Questions and Answers
Uncompromising Fight Against Communal Forces
July 8, 2008
The Left Parties have announced their withdrawal of support to the UPA Government.
Even while the country and its working people are reeling under the huge burdens of price rise, a callous Government adds salt to their wounds by expending all its energies in political manouvres to get the Indo- US nuclear deal through. In violation of the written agreement reached with the Left Parties on November 16, 2007, the Manmohan Singh Government is pushing ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal without even showing the text of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement to the UPA-Left Committee, which had been formed precisely to look into all aspects of the Indo-US Nuclear deal. Why is Government not prepared to show the text of the IAEA agreement if it is in national interest?
2. This same Government had in July 2007 signed the agreement with the United States of America behind the back of Parliament without any consultation. The text was made available only after it had signed the agreement. Today it wants to sign a follow up safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency keeping the draft secret. The Prime Minister says he will come back to Parliament for its opinion after the IAEA text is finalised and after the agreement is reached under the leadership of the US with the 45 countries of the Nuclear Supplies group This has little meaning because by going ahead to the IAEA, the first of the two steps needed to operationalise the deal gets completed. Then the role of the Indian Government is over. It is the Bush establishment which will take it to the 45 members Nuclear Suppliers group. Just as Parliament was presented with a fait accompli after the deal was signed, a repeat performance is being suggested. In any case in both the Parliamentary discussions on the Indo-US Nuclear deal the majority was against the deal.
Why this secrecy? Why this hurry? What are the deadlines which the Government wants to meet? Why this succumbing to the pressure of a US administration led by a President who is being rejected by his own people?
3.The Left can never give its approval to this deal. It can never be a party to these undemocratic secret methods to somehow push the deal through.
4.The deal is against the national interest. It ties India into a strategic relationship with the United States, it ties India to the “rath” of imperialism. The deal is the key to open up India to US capital, including defence agreements, armament deals, concessions to US capital and big US companies in the retail sector, in the educational sector etc.
By going ahead with the deal who is the Congress Party’s hand with? The aam aadmi, or the killers and destroyers of Iraq, of Palestine, with the bullies against Iran? For a junior partnership with the US imperialist forces who want to make India subservient to their interests.
5.We clearly say: the Left parties supported you because of our commitment to fight back the communal forces, to protect and strengthen India’s secular heritage, to defend peoples unity and the rights of minorities which had been under attack and severely eroded during the BJP led NDA regime. We supported you because of our deep concern against their Shining India economic policies which were destroying the lives and livelihood of the people which is why we insisted on a common minimum programme to bring relief to the people.
Major issues of the common minimum programme are yet to be implemented. But today instead of the common minimum programme of the UPA it is the common minimum programme of the Bush administration to bring India into its strategic embrace that the Government is implementing.
The CPI(M) has therefore withdrawn support to the Government.
6.You cannot fight back the communal forces by compromising the nation’s sovereignty, you cannot fight the communal forces by pro-imperialist economic policies which have led to huge price rises and widespread distress for the people. You cannot fight the communal forces by reaching a series of agreements with the US which also helps US big companies to come into the Indian market.
On the contrary, going ahead with this nuclear deal which is intrinsically linked to the Government’s commitment to the neo-liberal policy framework will only help and strengthen the communal forces.
7.The Left parties had strongly opposed the agreement and had raised nine points.
The biggest issue is that this deal is subordinate to an American law called the Hyde Act which puts conditions on India including on India’s foreign policy. Can any self-respecting nation allow any foreign Government to give an annual certificate on its foreign policy being in tune with US interests as a condition to give nuclear fuel which is what the Hyde Act does.
8. In this deal and in the Hyde Act
America will not give India the technology it needs.
America will not guarantee permanent fuel supplies but India will have to agree to permanent inspections of its nuclear plants whether or not America gives it supplies.
America can terminate the agreement any time and for whatever reason it wants but India cannot terminate the safeguards agreement with the IAEA.
America will take back all its reactors and fuel if it terminates the agreement
America will ensure that other countries also do not supply fuel to India
The Prime Minister had clearly given an assurance to Parliament that all the issues raised by the Left parties and the CPI(M) would be addressed.
Not a single assurance has been fulfilled. The US Government has made it clear that there can be no changes. On the contrary they want to make it even more stringent.
Then the Manmohan Singh Government said the problems would be addressed through the IAEA agreement. The Government promised that it would ensure that the IAEA text would give India the right to put an end to IAEA safeguards if the nuclear supplies were terminated and when we say show us the agreement, the Government says no we cannot, it has to be kept secret till it is signed!
9.Now the Government says leave all these issues, we want the deal because it will bring electricity to our villages and urban slums.
This is as far from the truth as the earth from the sun.
For the next forty years, which is the period the agreement will be valid for, nuclear energy will meet only 8 per cent of our electricity needs.
10.The Government says it will be cheap.
This is another untruth.
Nuclear energy, especially nuclear energy made from nuclear reactors imported from America will be extremely expensive, double that of the price of electricity produced by coal or water.
From coal the cost of producing electricity is around 2.50 rupees per unit. From imported nuclear reactors the cost of electricity will be around 5 to 5.50 per unit.
Once India comes into the market for reactors and nuclear fuel the prices are bound to go up further. By the time nuclear plant produced electricity reaches the village it will be even more.
Can a worker or a farmer pay such high prices?
Who will benefit?
11.Only the big companies in America who produce nuclear plants which have been lying closed for years because there have been no demands for the plants. America itself has not put up a nuclear power plant since 1996! Lakhs and crores of rupees will be spent on these plants.
The Government says it has no money—no money for free education, no money for free medical treatment, no money to expand the rationing system—but it has money to spend on US nuclear plants. We are against such priorities.
For the price of one nuclear plant, three coal based plants can be set up. Instead of opening new power units based on coal or hydro at cheaper rates which will also give jobs to our people, the Manmohan Government policy will help the American Nuclear companies. Remember the experience of Enron, the big US company which set up its plant in Maharashtra and it was promised by the Congress and the BJP that the electricity would be cheap? It turned out to be double of that produced by the State Electricity Board
12.India‘s scientists have been developing our own indigenous nuclear technology which is based on Thorium. A Government which is prepared to spend lakhs of crores of rupees to import nuclear fuel has cut down on funds for our atomic energy. Let the Government answer : Why did it reduce the budget for the Atomic Energy department by 188 crore rupees this year. What is the message it wants to send to our scientists?
13.If the Government is committed to fulfill energy needs, why the delay on the India-Iran gas pipe line? Iran is willing to give India gas which will bring relief against the high prices of oil but the Manmohan Government has deliberately delayed the talks because of US pressure.
Clearly the price of the Indo-US nuclear deal is the Iran gas pipe line.
Countries of West Asia and central Asia have natural supplies of oil and gas. Concern for energy means that we must maintain good relations with these countries. But the US does not want this and the Government of India follows its advice!
Because the Government did not want to displease the US, India voted against Iran in the IAEA meeting, not once but twice.
That is why it is silent even as the worst genocide goes on against the Palestinian people. The US pressure is already on, even before the deal is finalized. This is what we mean when we say that the nuclear deal means an end to our independent foreign policy.
14.The truth is that the deal is not to meet India’s energy requirements but to get into a strategic relationship with the United States of America which will be disastrous for our national interests. As has been seen on every single occasion the US is only interested in pushing its blueprint for global control and counts as its friends only those who agree to its agenda.
Today the United States is in the midst of the preparations for the Presidential elections which will take place in November. All opinion polls show that the Bush administration has the lowest popularity ratings, and that the people of the United States are sending a clear message against him and his war mongering policies.
His administration is desperate to show that Bush has achieved a foreign policy coup by bringing India into its net as an ally. That is why it wants to stretch the deadlines it had given. Why does the Manmohan Singh Government not take the logical and correct decision to wait till the Presidential elections are over instead of obliging Bush?
15.The Government says it will go ahead with the deal in spite of the opposition of the Left parties. The Left parties have made their stand clear from the very first day against the deal.There is no change in the stand. A big section of the scientists and nuclear experts in our country have strongly opposed the deal including those who have headed the entire programme for development of nuclear power.
There is not a single new fact or argument which the Government is putting forward. All these points have been debated for two years.
Therefore the Left parties have withdrawn their support to this Government and will take their message to the people.
We appeal to all democratic and patriotic sections to come out against this sell-out and to make their voices heard.
No to a deal which compromises India’s strategic autonomy
No to a deal which will only help the profit margins of big nuclear companies
No to a deal which will make electricity extremely expensive
No to a deal which is a sellout to US imperialism
On the Indo-US Nuclear Deal
Questions and Answers
Q: Why have the Left Parties withdrawn support from the UPA Government?
A: The Left Parties withdrew support from the Congress-led UPA Government on 9th July 2008. When the UPA Government had come into existence in 2004, the Left Parties had decided to provide outside support on the basis of its Common Minimum Programme. The aim was to fight the communal forces and undo the damage that they had caused to the secular polity of India during their years in office. This required a set of interlinked policies to bring relief to the people, to protect India’s integrity and to pursue an independent foreign policy. Yet rather than fulfilling the popular mandate, and addressing pressing concerns such as the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, the Manmohan Singh Government preferred to expend its energy on pushing through the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Clearly it is more concerned about fulfilling its commitment to the Bush Administration than about meeting its commitment to the people of India.
