Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Well-Kept Open Secret: Washington Is Behind India’s Brutal Demonetization Project

In early November, without warning, the Indian government declared the two largest denomination bills invalid, abolishing over 80 percent of circulating cash by value. Amidst all the commotion and outrage this caused, nobody seems to have taken note of the decisive role that Washington played in this. That is surprising, as Washington’s role has been disguised only very superficially.
US-President Barack Obama has declared the strategic partnership with India a priority of his foreign policy. China needs to be reined in. In the context of this partnership, the US government’s development agency USAID has negotiated cooperation agreements with the Indian ministry of financeOne of these has the declared goal to push back the use of cash in favor of digital payments in India and globally.
On November 8, Indian prime minster Narendra Modi announced that the two largest denominations of banknotes could not be used for payments any more with almost immediate effect. Owners could only recoup their value by putting them into a bank account before the short grace period expired. The amount of cash that banks were allowed to pay out to individual customers was severely restricted. Almost half of Indians have no bank account and many do not even have a bank nearby. The economy is largely cash based. Thus, a severe shortage of cash ensued. Those who suffered the most were the poorest and most vulnerable. They had additional difficulty earning their meager living in the informal sector or paying for essential goods and services like food, medicine or hospitals. Chaos and fraud reigned well into December.
Four weeks earlier
Not even four weeks before this assault on Indians, USAID had announced the establishment of „Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership“, with the goal of effecting a quantum leap in cashless payment in India. The press statement of October 14 says that Catalyst “marks the next phase of partnership between USAID and Ministry of Finance to facilitate universal financial inclusion”. The statement does not show up in the list of press statements on the website of USAID (anymore?). Not even filtering statements with the word “India” would bring it up. To find it, you seem to have to know it exists, or stumble upon it in a web search. Indeed, this and other statements, which seemed rather boring before, have become a lot more interesting and revealing after November 8.
Reading the statements with hindsight it becomes obvious, that Catalyst and the partnership of USAID and the Indian Ministry of Finance, from which Catalyst originated, are little more than fronts which were used to be able to prepare the assault on all Indians using cash without arousing undue suspicion. Even the name Catalyst sounds a lot more ominous, once you know what happened on November 9.
Catalyst’s Director of Project Incubation is Alok Gupta, who used to be Chief Operating Officer of the World Resources Institute in Washington, which has USAID as one of its main sponsors. He was also an original member of the team that developed Aadhaar, the Big-Brother-like biometric identification system.
According to a report of the Indian Economic Times, USAID has committed to finance Catalyst for three years. Amounts are kept secret.
Badal Malick was Vice President of India’s most important online marketplace Snapdeal, before he was appointed as CEO of Catalyst. He commented:
 Catalyst’s mission is to solve multiple coordination problems that have blocked the penetration of digital payments among merchants and low-income consumers. We look forward to creating a sustainable and replicable model. (…) While there has been (…) a concerted push for digital payments by the government, there is still a last mile gap when it comes to merchant acceptance and coordination issues. We want to bring a holistic ecosystem approach to these problems.
Ten months earlier
The multiple coordination problem and the cash-ecosystem-issue that Malick mentions had been analysed in a report that USAID commissioned in 2015 and presented in January 2016, in the context of the anti-cash partnership with the Indian Ministry of Finance. The press release on this presentation is also not in USAID’s list of press statements (anymore?). The title of the study was “Beyond Cash”.
“Merchants, like consumers, are trapped in cash ecosystems, which inhibits their interest” in digital payment it said in the report. Since few traders accept digital payments, few consumers have an interest in it, and since few consumers use digital payments, few traders have an interest in it. Given that banks and payment providers charge fees for equipment to use or even just try out digital payment, a strong external impulse is needed to achieve a level of card penetration that would create mutual interest of both sides in digital payment options.
It turned out in November that the declared “holistic ecosystem approach” to create this impulse consisted in destroying the cash-ecosystem for a limited time and to slowly dry it up later, by limiting the availability of cash from banks for individual customers. Since the assault had to be a surprise to achieve its full catalyst-results, the published Beyond-Cash-Study and the protagonists of Catalyst could not openly describe their plans. They used a clever trick to disguise them and still be able to openly do the necessary preparations, even including expert hearings. They consistently talked of a regional field experiment that they were ostensibly planning.
