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Ashutosh Sheshabalaya On Indian Issues
Don'T Pick On India'S Nuclear Program
by Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

Published in December 20, 1999 issue of International Business Week
Your report on nuclear energy in India (''For Lockheed, breaking up is good to do,'' American News, Nov. 15) is one-sided. As anyone familiar with this sector ought to know, ''construction delays, cost overruns, and inefficient performance'' are common not just in India: They happen all over the world.

The recent accident at Tokaimura in Japan, the closure of France's Superphenix site, and Britain's recurrent headaches with its Sellafield facility reveal that rich countries also face problems with their nuclear programs.

India is, of course, a tempting target for scrutiny, given the zealously autonomous nature of its program (which operates in the face of 25-year-old international sanctions) as well as its technical advancement in this domain. With seven operating nuclear power plants, three more due onstream next year, a fast breeder reactor, and cutting-edge research and development on alternative nuclear fuels such as thorium, this is one area where India is far ahead of China, and potentially a competitor to Western companies on world markets.

True, more funds and technology could help. But for an energy-starved, oil-importing country, the onus is on the West to lift sanctions, not for India to drop its nuclear-power program.

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