The Left Parties have been warning the UPA Government not to dilute the commitments made in the Common Minimum Programme. However, committed as it is to the neoliberal framework, the Government has been implementing policies through Cabinet decisions by-passing Parliament. The attempts to open up different sectors of the economy indiscriminately to foreign capital, the refusal to meet the agrarian distress, allowing backdoor entry of foreign capital into retail trade and the utter failure to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee — all these are proof that the Government is going back on the commitments made in the Common Minimum Programme. These policies favouring foreign and domestic big capital are closely linked to the subservience of the Government to US imperialism and its compromise of India’s national sovereignty through the nuclear deal.
The nuclear deal is against India’s vital interests. The Congress-led Government has embraced a strategic alliance with the United States. This dubious deal with President Bush is the centrepiece of a number of agreements on military collaboration and concessions to US capital in various sectors including the financial sector, agriculture and retail trade. The nuclear deal will not provide India energy security. Instead, being anchored in a US law, the Hyde Act, it will hamper India’s independent foreign policy and restrict our strategic autonomy. The Manmohan Singh Government is guilty of gross violation of the Common Minimum Programme by pursuing a strategic alliance with the USA which is completely contrary to the commitment towards an independent foreign policy made in the CMP. The Left Parties cannot support such a course of action which is harmful for the people and which erodes the country’s sovereignty.
The UPA Government has consistently disregarded democratic opinion on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal:
v The Prime Minister gave assurances in Parliament in August 2006 on safeguarding India’s interests in the nuclear deal. These were nullified by the Hyde Act passed by the United States’ Congress in December 2006.
v Yet, the Prime Minister insisted on going ahead with the negotiations on the 123 Agreement despite strong opposition from the Left and other political circles. A substantial section of the scientists’ community also opposed the deal.
v The Prime Minister has shown contempt for Parliament by disregarding the clear views of the majority as expressed in the debate in the two Houses of Parliament in December 2007.
v The Congress leadership has violated the understanding arrived at with the Left Parties in November 2007, wherein the outcome of the talks with the Secretariat of the IAEA was to be presented to the UPA-Left Committee on the Nuclear Deal.
v The Government refused to show the text of the IAEA Safeguard Agreement to the Left Parties for four months, thus preventing the UPA-Left Committee from arriving at any findings.
v The Prime Minister while on his way to the G-8 Summit in Japan announced that the Government will be going to the IAEA Board very soon. But till then he chose to keep the people of the country in the dark.
The Congress leadership had promised to ameliorate the condition of the aam admi. After four years of the UPA government, the people are groaning under an unprecedented price rise. The prices of rice, wheat, edible oil, pulses, vegetables and other essential commodities have all shot up. The Government has refused to heed the Left Parties’ demands to check inflation. The UPA Government’s policies are squarely responsible for the distressing spectacle of agrarian crisis, farmers’ suicides, mass poverty, price rise and unemployment. This is in stark contrast to the obscene growth of billionaires and enrichment of the already superrich.
The Congress-led UPA Government came into being with a mandate to fight the communal forces on the basis of alternative policies. However, the Congress-led UPA Government has failed to pursue alternative policies and has instead pursued policies rather similar to those of the erstwhile BJP-led Government. The Government has also compromised national sovereignty. The Congress-led Government is now determined to go ahead with a further rightward shift in both foreign and domestic policies. This situation can only provide fertile ground for the communal forces and undermine the secular cause. Since the Congress-led Government is willfully disregarding the Common Minimum Programme, the Left Parties had no choice but to withdraw support.
Q: Why does the UPA Government want the nuclear deal?
A: The Congress-led UPA Government believes that the best course for India’s foreign policy is to become a junior partner of the US with the hope that the US will help India become a major world power. Manmohan Singh considers George Bush to be “India’s best friend” and has made commitments to him on the nuclear deal, along with various other agreements on security, defence and economic matters, which will firmly establish India as an US ally. The nuclear deal is the centrepiece of this strategic alliance.
The US has become increasingly isolated in the world because of the aggressive militarism of the Bush Administration as seen in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the disastrous “war on terror”. The Bush clique wants to convert this war on terror into a “clash of civilizations” and is busy whipping up Islamophobia in the name of this war. Bush has also lost credibility within his own country with the exposure of the lies, deceit and brutality of his regime. Manmohan Singh seeks to offer Bush his only foreign policy success: that of enlisting India as a newfound ally which will further US strategic interests in Asia and elsewhere.
Q: Why is the UPA Government in a hurry to go ahead with the nuclear deal?
A: The tenure of the Bush Administration is coming to its end. The US Presidential elections are scheduled for November 2008 and the election campaign has already started. In order to finalise the nuclear deal a few steps are still required, which will take some time. Firstly, the Indian Government will have to conclude a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Following this, the US will approach the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, a group of 45 member countries which tightly controls the supply of nuclear fuel and technology, to get an exemption enabling nuclear commerce with India. After this, the 123 Agreement will go to the US Congress for its approval. It is only after the US Congress approves the 123 Agreement that India and US can sign the agreement and conclude the nuclear deal. The role of the Indian Government will get over after concluding the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, after which it is the US which will pilot the deal through the subsequent stages.
The timelines set by the Bush Administration for the Indian Government to conclude the IAEA Safeguards Agreement have been repeatedly upset because of the opposition to the nuclear deal within India. Whether the US Congress can finally approve the 123 Agreement before the end of the tenure of the Bush Administration is very doubtful. However, the Bush Administration wants to at least get the NSG waiver before its term ends, in order to present the deal as a fait accompli to the next US President. That would only be possible if India concludes the IAEA Safeguards Agreement by July-August 2008. Thus, it is to meet the requirement of the Bush Administration that the UPA Government is showing such hurry in going ahead with the nuclear deal. India’s interests demand that the Government first build a broad political consensus in the country before entering into such a major international treaty which binds the country for the next 40 years. However, in his desperation to keep the commitments made to George Bush, Manmohan Singh is going ahead with the 123 Agreement against all democratic norms and in violation to the assurances given in the UPA-Left Committee.
Q: Is the stand taken by the Left Parties consistent with their commitment to secularism and keeping the communal forces out of power?
A: The Left Parties have always remained and will remain opposed to the communal forces led by the RSS-BJP. It is the Congress and the UPA which is deviating from the independent foreign policy of the country and adopting the foreign policy advocated by the RSS-BJP combine. The BJP is openly committed to a strategic alliance with the US. It was the BJP-led NDA Government which had initiated the negotiations with the Bush Administration for strategic relations because it shared the anti-Islamic world-view of the neoconservatives in the US. The RSS-BJP combine also talks about a US-Israel-India axis. The UPA Government, rather than reversing these policies of the BJP-led NDA Government, has moved ahead in the same direction.
Aligning with the US through the nuclear deal amounts to accepting the foreign policy agenda set by the communal forces. This is why Manmohan Singh had appealed to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to support the deal in Parliament on 5th March 2008, calling him the “Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics.” Concerns for secularism were conveniently shelved while appealing to the BJP to support the deal. We do not see the communal agenda internationally and internally as two different ones. It is the UPA abandoning the path of an independent foreign policy that is paving the way for communal forces in the country.
The Left Parties had provided outside support to the Congress-led UPA Government since 2004 on the basis of the CMP in order to prevent the communal forces from capturing power. This, despite the fact that the Congress is the main rival of the Left Parties in places from which a majority of the Left MPs have been elected. It is the UPA Government which has disrupted the unity of the secular forces by pursuing a strategic partnership with the US and adopting the foreign policy agenda of the communal forces.
The UPA Government has failed to combat the communal forces in the last four years. Inflation and price rise, resulting from the neoliberal policies of the UPA Government, has helped the BJP and its allies in channelising people’s discontent and coming to power in States like Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab. The Congress Party has utterly failed to take on the communal Narendra Modi-led Government in Gujarat and provide justice to the victims of the post-Godhra pogroms of 2002. Neither has action been taken on the Srikrishna Commission Report on Bombay riots by the Congress-led Government in Maharashtra. The Prevention of Communal Violence Bill has not been enacted despite the UPA Government being in office for over four years. The recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report have also not been pursued effectively.
Communal forces cannot be fought just on the basis of political manoeuvres. They can only be defeated through the pursuit of an alternative set of policies that mobilises and unites the people of the country. By bringing about a rightward shift in both foreign and domestic policies and willfully disregarding the Common Minimum Programme, it is the Congress-led UPA Government which is paving the way for the communal forces.
Q: Does opposition to the nuclear deal by the Left Parties in India serve the interests of China and Pakistan?
A: A malicious campaign has been launched against the Left Parties by pro-US sections of the Indian establishment and the media that the Left opposition to the deal serves the interests of China and Pakistan. The sole purpose of this slander is to push the deal with the US. If the Left’s opposition serves China and Pakistan, then the majority of the Parliament was also acting in Chinese or Pakistani interest when it opposed the deal in December 2007!
