[Marxism] Indo-US Nuclear Deal: A Voice of Frustration

Sukla Sen suklasenp at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 23 03:18:23 MDT 2007


Special Article

Killing the N-deal
India’s Loss Is China’s Gain
Amulya Ganguli

There is a saying in Bengali, pagoler go badhey
ananda. It means that a mad man rejoices at the
killing of a cow. The Left's killing of the nuclear
deal can be said to fall into this category. From
their point of view, however, the comrades have
succeeded in delivering a near-fatal blow to India’s
development, as Sonia Gandhi claimed she did not quite
say in Haryana. But those reared on Marxist tomes will
recall Lenin’s emphasis on electricity. The phrase,
“Communism is Soviet power plus electrification”, was
a cornerstone of the Bolshevik dictator’s new economic
policy, which, incidentally, wasn’t quite communistic.
Although “soviet power” was not on Manmohan Singh’s
agenda, he was also crafting his economic policy on
the basis of electricity, mainly nuclear power. As the
Prime Minister has pointed out, India’s present high
growth rate cannot be maintained without a heavy
investment in nuclear power. Even Buddhadeb
Bhattacharjee has realized this need. Hence, his
favourable observations on nuclear power. 

Sources of energy

However, as the chairman and managing director of the
Nuclear Power Corporation, S.K.Jain, has pointed out,
“without the 123 Agreement, we will have to scale down
our nuclear power programme as we will not have access
to global sources of nuclear fuel”. So, the Left has
hit where it hurts India the most. Apparently drawing
inspiration from Dear Leader Kim Jong Il’s concept of
juche or self-reliance, the Left would like the public
sector to step into this field with greater vigour. It
also wants India to continue to use conventional
sources of energy and not depend on the American
manufacturers of nuclear reactors. But such an
initiative, recalling the halcyon days of “socialism”
when the public sector occupied the “commanding
heights of the economy”, cannot but also revive
memories of the snail-paced Hindu rate of growth. 
But an ideological preference for the public sector is
perhaps not the only factor behind the Left’s intense
opposition to the N-deal. Its objectives are a lot
more wide-ranging. First and foremost is its aversion
towards any sign of proximity to the US. It is this
distaste for anything to do with America and its
guiding philosophy of capitalism, which was behind all
the moves of the communists against economic reforms
before it launched its tirade against the N-deal. It
was this attitude which made Jyoti Basu describe
Montek Singh Ahluwalia as a World Bank man in the
early days of the UPA. 
At that time, however, the comrades were acting
relatively cautiously, presumably because they did not
want to create too much trouble for the government so
soon after it had assumed power. Their focus,
therefore, was on comparatively less controversial
issues like disinvestment ~ and that, too, of only the
navratnas. And, while they also blocked financial
sector and labour reforms, privatization of Kolkata
and Chennai airports (M Karunanidhi is another
self-proclaimed “socialist”), FDI in retail, foreign
universities, etc., their resistance lacked the
shrillness which they subsequently displayed on the
The reason perhaps was that although capitalism was
slowly replacing “socialism”, America itself was still
at a distance despite the arrival of McDonalds and
Kentucky Fried Chicken. The commissars, therefore,
could be said to be gradually, even if reluctantly,
coming to terms with the reality of the post-Soviet
world where the market (and “socialism with Chinese
characteristics”) was supplanting Marx. Considering
that AK Gopalan Bhavan had once ordered Alimuddin
Street not to let Warner Brothers build a multiplex in
Kolkata lest such a decision should affect the
prospects of the SFI in Delhi University students
union elections (!), one could say that the red
brigade was maturing. 
But that would have been a case of speaking too soon.
As the N-deal affair has shown, the Left remains
exactly where it was ~ in the Cold War period. Not
only that, it is probably still a remnant of the
1948-49 yeh azadi jhooti hai brigade, which wanted to
undermine the Indian state as it was supposed to be a
handmaiden of the imperialist world.
Now, the key word is neo-imperialism, and it is to
keep India out of the clutches of this evil group that
the comrades have donned their battle gear. In the
process, they do not seem to mind if they weaken
India, as their predecessors in the Telengana uprising
wanted to do, and their fellow travellers, the
Naxalities, are still frenetically trying to do. 
Theoretically, therefore, nothing seems to have
changed for the Left although it is functioning in the
open unlike the underground Naxalites. Otherwise, they
can be said to be acting in accordance with the plan
with which they assumed power in the Sixties in a
“bourgeois” system ~ to wreck it from within. The
scuttling of the N-deal will go some distance in
achieving this objective by stalling India’s
development. This is almost a mandatory first step for
the communists if they want to establish their
cherished “people’s democracy”, for they cannot
function in a developed country, as the examples of
Europe and the two Americas show. The communists seem
to have a vested interest in poverty. If you banish
poverty, you banish communism. 

Left’s worry

It is because of India’s steady advancement in
reducing the number of people below the poverty line
from 54.9 per cent in 1973-74 to 21.8 (according to
one estimate) and 27.5 (according to another), which
must be disconcerting for the Left. Since the signing
of the N-deal would give a further boost to the
present high growth rates, the poverty levels were
bound to come down further. But that might not have
been the Left’s only worry. It would have also
signalled India’s emergence as a major regional power
~ something which would not please China.
As it is, Indian democracy is a constant reminder to
China (and the world) of its Tiananmen Square-style
totalitarianism. In recent years, this stigma has been
partly mitigated by China’s economic growth, enabling
it to host the Olympics. But if India now catches up
with China in the economic field, the Middle Kingdom
will have a great deal to worry about. 
Although a senior member of the Communist Party of
China, Ai Ping, said recently that “we will not use
our party-to-party relations with the CPI or CPI(M) to
oppose” the N-deal since it is “an internal affair of
India”, he could not have been unaware of the efforts
of the Indian commissars to scuttle the deal. The
People’s Daily of Beijing had earlier noted that “the
India-US civilian nuclear energy agreement actually
demonstrates its (India’s) dream to become a big
power”. But thanks to our own comrades, this dream may
not be fulfilled, much to China’s and Pakistan’s
(The writer is a former Assistant Editor, The Statesman.)

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