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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

India and Canada: From Suspicion and unease to a strategic partnership

After breaking a jinx of almost 36 years of nuclear isolation, both India and Canada have signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the first Indian Head of the Government to visit Canada after IK Gujral’s trip here 16 years ago, and his counterpart Stephen Harper, signed the agreement. The agreement has paved the way for supply of uranium and cooperation in research, development and radiation safety. Both countries have had a long but rocky relationship on nuclear cooperation after the nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974. Both the sides have also agreed to try and take the bilateral trade up to $15 billion in the next five years, up from the current level of around $5 billion. India has favoured for the early signing of the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement to facilitate its ratification and implementation. Other areas in which they agreed to increase cooperation are earth sciences and mining, transportation, natural resources, infrastructure, agriculture and agri-food cooperation and higher education.
It is important to note that Canada, which is the world’s largest producer of uranium, has become the eighth country with which India has reached civil nuclear agreement since the NSG lifted a 34-year-old ban on India to join global nuclear trade in September 2008. Other countries with which India has signed a nuclear deal are the 1. USA, 2. France, 3. Russia, 4. Kazakhstan, 5. Argentina, 6. Namibia, 7. Mongolia, and 8. Canada. The ninth one is likely to be Britain Four out of India’s 19 reactors are at Tarapur in Maharashtra with a capacity of 1,400 MW. Six are at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan with 1,180 MW, three at Kaiga in Karnataka with 660 MW and two each at Naroda in Uttar Pradesh, Kakrapar in Gujarat and Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, with 1,320 MW. These apart, six new reactors are also under construction, some at advanced stages, with a capacity of 2,720 MW. These are two at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu with 2,000 MW, one at Kalpakkam with 500 MW and one at Kaiga with 220 MW. Canada has said that nuclear material supplied to India will be fully safeguarded in terms of agreement signed with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Besides that, the two Prime Ministers solemnly observed the occasion of the 25th anniversary of bombing of Air India flight 182 ‘Kanishka’ on June 23, 1985 that killed 329 people on board. The two Prime Ministers looked forward to the early signing followed by ratification and implementation of the Social Security Agreement. They noted that the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement was under negotiation and looked forward to its early conclusion. These two agreements will make a significant contribution to the commercial and economic interaction between the two countries.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Earth Sciences and Mining and looked forward to signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Transportation, noting the scope for bilateral collaboration, trade and investment in the natural resources and infrastructure sectors. Agriculture and agri-food cooperation represent another area of enhanced exchange and both leaders looked forward to the progressive implementation of projects identified under the MoU signed in January 2009. The Prime Ministers also noted initiatives to link Canadian and Indian universities and colleges, including in curriculum development and the creation of Chairs and Centres for Indian studies at a number of Canadian universities, such as, for example, those in the process of being established at Carleton University and McGill University.
They also welcomed the initiative to organize the Festival of India in Canada in 2011. It would present a comprehensive range of Indian culture through performing arts, exhibitions, film festivals, food festivals, among others, as well as the upcoming exhibition of masterworks of Inuit Art from the National Gallery of Canada. It will be presented at the National Museum in New Delhi at the end of 2010.
Good for India:
1.      The nuclear pact would cover areas of research and development in nuclear energy, nuclear waste management, radiation safety and environment protection. This will enable India to ensure better nuclear-energy safety norms. In this regard, it is important to note that Cameco, the Saskatoon-based uranium giant with mines in Saskatchewan and Kazakhstan, established a sales office in Hyderabad in September 2009.
2.      India currently has 19 nuclear reactors at six locations, all operated by the state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India, with a capacity to produce 4,560 MW of electricity. The plan is to quadruple this capacity to 21,180 MW by 2020,  taking the share of nuclear energy in India’s total installed electricity-generation capacity of around 150,000 MW, from around 3 percent to a little over 10 percent. The ensured way for supply of uranium and cooperation in research, development and radiation safety would definitely contribute these nuclear installations for producing nuclear energy.
3.      Considering the growing needs, India’s needs for nuclear energy “are enormous” and it requires a lot more energy to make its development process a success.
Good for Canada:
1.      The “agreement will provide access for Canada’s nuclear industry to India’s expanding nuclear market”. The Canadian industries would be benefited in India. Canadian companies are already looking to capitalise on this emerging market.
2.      The pact has paved the way for Canadian firms to take part in India’s $40 billion nuclear energy business over the next 10 years.

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