The game of strategic interests

March 28, 2012

The GoI/TOI line of thinking of having to ‘sacrifice international strategic interests because of domestic compulsions’ is outright insensitive and short-sighted.

Why should strategic interests dictate India’s stance on moral issues? I can only only look back with longing to the moral courage of Gandhi, who could condemn the creation of Israel at the peak of holocaust, even while denouncing Hitler, and advising restraint to Palestinians/Arabs.

More importantly, how can international strategic interests be more important than ‘domestic compulsions’? Is keeping a foreign government (accused of mass-murder) happy, more important than reining in the growing disengagement of large sections of Tamil youth with the idea of India?

Is Sri Lanka so important to India, that the government will continue to turn a blind eye to the poor Indian fishermen  (or Tamilnadu fishermen, as is always reported in National media), being harassed and killed by the Sri Lankan fishermen and troops? When India can rise up, rightly, against Italy to arrest Italian nationals who shot our fishermen, why should the same not be done against Sri Lankans indulging in similar acts? Ah, well, can our strategic interests be sacrificed for the sake of domestic compulsions?

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Koodankulam : connecting the dots

March 27, 2012

Random jottings on the Koodankulam nuclear issue. Perhaps, not so random.

Compensation fund setup by BP after the 2010 oil spill : $20 billion.

Likely compensation for Fukushima crisis : in excess of $20bn, could be upto $59bn, over $330 million already paid out.

Compensation paid by Soviet Union after the Chernobyl disaster : $1.12 billion (by 1986).

Maximum liability for a nuclear operator in India as per nuclear liabilities bill: $300 million (Rs.1500 crores).

Any additional liability will be borne by the Government of India. [‘Nuclear operator’ in India is usually the Nuclear Power Corporation, a government entity. This means entire direct liability is on the government.]

Nuclear operator can claim compensation from its suppliers based on the individual contract with each supplier.

The operator will not be liable for any damages, if the nuclear incidents are caused by a grave natural disaster, or armed conflict, or terrorist act.

The Koodankulam plant (including the 2 units yet to be installed) may not be even covered by this bill. The actual liability is not yet revealed.

Fukushima survivor’s visa to visit India, revoked.

Tamilnadu Government cleared the way for opening the Koodankulam plant on 19th March 2012; Sankarankoil bypoll got over on 18th March; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced during his visit to Russia in December, 2011 that Koodankulam plant will be up in 2 weeks; Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is scheduled to visit India on 28th March, 2012.

Udhayakumar and 14 associates, opposing the Koodankulam plant, are on a fast that is entering the 9th day today. Neither the government nor the people seem to care.

People are wondering on Facebook and elsewhere, why are there protests against the nuclear plant, in a country where the likelihood of death in a road accident is more. Chernobyl site maybe uninhabitable for 20000 years.

Dr.V.Shantha, Chairman of the Cancer Institute, Chennai, in a pro-Koodankulam ad, said “there is no relation between cancer and radiation”.  The aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster has resulted in 2000 people with thyroid cancer.


Festering Remnants of Brahminic segregation

March 1, 2012

Are you a vegetarian?

This fairly innocuous-sounding question greets you, when you start hunting for a house to rent in Chennai. Skim the surface off the question, and you wish you never decided to come to Chennai. Its intent is plain. Are you a Brahmin?

Some of them may be genuinely looking only for vegetarians (and not necessarily Brahmins) to occupy their houses. Some of them are bold enough to specify “for Brahmins only!” on the advertisements or to their brokers. Many of them do not have the courage to be open about it and hide behind the vegetarian-question. But you can always sense their discomfort, in knowing that you are a non-Brahmin Vegetarian.

Of course, the story that we cook only vegetarian food at home, and I occasionally eat meat in hotels, complicates the picture. I told my wife not to bother narrating this tale after listening to her the first time. So, we were just vegetarians, and I insisted that the brokers tell the landlords that we are non-Brahmin-vegetarians to avoid questions, later, on the missing thread or the non-Brahmin dialect.

Though many of my closest friends, since school days, have been (and still are) Brahmins, I have never felt excluded from their company. The first time, I was exposed to this exclusivity of the Chennai Brahmin club was when I went to a few carnatic music kutcheris alone, ten years back. Now this rude shock…the blatant display of casteism in the heart of the capital city, amongst, probably, the most educated elite of Tamilnadu…100 years after the Dalit Kanagalingam was bestowed with the Brahminic thread, by the Brahmin-born reformist-poet Bharati (who himself had forsaken the thread) in obstinate, sacrilegious defiance of the orthodoxy of that era.

This, sadly, is enough fodder to keep the crass anti-brahmin rhetoric of the Dravidian movement alive.

P.S. : We are finally going to be in a small apartment complex, as tenants to a generous Brahmin family. In the words of the broker, who was confused to hear that we are vegetarians but not Brahmins, “it is a nice apartment with only brahmin residents”.

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