The nuke deal and newspaper biases

BY Darius Nakhoonwala| IN Opinion | 13/12/2006
The Deccan Herald was the only paper get within sniffing distance of the real issue, but it got to it so late that it had run out of space by then!




You don`t say!

Darius Nakhoonwala



The Indo-US nuclear deal has attracted a lot of media attention, not least from leader writers of different hues and, indeed, shapes. All of them were out on parade last week, in full splendour, displaying their ideological preferences and political compulsions.


But the reader, poor fellow, was given short shrift. No one bothered to tell him the essential point, namely, that from India`s point of view, the deal is a trade-off between military and energy security. We will get nuclear energy in return for giving up, more-or-less, the right to test and maybe develop more nuclear weapons. The real issue: how many nuclear weapons are enough and how much more electricity do we need. So the issue that the editorialists needed to discuss was whether such a trade off was in the national interest or not. Instead their usual intellectual compulsions intervened and we got a bagful of shit.


Some, like the Hindu opposed it but in the usual confused manner. " While this newspaper is opposed to India conducting any nuclear explosive tests, it regards this negative provision in H.R. 5682 as an unwarranted intrusion into the sovereign decision-making power of the county." Oh, come on, man, make up your stupid mind. Otherwise, however, it was a great edit. Pity it didn`t get to the point.


The Telegraph took refuge in the opposite kind of verbiage. " The nuclear deal signals

recognition of India as a major player in the international system by the world`s only superpower, the United States of America. The act does circumscribe aspects of India `s nuclear estate, which would obviously impose some restrictions, but New Delhi would, by and large, retain its strategic autonomy. Nor would India`s nuclear deterrent capability be really compromised." India will have its cake and eat it too?   Really? Then what was the Hindu going on about?



The Indian Express, which where the US is concerned, is the perfect bhaand (singer of odes to the King) was, as ever, over the top. "Our political classes, too, must now close ranks and focus on the responsibilities that come with being an acknowledged nuclear weapon power." Who? India? Great joke, which is why everyone must have laughed.


The Asian Age called its edit "Pushed by the US" and thus took the opposite view, namely, that India had been shafted by the world`s only superpower. "US lawmakers have said that they are not willing to dilute their commitment to non-proliferation by exempting India from its responsibility of strengthening this regime."


The Deccan Herald was its usual anodyne self, devoting about half the edit to a recounting of the facts but not quite explaining what they meant. It did, however ask: " There is no doubt that the legislation falls far short of Indian expectations. Do we then walk out of the deal?" And the answer? "The law opens up the gates for India to import the much needed uranium fuel and large, modern nuclear reactors badly needed to generate electricity, the acute shortage of which is stunting economic growth." It was thus the only paper get within sniffing distance of the real issue, that is, the trade-off between military and energy security. But it got to it so late that it had run out of space by then!    



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