July 18, 2005 to August 1, 2008 -- when the India-specific safeguards agreement has been approved by the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- is a long torturous way that supporters of the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement have travelled.
Even the staunchest critic of the deal will have to agree that supporters of the deal led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have been highly-committed individuals with nerves of steel.
One such supporter, who was privy to the negotiations, claims his 'passion quotient is higher than intelligent quotient' spoke exclusively to rediff.com. He gives a chilling insight into the deep conviction of the group of nuclear deal supporters in market economy and their unwavering faith in the inherent strengths of India.
Explained: IAEA safeguards agreement
While giving his first reaction, in a strictly off the record conversation, he said, "This deal is good for India. It is great for country. Terrific important deal! The world community has seen the position of emerging India. IAEA Director General Muhammed ElBaradei told people that India will use fuel only for peaceful purpose. India's export track record is impeccable and international community has nothing to worry."
He said though 35 countries made remarks about the IAEA deal with India, it could still pass through without being put to vote.
He agreed that on July 18, when the deal was signed in Washington between leaders of both countries, there were questions.
"India's own house wasn't in order. The political issues were there. But, the deal was very good for India."
He argued forcefully, "India is on the High-table. India is a classic example of non proliferation. India is an energy hungry country. India wants clean energy and now, the window of opportunity has opened to accelerate growth through clean energy."
He said, "Safeguards agreement is to ensure that India shall not divert nuclear fuel to any other use. India is a highly responsible country and not a rogue State. India has never diverted any imported material to any other use and has never exported fuel or technology to a third country."
When asked if he had any apprehension about US dictating its strategic requirement to India under the umbrella of growing business relations after the nuclear deal, he said, "No way! India is a mighty country. Those days are gone when some other country can dictate us. We are partners. India needs US in the short term and US needs India in the long term."
When asked to comment on the theory that commercial lobby could thwart thorium research or put it on slow track considering that India was aiming for nuclear plants, a person well-versed with India's nuclear energy programme said, "The question does not arise because no research and development entity is under safeguard, nor is it offered to the IAEA."
Exuding confidence, he said, "Believe me, you can not be afraid of anybody or any country. You have to trust India. We are going to be a superpower. There is a saying in Tamil that when you go looking for a bride, if out of ten things she passes seven criteria like family, background, education , horoscope etc, you should go for her. There are grey areas. But now that you are on board, better take the plunge.
"Opportunities and challenges lie ahead and we shall fight them. We hope that market place will settle certain issues. We are talking about $40 billion trade and why worry? The world is a global village. If Areva can flourish in India through this deal, our Ambanis can also buy Areva in future. Trust India; have faith in strengths of India's future. My teenager daughter talks to me so confidently. I dare not even think to talk to my parents like her."
When asked again about the dominance of US, he said, "Go for marriage. Don't keep asking what will happen? India's 50% population is young. We need not be alarmist. We are having 5.86 lakh villages, which are the real backbone of India."
He said India is changing and people don't want government, bureaucrats and politicians in their lives. The postman has been made irrelevant after courier companies have come in. Except the army, government should become non-existent in Indians lives.
He said, "It is my passionate dream to have bullet trains powered by nuclear energy travelling between Chennai and Mumbai in just four hours!"
"Why not? What is a problem? You are getting 20,000 MW power in just six years," he exclaimed.