“The goal is to take one city and increase the digital payments 10x in six to 12 months,” said Malick less than four weeks before most cash was abolished in the whole of India. To not be limited in their preparation on one city alone, the Beyond-Cash-report and Catalyst kept talking about a range of regions they were examining, ostensibly in order to later decide which was the best city or region for the field experiment. Only in November did it became clear that the whole of India should be the guinea-pig-region for a global drive to end the reliance on cash. Reading a statement of Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India, with hindsight, it becomes clear that he stealthily announced that, when he said four weeks earlier:
India is at the forefront of global efforts to digitize economies and create new economic opportunities that extend to hard-to-reach populations. Catalyst will support these efforts by focusing on the challenge of making everyday purchases cashless.
Veterans of the war on cash in action
Who are the institutions behind this decisive attack on cash? Upon the presentation of the Beyond-Cash-report, USAID declared: “Over 35 key Indian, American and international organizations have partnered with the Ministry of Finance and USAID on this initiative.” On the website one can see that they are mostly IT- and payment service providers who want to make money from digital payments or from the associated data generation on users. Many are veterans of,what a high-ranking official of Deutsche Bundesbank called the “war of interested financial institutions on cash” (in German). They include the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Gates Foundation (Microsoft), Omidyar Network (eBay), the Dell Foundation Mastercard, Visa, Metlife Foundation.
The Better Than Cash Alliance
The Better Than Cash Alliance, which includes USAID as a member, is mentioned first for a reason. It was founded in 2012 to push back cash on a global scale. The secretariat is housed at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDP) in New York, which might have its reason in the fact that this rather poor small UN-organization was glad to have the Gates-Foundation in one of the two preceding years and the Master-Card-Foundation in the other as its most generous donors.
The members of the Alliance are large US-Institutions which would benefit most from pushing back cash, i.e. credit card companies Mastercard and Visa, and also some US-institutions whose names come up a lot in books on the history of the United States intelligence services, namely Ford Foundation and USAID. A prominent member is also the Gates-Foundation. Omidyar Network of eBay-founder Pierre Omidyar and Citi are important contributors. Almost all of these are individually also partners in the current USAID-India-Initiative to end the reliance on cash in India and beyond. The initiative and the Catalyst-program seem little more than an extended Better Than Cash Alliance, augmented by Indian and Asian organizations with a strong business interest in a much decreased use of cash.
Reserve Bank of India’s IMF-Chicago Boy
The partnership to prepare the temporary banning of most cash in India coincides roughly with the tenure of Raghuram Rajan at the helm of Reserve Bank of India from September 2013 to September 2016. Rajan (53) had been, and is now again, economics professor at the University of Chicago. From 2003 to 2006 he had been Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington. (This is a cv-item he shares with another important warrior against cash, Ken Rogoff.) He is a member of the Group of Thirty, a rather shady organization, where high ranking representatives of the world major commercial financial institutions share their thoughts and plans with the presidents of the most important central banks, behind closed doors and with no minutes taken. It becomes increasingly clear that the Group of Thirty is one of the major coordination centers of the worldwide war on cash. Its membership includes other key warriers like Rogoff, Larry Summers and others.
Raghuram Rajan has ample reason to expect to climb further to the highest rungs in international finance and thus had good reason to play Washington’s game well. He already was a President of the American Finance Association and inaugural recipient of its Fisher-Black-Prize in financial research. He won the handsomely endowed prizes of Infosys for economic research and of Deutsche Bank for financial economics as well as the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Prize for best economics book. He was declared Indian of the year by NASSCOM and Central Banker of the year by Euromoney and by The Banker. He is considered a possible successor of Christine Lagard at the helm of the IMF, but can certainly also expect to be considered for other top jobs in international finance.
