Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bad News: Nuclear Liability Bill, BRAI Bill are better, not good enough

Apparently, the Obama administration is pressuring India to go easy on Bhopal.  Students for Bhopal tell you how you can protest this double standard here.  It's easy!
I promised my family I'd take some time off from the Dhaba this weekend, but there's a lot that needs to be said, so I'm throwing this together on Thursday and will autopost over the weekend.  If you have fresher links or ideas, please do add them in the comments.

A long time ago, it seems, I argued that the BRAI Bill and the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill were really stupid bills.  A lot of people agreed with that sentiment, and in the end, both bills were modified.  The question is, have they been modified enough? My sense is they haven't.  Of course compromise is needed in politics, and one cannot just say "no" to everything.  But if you compromise too much, you lose credibility in the long run.  A generation ago, a lot of politicians compromised again and again over the Bhopal disaster, and today we are left with the consequences of that.  If we can't learn from that situation, we are in trouble.

I'm suggesting that as a first step, people join Greenpeace's campaign against these two bills.  They are asking us to send a letter to Sonia Gandhi about the BRAI Bill and to send a letter to the PM about the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill. Both letters made sense to me when I read them, and they can't hurt.  For more information, I'd start there.

If you are looking for more analysis, it's still coming in.  It's not as easy to sort all this out as you might think, since in places these bills seem to be purposely ambiguous; the nuclear bill in particular seems to be using confusing language as a way of compromise. And the bills aren't in their final form quite yet, either. Still, here are some of the links I've been looking at:
Government letting suppliers off the hook? The Hindu reports on a major problem in the nuclear bill.
Did Congress let Modi off the hook in exchange for BJP support? The Hindu. If true, this would be corruption of the worst sort imaginable.
Elusive Benefits, tangible costs: Brahma Chellaney's editorial in The Hindu argues, among other things, that the US holds its own nuclear industry to much higher standards than it will stand for in India.  Words like hypocritical and insulting come to mind.
Sukla Sen writes about confusion in the Nuclear Bill in The Green Youth Movement google group. Also includes statement from Left parties.
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) is a Facebook group where you can get more updates as they come.
Jairam Ramesh likes the BRAI BILL--but take that with a grain of salt for now. For problems with the current bill, see the Greenpeace letter, above.
Interesting piece on the problems with GM seeds in Mexico.  Thanks to Mira Kamdar for posting this; she's always got something interesting to say.


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