America’s nuclear suppliers are embarking on a love affair with India!

Reminds me of the days shortly after Union Carbide’s plant at Bhopal spew tonnes of poisonous gas on the city killing tens of thousands. Carpetbaggers from America descended in hordes seeking power of attorney from the victims in an American court in return for a percentage of the compensation.

The nuclear suppliers descending on Indian soils are somewhat like the carpetbaggers of the 1980s. There are huge profits to be made. India is short of power so anyone stringing up a line from a power plant to the electricity grid can sell all the power he makes if the Indian government ushers in a laissez faire regime.

So the big American companies who have been on the retreat in a saturated home market see a virgin opportunity in India. About 200 of them led by the biggies like General Electric, Westinghouse who build the big white domes in which the atom is split will be here to suss out Prime Minister and various Chief Ministers. Other major defense contractors from the US including Boeing and Lockheed-Martin will also be represented as they try to milk the goodwill overflow.

The public sector Nuclear Power Corporation is pushing to keep nuclear power generation with itself. With foreign technology and experts, NPC’s new plants will be up and running in double quick time. But the private biggies are unlikely to give up without a fight. The Tatas will surely vie for this business as will Anil Ambani’s Reliance Energy.

Even as the Indo-US nuclear deal was being debated in America, the Indian government quietly went about acquiring plots of land across the country’s vast coastline to set up nuclear power plants. As per NPC’s grand vision, clusters of nuclear power plants will spring up along the coast thereby lighting up the country’s interiors.

So India will be the new El Dorado for the American nuclear industry. The industry promises to provide nearly 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in the US in a bid to soften opposition among American lawmakers. President George Bush is pushing the deal in the US Senate before the newly-elected Democrats take over.

India is keeping its fingers crossed and will play hardball if the US attempts to extract more concessions on the nuclear weapons front.

Top officials in the Bush administration including the President himself have had close links with the nuclear industry, so India is waiting for the nuclear deal to be signed sealed and delivered as a nice Christmas present. From the New Year the Americans will build the nuclear plants and worry about finding the fuel since their profits depend on the facilities generating power.

India’s own stock of uranium will be sufficient for making nuclear weapons. The machines to make them can be fabricated at home. And the brains to do all this will be trained at the American nuclear generators coming up in India. If every thing goes according to plan, that is.

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