As a Central Bank Governor, Rajan was liked and well respected by the financial sector, but very much disliked by company people from the real (producing) sector, despite his penchant for deregulation and economic reform. The main reason was the restrictive monetary policy he introduced and staunchly defended. After he was viciously criticized from the ranks of the governing party, he declared in June that he would not seek a second term in September. Later he told the New York Times that he had wanted to stay on, but not for a whole term, and that premier Modi would not have that. A former commerce and law Minister, Mr. Swamy, said on the occasion of Rajan’s  departure that it would make Indian industrialists happy:
I certainly wanted him out, and I made it clear to the prime minister, as clear as possible. (…) His audience was essentially Western, and his audience in India was transplanted westernized society. People used to come in delegations to my house to urge me to do something about it.
A disaster that had to happen
If Rajan was involved in the preparation of this assault to declare most of Indians’ banknotes illegal – and there should be little doubt about that, given his personal and institutional links and the importance of Reserve Bank of India in the provision of cash – he had ample reason to stay in the background. After all, it cannot have surprised anyone closely involved in the matter, that this would result in chaos and extreme hardship, especially for the majority of poor and rural Indians, who were flagged as the supposed beneficiaries of the badly misnamed “financial-inclusion”-drive. USAID and partners had analysed the situation extensively and found in the Beyond-Cash-report that 97% of transactions were done in cash and that only 55% of Indians had a bank account. They also found that even of these bank accounts, “only 29% have been used in the last three months“.
All this was well known and made it a certainty that suddenly abolishing most cash would cause severe and even existential problems to many small traders and producers and to many people in remote regions without banks. When it did, it became obvious, how false the promise of financial inclusion by digitalization of payments and pushing back cash has always been. There simply is no other means of payment that can compete with cash in allowing everybody with such low hurdles to participate in the market economy.
However, for Visa, Mastercard and the other payment service providers, who were not affected by these existential problems of the huddled masses, the assault on cash will most likely turn out a big success, “scaling up” digital payments in the “trial region”. After this chaos and with all the losses that they had to suffer, all business people who can afford it, are likely to make sure they can accept digital payments in the future. And consumers, who are restricted in the amount of cash they can get from banks now, will use opportunities to pay with cards, much to the benefit of Visa, Mastercard and the other members of the extended Better Than Cash Alliance.
Why Washington is waging a global war on cash
The business interests of the US-companies that dominate the gobal IT business and payment systems are an important reason for the zeal of the US-government in its push to reduce cash use worldwide, but it is not the only one and might not be the most important one. Another motive is surveillance power that goes with increased use of digital payment. US-intelligence organizations and IT-companies together can survey all international payments done through banks and can monitor most of the general stream of digital data. Financial data tends to be the most important and valuable.
Even more importantly, the status of the dollar as the worlds currency of reference and the dominance of US companies in international finance provide the US government with tremendous power over all participants in the formal non-cash financial system. It can make everybody conform to American law rather than to their local or international rules. German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has recently run a chilling story describing how that works (German). Employees of a Geran factoring firm doing completely legal business with Iran were put on a US terror list, which meant that they were shut off most of the financial system and even some logistics companies would not transport their furniture any more. A major German bank was forced to fire several employees upon US request, who had not done anything improper or unlawful.
There are many more such examples. Every internationally active bank can be blackmailed by the US government into following their orders, since revoking their license to do business in the US or in dollars basically amounts to shutting them down. Just think about Deutsche Bank, which had to negotiate with the US treasury for months whether they would have to pay a fne of 14 billion dollars and most likely go broke, or get away with seven billion and survive. If you have the power to bankrupt the largest banks even of large countries, you have power over their governments, too. This power through dominance over the financial system and the associated data is already there. The less cash there is in use, the more extensive and secure it is, as the use of cash is a major avenue for evading this power.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Janamuktikami December 2016 Issue Available

