to his relative or someone else our blood temperature will reach the boiling point.

We will accuse the politicians for poor governance, corruption etc, but we easily forget that to receive bribes there should be someone to pay it. Already the process of giving and taking bribes become a tradition and now-a-days we don't feel anything wrong in it!!! Whenever we hear about a corruption scandal, the first question comes to our mind is, whether it broke the previous record or not? (after all its become very difficult to write the sums involved in corruption - How many zeros are there in 1.76 Lack?).

Cheapest may not be the best: Government tenders

May be because of this experience, whenever we are looking in to government's performance, we are more eager to find a scandal. When a public sector company is not going for the cheapest tender, the first thought coming to our mind will be, who got the money? We are no longer ready to see the technical/logical side of accepting/rejecting the tender. Simply unable to digest the fact that cheapest and best are two different words. Its another matter that, we may not be ready to buy that cheapest product for ourselves!!!!

Reservation politics:

We want quota for everything, no matter whether it is in public schools, government services or somewhere else. In order to get it we are even ready to stop the train services, blocking the roads, to vote for the people who promises it. India may be the only country in the world where people are more interested in enlisting themselves as backward community. If we are religious minority we want quota in that name, if we are linguistic minority we want quota in that category, if we are are in a different caste then we want caste based reservation and in India everyone is a minority in some way or other!!!

Religious Politics:

We can’t accept the simple fact that religion and politics are two separate entities and one should not interfere in the other. Religious belief should be limited to the personal level, its not a commodity to sell. But what happens in these days? We are ready to group together under some banner and and put forward our request for special status based on religion/caste/language/culture etc. When politicians are also engaging in the same thing we feel anger towards the people who are not supporting our quota. we are not ready to believe that they are selling this because people are ready to buy it. We put ourselves in the buyer’s market to consume these things. How many of you (of course, people who are not enjoying reservation will oppose it, but what about others?) are ready to support a politician, if he says he will stop reservation and allocating quotas?

Will the new laws make a difference?

Is this the way to go forward? Are we ready to live with this outlook forever? Activists are urging for more strict laws, but will it make any difference? Are we creating these laws just for the sake of having one? Already we have a law for everything -  I think still there is law in India according to which smoking in public place is an offence (and you know how strictly we are following it!!!). Even if US constitution is older than that of Indian counterpart, it has less number of amendments. Japan is yet to make any amendment to her constitution.

Protecting bureaucrats:

On the other side, do we really need to make all the bureaucrats vulnerable to the accusations of corruption? Even now government sector is going slower than a snail. If we are making the bureaucrats, who have to take decisions on big projects/ contracts/ defence projects etc, vulnerable to the accusations of corruption, will they be able to take the decisions in time? For each step there will be some to raise the accusation (especially during the time of intense dog fights in media world), and in critical infrastructure (e.g. defence sector) cheapest need not be the best!!! Need of the time is to strengthen the watchdogs like CVC,CBI,ED,RI,IT, departmental agencies and a political will to act on issues.


The basic thing is not about laws or acts; it’s about the way we are doing things. Are we ready to build a capitalist society, where fair laws are created by evolution? (capitalism doesn't mean oligarchy or crony capitalism) Where government’s job is to ensure justice and security? Are we ready to submit ourselves to the concepts of liberty, equality and justice?

First we have to make our self ready for this situation, and elect politicians who can deliver. We should be able to prosecute the the people who are more on bribery than politics. If we are allowing ourselves to flow aimlessly protesting here and there, without taking the cases to a logical conclusion (instead of high voltage accusations and counter accusations) then there is no doubt that you can read about the new scandal every day with your morning tea!!!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jaitapur Nuclear power plant, good for India?

Fukushima accident:

As I am writing this article, Japanese authorities are fighting to bring the situation under control in the 4.7GWe Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. This plant, located in Fukushima Prefecture, was hit by 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis, which created massive damages to the plant as well as its cooling systems and also resulted in radiation leaks (Now there is a 30km evacuation zone around the plant).Over and above its not sure how many years, if not decades, are required to clean up the reactor and its surroundings. Even the aggressive estimates shows a minimum time frame of 10 years. After this crisis many countries not only freezed their plans for ambitious new nuclear plants but also thinking about winding up the existing ones.

But is it an indication that human beings should stop using the nuclear energy? to stop research in nuclear technology? to stop the funding for fusion research? There is no doubt that Fukushima accident revealed another face of nuclear energy, but there are many facts which people conveniently overlooked before starting their all out war against nuclear energy.

It is interesting to note that, these reactors are constructed in 1968 and started production in 1971, yet it withstood the 9.0 earth quake!!! Till now there are no indication of any nuclear meltdown. Just imagine, what will happen if an earthquake of such a magnitude hit Bakranangal or hirakud dams? How many of us are confident that our hydroelectric dams like BakraNangal, Hirakud etc can withstood such situation?