Some of the critics of the nuclear deal have pointed out that the nuclear deal will put restrictions on India’s nuclear weapons programme. The nuclear deal should thus be in the interests of China and Pakistan. It is then hard to fathom how the Left Parties’ opposing the deal can be thought to be in interests of China. China has always wanted India to sign the NPT and CTBT. Pakistan’s position has always been that it has no problems in joining the non-proliferation regime if India does so. In contrast, the Left Parties in India, while remaining opposed to India’s nuclear weaponisation, have consistently opposed the signing of discriminatory treaties like the NPT and CTBT, which divide the world permanently between Nuclear Weapon States and Non-Nuclear Weapon States. The Left Parties have always stood for universal nuclear disarmament, which includes disarmament for all the Nuclear Weapons States including US, Russia and China.
Hyde Act, 123 Agreement and IAEA Safeguards
Q: What is the connection between the Hyde Act, the 123 Agreement and the IAEA Safeguards Agreement?
A: The Hyde Act passed by the US Congress in December 2006 is the basis of the 123 Agreement with the US that enables civilian nuclear cooperation with India. The Hyde Act has made it clear that:
v India must have a foreign policy congruent with that of the US.
v India must align with the US against Iran.
v India cannot have a strategic fuel reserve greater than what is required for the immediate operation of its nuclear reactors.
v India can be put under sanctions again if it does not follow the conditions set out by the Hyde Act.
v India must submit its civilian nuclear programme to a regime of perpetual IAEA safeguards.
v The President of the US must certify every year that India is toeing the US line.
v In case the US terminates its nuclear commerce with India, all other NSG countries would have to follow suit and this must be built within the NSG exemption given to India.
v No other country can start nuclear commerce with India before the US signs the 123 Agreement and this must also be built into the NSG exemption to India.
v India must sign an additional protocol with IAEA after the 123 Agreement is passed, which would be far more intrusive than the current safeguards agreement.
v Access to technology for fuel reprocessing, fuel enrichment or heavy water production would not be allowed to India and no dual-use technology for these items would be allowed.
v Nuclear sanctions will be reimposed on India if it tests nuclear weapons in the future.
In keeping with the Hyde Act, the 123 Agreement does not provide for guarantees of uninterrupted supply of nuclear fuel and contains provisions whereby the US can terminate the agreement citing any reason. It is because of such provisions that there is a real risk of India becoming vulnerable to blackmail by the US in the future. For example, the US may threaten to terminate the 123 Agreement and put India back under nuclear sanctions in order to pressurize India to support an attack on Iran. In such a case, India’s nuclear energy program based on imported reactors and fuel would immediately be crippled. However, the IAEA safeguards will still remain since the safeguards are for perpetuity. This would take away India’s flexibility in using its own uranium resources.
There is a significant difference between the previous IAEA agreements negotiated by India and the current IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Whereas on earlier occasions, the IAEA was brought in to oversee safeguards that were associated with nuclear agreements that had already been agreed to, the current Safeguards Agreement is a pre-condition to the conclusion of the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the US.
Q: What are the major issues concerning the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA?
A: In the UPA-Left Committee, the UPA claimed that they should be allowed to proceed with the IAEA Safeguards Agreement which would incorporate assurances of uninterrupted fuel supplies and various other corrective measures which the Government had failed to secure in the 123 Agreement. The Left Parties were skeptical about these issues being resolved in the IAEA. After negotiating the Safeguards Agreement the UPA refused to show the text to the Left Parties. Without taking the Indian people into confidence, the UPA Government went ahead stealthily and submitted the text to the IAEA Board of Governors, belying the commitment made by the External Affairs Minister that the Government will proceed to the IAEA only if it wins the vote of confidence in Parliament. Since then the text of the Safeguards Agreement has become public. It is clear that the text was hidden from the Indian people in order to suppress the fact that India is about to bind its entire civilian nuclear energy programme into IAEA safeguards in perpetuity without getting concrete assurances regarding uninterrupted fuel supply, the right to build strategic reserves and the right to take corrective steps in case fuel supplies are stopped.
India already has had the experience of the US suspending nuclear fuel supplies to the Tarapur Atomic Power Station in 1983, reneging upon a thirty year contract signed in 1963. The key question therefore with respect to IAEA safeguards is: whether we have ensured that once India’s civilian reactors go under safeguards in perpetuity, the country would not be blackmailed by the withholding of nuclear fuel supplies as the United States did in Tarapur following Pokhran-I? The answer is clearly NO.
The text of the Safeguards Agreement makes it clear that the repeated assurances made by the UPA Government in Parliament and outside on securing uninterrupted fuel supply assurances and strategic fuel reserves have not been fulfilled. Neither does the IAEA supply nuclear fuel nor does it have any obligation regarding fuel supplies or India’s ability to build strategic reserves. The basic issue regarding the IAEA agreement is that the “corrective measures” that India can adopt in terms of withdrawing its nuclear reactors from IAEA safeguards, in the case of fuel supplies being stopped, is not spelt out in any meaningful terms in the text of the Agreement. There is only a vague mention of “corrective measures” in the Preamble of the IAEA agreement. Under the Hyde Act, IAEA safeguards are to be imposed on India’s civilian nuclear facilities in perpetuity. The UPA government had repeatedly claimed that India would put its civilian reactors under safeguards under the strictly reciprocal condition of assured fuel supply. If fuel supply was disrupted India would have the right to take corrective measures, including taking reactors out of IAEA safeguards. The UPA Government has failed to secure this reciprocity in the IAEA Safeguards Agreement.
As against the vagueness of the “corrective measures” figuring in the Preamble, what is spelt out clearly in the body of the agreement (Paragraph 32) is that India can withdraw any facility out of IAEA safeguards only if it strips it of all capability of producing nuclear energy – that is, until all the facilities and material supplied to India under these safeguards are either returned or consumed or no longer usable for any nuclear activity. This provision will not allow a single reactor to be taken out of safeguards even if nuclear fuel supply to India is disrupted. The UPA Government claims that the references to uninterrupted fuel supply, building strategic reserves and “corrective measures” contained in the Preamble of the Safeguards Agreement meets India’s requirements and safeguards national interest. However, it is well established in international law that the Preamble of an international agreement cannot be used to create additional rights or obligations that are not contained in the clauses of the agreement. There are no corrective measures specified in the operative clauses of the agreement.
The Left Parties had asked the UPA government to spell out the following vis-à-vis the IAEA Safeguards Agreement:
v In case the US or other countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group renege on fuel supply assurances for imported reactors, will India have the ability to withdraw these reactors from IAEA safeguards?
v If the US/NSG countries renege on fuel supply assurances, can we withdraw our indigenous civilian reactors from IAEA safeguards?
v If we have to bring nuclear fuel from the non-safeguarded part of our nuclear programme for these reactors in case of fuel supply assurances not being fulfilled, will we have the ability to take it back again?
v What are the corrective steps India can take if fuel supplies are interrupted by the US/NSG countries?
v What are the conditions that India must fulfill if the corrective steps are to be put into operation?
These concerns have not been met by the unspecified “corrective measures” inserted in the Preamble of the Safeguards Agreement. For the facilities it proposes to put under IAEA safeguards, India will be treated as a Non-Nuclear Weapon State. India will not have any special rights in its safeguarded facilities. This directly contradicts the assurances given by the Prime Minister to Parliament that India would be recognized as a Nuclear Weapon State. Nuclear Weapon States, as defined in the NPT, have the right to take any facility out of safeguards, a right India will not have for the reactors it is offering to IAEA for safeguards.
Q: What are risks associated with the subsequent steps required to operationalise the nuclear deal?
A: Once the text of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement is approved by the IAEA Board of Governors, the subsequent steps require no participation at all by the Government of India. It is the US Government that takes the next steps – moving the NSG countries for the waiver and then placing the 123 Agreement before the US Congress. As far as India is concerned, the nuclear deal therefore goes into an auto-pilot mode once the IAEA Safeguards Agreement is sealed.
The US has the responsibility of moving the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to modify its rules to permit nuclear commerce with India in the civilian nuclear energy sector. The 45-member NSG was created in the first place by the US specifically to isolate India after the nuclear explosions in 1974 (Pokhran-I) and deny it access to nuclear fuel and technology. Even if the Nuclear Suppliers Group lays down unacceptable conditions before granting a waiver for nuclear commerce with India, the IAEA Safeguards Agreement will remain and bind the country for the future.
It is clear that the IAEA Safeguards Agreement does not address the fundamental problems in the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement. As a result of operationalising the nuclear deal, India will place its expensive imported reactors under perpetual IAEA safeguards and risk their permanent shutdown in case it fails to toe the US line on foreign policy issues. Thus going ahead with the Safeguards Agreement will be harmful to India’s interests.
Q: Is it possible for India to get the NSG waiver through the US and then reduce dependence upon the US by trading with countries like Russia and France?
A: The NSG granting more favourable terms to India than those offered by the US is ruled out since the Hyde Act clearly preempts such a possibility. In October 2007, the US Congress had asked the US Administration to ensure that the NSG waiver for India is strictly in accordance with the Hyde Act provisions: (i) IAEA safeguards will be there in perpetuity, (ii) if one NSG member country terminates nuclear commerce with India, so will all others and (iii) no access for dual-use technologies will be provided to India. That the draft proposal already submitted by the US to the NSG incorporates these requirements is clear from press reports. Simply put, this implies that the US can re-impose its nuclear sanctions on India any time it wants, which will have to be followed by other NSG countries. Moreover, most of the existing sanctions on nuclear technology will continue and the waiver will only be for nuclear fuel and reactors. Therefore, there is no possibility for India to bank upon other NSG countries like Russia and France for nuclear supplies independent of the conditions imposed by the US.
