Last month I'd written about the core issues around the US-Indo Nuclear deal. Yesterday the House of Representatives in the US Congress cleared the Nuclear Deal with 298 out of 415 members voting in favor. With only ten Republicans against it, most of the opposition (107 votes) came from the Democrats. It might be insightful to study the fund-raisers and contributions by the neo-conservative USINPAC to those who voted in favor. Even though the US Senate still has to clear it, after a 71% vote from Congress chances are that this is a done deal. And we are done for as Manmohan tells Bush:
“Mr. President, People of India deeply love you”.
In my initial rage I hurled abuses at both the huggers, especially the turbaned one for having the audacity to lick ass of a depraved criminal using our name, but soon returned to sanity. There is enough insanity going on. At least the turbaned one is displaying some emotion which is otherwise comparable to that of a paper-weight.
In the aftermath of multiple blasts in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi, within the last 2 months, Indian politicians and the mediascape have notched up the din on combating Terrorism with tougher terror laws. Even a catchy name has been assigned to the blasts that gels with the foot-tapping beats and motion graphics of News Networks. Operation BAD (Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi). The nifty acronym optimistically presumes that this might be the end of the operation since Delhi was bombed on the 13th of September.
The responsibility of the blasts was taken by a group that calls itself the Indian Mujahideen. In perverted displays of machismo, the group sent out emails to media networks and SMS messages to cops, minutes before the blasts, presaging the inevitable certainty of what was about to happen and taunting them to stop it if they could. Perhaps this was their idea of fair play and feeling invincible. Twenty one people were killed in Delhi that day.
When a bomb rips through a busy public place it kills without prejudice. It does not discriminate between a man, woman or a child, a believer or a kaffir, rich or poor, black, white, brown or yellow. It is unbiased as the harbinger of death and destruction to all those and that within its periphery. As it shamelessly robs its victims of life, it also rips through the social bonds they carry with their loved ones. Just like the barbarity of those who planted it and the truculence of a Government that vows revenge, a bomb is apathetic to that extended adjunct of its prey. These families and friends are left to deal with their psychological wounds on their own. Then there are those who are left maimed at the borders. A lost limb, a lost sense, shredded skin and a benumbed mind. These scars of trauma they carry for the rest of their lives.
Over the last month, I have been struggling to understand the nuclear deal and its intricacies. It was all made more complex by the acronyms (NSG, ENR, 123, Hyde Act), the cacophony (The Left, the BJP), the babel (Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Indian Media) and then the crisis (The July no-confidence motion against the UPA government). Somewhere in this mayhem, we lost perspective on what this ruckus is all about. Most "expert" opinions seemed to be either following ideology or emotional dribble rather than offering any logical arguments.
To be for it or against it, it is first important to understand it. I will try to explain it as simply and clearly as possible. The Hyde Act is a good place to start. It is an act initiated by the late Republican Rep. Henry J. Hyde and passed by the US Congress in January 2006. Current US policy forbids dealing, in nuclear technology, with nations that are not part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty. Currently India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are the only countries that are not part of it. The Hyde Act is an unusual exception made only for India. In fact, both Israel and Pakistan have demanded similar treaties but the US has refused.
While it may be of interest to think about why Uncle Sam is making this exception for India (after all, he's not really your Uncle), I think this line of thought opens up a hornet's nest of other political discussions (China, Afghanistan, India's anti-Iran vote, US hegemony, geopolitics etc.) and takes us away from the most moot question. One that we in India should really be asking.
India needs much more energy for its economy to grow and nuclear energy has been around for almost half a century. There are currently over 30 countries, including India, that are using nuclear power for energy purposes. None of these other nations have any special treaties with the US. So why does India need special permission? Once you ask yourself that question, the cacophonous din begins to die and the puzzle starts making sense.
On August 6 and 9, 1945, 63 years ago, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attacked with nuclear weapons. "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
Many of us were not alive yet, but on those two days 220,000 people were killed, most of them vaporized within minutes. Over the years thousands more have died in the region due to radiation and exposure.
Keiji Nakazawa, who was 6 years old at the time, is one of the few survivors from the attacks. He went on to create Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen), a manga (comic book series) about his memories. It became hugely popular and was adapted into three live action films.
His work becomes ever more pertinent today as we move to an age where nuclear weapons are considered safety nets and touted as weapons of peace.
Just saw Volker Schlndorff's Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum). The film is based on Gnter Grass' first book in his Danzig (GdaÅ„sk) trilogy about Kashubian life in Poland before the Nazi invasion. It follows the life of Oskar Matzerath the three year old who refuses to grow up. His refusal is a statement of protest against the grown up world. Disgusted by the hypocrisy around him, he orchestrates his own fall from the cellar stairs causing a head injury which arrests his growth. The voiceover chills you as he announces, in his shrill voice, just before his jump:
"That day, reflecting on the grown-up world and my own future, I decided to call a halt - to stop growing then and there and remain a three year old, a gnome, once and for all."
DeLappe actually 'walked' throughout second life online using a customized treadmill in NYC for 26 days, meeting people and asking them to join him. His journey is documented on his Satyagraha blog.