Sunday, 19 July 2009

"Jai ho" or the end of it?

Humankind has some good traits and some not so good ones. They feel sorry for people who are under-privileged; tend to help out people in trouble; try their bit to help the struggling ones. But at the same time, if someone who is really hardworking and deserving makes it to a state better than they are, the feeling of sympathy and compassion is immediately replaced by the green monster – jealousy and the strong feeling to put such people down.

Consider the case of a fresh graduate who joins a team at work. Initially all the team mates are co-operative and willing to help. Everyone has some advice to give to the fresher on how to go about things in a professional world- what to do, what not to do, etc. The mistakes that he makes are often ignored/ covered up quickly and every effort is made to accommodate him into the scheme of things. The fresher feels happy to be in such a team and with the support of all the seniors, transforms himself into a very talented workplace resource.

Now, here comes the twist in the tale. As soon as the fresher makes a name for himself, the other “seniors” start to view him as a threat. Instead of acknowledging the fact that the guy is really talented and taking pride in the fact that such a valuable asset is present with them, they start to put the person down at every juncture – loading him with too much work, setting unrealistic targets for him to achieve, highlighting every small mistake as a huge blunder and so on. All of a sudden, the fresher feels a new kind of challenge thrown at him. He has to deal with new responsibilities that his career demands as well as with the ego-clashes of his seniors. It is how gracefully the guy deals with this situation that determines his true worth at work.

At a higher level, a similar situation is faced by the developing countries. A classic example in this case is our own country – India. When it became independent in 1947, no developed country at that time thought of it as a future super-power. They entered into deals with us to serve their own selfish interests only to further consolidate their positions as world super powers. But when India tested its nuclear missile in 1974, all the countries that had looked upon India as a fresh entrant into the World arena became aware of its enormous potential. They started to see India as a security threat even though our past record of zero military offensive seemed to suggest otherwise.

It is with this fear that they brought in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This group adopted an approach where technology and raw material for Nuclear Energy would not be supplied to the countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT). This was a smart move by those nations in order to make our nation starved for nuclear fuel.

India is just one among the four countries in the world which has not yet signed the NPT. A common sense question that arises is this - Given its flawless record of not having attacked any other nation in its history of over 5000 years, why is India not signing the deal? The answer is also pretty simple – India has stated in clear terms its policy as “No first use” meaning we will never use weapons for any kind of attack. Our military systems are titled “defense” because we never go about attacking nations like the other big nations do. But if there is need to protect ourselves, we should be ready with any sort of arsenal that the war demands. The second reason why India is not in favor of the treaty is because of its inherent flaws. Though the treaty states complete “non-proliferation”, there is a clause called uranium Enrichment and Plutonium Reprocessing (ENR) which could mean that countries can still develop weapons even after signing the treaty. This means that it allows partial proliferation of the only those countries which had nuclear weapons before 1967, giving an unfair advantage to them. And finally, India does not want to sign the deal till all the countries of the world declare complete non-proliferation, especially our crooked neighbors.

Thus, the isolation of India continued for almost three decades. But then, India’s potential as a consumer of nuclear fuel could not be disregarded. In spite of imposing economic sanctions on India in 1998, India’s GDP continued to grow and thus, the Bush administration had to withdraw all sanctions in 2001. India, with its ever-growing demand for energy and its vast economy presented a big business opportunity for USA which was greedy for business with India. It wanted to sell its nuclear fuel to India and make money out of it. This formed the roots of the “Indo US full-civil nuclear co-operation”. The US was so keen on the deal with India that even after facing opposition from its own congress and the NSG, it went ahead with the deal.

A historic moment came last year when the entire set of NSG members decided to grant India a “clean waiver” from its existing rules. This meant that India was free to enter into civilian nuclear deal with any country in spite of not signing the NPT. The NSG finally had recognized India’s history of non-proliferation and no first use and had given it full powers. It should be noted here that India is the only country which has not yet signed the NPT that has been given this kind of a waiver. A similar attempt by Pakistan to secure a deal was outrightly rejected by the NSG given that nation's track record of military offensive and terrorism.

