It is not surprising that the great takeaway of French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to India relates to nuclear power. India has an old connection with the French on energy. To begin with, it is important to appreciate that French expertise in energy is at the global frontiers. In economics, for example, French energy economics and the limitations of marginal cost pricing is path-breaking. Some of their best scholars worked in India. Pierre Audinet, now important in the French energy environment setup, studied in Ahmedabad. Joel Ruet did his doctoral field work in India at CDS in Trivandrum and JNU, Delhi. He was a Fellow at the prestigious Ecole de Mines, and his teacher, Pierre Noel Girraud, is the iconic author of the classic L’inegalite du monde, which divides people into settlers—fellows like me settled in Ahmedabad and staying put there, and nomads, people like you, dear Reader, who are ready with a passport, multi-entry visas and tickets, the world is whose oyster.
Well, anyway, the future of the world, according to Pierre Girraud, depends on how we come to terms with each other. French leadership in electricity grids was a part of the foundations of the European Union, and so was Euratom. Electricite de France (EDF) has the tradition and expertise to collaborate in nuclear power. More than two decades ago, during the visit of the then president of France, Jacques Chirac, to India, India signed a strategic partnership with France. Canada had collaborated with India at Trombay as has the US, at an experimental level. But, after the Pokhran II tests, the Nuclear Suppliers Group made India a pariah. We had to design and construct our own nuclear power plants—and also, of course, our satellites and, more important, the delivery vehicles. Chirac was very positive in his business meeting in the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. On Chirac’s way out, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, then Maharashtra’s agriculture, was coming in. Read More…
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