Sunday, December 13, 2009

Capping nuclear liability is unconstitutional

Soli Sorabjee has put it succintly and unequivocally. Capping the nuclear deal is unconstitutional. Congress, with the media in tow, has been acting against our national interests. Instead of a balanced debate on the pros and cons of the deal, we had to read about how nuclear energy was going to change the life of Kalavati.
In effect, this means that in case the actual damage and the cost of remedying environmental degradation exceeds the proposed ridiculously low cap of $450 million or any other sum, the government would have to bear the remaining burden. This would be directly contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling that it is not the role of the government to meet the costs involved. The effect of a cap in reality would be to shift the financial burden of the consequences of the accident to the taxpayer. According to the Polluter Pays Principle that has been embedded in our jurisprudence, the liability and responsibility for compensating the victims of accident and remedying the environmental damage caused is that of the offending industry alone. No part of the liability can be limited nor passed on to the government.

There can be two views about the advantages or disadvantages of foreign investment in India in the nuclear energy sector. But there can be only one view: health well-being and protection of our people are paramount and must override dollar considerations. Foreign multinationals are not solicitors of the fundamental rights of our people. The Bhopal Gas case is a burning reminder.

Any legislation that attempts to dilute the Polluter Pays and Precautionary Principle and imposes a cap on liability is likely to be struck down as it would be in blatant defiance of the Supreme Court judgments. Moreover, it would be against the interests and the cherished fundamental right to life of the people of India whose protection should be the primary concern of any civilised democratic government.


Xinhua Ram said...

Crawling in front of the white man - this is not new to the Indian leadership.

Anonymous said...

Talking about crawling infront of white man:
For any one going through any part of India (let alone the filthy platforms in train stations) will know the environmental standards and the cleanliness the Indians care for. All these years, these buffoons never cared for the pollution and the filth (that is India). Suddenly they woke up to the fact that they may be crawling infront of white man (forget that they got everything copied from the same white man: Constitution, technology, healthcare, education, etc, software (only the BPO). They are willing to live in dark and without electricity in the guise of protecting sovereignty (yes, that is also copied from the white man). Indians should come out of this shell to think they, from the land of Gandhi, are somehow supreme and unique in this
world to be afforded everything in their terms. Unfortunately, the reality is something different: if you are a buyer you buy at the seller's terms.


Anonymous said...

Well said John. Remember the same Indians showed no hesitation to buy 30 year old, over priced Admiral Gorshkov to be converted into INS Vikramaditya :-) (may be to celebrate their sovereignty). Their sovereignty did not encourage them to make one locally, but buy from their time-tested friend (the money-only focussed Russians). I remeber the way they were trying to erase everything Russian in the ship into Hinglish. So much for their sovereignty.

Have you ever heard about any retired lawyers/law secretaries/judges/chief judges in any country giving so much of advise/sermon on anything and everything. No, that is the difference in India. Welcome to the land of indifference, where Shanthi Bhusan, Krishna Iyer, Jethmalani still matters even many years after their retirement. Welcome to India where constitution is supreme. Donot say their constitution is copied, say it is adopted from many constitutions of the world. They will be offended and would not hesitate to call up their ambassador for consultation. Donot say they call them to talk about sending their children abroad for education/job during the consultation process.

NB: While the Indians throw tantrums on building temple over masjid, they donot bother to bring down Taj Mahal another wonderful construction from the Persian muslims. Donot say that there may not have been temple underneath when it was built. Arun Shourie, self-made historian is capable of coming out with another wonderful book to say that there was a temple there.

Xinhua Ram said...

@Anoymous guys,
Just because Sweden did not invent Nuclear power doesn't mean they will let you start a nuclear plant in their country on your own terms.

Even the white man wants India to show some self-respect. When the Patent Amendment Bill was passed in the parliament, Nytimes admonished India for not standing up to the big pharma MNCs. When Sonia G was to become the PM, many white men (my landlord included) wondered how we could let that happen.

Recently, I was watching a travel program on India where the anchor says, "the concept of sacredness has not vanished from this land like it did in the west." Now, if only people like you can look at India through the eyes of such white men and find a few positive things!

kuttychathan said...

On another point... For the last three days no stories / articles lifted from the Guardian has appeared in the Chindu. What happened?

Anonymous said...

The less the said about Sorabjee's article the better. A class X student can write a better piece on this PPP even without consulting wikipedia.

As for the government being the guardian of constitutions and hence fundamental rights, we all know how the governments cherish these ideals in India. Let us make one thing clear. Indian Constitution and Indian judiaciary are joke. At the end of the way, you take these "esteemed judges" from a pool of rogues who assauted Subramaniam Swamy. These thugs not only become esteemed judges (often with the word "Honourable") but also go to run various commissions.

As for PPP being enshrined in Indian constitutions (again copied from the EC's SEA), let us see what happened in Tirupur and Erode to water effluents from textile mills. Also no effort is being taken to stop sand quarrying. Let us stop pretend that all is well at home front and only these foreign investors are polluting India.

As for the patent amendment bill, it is again a joke. Indians donot want others to sell Basmathi rice but donot bother to reverse engineer the expensive medicines to sell on their own. Is it not outright fraud. If it is anything, anyone/everyone should be allowed to sell Basmathi (which is a generic product) than a medicine (which is a proprietary item). If someone is spending about 5-10 billion dollar in developing a new medicine, donot expect them to kindly ignore your intention to steal their innovation. Having said that I need to reiterate that nothing stops Indian companies to invest money in R&D and develop proprietary items. Now they are complaining that the Chinese are bringing their bogus medicines into the supply chains of Indian medicines in Nigeria. How is this different from Indians copying others' medicines and sell them on their name.

It is time Indians stopped talking about economic sovereignty too justify their intention to steal others' ideas and sell the medicines under process patent. Also India has obligation to adhere to TRIPS of WTO.

As for sacredness in India, what an easy way to keep India backward. Four main jatis, thousands of castes, one does not allow/touch the other, so much so for India's sacredness.

Like the travel programme you watched, I watched a documentary where the white man said India is a country of hypocrites. Donot tell me I am wrong in watching India through the eyes of white man to see non-existing positive things.


Xinhua Ram said...

Well, each of us sees a different India. We see what we deserve to see. Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle gives us a clue on this. Consider it a serious ailment if you see nothing positive about your country. "When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."

Anonymous said...

Many valid point in many arguments. I always wondered why Indians were voluntarily self-assigning themselves leadership roles on various global issues: non-proliferation, environment, NAM, etc. Should not a young democrazy bother about providing education, healthcare, jobs to its subjects rather than talking about balance of power and other issues which Nehru bothered about uselessly until his death.

Thanks Xinhua Ram for referring to Heisenberg uncertainty principle which I studied long ago during the college days. As I forgot it in the meantime, read it again to find it more interesting.