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September 17, 2009

India’s security council seat was given up.

Filed under: India, politics, Uncategorized — neosurya @ 07:24

Just learnt that India was once offered a  seat in the UN Security Council way back in 1955, but rejected it. There may have been a lot of arm-twisting by existing powers at that time for us to give it up. But even then. giving it up was a sad strategic decision. I read about it in the Business Line, in an article titled “UN reforms — a fading mirage?” on Sept 16th 2009, Full article URL; excerpt below:

Ironically, around 1955, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was offered the disputed Chinese Permanent Security Council seat by the US to keep out the People’s Republic of China, and he also was sounded out by the USSR Prime Minister, Nikolai Bulganin, to allow China to take this seat while giving India a sixth permanent seat in the Security Council. Nehru rejected this offer in deference to China. History may have been different if this offer had been subjected to serious negotiations. Now, 54 years later, we are struggling for this seat.

Update on October 26 2009:

It appears that all was not so bad. I did think that there must have been some big time arm twisting. And, the Sept 16th 2009 article in Business line seems to be doing bad reporting. There are other takes on Nehru’ stance; Excerpt from an article in the Hindu:

Nehru showed sound judgment in rejecting it and in refusing to walk into the trap. It would have earned India the lasting hostility of China, contempt of the nations of the Third World and of the United States too, conceited, albeit, with perfect discretion; and eventually, a resounding snub from the Soviet Union. India would not, indeed could not, have got the seat; only the odium for immaturity and opportunism.

…..

“Regarding your suggestion about the four power conference we would take appropriate action. While we are discussing the general international situation and reducing tension, we propose suggesting at a later stage India’s inclusion as the sixth member of the Security Council.

JN: Perhaps Bulganin knows that some people in USA have suggested that India should replace China in the Security Council. This is to create trouble between us and China. We are, of course, wholly opposed to it. Further, we are opposed to pushing ourselves forward to occupy certain positions because that may itself create difficulties and India might itself become a subject to controversy. If India is to be admitted to the Security Council, it raises the question of the revision of the Charter of the U.N. We feel that this should not be done till the question of China’s admission and possibly of others is first solved. I feel that we should first concentrate on getting China admitted. What is Bulganin’s opinion about the revision of the Charter? In our opinion this does not seem to be an appropriate time for it.

Bulganin: We proposed the question of India’s membership of the Security Council to get your views, but agree that this is not the time for it and it will have to wait for the right moment later on. We also agree that things should be taken one by one (page 231; emphasis added, throughout).

Bulganin did not make an “offer”. He threw a feeler to test India. He himself recognised that “this is not the time for it”. Had Nehru jumped at the bait, he would have courted certain disappointment before long.

Later, in a Note on his tour of the USSR and other countries, dated August 1, 1955, Nehru wrote: “Informally, suggestions have been made by the United States that China should be taken into the United Nations but not in the Security Council and that India should take her place in the Security Council. We cannot of course accept this as it means falling out with China and it would be very unfair for a great country like China not to be in the Security Council. We have, therefore, made it clear to those who suggested this that we cannot agree to this suggestion. We have even gone a little further and said that India is not anxious to enter the Security Council at this stage, even though as a great country she ought to be there. The first step to be taken is for China to take her rightful place and then the question of India might be considered separately” (page 303).

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September 14, 2009

Coal stories…

“How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?”

This was a quote from the mother of a child who was severely effected by the polluted water from a coal slurry. The quote appeared in a NY Times article that can be accessed here. It is easy to miss the innocence of individuals who use technology. Most people are often unable to see that the very lifestyle they want demands the large-scale environmental plunder and pollution (Note, I said lifestyle they want not lifestyle they need). The 400-channel cable network that they so much enjoy, the internet, the 5-star safety rated sedan, and the 4 bedroom “modern” home, all have their parts to play in the pollution game.

