Nuclear Power: Achilles Heel of Narendra Modi Part I

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By Buddhi Kota Subbarao *

With ‘Audacity of Hope' Barack Obama became President of United States the most powerful ‘democracy'. But hope without audacity elevated Narendra Modi to become Prime Minister of India. One will wish Modi well, while he commits himself to lead the most populous democracy on earth to peace and prosperity.

Many pandits from various fields have been showering advice on Modi. But those pandits may not be able to decipher that the Achilles heel of Narendra Modi is Nuclear Power. For that matter, even Manmohan Singh who believed that his crowning achievement as Prime Minister of India was the signing of “Indo-US Nuclear Deal” did not realise that nuclear power was his “Achilles heel” too.

Bare Bones of Indo-US Nuclear Deal

India and United States had distinct driving forces and motivations to ink the Indo-US nuclear deal. Indian nuclear scientists were keen to come out of nuclear pariah status forced on India after India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974 (Pokhran-I) followed by second nuclear test in 1998 (Pokhran-II). Whereas, United States along with other nuclear power plant supplier countries saw India as a huge market place for nuclear power plants.

Dr Anil Kakodkar, former chairperson of the Atomic Energy Commission publicly revealed India was cornered to sign Indo-US nuclear deal. In an article published in prominent Marathi newspaper Sakaal on January 5, 2011, Kakodkar stated “We have to keep in mind the commercial interests of foreign countries and of the companies there… America, Russia and France were the countries that we made mediators in these efforts to lift sanctions, and hence, for the nurturing of their business interests, we made deals with them for nuclear projects.”

The confidence of the United States to compel India to agree to purchase nuclear power plants rested on two grounds. Firstly , the Americans from their own seismic analysis became fully aware, India's first nuclear test in 1974 (Pokhran I) was almost a failure as its yield was very low and not what was planned and in the second nuclear test in 1998 (Pokhran II), hydrogen bomb test was a total failure. For some relevant facts on Pokhran II, one may see We 've a science scam too ”, The Hindu , Tuesday, March 14, 2000. Secondly , Americans are fully aware (Russians are more aware from close quarters) of the pretence to knowledge of the senior Indian nuclear scientists whose priority is pursuit for power instead of knowledge. Every nuclear power nation is aware, Indian Prime Ministers who hold charge of nuclear are easily misled by the ‘top' Indian nuclear scientists. Indians are lulled to remain ignorant of it. The mainstream media in India has no sustained desire to analyse these aspects for several reasons among which is the fear of losing advertisement revenue from Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

The least realised fact is India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has all the characteristics of a cash rich megacorporation conferred with a right to push all its mismanagement under the carpet of national security.

A characteristic of our times is the affinity between Governments and Mega Corporations. Media is controlled by the corporate world. Ever improving methods bend the minds of people. Freedom to think and act is plenty only within the defined bounds.

With the pervasive synergy between Governments and Mega Corporations, there is a credible metric to measure each Government head. The real metric to measure Narendra Modi is not from the projections of the hired American Global Public Relations Firm APCO but from his ability to separate socialism from capitalism like the way a swan can separate milk from water.

In the United States, the word ‘socialism' is an abuse. Whereas, the Preamble of The Constitution of India begins, “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: ..”. Hence the mandate of Indian Constitution is to transform India into socialistic pattern of society. Therefore, capitalism cannot be allowed to gain upper hand in India.

With the collapse of USSR, it may appear the capitalism won and communism lost. However, the loss to the Russians from the collapse of USSR is certainly less than the loss to the developing and underdeveloped world. The relevant point for the present discussion is, according to Alexey Vladimirovich Yablokov of Russian Academy of Sciences, there was an admission by Mikhail Gorbachev that the collapse of USSR commenced with the accident on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then officially the Ukrainian SSR ).

Nuclear Technology Is Unforgiving

Nuclear power plants are prone to serious accidents as has been witnessed at Fukushima in Japan on March 11, 2011, at Chernobyl in former USSR on April 26, 1986, and at Three Mile Island,  Pennsylvania , United States on March 28, 1979 . The significant fact is all these three major nuclear accidents are man-made and not so much due to technology deficiency.

The triple meltdowns (nuclear cores in reactors 1, 2, and 3) at Fukushima were no doubt caused by the failures of the reactors' cooling systems after external power and backup generators were destroyed by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. But the Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), constituted by the law passed by Japanese Parliament, concluded that it is a manmade accident. More precisely, the report of the Commission states:

“The TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘ manmade .' We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual.”

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission member William Magwood admitted and stated publicly at the end of June 2014, that there is no technology that exists anywhere to solve the problem of Fukushima's melted nuclear fuel. However, in the aftermath of Fukushima nuclear disaster, the nuclear power plant suppliers are aggressively claiming that the new nuclear power plant designs have improved safety features and the fears about nuclear power plant accidents are ill founded. With such claims, the nuclear power plant supplier group is on a selling spree trotting many countries of the world including India.

To be continued...

* Buddhi Kota Subbarao is former Indian Navy Captain with Ph.D. in nuclear technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and practising advocate of Supreme Court of India. His e-mail address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. '; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text99568); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


JULY 2017

Vol. 11 - No. 12


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