December 2016 issue of Janamuktikami is now available.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Leninism and Soviet Socialism

Leninism and Soviet Socialism,  a book by Biswajit Basu has dealt many debates that prevail in the communist revolutionary camp. Download Leninism and Soviet Socialism by Biswajit Basu.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hundred Years After

Gargi Sengupta


In 1917, two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting in motion political and social changes that would lead to the formation of the Soviet Union. In March, growing civil unrest, coupled with chronic food shortages, erupted into an open revolt, forcing the abdication of Nicholas II, the last Russian Czar. Just months later, the newly installed provisional government was itself overthrown by the more radical revolutionary party in the former Soviet Union and another revolution broke up rapidly. The revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin and was based upon Lenin's writing on the ideas of Karl Marx, a political ideology often known as Marxism-Leninism. It marked the beginning of the spread of Communism in the 20th century. It was less sporadic than the revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end.
The first Russian revolution of 1905 was the expression of a gigantic conflict between the growing forces of production on the one hand and reactionary, industrial and political conditions in Russia on the other. A rapidly growing capitalism demanded the freedom of the inner market, the failure of the Russian-Japanese War having made the extension of foreign markets impossible. But the home market was equally unresponsive. The predominant group among the Russian people was its peasantry, whose demands and buying power represented the basis for all further capitalistic development. They were equal, it is true, but equal in misery.
The Russian revolution of 1905 was said to be a major factor behind the revolution of 1917. The events of Bloody Sunday triggered a wave of protests. Amidst this chaos, a council of workers was convened in St. Petersburg and the beginning of a Communist political protest had begun. World War I prompted a Russian outcry directed at Tsar Nicholas II. It was another major factor that contributed to the retaliation of the Russian communists against their royal opponents. After the entry of the Ottoman Empire on the side of the central powers in October 1914, Russia was deprived of a major trade route through the Ottoman Empire. This was followed by a minor economic crisis, in which Russia became incapable of providing munitions to its army in the years leading to 1917. 
However, the problems were merely administrative and not industrial as Germany was producing a considerable arsenal of munitions, while constantly fighting on two major battlefronts. The war developed awareness in the city, owing to a lack of food because of the disruption in agricultural activity. The cities were almost always short of food. At the same time, rising prices led to demands for higher wages in factories and in January and February, 1916 revolutionary propaganda, aided by German funds, led to widespread strikes. These agitations became more frequent from the middle of 1915. Working class women in St. Petersburg reportedly spent about forty hours a week in the food lines, begging, turning to prostitution or crime, tearing down wooden fences to keep stoves heated for warmth, grumbling about the rich and wondering when and how this would all come to an end. 
All these factors had by 1916 given rise to a sharp loss of confidence in the regime. Nicholas was blamed for the crises and what little support he had left began to crumble. As discontent grew, the State Dumas issued a warning to Nicholas in November 1916. It stated that a terrible disaster would inevitably grip the country unless a constitutional form of government was put in place. In typical fashion, however, Nicholas ignored the warnings and Russia's Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the February Revolution of 1917. In the beginning of February, Petrograd workers organised demonstrations and went on strike. On 16 March, a provisional government was announced. The representatives of the provisional government agreed to "take into account the opinions of the Soviet of Worker's Deputies" though they were also determined to prevent " interference in the actions of the government", which would create "an unacceptable situation of dual power". 
On 18 June, the provisional government launched an attack against Germany, an offensive that failed miserably. The soldiers refused to follow the orders of the government. The soldiers and sailors, along with Petrograd workers, took to the streets in violent protest, calling for "all power to the Soviet". In the aftermath of the turmoil Lenin fled to Finland under threat of arrest while Trotsky, among other prominent Bolsheviks, was arrested. Alexander Kerensky, a young and popular lawyer and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRP), increasingly became the central figure of the provisional government. 
By October 1917, Lenin returned to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) as he became aware that the increasingly radical city posed a legal danger and also the second opportunity for revolution. Recognizing the strength of the Bolsheviks, Lenin began pressing for the immediate overthrow of the Kerensky government by the Bolsheviks. He was of the opinion that assumption of power should happen in both St. Petersburg and Moscow simultaneously, parenthetically stating that it made no difference which city rose up first, but expressing his opinion that Moscow may well rise up first. The Bolshevik Central Committee drafted a resolution, calling for the dissolution of the provisional government in favour of the Petrograd Soviet. The resolution was passed 10-2 (Lev Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev prominently dissenting) and the November revolution began.