Energy Security and Nuclear Power
Q: Will the Indo-US nuclear deal ensure India’s energy security?
A: The Indo-US Nuclear Deal is not about India's energy security. India’s energy security in the near future primarily lies in using indigenous energy resources such as coal and ensuring our energy supplies from West Asian countries like Iran and from Central Asia. Augmenting indigenous coal production, investing in oil exploration and securing gas supplies through the Iran Gas Pipeline are much more important for India’s energy security for the next 15-20 years than importing nuclear reactors and uranium. India’s energy security certainly does not lie in buying billions of dollars of reactors from the moribund US nuclear industry, from which nobody is buying in the US.
The crisis in India’s power sector is the result of a systematic attempt by successive Governments to curb public investments, hoping to make high-cost private power more acceptable to the people. It is this starving of the power sector of investments that has produced the current crippling power shortages. The immediate need is to provide adequate outlays for the power sector and to embark on the quickest and cheapest way of eliminating the current electricity shortages while keeping all our options open. The nuclear deal is of no use in this since imported nuclear plants are not only much more expensive but also take much longer to build than coal-fired ones.
Contrary to the propaganda unleashed by the Government that the nuclear deal would immediately solve the power shortages in the country, the reality is that even if the order for imported reactors is placed the day the deal is finally signed, it will take at least 7-8 years from that date before any electricity is produced in these plants, going by international experience. As against this, coal-fired plants can be built in 3-4 years, i.e. we can build a coal-fired plant in about half the time it takes to build a nuclear power plant. Gas fired plants can be built even faster. With the new strikes of natural gas in the Kaveri-Godavari Basin in Andhra Pradesh, gas for producing power quickly is an attractive option.
Q: What is the cost of nuclear power?
A: Nuclear power plants built with imported nuclear reactors will be three times as costly as coal-fired plants. Simply put, with the same amount of money we can install three coal-fired plants against one nuclear plant of the same capacity. Moreover, the cost of electricity from imported nuclear plants will be more than Rs. 5.00 per unit as against about Rs. 2.00 to Rs. 2.50 per unit from coal-fired plants.
The Government claims that we can add 40,000 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power through imported reactors to ensure energy security. This will cost Rs. 3.6 to 4 lakh crore, going by the minimum cost of nuclear power plants at $2000 per kilowatt. At least 100,000 MW of electricity can be generated through coal-based thermal power plants with the same investment. Moreover, if India can afford the amount of Rs. 4 lakh crore, then besides generating 40,000 MW of power through coal-based plants to ensure energy security, the money saved can also be used to wipe out illiteracy, provide free education and health for all and ensure universal food security. Therefore, the nuclear deal is not so much in India’s interests than in the interests of the nuclear power industry in the US and elsewhere which is keen to sell nuclear reactors to India.
Q: How much can nuclear power contribute to our energy needs?
A: Nuclear power’s contribution to India’s total energy needs can at best be marginal. India currently has a total installed capacity of generating 143,000 MW of power, out of which only around 3% comes from nuclear power (4120 MW). Official estimates suggest that power generation capacity in India would rise to 700,000 to 800,000 MW by 2032, out of which only 6-8% would be produced by nuclear power plants. Coal currently meets about 66% of our electricity generation and will remain the primary energy resource in the near future. India has adequate reserves of coal to last for the next 100 years. A realistic energy plan should therefore place primacy on coal, which we have in abundant measure in the country.
The current push for expensive imports of nuclear power plants reminds of the Enron deal of 1992, when India was pushed by the US not only to accept expensive power produced by the American power generation company but also to offer heavy concessions to it in terms of assured power purchases by the Maharashtra State electricity Board (MSEB) and Government counter-guarantees. Once Enron’s Dabhol power plant started producing power in 1999, the high cost of electricity at Rs.5-7 per unit, which the MSEB was forced to buy, turned it bankrupt within two years. If a 2,000 MW Enron plant sank the largest State Electricity Board in the country, the impact of pushing 40,000 MW of high-cost nuclear power from imported reactors, as the UPA Government wants to do, may well be imagined.
Q: Are the Left Parties opposed to nuclear energy?
A: The Left Parties believe that nuclear energy has a place as an energy option for India and this option needs to be kept open for the future. India’s nuclear scientists have developed nuclear energy under difficult conditions and in the face of international sanctions. Undoubtedly, India’s indigenous nuclear technology and scientific skills have to be nurtured. India has already mastered the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) technology and can indigenously build power plants of capacity up to 540 MW. Indian scientists are also very close to commercialising the thorium based Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) technology in which they are world leaders. India has abundant reserves of thorium and the FBR technology, once fully developed, will provide a boost to the indigenous nuclear energy sector.
The issue is not whether India should invest in nuclear energy but whether India's nuclear energy programme should be based on indigenous technology of PHWRs and FBRs or on imported Light Water Reactors (LWRs)? The Left Parties feel that the emphasis in India’s nuclear energy sector should be on indigenous technologies and not on imported technologies. India should seek self-reliance in the nuclear energy sector and not become dependent on foreign supplies of nuclear technology and fuel. Moreover, given India’s total energy demand, nuclear energy can in any case meet only a small proportion and cannot be a solution in itself to India’s energy problems.
Instead of investing in indigenous nuclear technology, the UPA Government is pushing for importing Light Water Reactors of 10,000 MW capacity in the immediate future, which will go up to 30,000-40,000 MW over the next 20 years. This would make India’s nuclear power sector completely dependent on imported uranium, which is controlled by an international cartel. Because of this cartel the price of uranium has gone up by five times in the last few years. Instead of providing energy security, such heavy dependence on imported uranium and imported reactors will make India vulnerable to the dictates of the US which controls the uranium cartel.
Q: Is there a “nuclear renaissance” in the world as is being claimed by the Government?
A: Nuclear power is not the energy of choice for most advanced countries. “Nuclear renaissance” is a hype created by the nuclear industry in the US, Western Europe and Japan. In all these countries taken together, the total number of nuclear plants being built currently is only 3. This is against 20 new plants being commissioned every year in the 1980s, which were the heydays of nuclear energy.
The US itself commissioned its last nuclear power reactor in 1996 and has not licensed a new reactor now for more than 27 years. The US nuclear equipment industry is yet to secure a single order despite the promise of billions of dollars in subsidies from the Bush Administration. Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Power, one of the companies proposing to build a new nuclear plant in the US, expressed his pessimism about Duke’s ability to build this plant. In his testimony before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, he said, “I'm not a true believer.... We're talking about a renaissance in nuclear. I don't see it.”
It is in order to bail out its dying nuclear industry that the US is so keen on India signing the nuclear deal and purchasing nuclear reactors from the US. Condoleezza Rice, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (April 5, 2006) pointed out the benefits of the deal for the US: “This initiative will create opportunities for American jobs. Nuclear cooperation will provide a new market for American nuclear firms…The initiative may add as many as three to five thousand new direct jobs in the United States and about ten to fifteen thousand indirect jobs in the United States, as the United States is able to engage in nuclear commerce and trade with India.”
Q: Is there a uranium shortage in India for which we need the nuclear deal?
A: The UPA Government is currently conveying a picture that India’s nuclear energy programme is short of fuel and only the nuclear deal can bail India out of this shortage. There is no doubt that India is currently experiencing a shortage of uranium compared to what is required for running its PHWRs. However, the question arises whether this shortage is due to actually running out of nuclear fuel as is being projected by the Government or whether it is an artificial shortage created either through a lack of proper planning or deliberately in order to push a high-cost import-based nuclear energy policy?
It is a well-known fact that India has limited resources of natural uranium: around 61,000 tons of uranium ores in its soil. However, even this amount can sustain a total PHWR capacity of 10,000-15,000 MW whereas India’s current installed capacity for nuclear power is only 4,120 MW. Then how come we already have a shortage of fuel? The current uranium shortage has been created because of inadequate allocation of funds to the uranium-mining sector by the Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry since the early 1990s. The public sector Uranium Corporation of India has also been managed inefficiently in the recent past, as a result of which even existing uranium mines have been shut down. Rather than addressing these deficiencies, the UPA Government is trying to use the current uranium shortage to push for the nuclear deal.
The Nuclear Power Corporation, in a Press Release dated 20th August 2007 had made it clear that the current uranium shortage is a temporary one. With the opening of new mines and the new ore processing facility the shortage will soon be overcome. Moreover, the Department of Atomic Energy’s (DAE) plan prior to the nuclear deal was to raise the nuclear power capacity to 20,000 MW by 2020 and to 25% of India’s electricity needs by 2050. All this was planned with indigenous fuel resources. For none of this was a serious shortage of nuclear fuel projected either by the DAE or the Planning Commission. The sudden hue and cry over uranium shortage is therefore nothing but another ploy to sell the nuclear deal.
Q: Is nuclear energy the answer to climate change and global warming?
