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Updated: April 17, 2011 01:46 IST

Despite Fukushima, Manmohan bats for nuclear energy

Sandeep Dikshit
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, addresses the media on board a special aircraft on his way back from Kazakhstan on Saturday. Photo: PTI/Subhav Shukla
PTI Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, addresses the media on board a special aircraft on his way back from Kazakhstan on Saturday. Photo: PTI/Subhav Shukla

Says it will remain one of the essential options for all countries to tackle climate change, energy security

Despite the leak of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was convinced that nuclear energy would remain one of the “essential options” which all countries must keep in order to deal with problems such as climate change and energy security.

Asked during a meet with journalists, who had accompanied him to China and Kazakhstan, why the government was still keen on going ahead with nuclear power plants despite the Fukushima incident, the Prime Minister said that despite the nervousness over extensive use of nuclear energy even for peaceful purposes, “I am convinced that when all is said and done, when cool headed discussions take place about the future of energy, what are the problems with coal, what are the problems of with other hydrocarbons, in terms of their impact on climate change,” there would be no reconsideration about the role of nuclear energy.

Dwelling on his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Dr. Singh hoped that concrete results on resolving the friction on the Sino-Indian border will be visible in the near future. This would be achieved by a new mechanism to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border. The proposal was made by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when he visited India last December.

Trade imbalance

Dr. Singh also disclosed that after he raised the issue of the huge trade imbalance in bilateral trade, Mr. Hu conceded that China also had the responsibility to tackle the problem of trade imbalances. In this respect, the Prime Minister specifically mentioned two areas — pharmaceuticals and information technology — where Indian companies have been struggling to enter the Chinese market.

BRICS summit

Answering a wide range of questions on his way back after attending the first-ever BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in China which was followed by his maiden visit to Kazakhstan, the Prime Minister said he would consider his job “well done” if he could succeed in normalising relations with Pakistan to the extent that both countries begin treating each other as normal neighbours do.

The Prime Minister provided a reality check to those suggesting that a permanent seat for India at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was close at hand. There was growing support that the UNSC and other international organisations must reflect realities of the contemporary age rather than being “embedded in an era that is dead and gone.”

“But I would not say we are there. As such, it is a work in progress though there is growing support for India's permanent membership of the UNSC,” he added when asked whether after the BRICS summit, the goal of getting a permanent seat is near.

Asked whether the last few months of criticism had disturbed him, the Prime Minister said, “I am not disturbed but I have always believed that if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

On the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle, he said there was “still some time to go.”

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