Coal slurry is a by-product of mining; coal is apparently not very clean and has to be washed before it can be used. The slurry that comes out of washing is composed of several chemicals, some that are used in the washing process and some that come out from the coal ore. A list of these chemicals can be found here. Many of these chemicals are quite dangerous. Slurry is a regular by-product of several mines; even Uranium mining results in slurry. Imagine the water coming out of your washing machine; it obviously is not palatable. Now consider that you are washing coal, and the water would be much worse. Now, imagine washing radioactive Uranium and similar minerals that power the nuclear energy, and the nuclear defense world. The waste generated while cleaning minerals is hazardous to say the least.

Several mining firms do try to implement controls to contain and re-process these wastes. And we cannot really take chemicals out of our life; the paint on your wall is a chemical, the air that you breathe is a chemical. The problem starts when these mines are used beyond their design limits, and larger than acceptable concentrations of dangerous chemicals are created at a single location.

A reason why most people do not appreciate mining as problematic could be because a majority of their lives are far from mines and the consequent ill-effects. Invariably, they see the benefits of using coal (steam engines, thermal power plants), Uranium (Power plants, nuclear bombs) but do see the true cost of these comforts. Worse still, some users would not even want to see the true price others have to pay, and also do not want to use these resources in moderation.

More such articles on coal, and its complications:

http://www.onearth.org/article/coal-country

The above spill happened on 10-11-2000; Quotes from the above:

Local people remember the boom years fondly. Anyone who wanted could get a job, and unemployment went from 25 percent to 3 or 4 percent, they say. “First a guy would get a job at the mine, and after that he’d get himself a trailer, a four-wheel drive, and a color TV. After that he’d get either a boat or a wife,” a county resident recalled. Intense gratitude toward the coal companies may be found in the county to this day.

….

On the scale of spills, it was about thirty times the size of the 10 million gallons from the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. Aside from good local reporting, especially by Ken Ward Jr. in the Charleston (W. V.) Gazette, coverage of the spill had been sparse. Trying to make sense of it from a distance, I wondered mainly about the place: What could it possibly look like after suffering a wastewater-and-coal-slurry spill of 300 million gallons?

At a hearing in March 2001, a resident told Art Smith, the EPA official in charge of monitoring the cleanup, that backhoe operators were merely turning over the earth and burying the sludge underneath.

Greg Preece said that many of those affected by the spill were burned out on talking about it.

(Excerpt from an interesting interview from the above article)

N.: “An independent test had said that there were six heavy metals, including cadmium and arsenic, in the drinking water, and finally the EPA said, ‘We’ll check into it.’ And we still don’t know if our water’s safe or not.”

M.: “An EPA lawyer at that meeting told everybody, ‘Listen, people, coal mining is a dirty business, and you-all better get used to it.'”

N.: “People around here hear you criticizing the coal companies, and they start moaning, ‘But what’ll we do if the mines shut down? What’ll happen to those jobs?’ I sympathize to a certain extent, but I also tell them, ‘Lots of places in America don’t have coal, and don’t have coal companies, and they manage to support themselves OK.'”

M.: “‘Jobs’ is a sacred word. It’s a word like ‘shareholders.’ To some people, I’m the turd in the punchbowl because they think I don’t believe in jobs.”

N.: “And how good a job is it, anyway, if you have to risk the lives of the same people you employ?”

M.: “If people are all scared about jobs, that gives the coal company more power and makes it seem more important than it is already. That’s what happened with this cleanup — the coal company announced what it planned to do, and the government and everybody basically just rolled over and said, ‘OK.'”

His grandfather raised twenty-four children on the farm’s 8-plus acres. His father raised two, and Glenn raised six. The farm’s creek-valley topsoil produced fruits and vegetables that won prizes at the county fair. The soil had hardly a rock in it; but after the spill and the cleanup, the replacement dirt supplied by the coal company was all rocks and clay left over from strip mining, compressed to an impervious hardness by cleanup vehicles.

http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/

A video on coal mining in West Virginia Appalachians:

An article on Uranium mining:

http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/node/32083

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