A: The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative source on climate change and global warming, has made it clear that nuclear energy will have only a marginal impact on global warming, simply because its total contribution to the energy needs of the world is relatively insignificant. A IPCC Working Group Report on “Mitigation of Climate Change” says: “Given costs relative to other supply options, nuclear power, which accounted for 16% of the electricity supply in 2005, can have an 18% share of the total electricity supply in 2030 at carbon prices up to 50 US$/tCO2-eq, but safety, weapons proliferation and waste remain as constraints.” Therefore, the major thrust for reducing greenhouse gases would be greater energy efficiency, emphasis on public transport, thrust for renewable energy sources like hydro, solar and wind power and clean coal technologies.
It is the US that has been advancing the argument that the nuclear deal will enable India to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Nicholas Burns writes, “This agreement will deepen the strategic partnership, create new opportunities for US businesses in India, enhance global energy security, and reduce India's carbon emissions” (Foreign Affairs, Nov/Dec 2007). The US is peddling such arguments at a time when India's per capita emissions are one-twentieth to that of the US. The US position is that if the world is endangered by greenhouse emissions, the burden of adjustment must lie on developing countries like India and China to limit their emissions. As far as its own greenhouse emissions are concerned, the US is yet to accept a cap. George Bush senior expressed quite clearly that “American lifestyles are not open to negotiations”.
Q: Will investing heavily in nuclear energy reduce our dependence on imported oil and reduce the burden of rising oil prices?
A: Oil and gas comprise about 45% of our primary energy demand. Oil alone accounts for about 35% of our primary energy demand of which more than 50% is in the transport sector – cars, buses and trucks — and the rest in petrochemicals and fertilizers. In contrast, nuclear energy accounts for only 1.5% of our primary energy demand. Only a negligible amount of oil – less than 3% of the total oil consumption – is used in power plants. Nuclear energy cannot be used as a substitute for oil except for this 3%; unless the Government has found a new way to burn uranium to run buses and cars!
While nuclear energy cannot be used in transport in place of oil, natural gas can be, as shown by the use of CNG in Delhi. Therefore, the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline is far more important for India’s energy needs than imported nuclear reactors and fuel. However, Condoleezza Rice, testifying before Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 5, 2006 had said: “Diversifying India's energy sector will help it to meet its ever increasing needs and more importantly, ease its reliance on hydrocarbons and unstable sources like Iran. This is good for the United States.” Subsequent pronouncements by US officials and Congressmen against the Iran gas pipeline have made it clear that the US wants to sabotage the pipeline project. Not only does the US want India to join in its efforts to isolate and target Iran (as stipulated in the Hyde Act), but it also wants to enable the sale of billions of dollars worth of American nuclear reactors to India. This shows how the real costs of the nuclear deal far exceeds its supposed benefits.
Foreign Policy, Strategic Affairs and Economic Issues
Q: How does the nuclear deal affect India’s foreign policy?
A: The Hyde Act stipulates that civil nuclear cooperation with a non-NPT signatory country like India can occur only if:
v The country has a functioning and uninterrupted democratic system of government, has a foreign policy that is congruent to that of the United States, and is working with the United States on key foreign policy initiatives related to nonproliferation; [Section 102 (6) B]
v Annual certification and reporting to the US Congress by the President on a variety of foreign policy issues such as, “India is fully and actively participating in United States and international efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran...” [Section 104g(2) E (i)]
v Indian participation and formal declaration of support for the US’s highly controversial Proliferation Security Initiative, including the illegal policy of interdiction of vessels in international waters [Section 104g(2) K]
v India conforming to various bilateral/multilateral agreements to which India is not currently a signatory, such as the US’s Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group etc. [Section 104c E, F, G]
That the Indian Government has been working on a foreign policy “congruent” with that of the US can be seen in its two votes against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 and in February 2006. Richard Lugar, who was Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in his opening statement for a meeting on Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation on 28 June 2006 stated: “We have already seen strategic benefits from our improving relationship with India. India’s votes at the IAEA on the Iran issue last September and this past February demonstrate that New Delhi is able and willing to adjust its traditional foreign policies and play a constructive role on international issues”.
The Government claims that the intrusive provisions of the Hyde Act are in the non-binding sections of the Act and therefore India need not care about them. However, what is being deliberately overlooked is the annual certification clause of the Hyde Act, by which the US Congress will have to be kept informed of India’s good behaviour in living up to the Hyde Act. In case such a certificate is not forthcoming or if the Congress is not satisfied with the US President’s certificate, the Congress can take measures to terminate civil nuclear co-operation. This would mean that the US would always use the Hyde Act or the US Congress as a constant source of pressure on India’s foreign policy. The deeper we are in a nuclear co-operation, the larger the investments made on imported nuclear reactors and fuel, the more would be the pressure.
The US has been increasing its belligerence against Iran, imposing sanctions and threatening to launch military attacks. The US is also pressurising India to line-up with the US and Israel against Iran. The Iran–Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, meant to supply Iranian natural gas to India in order to meet our energy needs, has been deliberately slowed down owing to pressure from the US. Gary Ackerman, a US Congressman (also Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia) has said on 27th June 2008: “I have a very difficult time understanding why the government of India continues to pursue a pipeline with Iran and Pakistan at a time when other nations in the world are not just implementing UN approved sanctions, which is India's historic position, but are going further by cutting off access to banking services and discouraging other economic interactions with Iran”. This clearly shows the quid pro quo involved in the nuclear deal with the US.
Q: Would becoming a junior partner of the US serve India’s national interest?
A: India has a long tradition of pursuing an independent foreign policy since its independence and was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, following the collapse of the USSR and the rightward shift in India’s policy paradigm, signified by the adoption of the New Economic Policy in 1991, sustained efforts have been made by successive Indian Governments to align India with the US, the sole superpower in the world. Vigorous attempts to forge a strategic partnership with the US were made under the BJP-led NDA Government, which shared the vision of the neoconservatives of the US that India, like Israel, is a natural ally of the US led “West” in the “clash of civilizations” against the Islamic world and China. The world has seen the catastrophic fallout of this distorted vision under the Bush Administration – the “war without end” against terrorism, which has led to the devastation of Afghanistan, invasion and occupation of Iraq and targeting of Iran, Syria and North Korea. The aggressive militarism of the Bush Administration is solely meant to perpetuate the American domination of the world in the 21st century. The mindless devastation of countries and the killing of innocent people by the US war machine, far from combating terrorism, have provided fertile grounds for the terrorists, creating enormous insecurity and social instability across the world. India’s interests cannot be served by allying with such a hegemonic imperialist power, which is reviled around the world. India’s national interests are best served by strengthening the trends towards multi-polarity in world affairs, by pursuing closer relations with major developing countries like Russia, China, Brazil, South Africa and other NAM countries, improving relations with our South Asian neighbours and forging energy and economic ties with the countries of West Asia and South East Asia. This can only be achieved by pursuing an independent foreign policy.
Q: Has the UPA Government pursued an independent foreign policy during its tenure, as promised in the CMP?
A: The CMP states: “The UPA government will pursue an independent foreign policy keeping in mind its past traditions. This policy will seek to promote multi-polarity in world relations and oppose all attempts at unilateralism.” On relations with the United States, the CMP states: “Even as it pursues closer engagement and relations with the USA, the UPA government will maintain the independence of India’s foreign policy position on all regional and global issues.” There was no mention of strategic ties with the US because it was evident that such a strategic relationship would go contrary to the main direction of foreign policy proposed in the CMP. The subsequent decision by the UPA Government to project the building up of an Indo-US strategic partnership as the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy, of which the nuclear deal is the centrepiece, has gone against the spirit and direction of the foreign policy envisaged in the CMP.
The UPA Government has considerably weakened its ties with West Asian countries: by siding with the US on Iran, remaining silent about the continuing occupation of Iraq and gradually abandoning the Palestinian cause. The response of the UPA Government to Israeli atrocities in Gaza or Israeli aggression against Syria and Lebanon have been muted. In contrast, defence and security ties with Israel have grown, with India emerging as the biggest buyer of arms from Israel in the world under the UPA regime. India also launched an Israeli satellite from Sriharikota in January 2008, which would enable Israel to spy on Iran and other West Asian countries. Moreover, rather than pursuing a “look-East policy”, the UPA Government participated in the efforts to forge a US-Japan-Australia-India axis, conducting joint naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal in September 2007. This move was resented by China and other South East Asian countries. There is not even one major foreign policy success registered by the UPA Government vis-à-vis any country in the world other than the US.
Q: What are the implications of the Indo-US strategic partnership for India’s security and defence?
A: The most dangerous aspect of the UPA Government’s foreign and strategic policies has been the unmistakable move towards cementing a military alliance with the US. The Defence Framework Agreement with the US signed in June 2005, which was signed even before the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement was initiated, has been deliberately underplayed by the Government as well as the mainstream media. Under this agreement, India is to collaborate with the US in its military operations, offer India’s military facilities to the US navy and air force, step up purchase of military hardware from the US and also cooperate with the US on its “National Missile Defense” system meant to target Russia and China.