The Bolshevik, or the Russian Revolution, triumphed on November 7, 1917 (October 26 according to the orthodox Byzantine Calendar). Apart from the heroic episode of the Paris Commune, for the first time millions of downtrodden workers and peasants seized political power, sweeping aside the despotic rule of the capitalists and landlords. They were determined to create a socialist world order.
In the early days, the regime established by the revolution was neither bureaucratic nor totalitarian but the most democratic regime yet seen on earth. For the first time in history the success of the planned economy was demonstrated, not in the pages of Das Kapital but in an arena comprising a sixth of the planet’s surface. Not in the language of dialectics but in the language of steel, education, health care and electricity. In a gigantic and unprecedented experiment it was proved that it was possible to run society without capitalists, feudal landlords and money lenders. Despite the aggression of 21 imperialist armies, tremendous objective difficulties and obstacles, the abolition of the market mechanisms and the introduction of the planned economy revolutionized the productive forces and laid the basis for a modern economy.
Actually, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most significant events in the 20th century. It completely changed the government and outlook on life in the very large country of Russia.  It had a profound impact on the entire world. It generated a new way of thinking about the economy, society, and the government. The Bolsheviks set out to cure Russia of all its injustices that are rooted in class differences. To an extent, they succeeded. The revolution marked the end of a dynasty that had reigned for 300 years and had concluded with the seizure of power by a small revolutionary group. The Tsar was replaced by a Council of People’s commissars and private ownership was abolished. The Communist movement began to expand worldwide, by which the entire capitalist world was unnerved. In spite of several difficulties, no one can deny that this unique revolution threw a very big challenge before the entire capitalist world.
The aftermath of the Soviet Revolution was far-reaching. The revolution spread a new message of hope and liberation for the toiling people all over the world and the peoples of the colonies. It was a message of liberation from all forms of exploitation -- national, social, economic and political. This was reflected in a series of declarations, legal pronouncements and diplomatic initiatives of the new Bolshevik Government. The October Revolution heralded a new era by creating a state of the workers and poor peasants whose interest was opposed to economic exploitation, war, aggressions, colonization and social discrimination. It brought into existence a socialist state that could work as a bulwark against war and imperialism. This revolution initiated the essay towards creating an alternative world socialist system based on equality and free of exploitation, renounced any form of aggression, colonization and social prejudice, as opposed to world capitalist system that is based on colonization, economic exploitation, racialism etc. 
The socialist revolution was marked by the establishment of the first socialist state which till then was regarded by many as a distant dream. This is comparable to what happened in France in the 18th century. The Russian Revolution shook not only Russia, but radically changed the whole world. The world we see around today would be unthinkable without it just like the world of the 19th century would be unthinkable without the French Revolution. The British Prime Minister Lloyd George wrote: “The whole Europe is filled with the spirit of the revolution. There is a deep sense not only of discontent but of anger and revolt amongst the workmen against the pre-war conditions. The whole existing order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned by the masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other.”
This is the 100th year of the November revolution. It is time to reflect on its contributions. In a word, it has taught us how to dream a dream. The underlying theme of the revolution was a society free from exploitation and to emancipate humankind.  In the context of the November Revolution, Lenin proved that theory is grey, but life is green. It was his philosophy that attained fruition through the November Revolution. Many revolutions came and went, they wrought havoc to society, but the November Revolution was unique, unparalleled and novel in all aspects for it brought about momentous changes to all patterns of society and state policy for which the downtrodden humanity had longed for thousands of years. 

April 8 & 9, 2016. The Statesman


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Janamuktikami April 2016 Issue Available

