Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Bushes' Whacky visit to India


A friend tells me there was snow in California. California, of all the places on the earth, which is known to have sunshine all year around? And we had hail in Kharghar, New Bombay, close to where I live. Heavy rains lashed Kerala recently. Weather patterns are changing. There is unpredictability about nature, as a man growing old and cantankerous.

George Bush came and went. He gave nuclear fuel to India. At least, on paper. The nitty gritty will have to sorted out later, which isn’t difficult considering the clout a US president has. US presidents don’t visit India for nothing. Behind his visit was the business lobby that, of course, lobbied to sell aircrafts to India, F16s, Boeings, outsourcing, or whatever.

The military industrial lobby in the US is a very strong and potent force. They can coerce the president into doing things you and I can’t imagine. Manmohan Singh is happy that he has been able to wangle nuclear fuel in exchange for inspection of limited nuclear facilities. Oh, hum! The signal is clear. That means Indian can go ahead with its weapons development program. According to the deal with India, India will get access to U.S. civil nuclear technology and open some of its nuclear facilities to inspection. But not all. This is what Representative Edward Markey has to say:

"With one simple move the president has blown a hole in the nuclear rules that the entire world has been playing by and broken his own word to assure that we will not ship nuclear technology to India without the proper safeguards."

I am not against nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. But I suspect Bush must have gone and offered the same package to Pakistan. That would leave our bete noires and us with nuclear warhead over the simmering issue of Kashmir. Who knows if these weapons would not be set off in a confrontation like Kargil? In that case we would have to run for cover.

But did anyone ask Bush why he didn’t push the Kyoto Protocol agenda? The good man Al Gore has been pushing this agenda with India only a few days before Bush’s arrival and he received a cold reception from the minister-vinisters. Somehow, don’t ask me why, I see Bush as the progenitor of doom and the loser Al Gore as the saver of the world. What Gore has to say has grave meaning for the world.

Firstly he said that we have multiplied four times in one generation. It took our parents almost millions of years to become 2 billion, and we became 9 billion in a single generation, that is, umm, let me say from my childhood in 1973 to my middle age and my forties the number of people quadrupled.

Secondly he says technology has marched ahead at a bewildering pace. The house I was born into didn’t have electricity, television, phones, or, refrigerators. Today all these gadgets surround me. I started working in 1980 for a salary of Rs 300, which was a big bonanza then as a movie cost only Rs 2.75, and I watched plenty of them. I bought books for Rs 10 and read them by the hundred. I now draw a hundred times that amount. But I am still in debt and don’t have patience to read a book or watch a movie. That’s the mechanics of the outsourcing industry of which I am part.

I work in office for around 12 hours a day and that too in a sitting position in an air-conditioned room. I know nothing of what goes on outside except when I see news on television and read about them in the newspapers. I am callous and cynical about the harm people are doing to the environment. I am only worried when rains do not stop and the heat is unbearable. And Bush supports outsourcing and say it brings world economic parity. But at the cost of the environment?

After waffling so much let me get back to my concern about the environment. Maybe snow in California and hailstorm in Bombay is a good thing. My friend enjoyed it immensely, she says.

Today if the environment can be personified it is an angry and hurt monster bleeding all over it’s frail body, waiting to come down on earth with great fury and retributive vengeance. So it can strike anytime because we have played with its tender constitution. The earth’s outer shell is a delicate frame, which has been punctured by the pollutants we are emitting into it.

Al Gore suggested we stop this and we stop hurting this monster and make it our friend. Our friend Bush wants this monster to be further aggravated for the gains of a few rich businessmen. Who wins? George Bush did, didn’t he? It was just a petty quibble over vote counting wasn’t it?

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