Following the Defence Framework Agreement, Indo-US joint military exercises have been stepped up significantly. According to Defence Ministry’s figures provided in August 2007, 11 army exercises, 5 naval exercises and 3 air exercises have been conducted jointly with the US since 2004. This is more than the number of joint military exercises that India had with any other country during this period. Defence purchases from the US have also increased under the UPA rule, with helicopters, military aircrafts and warships worth over $2 billion bought in the last four years. A CAG Report released in March 2008 found that a 36-year-old US warship USS Trenton—planned to be decommissioned by the US in 2006—was purchased by the UPA Government at a sum of $50 million without even a physical inspection. Six Indian sailors died in February 2008 due to a gas leak in this defective and accident-prone warship. Despite such experiences, the UPA Government has continued to pursue defence deals with the US. Pressure is being mounted on India to award the $10 billion contract for acquiring 126 fighter aircrafts to American companies.
Q: What are the implications of the Indo-US strategic partnership for India’s economic policies?
A: The strategic alliance that the UPA Government is seeking to cement with the US has serious implications for the Indian economy and the well-being of the Indian people. Since the NDA rule itself, economic relations with the US have moved far beyond normal economic ties in terms of trade and investment. There is an effort to closely integrate the Indian economy with that of the US, particularly in the financial sector, and allow US based MNCs to expand their sphere of influence in crucial sectors of the Indian economy like agriculture and retail trade. Indian big capital also seeks to attain its global ambitions in league with American big business. It is basically the interests of corporate India, and not the aam admi, which lie at the heart of the Indo-US strategic alliance.
The fact that the UPA Government has continued in the same direction as the BJP-led NDA in this regard is explained by the common pro-big business orientation shared by the BJP and the Congress. Two significant steps in the economic sphere were announced in the Bush-Manmohan joint statement issued during the Bush visit to India in March 2006. A report of the US-India CEO Forum titled ‘US-India Strategic Economic Partnership’, which was released during the Bush visit, was welcomed in the joint statement ‘agreeing to consider its recommendations’. This Forum of CEOs of Indian and American companies, co-chaired by Ratan Tata and William Harrison of JP Morgan Chase, was formed during the visit of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US in July 2005 with “a mandate to develop a road map for increased partnership and cooperation between the two countries at a business level”. Secondly, a US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative, which was announced during Manmohan Singh’s US visit, was formally launched. The Board of the Agricultural Knowledge Initiative formed by the two countries, which included representatives of Monsanto and Wal-Mart from the US side and ITC from the Indian side besides bureaucrats and some academics, was to work towards supporting the ‘Evergreen Revolution’ based on ‘market-oriented agriculture’. These two steps went much beyond partnership and cooperation between the Indian and the American businesses, and sought to rework entire policy frameworks governing almost all the major sectors of the Indian economy.
Q: What are the recommendations of the US-India CEO Forum?
A: The major recommendations of the US-India CEO Forum was to initiate a dialogue on a US-India Free Trade Agreement, in order to further open up the Indian & US economies for freer trade in services and products. Only 4 out of a total of 30 recommendations of the CEO Forum were meant to benefit the Indian side, including civilian nuclear cooperation with India, allowing access and transfer of dual-use technologies to India and liberalizing the US visa regime required for Indian service providers in IT (H1B/L1 visas) and healthcare (EB3 visa for nurses). The fine print of the Indo-US nuclear deal, which is an outcome of this strategic partnership between Indian and US big capital, has already made it clear that civilian nuclear cooperation with India can only happen under severely restrictive conditions and would be sustained only if Indian foreign policy is aligned to that of the US. As far as transfer of technology is concerned, full civilian nuclear cooperation has already been ruled out by the Hyde Act and the bar on transfer of dual-use technologies would remain. The promise of liberalizing visa restrictions in the US for Indian professionals, especially in the IT/ITES sector, has got caught up in the fierce debate over immigration in the US, with a substantial section of policymakers being of the opinion that workers in the US are losing out due to immigration of skilled workers from India. Therefore, the benefits supposed to accrue to Indians from the strategic partnership have remained by and large illusory.
On the other hand, 21 out of the 30 recommendations of the CEO Forum were exclusively addressed to India, most of them in the form of demands for policy changes related to specific sectors of the Indian economy for the obvious benefits of US corporates. This includes:
v Liberalization of norms for infrastructure investments;
v Market-driven reforms in the power and oil & gas sectors;
v Further liberalization of the telecom sector and ensuring a ‘level playing field’ between the private and public-sector telecom companies;
v Raising the FDI cap in the insurance sector, liberalization of FDI norms in banking;
v Liberalization of FDI norms in retail trade;
v Removal of FDI caps in sectors such as print media, broadcasting, cable and satellite systems and e-commerce;
v Liberalizing restrictions on FDI in real estate and initiating urban reforms like removal of urban land ceiling, reducing stamp duty etc.;
v Liberalization of defence procurement norms ;
v Liberalization of FDI in higher education, and so on.
These sets of recommendations, which aim to open up crucial sectors of the Indian economy for US capital, have since been earnestly pursued by the UPA Government. While the US side has not been forthcoming in obliging the Indian corporates’ modest demands, the UPA Government has taken the demands made by the US big capital through the CEO Forum so seriously that it has often tended to override the CMP in order to implement them.
The US-India CEO Forum had also called for a ‘harmonization’ of legislations related to Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) between India and the US, which in other words imply refashioning the patents regime in India to suit the monopoly interests of the US-based MNCs. Due to the intervention of the Left Parties, the UPA Government was forced, while making the third amendment to the Patents Act in 2005 as per TRIPS, to introduce several safeguards to protect the interests of the people. However, such provisions in the Indian patents law, which protect the interests of the people vis-à-vis MNCs have been sought to be subverted by the Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation on Intellectual Property issues, signed between India and the US in December 2006. According to the MoU the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) “will help train Indian patent and trademark examiners, develop education material for the examiners and produce a manual on patent practice for use by Indian examiners and the public”. By agreeing to allow the USPTO to teach the Indian Patent Office on how to look at patents and interpret patent legislation, the UPA Government is seeking to push the CEO Forum agenda through the backdoor.
Q: What would be the impact of the US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative on Indian agriculture?
A: The four areas in which cooperation is envisaged between India and the US under the US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI) are Food Processing and Marketing, Biotechnology, Water Management and University Capacity Building. The Prime Minister’s call for a ‘second green revolution’ in order to alleviate the crisis which has engulfed Indian agriculture is based on his belief in the US backed AKI to deliver the goods. However, scientific advances in agricultural research and biotechnology today occur under the aegis of agribusiness corporations like Monsanto with their monopoly rights secured through stringent patent regimes. Far from transferring scientific know-how to the public domain in India and benefiting Indian farmers, the AKI, which has Monsanto as one of its board members, is more likely to refashion the agricultural research system as well as the patent regime in India and increase the stranglehold of MNCs in the seed market to the detriment of the farmers. The Seed Bill piloted by the UPA Government, which has been widely criticized for promoting the interests of private seed companies and infringing upon the seed rights of farmers, is a pointer towards such dangers.
The vision of ‘market-oriented agriculture’ underlying the AKI has other serious implications for Indian agriculture and the livelihood of farmers. The discussions in the AKI board, which includes a Wal-Mart representative, on food processing and marketing as revealed by its Work Plan, centres around ‘Facilitating Agribusiness Investment in India’; ‘Drawing on the US experience in Contract Farming’; visits to India by potential investors in cold chain development based in the US to meet counterparts, survey existing infrastructure, and identify weaknesses in cold chain practices; and capacity building related to market data collection, processing, analysis and timely distribution of market information to farmers, agribusiness, and policymakers. The model of foreign and domestic agribusiness driven agriculture underlying the AKI becomes clear from these discussions. Through the AKI the way is being paved for the entry of US-based MNCs like Wal-Mart in warehousing and retail, to the detriment of millions of small farmers and retailers.
July 15, 2008
Folder No. 03
Uncompromising Fight Against Communal Forces
Having surrendered to US imperialism on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Congress Party managers and their new found friends have started a disinformation campaign that withdrawal of support to the UPA Government by the Left parties is helping the communal forces. It is the Congress Party which has relegated the fight against the communal forces and the need for secular mobilizations to the bottom of their agenda in its desperation to ally with the United States. It is not a stand-alone deal like a train compartment standing separately on a platform but part of a wider strategic alliance to make India the outpost of American interest in Asia, a process initiated by the BJP-led NDA Government which the Congress-led UPA Government wants to complete through this deal. How could the Congress expect the Left to support any such move to fulfil the NDA’s unfinished agenda? Now having taken this indefensible position, the Congress party wants the Left parties to agree to its reactionary shift to appease US imperialism and to open up India to US prescribed international and domestic policies.
The Left parties for the last two years have made their position crystal clear to the UPA Government and the Congress leadership that the Left would withdraw support to the Government if it went ahead with the deal. The deal that compromises India’s strategic autonomy, undermines an independent foreign policy and turns India into a junior partner of the US, is a violation of the Common Minimum Programme which is the basis of support of the Left parties to the Government. Thus the Left withdrawal of support to the Government is on a question of principle, a question of fundamental difference in policy which deeply affects the national interest. It is the Congress party and the Government it leads which is more interested in meeting its commitment to Bush than in fulfilling the Common Minimum Programme.
