Strongly defending the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, former Indian ambassador to the United States Lalit Mansingh said it has ended New Delhi's 'nuclear isolation' and is a viable route for meeting the country's energy crisis.
"The agreement recognises India as a responsible nuclear state and that ends about three decades of nuclear isolation, what we call nuclear apartheid, of India," Mansingh told PTI.
"That's a big development because we were inhibited by all kinds of sanctions and restrictions until the recognition of India as a nuclear state. Now, the doors will open," he said.
Secondly, Mansingh said, the agreement has a 'direct impact' on India's energy crisis - "We have a huge energy gap. Our coal is going to be exhausted in 40 years. There is a limit to which you can develop hydropower. Imported oil is getting more and more expensive. So, this is one of the viable routes for meeting India's energy crisis."
Mansingh denied that India was somehow manoeuvred into signing the deal by Washington - "Nobody forced India to sign the agreement. We concluded it because we it's in our interest. Americans didn't say sign it, or else. We have gone into it because there are enormous benefits which flow from it."
The former envoy said he entirely agreed with eight Bangalore-based former ambassadors who had urged the government to present a full picture to the Indian public of where the country is heading vis-a-vis the agreement. However, he denied that New Delhi has been adopting a policy of reticence.
"They (the eight) have asked for information; they have not criticised the agreement but are asking for more information so that the public will understand what the issue is," he said.
On a former ambassadors' contention that a comprehensive statement by the government had been promised but has not been delivered even after two sessions of Parliament, Mansingh said, "The prime minister is due to make a statement. There is no secrecy about the agreement."