Sunday, March 06, 2005

Lunch with Indian Charge d'Affairs for Norway

The Indian Charge d'Affairs for Norway, Mr, Gogna, is on a visit to Trondheim since Saturday. We, at ISF, had an informal lunch meeting with him. Apart from Mr. Gogna and his wife, Rita Kumar and her husband were also invited as guests. It was a low key affair - pretty much in tune with the simple personality of Mr. Gogna. He filled us in on what is happening back home and on the bilateral front between India and Norway.

What really captured my attention was him mentioning the huge cooperation we have with African countries. Thinking about it, it make much sense - Africa is rich in natural resources and India is rich in human resources. A PERFECT MATCH!! Further, with Indian companies gaining economic clout, they can bring in investment to Africa too.

ONGC have signed an oil agreement with Sudan recently (a purely economic one according to Mr. Gogna). But this has not gone down well with the powers that be in Washington. They percieve it as Indian support to a goverment promoting genocide. India, in its quest for its ever increasing energy supplies, is willing to turn a blind eye towards morals and is filling the coffers of the Sudanese goverment - Washington claims.

Another example of American hypocrisy???? It sure is, but it certainly gives some food for thought. Is India right in supporting curropt and unjust governments in order to satisfy its eeergy needs? What are its other options? Must India take the moral high road to development?

I believe that India can do away with supporting such regimes - provided we get enough support from the developed countries. Key items to address would be:

1. Support for accelerated research in alternative energy resouces
2. Promote investment (through incentives ??) in renewable energy - the indian goverment should open up the energy sector
3. Develop better and layered public transport system - the standard of living of Indian public varies greatly and so does their preference of transport. Various alternatives of public transport are required to suit the needs of different people.

Any opnions??????

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