What has been the Congress record? Suddenly they have discovered that a vote against the Government means voting along with the BJP which is a communal force. In 1990, L.K. Advani was arrested after his rathyatra on the issue of building the Ram Temple at Ayodhya resulted in the killing of hundreds of innocent people. The Congress under Rajiv Gandhi, instead of defending secularism in this surcharged atmosphere, ganged up with the BJP to vote out the V. P. Singh government. It was the Congress party which destabilised the United Front Government led by Deve Gowda and then by I.K.Gujral. It was this action of the Congress which helped the BJP to come into power in 1998. When it withdrew support it was not on any question of principle, but it pulled down a secular Government because it could not tolerate not having the benefits of power.
Only recently, when Manmohan Singh referred to BJP leader and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as Bhishma Pitamah and literally pleaded with him to support the nuclear deal was he not appealing to communal forces?! When Congress shamelessly voted along with BJP during the NDA regime on a series of laws to push neo-liberal policies such as those relating to allowing foreign capital in insurance, banking etc. then was it not helping communal forces? Even now will the Congress publicly announce that it will not gang up with the BJP to push anti-worker legislations? The Congress thinks the people of this country have no intelligence that is why it is using the language of George Bush—if you are with us you are good, if you are not with us you are the enemy! Some people have even come up with the absurd argument; Advani and Modi are bigger enemies than Bush. So to fight Advani and Modi you have to sit in the lap of US imperialism! Strange logic indeed!
It is the CPI(M) and the Left parties which in 2004 following the verdict of the electorate, extended support to the UPA Government precisely because it wanted to undo the terrible record of the sangh parivar and BJP which had utilised the levers of power to try and hijack the constitution of India on a Hindutva platform. In spite of the fact that the large majority of Left parties MPs have been elected fighting both the Congress and the BJP, to ensure a secular Central Government the CPI(M) and Left parties took the unprecedented decision of supporting a Congress led Government. However knowing the record of the Congress party in its anti-people policies and its propensity of compromising with the communal forces, the CPI(M) and Left parties insisted that the decision would depend on the programme of the Government. Consequently the UPA alliance declared a Common Minimum Programme, on the basis of which the Left parties extended their support.
The understanding of the Left parties is very clear; There is a continuing grave danger of the communal forces. But you cannot fight communal forces just by cobbling up numbers of MPs to support you. The communal forces can be fought only on the basis of an alternative programme of Governance of a combination of policies to defend secularism and to bring economic and social relief to the people.
In this the Congress, as leader of the UPA Government has utterly failed. It has not only pursued the same economic policies of the BJP, but it has also compromised and vacillated in the fight against communalism.
Its most spectacular failure has been in its inability to control the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities. The Left parties had given five concrete proposals to control prices including universalisation of the rationing system, ban on futures trade in essential commodities, change in tax structures on petroleum products which amounted to 55p for every rupee of petrol and 35p for every rupee for diesel; but the Government refused. It preferred to give 2 lakh crore rupees tax concessions to big business every year, than to take measures to control prices and bring relief to the people. On all these issues, the Congress and the BJP hold the same views, they are committed to the same policies. Defence of anti-people policies in the name of protecting secularism makes a mockery of the fight for secularism.
In the States where Congress was in power, precisely because it failed to follow policies to bring relief to the people, the BJP and its allies could, in the absence of any viable alternative, utilise the popular discontent, to sweep back to power. In every single State election with the exception of Assam where the Congress barely managed to form Government, the Congress has lost power. Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, it is the Congress Governments failures which have helped the comeback of the communal forces.
In contrast in the three States where the CPI(M) and Left is in office, when elections were held, the uncompromising fight against communal forces and the pro-people policies ensured that the BJP could not win a single seat. The Left led States have an unparalleled record in ensuring peace and harmony between communities and the security of the minorities. The most stringent action is taken against any attempt to incite communal strife.
The second issue is that of actually taking on the communal forces in a political campaign and ensuring the rights of minority communities under attack from the sangh parivar. The Congress has refused to take action even though it has the power to do so. On the contrary it has often vacillated and compromised When for example the entire people of Tamilnadu supported the Sethu Samudram project meant for development of the State, the BJP and sangh parivar ran a virulent campaign against it in the name of religious belief. The UPA partner in Tamilnadu, the DMK refused to bow before the BJP campaign and ran a counter public campaign on the issues. The CPI(M) and CPI also mounted a widespread campaign. But the Congress immediately took a weak and vacillating position going to the extent of actually withdrawing its affidavit from the Supreme Court and in effect succeeded in totally delaying the project. This shows its incapability of confronting the communal forces.
The Sachar Committee was formed to inquire into the status of the minorities which gave its findings two years ago. The BJP ran a communal campaign dubbing it as minority appeasement. Once again the Congress went on the defensive. What prevented the Congress party from implementing the recommendations of the Sachar Committee? Why have adequate funds not been not been allocated in two successive budgets? In fact shockingly, according to facts given by the Finance Minister to Parliament, the percentage of loans given to Minority communities as part of priority sector loans of banks has actually come down in the years of the UPA Government rule from 9.62 per cent in March 2002 to 9.35 per cent in March 2006. The Congress is on the defensive against the BJP’s false charges because it does not have the political will to implement the Commission’s recommendations.
Even on issues of communal violence the Congress has adopted a compromising policy. Why did the Congress not use its power at the center to bring justice to the victims of communal genocide in Gujarat under Modi? For four years the Central Government refused to act. In meetings of the UPA-Left Coordination Committee, in the meeting of the National Integration Council, the CPI(M) had repeatedly asked for justice to the victims, demanded that the Central Government should order a CBI inquiry into the major cases of communal genocide. It refused to do so. It kept delaying the cases in the Supreme Court. Before the Gujarat elections it announced a package for the victims, but it was a case of too little, too late.
The Congress is running the Maharashtra Government. In power both in the Centre and the State, what has prevented it from implementing the Srikrishna report and arresting all the leaders, officials, police officers responsible for the terrible killings of innocents in Mumbai. The country welcomed the judgement given by the TADA Special Court in the Mumbai Serial bomb blast case which gave stringent sentences to the criminals responsible for the killing 250 people and injuring over 700.. But should there be double standards in implementing justice?
Terrorists have no religion or caste. Terrorism is a crime against humanity that needs to be erased. But Bush has run an international campaign to target one specific community. It is a matter of deep regret that this country has witnessed actions in States not only where the BJP is in power, but also in Congress run States in consonance with the Bush approach where in the name of internal security the most unfair and unjust targeting of the Muslim community has taken place. The CPI(M) is second to none in its fight against terrorism. CPI(M) cadre are in the forefront of the struggle in Jammu and Kashmir which is why many of them have been targeted and killed. In Tripura hundreds of communists have been martyred. But when the Congress or BJP by their actions target a specific community the CPI(M) has and will always oppose such a policy.
When there was strong evidence of bomb blasts by Hindu fundamentalists forces as in Nanded or in Jalgaon the Government has refused to probe the links and take strong action.
Such policies described by some as “soft Hindutva” policies only help the fundamentalist and communal forces.
The Congress has squandered the goodwill earned by the secular forces by not fulfilling the expectations of the people who voted for a secular Government in May 2004. It has violated the understanding it had reached with the Left parties. Its failure to frontally take on the communal forces and implement the common minimum programme and on the contrary strive to impose anti-people policies is directly responsible for the comeback of the BJP in many States.
The Congress should introspect why it is unable to counter the communal forces. As far as the CPI(M) and is concerned, we will continue our uncompromising fight against the communal forces on the basis of a principled stand.
Price Rise and Inflation
1. The UPA Governments commitment to the Bush administration to somehow push the nuclear deal through is in sharp contrast to its utter callousness and failure to tackle the major issue of skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, which drastically affects the poor, as well as all sections of working people. With an ever-increasing rate of inflation, presently at 11.63 per cent, the working people of India have become victims of what can only be termed the most massive pickpocketting exercise in recent years.
93% of India’s workforce is in the unorganised sector with no fixed income leave alone any compensation for price rise and 77% of the country’s population is surviving on less than Rs. 20 per day. Pensioners and senior citizens, single women and widows, those with a limited amount of savings find that inflation has drastically reduced their real income. The standard of living of middle class families has deteriorated with their having to cut down expenditures.
2. As it is, India has the largest percentage of malnourished population in the world. Now with rising prices in essential commodities and specifically food items, malnourishment and undernourishment is increasing. Inflation is going to take a heavy toll of our children’s health.
3. According to data collected from different centers in the country the average increase in the prices of some essential commodities are as follows:
Retail Prices: 2004 and 2008
Price in 2004
Price in 2008
Rs. 13 per kg
Rs. 19 per kg
Rs. 8 per kg
Rs. 13 per kg
Rs. 9 per kg
Rs. 14 per kg
Rs. 23 per kg
Rs. 34 per kg
Rs. 32 per kg
Rs. 42 per kg
Rs. 54 per litre
Rs. 77 per litre
Rs. 85 per litre
Rs. 122 per litre
Rs. 15 per litre
Rs. 20 per litre
Rs. 105 per kg
Rs. 118 per kg
Rs. 33.7 per litre
Rs. 50 plus per litre
Rs. 21.7 per litre
Rs. 34 plus per litre
Rs. 241.49 per cylinder
Rs. 300 plus per cylinder
Rs. 7 per kg
Rs. 10 per kg
4. The CPI (M) and other Left Parties had suggested concrete steps to bring down prices. A major set of demands relates to universalising the public distribution system, to give farmers a better price, to stop private procurement and to increase more essential commodities at controlled prices through ration shops. It is the wrong food policies of the UPA Government, which led to the initial rise in the prices of wheat, which shot up to 18 rupees a kilo in some places. Why? Because even though there was no shortfall in production of wheat, the Government allowed private procurement of wheat by multi-national companies and corporates. When there was no wheat for the ration shops it imported low quality wheat at almost double the price it paid to Indian farmers. But even that has not brought wheat to the homes of the poor. There is an acute shortage of wheat and rice in the ration shops.
