Friday, August 8, 2008

Side-effects of Npowerment

Now days, Nuclear deal is hot topic of discussion. Many times I discussed (or argued) with my friends like Chengappa and others about the advantage of nuclear deal. Other day I was reading the times of India guest editorial and I got this article of Side-effect of Npowerment by Indrani Bagchi. So I thought of sharing some highlights of the article with you readers. Here we go……….

Now that Tata owns Corus, this steel would be available to the Indian manufacturing sector, right? Wrong. Because it can also be used to make centrifuges in uranium enrichment, it's denied to India. So the Tatas may own it, but cannot sell the steel in India.

Quite apart from nuclear energy, the 'nuclear deal' as it is inappropriately but widely known, is a deal for India to access all those technologies that may make nuclear power, but could also be used to make a perfect coffee-pot.

If all this is going to do is increase India's energy generation by 8%, what is the big deal about? That's because it's more than just nuclear energy — after three decades it opens India up to advanced technologies in sectors as diverse as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, automotives, defence and IT. And there lies the real importance of the deal.

IT and software

These sectors will be the biggest beneficiaries as a relaxation in global technology rules gives India access to much more advanced tech, spelling a quantum leap for the Infosys, TCS and Wipro of the country.

For instance, access to high-performance computing systems. A lot of which are currently denied to India under various export control regimes — will put Indian software and IT R&D in a different league.

Oil and electronics

This includes technology used in weather analysis and forecasting. As it also has nuclear applications, it has thus far been denied to India. Digital phosphor oscilloscopes, which are indispensable for oil refineries and electronics industry, also have a nuclear role and are currently barred — but will now be available. Filamentary poles, important for making tennis rackets, golf clubs and fishing poles, are also inaccessible because they can be used for uranium enrichment.

Mining and power

Compressors, testing systems, furnaces for power generation, mining equipment, high-voltage power supplies, industrial and scientific equipment like heat exchangers, piping, fittings, valves, measuring and calibrating equipment... Many of these have applications in different sectors and access to them would give Indian manufacturing a huge boost.

Medicine and industry

There is also technology and scientific research that relates to civilian applications in medicine, radiology and industry. Communications switching equipment, certain types of electronic equipment, lower speed photography equipment, pressure-measuring instruments, and numerically controlled machine tools — much of all this is currently out of bounds for India's knowledge economy.

In the field of medicine, X-ray imagers that use cobalt-60 may soon become accessible. So will specialised equipment for oil and gas exploration. Nuclear well-logging is used by advanced countries to help predict the commercial viability of new and existing oil and gas wells, and it could become available in India as well.

Defence and space

India's choices could improve considerably once it gets a free hand to purchase previously restricted conventional weapons, most notably Israel's Arrow missile
defense system, a partially US-funded programme.

Also denied to India are ocean surveillance systems and satellite systems for electronic reconnaissance, navigation, military meteorology, and nuclear explosion detection. But the doors are slowly opening.

Components biz

According to Anupam Srivastava, technology and nuclear expert at the University of Georgia, US, when other countries want to build nuclear reactors in India, it will be Indian companies like L&T and BHEL that will get the contracts for the components. "Indian companies will become component providers and vendors to these projects. We are looking at India becoming a nuclear energy components provider in the next few years. India will become a supplier country, no longer merely a recipient country."

R P Singh says Indian companies or research entities would like to participate in global projects like Eureka in the EU for market-oriented R&D in robotics, environment technology, agriculture, bio-sciences etc, but a lot of those technologies are currently denied to India. When the denial veil is lifted in one sector it also has a ripple effect in other sectors.

The possibilities are immense in emerging scientific disciplines like nanotechnology and synthetic biology that draw upon many other branches of science, all of which are controlled technologies. The nuclear deal will not suddenly land all these technologies on India's doorstep, but what is important is that people will not turn away Indians automatically. The playing field will become a little less skewed against India.

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