Sunday, February 19, 2006

Syriana

The recent removal of Mani Shankar Aiyer was really one of the most painfully sinple ones to comprehend. He was one of the few minister who always hogged the limelight. And for a change he was in news mostly for the good reasons. He ruffled the feathers of the now-struggling Shiv Sena and faced the frenzied party workers in Maharashtra. But he survived the carnage. That was in all probability a fair battle. But then his obsession to secure India’s energy needs proved to be his Waterloo. Once again crucified on the altar for one's sincerity.

Under his steweredship we could finally see some positive government involvement to pull strings and get “friendly” nations on the table. Though the much awaited behemoth amalgamation of ONGC, HPCl, BPCL, IOCL never materialized still ONGC-Mittal consortium was finally putting a brave face infront of the Chinese onslaught led by PetroChina and Sinopec. And considering the fact that even Sinopec (much smaller than PetroChina) is much bigger than ONGC, it was no surpise to see ONGC being out-bid its bigger rivals. We lost most of the African and Russian bids. But still we managed to secure Sakhalin-1 where ONGC made the largest overseas investment. And the fact that he went all the way showed a clear resolve on the part of the ministry that it was commited towards ONGC’s foreign ventures.

It really seemed that Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline would finally materialize. Now am really not too optimistic about the pipeline or its vocal supporter but still for $ 70 million to Pakistan it is certainly more secure than the one conceived through Bangladesh. For me Myanmar and Bangladesh are far too insecure than Iran or Pakistan will ever be. And for that simple logic : there are hardly any oil-exporting countries with stable governments. Certainly the lesser of the two evils should be preferred.

To get cheap oil from as many diversified countries as possible is really one of the better strategies. I admire Hugo Chavez for a variety of reasons, one certainly being guts. The vision he has for Latin America is all-encompassing and if properly implemented just darn good. For the first time the only member of OPEC from that region is spending the money it earns from oil on social initiatives to improve the overall standard of living. And the effects are not confined to Venezuela, but to all of Latin America. And helping the whole process is the emergence of like-minded (leftist) governments in most of Latin America. Be it Michelle Bachelet (Chile) , Eva Morales (Bolivia) or Lulu Silva (Brazil) the entire Latin America is turning left (to the huge dismay of White House’s present incumbents). And Hugo Chavez, along with his good old friend Fidel Castro, is ensuring that there entire region has a balanced socio-economic development. Something the region deserved since a very long time. Being America’s eighth largest oil-exporter does mean that Uncle Sam is watching keenly but Hugo is going unabated to supply cheap oil to all the Latin American countries which Venezuela surprisingly refrained from, in the last century or so. Now my question is that why we are not interested in buying more oil from Venezuela? I am sure it’s a trickier situation with American feathers ruffled over just the Iran pipeline. The recent thaw in Indo-US relations further ensures that anti-American voices are suppressed. So instead of having someone worthy on the Republic day we had the American stooge, Saudi King to be saluted for supplying us with oil and his countrymen with tyranny. We might never be able to be part of the great revolution taking place in Latin America for our proximity to their northern continent’s powerful nation prevents us from being proactive. And I still wish to have Eva Morales as our chief guest next year in his trademark sweater. The final straw was dropped when Eva Morales did not visit India and visited China instead along with so many other nations after he was elected the president. That was really a psychological blow on the face. The comrades hardly let go of an opportunity to pull the government’s legs. In this light, the fact that Eva Morales skipped India despite comrades ruling at the centre was particularly disturbing and reflected poorly on the comrades than on the grand old party. The person who should have been welcomed with open hands was never invited and Bolivia is just a poor land-locked country. And there has been no announcement of aid in the face of the recent floods in that country. The overall internatinal aid stands at a meager $2 million. We offered more to Sri Lanka during Tsunami and all of a sudden we are silent. Diplomacy is tricky issue but humanity should be placed at a higher pedestal.

Then there is the growing economic clout of Russia propelled by its leading gas-exporting state-owned “nav-ratna” Gazprom. Almost all of Europe is increasingly dependent on Gazprom and its not just the the east European countries but Germany and UK well. And Russia is not going to play it easy as was displayed by the recent crisis over gas prices between Russia and the post-orange revolution, pro-west Ukraine. And we are still not making any pro-active attempts to leverage our diplomacy to help some sort of joint collaboration between Gazprom and ONGC.

To top it all Murli Deora is the successor of Aiyer. UPA is certainly going over the top in ensuring that Bush is comfortable during his visit to India. So the unabashedly pro-US Murli happens to be an ideal successor for Aiyer as far as Uncle Sam is concerned but the ministry and the oil PSU’s will lose the zeal and the fizz. In the end it certainly isn’t worth the trouble.

And then people tell me to be an eternal optimist. I am better off being a practical pessimist.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tweaky said...

yeah...14th was one helluva day. let me know once u watch hide n seek. and "syriana" is good too.
Nice blog btw...some serious stuff.

8:35 AM  
Blogger niki yokota said...

hmmm... i didnt know anything abt Venezuela, Bolivia etc. ^^
this is very impformative!!
thanking u and have a good day~!!

3:17 PM  

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