In the name of APL and BPL the poor are being divided. The APL cardholders do not get any wheat or rice. The BPL cardholders also get less than their quotas. The UPA Government just like the erstwhile BJP Government, has been giving concession after concession to big capitalists amounting to an average of over 2 lakh crore rupees a year. But when it came to ensuring a universal public distribution system the Manmohan Singh Government refused on the plea that there was no money. Foodgrain allocations to the States were slashed by as much as 137.6 lakh tonnes in 2006-07.
The steps suggested by the CPI (M) would have protected the poor and working people from high prices of food items and it would also have had an impact of bringing down prices in the open market. By refusing to accept the CPI (M) proposals the Government showed that it is not with the aam aadmi.
5. The second important demand the CPI (M) had made was to ban future trade in essential commodities. This anti-people measure was introduced by the BJP Government in April 2003. Through this measure, speculative capital played havoc in trade in commodities like wheat, sugar and pulses pushing up prices. Under pressure from the Left parties while futures trading in 8 commodities (wheat, rice, tur, arhar, potato, chana, soya oil and rubber) have been banned, futures trading in other essential and agricultural commodities has continued. The recommendation for ban on futures trade in all such commodities has actually been made by two Parliamentary Standing Committees consisting of representatives of all parties including those in the UPA. But this step which would have brought down prices has not been taken by the UPA Government.
6. The third important demand of the CPI (M) was to reverse the price hikes of petrol, diesel and cooking gas cylinders. Because of the taxes imposed by the Central and State Governments on these products, the actual price the consumer pays is much higher than the cost. Various duties and taxes constitute nearly 55 per cent of the retail price of petrol and nearly 35 per cent of the price of diesel. Although some State Governments including the Left led Governments in Bengal, Kerala and Tripura have reduced their share of sales tax on petro-products, the Central Government continues with an unjustly high tax regime. Nearly 40 per cent of total excise duties colleted by the Central Government come from the oil and gas sector alone. The Finance Ministry refuses to give up on this easy means of mobilizing resources and continues with high indirect taxes on oil despite rising international oil prices.
The recent hike in the prices of petrol by Rs. 5, diesel by Rs. 3 and LPG by Rs. 50, which was the seventh petro-price hike in four years of UPA rule has further fuelled inflation. The Finance Minister has himself admitted that the petro-price hike has added to the inflationary pressures in the economy by having a cascading impact on transportation costs, agricultural inputs like fertiliser, petrochemicals, plastics, fibres etc. However, it was the Finance Minister who did not heed the demand of the Left Parties to reduce the excise and customs duties on petro-products. These demands were only partially met by doing away with the customs duty on crude and reducing excise duty by Re. 1 per litre. Had the excise duty been cut by a greater amount and a windfall profits tax imposed upon the private oil refineries, the oil price hike would have been unnecessary. However, the Finance Minister refused to act on these proposals, as it would have meant taxing the profits of private corporates. Neoliberal dogma has prevented the UPA Government from acting on the concrete demands made by the Left Parties.
Instead of meeting these demands the Government is spreading a disinformation campaign that price rise is an international feature and the Government can do nothing. What is the truth?
Is Inflation lower in India than in other countries?
The UPA Government claims that inflation today is a global phenomenon and prices are increasing in India because they are increasing in countries across the world. The Government also claims that that it is doing its best to deal with the situation and has been successful in keeping inflation in India lower than most countries. How true are these claims? While it is true that food and fuel prices have gone up globally, Governments across the world are also taking steps to counter inflation. The question is therefore, whether the Government of India has been more or less successful in tackling inflation and price rise than the Governments in most other countries. The answer is clearly no. Among the major developing countries in the world, the ones, which have experienced double-digit inflation in May-June 2008 besides India, are Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. All the other major economies had their inflation rates in single digits. Not only did the advanced economies like the US, Japan and West European countries have inflation rates lower than India, but even major developing countries of Asia like China, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand; Latin American countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico; and East European countries like the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary had inflation rates lower than that of India. The UPA Government’s claim that India’s inflation rate is lower than most other countries is untrue. The fact is that the Government of India has been among the worse performers in the world as far combating inflation is concerned.
Why has the UPA Government failed to tackle inflation?
The UPA Government has mainly relied upon monetary steps to tackle inflation, i.e. raising of interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India. The interest rates have been increased in order to slow down credit growth and curbing consumption and investment, with the hope that slowdown in overall demand will bring down prices. This is based upon a wrong understanding of why inflation is taking place in the present context. In recent years, inflation has been driven by sharp increases in prices of essential commodities like food and fuel. Since these are essential commodities, people do not reduce their consumption if their prices go up. Rather, people reduce expenditure on other non-essential items in order to maintain their consumption of essential commodities. Raising interest rates therefore rather than having any impact on the prices of essential commodities, make credit more expensive for farmers, small and medium industries and middle-class borrowers who borrow from banks to buy homes and other consumer items, thereby increasing their hardship. The only way that price rise of essential commodities can be tackled effectively is by the intervention of the Government in the market to control prices. However, the Prime Minister and other economic managers of the UPA Government (Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia), because of their strong neoliberal convictions, are opposed to any Government intervention in the market and they insist that market based monetary interventions are the best way to tackle inflation.
They argue that Government intervention in the market would “hurt growth”, which in other words mean curb the profits of big capitalists, traders and speculators. Since they are committed to the big capital-led skewed growth process in India, which has already created huge inequalities between the India of the rich and the India of the poor, they do not want to take any step, which will upset their “reforms framework”. The most glaring evidence of the UPA Government’s anti-people and pro-big capital approach was the refusal to act against the steel and cement companies, which had formed a cartel and steeply increased prices. The Government, while openly admitting that a cartel was responsible for rising cement and steel prices, did not invoke its legal powers to impose price controls but only resorted to issuing fruitless appeals issued to the industries to voluntarily reduce prices. It is this refusal to depart from the neoliberal dogma and market fundamentalism by the troika of Manmohan-Chidambaram-Montek that has precluded any meaningful step towards addressing price rise and inflation.
What are the causes behind global inflation?
Global inflation is a direct result of the policies pushed by imperialist countries through the WTO and other international agencies, which have dismantled national regulatory mechanisms, and opened up markets to greedy multinationals. The role of US imperialism in the enormous increase in international oil prices which is a major factor in global inflationary trends needs to be underlined. The US quest of grabbing oil resources in West Asia,the war and occupation of Iraq and military threats to countries like Iran has had a destabilising impact on the international oil market. Devastated Iraq can produce only one third of its potential production of oil. From around $25 per barrel before the Iraq war, the international price of oil has reached over $140 per barrel in recent times. According to a recent report as much as 60 per cent of the oil price rise is due to speculative capital and hoarding of oil by big companies. US based international financial companies like the Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which had suffered huge losses because of the crash in the US stock exchanges, have pumped in huge funds into the oil futures market in order to make speculative profits and cover their losses in other spheres. These financial speculators along with the multinational grain traders like Cargill, Monsanto, Syngenta and fertiliser companies are also responsible for the sharp increase in global food prices, precipitating food crisis and riots in several developing countries in recent times.
Another reason for increase in prices is the diversion of land from foodgrains to bio-fuel in many Western countries primarily the United States, with George Bush doling out huge subsidies for such bio-fuel production. Since the US was a big supplier of corn to the world market, the drop in its exports due to diversion of land has led to higher prices. Thus it is the policies of the United States, which is an important contributory factor to the present global inflation.
How should India deal with global inflation?
Global inflation, particularly the increase in oil and food prices, are a direct outcome of the international finance driven process of imperialist globalisation. Ironically, the UPA Government, while failing to recognise the obvious causes of global inflation and taking steps to insulate India from these adverse global trends, has been pushing for even greater integration with the imperialist world order and US imperialism by pursuing the strategic alliance with the US through the nuclear deal. The solution to the problem of global inflation does not lie either in high-cost nuclear energy or in becoming a junior partner of the US. It lies in strengthening economic self-reliance to ensure food security and forging close links with oil and gas exporting countries in West Asia like Iran and pursuing projects like the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
The UPA Government has violated the assurances of the Common Minimum Programme on the basis of which it had come into existence. Its present policies are no different from those eocnomic policies pursued by the previous BJP led Government. Indeed by following such policies the UPA Government led by the Congress is only helping to strengthen the communal forces. The communal forces cannot be fought by pursuing anti-people policies. The CPI(M) and the Left parties had been warning the Government to reverse these policies. Their refusal to do so and their adding salt to the wounds of the people by surrendering to the demands of US through the Indo-US Nuclear Deal cannot be tolerated.
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Narayanan veliancode .dubai