Angela’s Ashes and Ear-less Bunnies

There’s a cute little ear-less bunny somewhere in Fukushima.

Damn those nuclear power plants and the Curie’s, Bohr’s and Rutherford’s of this world, the whole bleeding lot. If it wasn’t for science, we’d have no progress and no nuclear fission and we’d have bunnies with ears.

Okay, so I’m a pacifist and there’s nothing wrong with that. No! Not one of those bleeding heart sorts you’d want to throttle on sight, just the no first strike sort. No shoulder rubbing with the Mohandas Gandhi’s and Mandela’s of the world. I’m not proffering any cheeks.

Now Germany’s decided to nuke its nukes, and no one really cares. In fact I believe the guys at Greenpeace are planning a protest. They just can’t seem to accept the fact that they’ll have to knock Berlin out of their date-books. Life’s a bitch called Angela I heard one of them whisper, stretching his legs and folding up his tent outside Jaitpura, as he marked a huge red cross over Germany.

Yeah… life sucks!

By the way, I’m thinking of taking a trip to Japan. I like the Japanese, besides I haven’t been there and I believe the air is good. Okay I’m not really being honest here because I don’t know any Japanese people to like them, but I contribute quite significantly to their GDP, so I wonder if that gives me de facto status of any sort. I also like the fact that they’re such a stoic lot, controlled, tightly wound up. So when the tsunami struck I was surprised to see them thrown, but they recovered soon enough and in a couple of seconds, almost as soon as the waters receded. And the world watched in admiration as they stood in serpentine queues, calmly reading their newspapers as the hours ticked by… only to be told that the store had run out of whatever it was they were in that queue for. Then they’d move to another store, and another long line and patient wait… only to hear the same thing at times. No pushing, no shoving. I suppose that’s an attribute reserved for this part of the world.

They didn’t even flinch when those nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daichi blew, one after another, and the authorities lied through their teeth, downplaying the incident for the world, and it made me wonder if it’s because they’re no strangers to nuclear disaster. But this time the ghost of mushroom clouds past decided to stay away, WWII was bad enough, and once is certainly enough, even if ‘Tora Tora’ or ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’ had you believing that they were the bad guys. It was a war for crying out loud, and there are always sides, it depends on which side you’re on… and then there’s Switzerland. But the world has changed a bit, and bad seems to have gone Middle Eastern… and there’s still Switzerland, only its neutrality isn’t the only thing in focus. So in fact nothing really changes. It just shifts around on its axis.

Axis… Well.

So Nuclear technology is seemingly the life-force that vitalizes the planet… too many Hollywood films about the sun dying on us, we’ve got to have alternatives. But there’s always the risk of something going wrong… we’re human and extremely fallible and God just likes to mess with us. In reality we ought to backtrack but we don’t, spreading the accessibility to and dependence on nuclear power as a cheaper and more viable energy source, when what we really should be doing is relegating it to the back burner, to be shelved. And then there’s nuclear warfare and arsenal that everyone wants to stockpile on, and no one wants to give up. The United States would do well to lead by example, but the progeny of Little Boy and his cousin Fat Man just won’t go. They’ve dug their heels right into that hard sand of the Nevada desert.

A friend in Japan tells me that the air around the Fukushima reactor gets a regular infusion of radiation from the broken down plant, and the winds carry that toxic air far. She and her neighbours shut their windows and doors, but she’s not moving anywhere even though she can. And she isn’t even Japanese. I guess resilience is contagious.

So this is the third major nuclear disaster, on land, after Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, and though there were no direct deaths reported from the first and the situation brought under control, it exposed the dangers of radiation, with several reported cases of cancers being attributed to it and then brushed aside. And then there was Chernobyl in the erstwhile USSR, where the number of casualties depends on whether you’d like to believe the official or unofficial count, and I’ll leave the report on the effects of radiation from that one to the experts.

But India’s a hard nut… we’re a tough lot… from combating incursions from outside, to throwing microphones and knocking each other out cold in Parliament, we’ve seen it all… and survived. Then the UPA government led by that tough bird Sonia and her man in waiting were desperate to show their stripes and decided to go forth and ink a 123 Agreement with the United States. No! That’s not an arms deal… Those generally tend to bypass us, heading straight to Pakistan, unless we’re having a good day.

The 123 is one of those treaties where the US flexes its nuclear clout and dictates who can play in that exclusive ‘no dogs and wogs’ club. And suddenly the door opens a chink, and we rush in euphoric, ceding supervision over our civilian nuclear facilities to the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency), which the Reds weren’t having and hammer and sickled their way out of the government. But the UPA stood, buoyed up by other bed-friends, while their detractors bitched and moaned and screamed the ‘C’ word. Get your heads outta the gutter people… I’m talking about corruption here. So we did good and one good turn naturally deserved another, so the IAEA gave us the nod and Uncle Sam… or was it George, asked the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) to waive us in… right through those plutonium gates.

Ho Hum and Bah Humbug!

Hey! don’t go off into flights of fancy. It’s purely for civilian purposes.

So we finally get endowed with that dubious distinction of being the only known country not to have signed the NPT to trade in nuclear tech…Great. Pats on the back and pass the laddoos please. Pappu pass ho gaya! And I’m wondering if the US has suddenly gone all loving on us or is it a question of economics, you know the kind of largesse that’s typical of Uncle Sam, who wants his share of the billions that India’s nuclear power plants are expected to generate. Nothing comes for free. Or am I just sceptical?

But time flies and we’re in 2011 and the earth rumbles and tectonic plates shift somewhere under the sea off the coast of Japan sending gigantic walls of water inland, and the nuclear conscience of the world hits the panic button. Meanwhile Angela Merkel looks at those terrifying images and shudders and turns off seven N-power stations. Seven with one stroke, just like that boy in the fairy-tale. Wear that on your belt! And everyone’s stunned at her sudden U-turn, when just last year, she and her coalition buddies were quite emphatic about keeping them all, including the ageing, run-down ones, up and running until 2035.

So what gives?

I guess it was the bunny.

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