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Indian-origin Parliamentarians laud N-deal debate
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | October 29, 2007 08:43 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images], who has confessed that he is disappointed because of the opposition to the nuclear deal, should have met a few of the 15-member strong delegation of Parliamentarians from Europe and North America.
They were people of Indian origin and have made it big in every sense of the word.
Notwithstanding Henry Kissinger's alarmist views, almost all of them are supporters of the deal and still not disappointed to see internal politics over the nuclear deal.
They claim the way India has put the nuclear deal on hold has increased respect for India.
People outside India say that India has a vibrant democracy.
On Friday, they had gathered at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Delhi to hear Vivek Bharti, India's foremost expert on the World Trade Organisation negotiations on 'India and the Doha Development Round'.
Swati Dandekar, Senator from Iowa, US, was cool about the slowing down of the process of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
"I think it is the process. I look at India as the largest and the US as the oldest democracy. I come from a democratic country and I see India as going through a process in which there are ups and downs. I think it's not an end-game. We (US) are discussing it and you are discussing it, too. People have questions. And just because people are asking questions it does not mean that the deal is off," Dandekar told rediff.com.
She lauded the debate within India. She said, "I think it is a healthy conversation when legislators ask questions. When people ask questions, it should not be termed as something "incorrect". As an American, I would not like to reach a final conclusion because Indians have not come to a conclusion as they are still talking. This is how I look at it."
This is a discussion of give and take, she said.
The delegation included London-based Lord Bhikhu Parekh of Hull University, who is a well-known intellectual in New Delhi, too.
He told rediff.com, "This is not the perfect deal, nor it is the best deal India could have had. However, I think the politics of it has gone wrong. It was negotiated secretly so the feeling was created that somehow there is something more to it than what it actually carries. As a result of it. people became suspicious"
Parekh said that witnessing the hot debate over nuclear deal from long-distance, he felt the nuclear deal and the joint-military exercise came at the same time and that aroused further suspicion over the strategic aspect of the deal.
He said the strategic context of the deal seemed the bone of contention. He himself is comfortable with the nuclear deal, but he is worried about two or three provisions.
Parekh said under the nuclear deal the International Atomic Energy Agency will ask where the fuel is going and that will mean that someday in the future inspectors can claim that quite a lot of fuel is being used in military reactors and they can demand more inspections.
"The government should answer whether the tracking of nuclear fuel will lead inspectors to military establishments or not.
Secondly, the details of the inspection and data of the defence reactors will be more in the open than ever before. When these data is circulating, it will be also be known to China and some such countries from whom you will like to hide things," he said.
"The Indo-US nuclear deal is increasingly making China our point of reference. Until now, it was Pakistan," Parekh added.
However, the business community among the NRIs and people of Indian origin were quite ecstatic about the deal, but they are keeping hope alive and waiting for a favorable political climate.
Lord Karan Bilimoria of United Kingdom is one such staunch supporters of the deal and admirer of Dr Singh.
He is the manufacturer of the largest beer brand in Europe. While giving a background of the business community's support to the nuclear deal, Bilimoria argued that when the BRICS (the report that analysed the GDP growth, per capita income and currency movements of Brazil [Images], Russia [Images], India and China and predicted that, by 2050, BRICs economies will be bigger than the 6 richest nation of the world today.) report arrived, it became a catalyst for India.
The whole world started looking at India. Before that in most economic surveys, India was not even mentioned. BRICS told executives to wake up to do business with India, he said.
He added that the nuclear deal is not worth destablilising the government.
"The latest report of the leading bank of the world says that India can have 10 per cent growth rate for the coming 10 years. There are issues India needs to resolve in infrastructure. Previously, India was in the Soviet bloc, now India 's relations with US is going stronger and stronger. We see the deal as giving India nuclear energy at it's own terms and also, transfer of technology will be possible," he said
"But we saw that it is threatening to destabilise the whole government. Quite frankly it's not worth to destabilise the government because I see Dr Singh as one of the most respected leaders in world. He is decent, trustworthy and hugely intelligent. You have top team that is fantastic. It includes Chidambaram, Kamal Nath and Ahluwalia. I think India's growth story will continue. The nuclear deal can be stalled, but one should not destablise the current leadership," Bilimoria added.
"India must go for the deal, eventually. If you read surveys done in India the vast majority will vote for it. They see the nuclear deal as something that is helping India's progress. I don't see India losing its independent non-aligned status by having this deal. India continues having its peaceful democratic status," he said.
Navnit Dholakia of UK's Liberal Democratic Party was elated by India's internal response in the Indo-US nuclear deal.
"The big five nuclear powers have formed a club and are asking India to behave. You can't do that. India is the world's largest democracy and you can't treat it like that. The world needs to make India an equal partner. You can't compete with big nations if they have the power to attack any country and India is weak in its security," he said.
"I think, India is in a very powerful position to tell the rest of the world not to dictate to it on the issue of nuclear energy and weapons," Dholakia added.
He said that Indian democracy is something people trust. India must put across the point that the leadership is not interested in "nuclear proliferation nor they will misuse nuclear weapons."
Dholakia said India must bargain with the powerful five and tell them that India has right to give security to one billion people. He argued that India should talk to the world from a postion of stregth.
"The days are gone when strategists asked you to join the big men's club. After the US attack in Afghanistan and Iraq the American position has weakened and India has the opportunity to dictate terms for its nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. India must ask for equal partnership. India was never in as powerful a position as it is today. You must bargain and fight hard to get a good nuclear deal," he added.