This was a truly significant resolution for India. It meant that the world had finally recognized India as a potential great nation. It was a moment when we could stand on our rooftops and shout “Jai Ho!!” We could now go on to become self sufficient in terms of energy which is a pre-requisite for any kind of development. Given our track record of insufficiency in power for last few decades, this would surely be the turning point. Besides, nuclear fuel is more efficient and less toxic to the environment when compared to the conventional fossil fuels.

But again, the joy of last year was short-lived as the ego of the world superpowers came into picture this year at the G8 conference at Italy. They came to mutual agreement to curb transfer of ENR technology to nations which have not yet signed the NPT. This came as a surprise to India as it would impact our three stage nuclear programme. This means we would again be starved of energy unless something was done about this. What is particularly saddening is the way our leaders have downplayed this issue saying they are not "deeply concerned” about it. Instead of recognizing this as detrimental to our progress, they are still resting on the past laurels that they have achieved. Also, in the ten full months since the waiver was given last September, no effort has been made to secure deals with potential suppliers of fuel like France, Australia, etc.

Our country is now at a similar situation like the fresher at office. No one wants to support it because they see it a potential threat. Not only on the nuclear front, but in many areas like science, agriculture, astronomy, etc we are facing isolation from other nations. I came across a news item recently where it said many countries are now not so keen on sharing space science info with ISRO after the success of Chandrayaan. It would lead many of us to believe that the JaiHo season is finally over. This is a challenge that every aspiring super power has to face in its quest for glory. But I am sure that eventually we shall overcome all these obstacles and find our deserving place among the nations of the world – at the top. It can never be the end of JaiHo. Can it?

1. The fresh graduate in this case is selected as a guy for ease of explanation. It could as well be a girl. It is the same case with the girls too, although a bit more complicated as they are to deal with even the gender related egos of the senior male colleagues.

2. This article is my personal opinion about the recent happenings. As such, it need not be politically correct. Although, every effort has been made to verify the facts from reliable sources, the views expressed are my own.

3. [added after Saravanan's comment] : The situation where a fresher joins new team at work is one "particular" case selected for leading into the bigger issue. It does not mean that "seniors" at work are always bad and freshers at work are always hardworking and sincere. There have been instances where freshers joining the team have been so bad that training them to adjust to professional life has been impossible. Also, there have been cases where seniors have been so good that kept inducting new guys year on year into the team and enhanced the team's as well as the company's reputation of a good workplace. I am sorry for the ambiguity it has created.


Saravanan said...


I don't quite agree with you, the fact that seniors help you is just to ensure you are comfortable and once you are, it is up to you to take over.

Seniors help you to start walking and it is up to you to run. Initial stages seniors cover up because you aint in a position to be blamed, it might be demotivating. Once you grow up, it is up to you to own up things and try to understand and not repeat the mistakes.

I don't think seniors see fresh grads as threat, if a senior has to move up then his place has to be filled by the grad. :)

As far as the country goes, this is what comes to my mind. Be Self sufficient and don't depend on anyone. Agreed you need help at times. Help others and you will be helped. India need not depend on others but the politicians just are not willing to make India, the Super Power.

Anonymous said...

Got to learn so much about the nuclear deal from your post. I was very confused with the terms ENR, NPT etc, I could never really understand what these terms actually mean. Your post cleared my doubts, atleast to some extent:)

Overall a very nice post :)... I particularly liked the way you started with the post and then how you introduced the bigger topic of nuclear deal. Keep up the good work.

Shashia said...

About the issue of seniors: Well, I am glad that you brought this up. In the entire post, there was one thing I missed to add - which I have now added in the PS as a disclaimer.

About your views on our country's power problems: You contradict yourself in the first two lines. So, that leaves the opinion open.

"Help others and you will be helped" - can you please help me understand what is the meaning of this? Does it mean that India does not help other nations?

Thanks for your comments. I am glad you liked the article and the way of presentation. Keep visiting!

Saravanan said...

I don't contradict myself. I said, country should be self sufficient and in the times of problems when the country can't handle it alone seek others help.

I never said, India does not help others. Did I?

What I meant was, India helps other nations at distress and when India is in distress some country will help us.

Generally, you help others when they are in trouble and you don't expect them to help you when you are in trouble, do you? You just help because you think that is the right thing to do, don't you?