ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Story of Unkept Promises

Nuclear Energy

The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India by M V Ramana, enguin Viking, 2012; pp 366, Rs 699.

Nuclear energy invariably tends to bring up two extreme world views. The mainstream position is that of limitless, cheap and secure energy with a new found green (i e, climate-friendly) tag. The non-mainstream position is that nuclear power is a risky high cost option which has significant impacts on public health and the local environment and tends to distract from the process of building a safe and secure energy system-based largely on renewables and energy efficiency. As one can imagine, the reality is somewhere in between, though the evidence in this book suggests it is closer to the latter view, at least in the Indian context.

Public discourse on nuclear energy in India has always vacillated between such extremes and has been dominated by hyperbole. Hence this latest book, The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India by M V Ramana, is extremely timely and will hopefully bring in the much-needed objectivity and depth to the polarised public debate. Ramana is a physicist and has been a leading researcher and critic of the Indian nuclear scenario for over a decade. This book brings together the essence of his research and publications over the years. The Power of Promise is a solidly researched book (with over 50 pages just in references) that critically examines all aspects of the Indian nuclear energy sector right from the days of its inception to the present day. It systematically analyses all aspects of the sector: institutional, technological, economic and socio-environmental. The evidence presented in the book strongly suggests that the current plans of the nuclear energy sector in India are not economically sound, technologically feasible or environmentally benign. While this is alarming enough, even more worrisome is the institutional challenge that seems to make a mockery of democratic principles.

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