Amount of energy produced in Fukushima complex is 4.7GWe; even the biggest hydro electric project in India -Subansiri (Lower) hydro electric Project (under construction) - has the capacity of 2GW only. Just imagine about the atmospheric pollution if we have to replace these reactors (for e.g. Bruce Nuclear generating station of Canada (6.232GW) with thermal plants.

Jaitapur Project:

It is in this situation we have to think about Jaitapur project, which is currently under construction in Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra, with a proposed capacity of 9.9GW. If completed, this will be the largest nuclear power complex in the world. Praposed 3rd generation reactors are designed and developed by Areva of France (France is the world's largest net exporter of electric power and generates around 79% of her electricity using nuclear energy).

From the beginning itself this project is going through a stormy weather. Agitations - started along with the land acquisition slowly transformed to an agitation against nuclear energy itself. In the wake of Fukushima accident, questions are raised about the safety of nuclear power plant. If prominent nuclear experts are available in the ground to explain the situation to the people situation may become slightly better. Revisting the land acqusition for ISRO (VSSC) in Trivandraum may not be a bad idea. Now anti-nuclear activists took the stage from administration and government's part become a non-audible cry. Even now people aren’t ready to accept the compensation for land; as the plant is going to use the sea water for cooling, fishing communities are also against the project.

As usual, advices from activists are to use Solar and wind power instead of using nuclear and thermal ones. Idea is good, unfortunately we are yet to invent a commercially viable method to produce and transmit solar and wind energy in the levels of nuclear energy. Other solutions like building dams (which will results in the loss of already existing forests), coal fired plants (mining coal itself is causing severe ecological damage along with the resulting pollution is causes) are not a better idea anymore.

Possibility of Nuclear accidents in Jaitapur:

It is not that nuclear power is fool proof, of course it is not. But the days of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island are over; no one is going to construct and operate any nuclear reactor in that way. Technology made magnificent progress from those days; just look at the case of Fukushima itself, even if the crisis is yet to be over, we are not facing a nuclear meltdown. Even the 40 year old technology proved to be resilient against the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent Tsunamis!!!

Another argument against Jaitapur plant is that, it is situated in a seismically active (zone III) costal area. If we are using that criterion then we should not build any more dams in North-East India, as the entire region is coming under Zone V (highest active). Moreover nuclear reactor is not going to exert that much pressure on earth crust, which is not true in the case of a huge reservoir. As far as Tsunami is concerned, upper eastern coast is safer than western coasts; chances for tsunami – like the one recently created havoc in Fukushima reactor complex - hitting Maharashtra’s coast is low. Over and above Jaitapur is located at a height of 25m or 75ft above the sea level (maximum wave arrived at Fukushima had a height of 14metre -46 ft - only).

Future of Nuclear power:

There is no doubt that nuclear energy (fission and fusion in the future) is the way to go. Even the solar energy we are receiving through sunlight is the result of nuclear fusion process in Sun; other stars are also use the same method for energy production.

This is our chance to go ahead; are we going to stop all the progress we achieved till now in nuclear sector only because of Fukushima? Are we going to stop our scientific progress because of an accident in a nuclear power plant? Most of the people are using fire and electricity, and we know that they aren’t safe, but that fact didn’t stop us from using it. Even now we are constructing new power lines and using fire in our daily life. Threat of accidents should not come in the way of scientific progress. Are we going to stop using nuclear power? If countries across the world doesn’t have any fear in accumulating nuclear bombs, they why they have problem in using it for generating electricity?

It is not the nuclear power, which is not safe, but holes created in the safe guards knowingly or unknowingly. When Szilard and Fermi discovered chain reaction in 1939, we had two options to use it - controlled as well as uncontrolled. One result in explosion and another can be used for generating electricity. Any extra planetary force urged us to go for the first one? no, it was our option.

Religiously adhering to the safe guards, employing latest technologis as well as best practices (there is no doubt that because of the Fukushima accident safe guards will become tighter) will enable us to use nuclear power safely.


For an energy hungry country like India, where petroleum and petroleum products occupies the major portion of import basket, where pristine forest cover is decreasing in an alarming rate, where electricity production is not catching up with the raising demand, where electricity production depends more on coal and other fossil fuels, nuclear energy is one of the good option to go forward.

It is good to remember that, we don’t have any right to ask the people living in the project area to clear it, simply because we want electricity and according to the compensation we decided. Apart from losing land and livelihood they are also losing the environment they are living. So it is government's duty to, participate the affected people in the decision making process (as far land acquisition is concerned), and provide them an equivalent livelihood - not in words but in action.

Nuclear energy may not be our best solution for all the energy problems, but definitely it will solve some of our problems…