April 2016 issue of Janamuktikami is now available.
Visit Janamuktikami

Friday, March 4, 2016

Koodankulam kaput

Sam Rajappa

On 30 January, Alexander M Kadakin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to India, conveyed to RS Sunder, Director of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant project, “President Vladimir Putin by his decree No. 29 dated 29 January 2016 has awarded you the Order of Friendship for your great contribution to the implementation of KKNPP project.” Sunder said in modesty, “The credit should go to Russian scientists as well.” Buoyed by the award, Sunder worked through day and night and re-started the 1,000 MW first unit of the plant, shut down since 24 June 2015 allegedly for annual maintenance, at 3 am on 31 January generating 7 MW of power which peaked to 252 MW at 11.44 pm. It worked in fits and starts for the next three days. On 4 February Sunder said the plant was generating 715 MW power and would hit the full capacity of 1,000 MW “in a day or two.” The plant went kaput at 10.34 pm the same night. 
The brand new Russian plant was erected jointly by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Atomstroyexport of Russia. It was connected to the grid on 22 October 2013 and commercial operation began on 31 December 2014. During the 800 and odd days of grid connection the reactor worked for 372 days, tripped 20 times and was off the grid for about 470 days. The actual power produced is 3,222 million units, just 18 per cent of its rated capacity. The reactor was commissioned for one year’s warranty period operation on 30 December 2014 but was shut down on 24 June 2015, much before the expiry of the warranty period.
The original agreement for two 1,000 MWe VVER reactors between India and the USSR was signed in November 1988 and a supplemental agreement with Russia was signed in June 1998. The two reactors were taken up as a single project and evaluated as such. Work on the project began in March 2002 with the construction of the twin domes and a small port on the Koodankulam sea-front. Reactor and other core equipment arrived at the site by mid-2005 and both units were to begin commercial operation in December 2007. Not much progress was made in the next four years. Although the people in general and the fishermen’s community in particular were opposed to the project right from the beginning, active public protest at Idinthakarai, adjacent to the project site, began only in August 2011 after the Fukushima disaster and lasted about 11 months. It hardly hampered the project work and cannot be blamed for the inordinate delay in commissioning the plant.
When the Atomstroyexport formally handed over the KKNPP-1 reactor to NPCIL for one-year warranty operation on 30 December 2014, there was no mention of the second unit. Construction of the two units was taken up simultaneously but because of the supply of sub-standard equipment by Russia and both the governments’ eagerness to show some result before signing an agreement for the third and fourth units, the second unit was canibalised to make the first unit work. In the process, the second unit has been virtually abandoned. The government has so far spent about Rs 25,000 crore on the first phase of KKNPP. At full capacity, the plant should have been producing 48 million units of electricity a day. The actual production so far has been less than 20 per cent of the rated capacity. If this is the result in the first year of operation of a brand new plant when production should be at its optimum, it only shows that KKNPP, besides being an ecological catastrophe, is also an economic disaster. Units 3 and 4 are estimated to cost Rs 45,000 crore.
Studies conducted by non-governmental agencies show that almost all components of the reactor were manufactured in the 1980s and rendered surplus due to post-Chernobyl cancellation of orders for more than two dozen reactors. The Russia made turbine had to be overhauled surreptitiously by a Hyderabad-based private contractor two years before its grid connection because it was found faulty. Even after the overhaul the turbine failed within hours of grid connection and kept the reactor shut for 59 days during August-September 2014. Normally a turbine is overhauled after working for five to 10 years. During the 365 days the turbine remained connected to the grid, there were 14 trips (shutdowns), two outages and one major accident in the fuel-water system which kept the reactor idle for 175 days. Non-performance of Unit 1 is causing production loss of 24 million units of electricity a day, financial loss of Rs 10 crore daily, besides the interest on the capital invested.
In an article published on 4 February, A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, said, “In the Koodankulam case, there are serious flaws of one kind or other. The lack of transparency certainly raises doubts that the Department of Atomic Energy, NPCIL and the AERB together may be hiding some serious deficiencies from the public. This impression needs to be removed by honestly answering the doubts and questions raised by the public regarding the plant.” The DAE and the NPCIL have repeatedly denied the issue of sub-standard and counterfeit components in KKNPP. Gopalakrishnan said a large amount of public funds had been spent on this reactor with very little benefit to people in return. “The reactor is known to have suffered continuous and unprecedented problems during the construction, erection and commissioning phases as well during the current operational period.” Yet the NPCL serenades it as a great success and has signed for units 3 and 4, with units 5 and 6 in the pipeline. The tragedy is the AERB has approved it.
The growing travails of the nuclear power industry world-wide show that it is not the answer to India’s energy needs. While countries like France and Germany are phasing out their nuclear power plants and other advanced countries have stopped constructing nuclear power plants, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the UPA government, after signing the Indo-US nuclear agreement, set out to make India the world’s largest importer of nuclear power reactors. Without waiting for competitive bidding process, he reserved three coastal nuclear power parks for three foreign suppliers of reactors: Jaitapur in Maharashtra for Areva of France, Mithi Virdi in Gujarat for Westinghouse of the USA and Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh for GE, also of the USA, and signed Memorandum of Understanding with them. Areva is yet to build the EPR reactor contracted for which is still in the drawing board stage and the French regulator, ASN, has threatened to decline approval. How can India having an Atomic Energy Commission and AERB commit itself to a reactor that has never been built? asks Gopalakrishnan. Koodankulam has been kept for Atomstroyexport of Russia to expand it to the level of the other three nuclear parks yet to take shape. The justification for the Indo-US deal was that America would transfer nuclear technology to India which lacks expertise in enrichment of uranium. Within two months of the deal the USA informed the Nuclear Suppliers Group that uranium enrichment technology should not be shared with nations that are not party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. India which steadfastly opposed NPT found itself hoodwinked. The NDA government of Narendra Modi with its emphasis on “Make in India” policy has a golden opportunity to reconsider the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement and scrap the MoUs. With its abundant wind energy and solar power potential, India can well afford to keep Made in Russia and Made in USA reactors at bay and save the coastline for the future generations.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Land Reforms in West Bengal & India's Agrarian Economy

Land Reforms in West Bengal & India's Agrarian Economy by Chittaranjan Das is now available.